Reaction to the news of the £120million bail-out for Croydon’s bankrupt council, exclusively revealed by Inside Croydon, has been the predictable mix of the politically opportunist triumphalism, mixed with some I-told-you-so, as well as expressions of deep concern for the future for the borough’s residents.
In a statement issued on the council website late on Friday, Hamida Ali, the council leader, said, “I’m pleased that today we have received government approval of a capitalisation direction that will help to balance this year’s budget and support Croydon’s plan to put its finances back on track.
“Communities Minister Luke Hall has written to us to confirm that it will allow borrowing of £120million – £70million for the financial year 2020-2021 and £50million for 2021-2022.
“The government’s offer, which will help Croydon over the next two years, is conditional on us delivering our renewal plans at pace and providing regular progress updates to the government-appointed Improvement and Assurance Panel.
“Croydon’s Renewal Plan is a major programme mapping out proposed savings, strengthening governance and financial practices, and new ways of working to put the borough on a more sustainable financial footing.
“We welcome this positive decision, reflecting government’s confidence in our robust plans and ability to turn this council’s finances around and transform how it is run for the benefit of everyone in our borough.
“This means we can now put forward a balanced budget for debate on Monday and it gives us a solid foundation to focus on putting those plans for sustainable finances into practice over the next 12 months.”
That was about as good as it got.
Chris Philp, the Tory MP for Croydon South, said, “It’s sad that things have come to this.
“The Conservative government has had to bail-out Croydon’s bankrupt Labour council. Labour’s shameful incompetence bankrupted the borough, and despite this record bail-out there will still be frontline service cuts.”
Back bench Labour councillor Andrew Pelling responded to Philp’s grandstanding on social media when he tweeted, “The council got on to this debt habit under the Tories with ridiculous spend on the council HQ with its £272 taps.
“A lot of the borrowing is for public services, with a huge (and overcapacity) schools programme meeting population growth. But £330million is [Brick by Brick] and asset arbitrage.”
Pelling has been a leading figure in the DEMOC campaign for a directly-elected mayor. “Failed Town Hall governance argues strongly for a directly-elected mayor who might persuade government that funding Croydon as if it’s still a Terry and June dormitory suburb is unsustainable.
“Playing party politics now does not impress voters and your triumphalist tweets beneath you.”
Peter Underwood, the Green Party’s candidate in Croydon and Sutton in May’s London Assembly election, railed against the Punch and Judy nature of the borough’s political duopoly.
“We all know Labour has messed up in Croydon,” Underwood said, “but [Tory] hypocrisy in trying to claim that you are defending public services is sickening.
“The Conservatives have been cutting these services at every opportunity for my entire life.”
The borough’s two Labour MPs, Steve Reed OBE and Sarah Jones, have made no public comment on the position of the Labour-run council since the settlement was agreed. Reed is Labour’s parliamentary front bench spokesperson on… local government.
- You can support Inside Croydon’s news-breaking independent local journalism. Sign up today as a subscriber. Click here
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and BBC London News
- ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named the country’s rottenest borough in 2020 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine – the fourth successive year that Inside Croydon has been the source for such award-winning nominations
- Inside Croydon: 3million page views in 2020. Seen by 1.4million unique visitors
- Content on this site is also licensed via Ping! News. To access content for copying in full or in part, please visit https://pingnews.uk/