The toxic legacy of Alison Butler, Hamida Ali, Tony Newman and the rest of his numpties was hammered home this morning, with an auctioneer’s gavel.
Heath Lodge, the long-neglected park keeper’s cottage in Grangewood Park, Thornton Heath, was sold by the council together with a chunk of the park for a mere £600,000. That is just a little more than the cost to the council of the pay-off to Jo “Negreedy” Negrini, the disastrous chief exec who scarpered just before the financial collapse of the organisation she’d led for five years.
The identity of the Lodge’s purchaser was not revealed at the auction, which was conducted by Savill’s. The guide price for the property had been a very modest £310,000. Whichever property developer sealed the deal, they undoubtedly got a bit of a bargain.
Given that Butler, the council’s former deputy leader and one-time cabinet member for housing, once shouted “lying cow!” across the Town Hall Chamber to another councillor who had discovered the Labour councillor’s secretive plans to sell the Lodge, and other public green spaces – all long before covid and double bankruptcy hit Croydon – this fire sale “asset disposal” will leave a bitter taste with many, not lease the Friends of Grangewood Park who have been battling against such a sale for the past five years.
Others who opposed the sale of the Lodge, which they wanted to utilise as a community venue, included MP Steve Reed OBE, Peter Underwood, the Green Party’s mayoral candidate, Tory mayoral wannabe Jason Perry and Andrew Pelling, who has been kicked out of the Labour Party.
Today, Underwood slammed the council, saying that they had taken “their 30 pieces of silver”.
Underwood said, “Heath Lodge and a section of Grangewood Park have now been privatised.
“This sale is of no benefit to the community, who have lost part of their park and a building that could have been a great asset to the area. The money from the sale will just be swallowed up by the council’s huge debts. It will provide nothing for Croydon residents.
“My commiserations to the Friends of Grangewood Park and the rest of the Thonrton Heath community who fought so hard for so long against this, and who have been ignored by the council.
“We must now all keep close watch for planning applications to cover this part of the park with flats.”
Meanwhile, standing silent, allowing the sale to go through against the wishes and interests of local people, were the current council leader, Hamida Ali, together with the Thornton Heath Labour ward councillors, Pat Clouder, Karen Jewitt and cabinet member for finance, Callton Young.
Butler, too, remains a councillor, although she will not be seeking election again.
Local elections are on May 5.
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