Tories accused of ‘pandering to prejudice’ over cycle lanes

The Conservatives’ Mayoral candidate is contradicting his own party leader over a roads improvement scheme in South Croydon

Reverse gear: Croydon remains behind other boroughs in implementing safer cycling routes

Jason Perry, the Conservative candidate to become the first executive Mayor of Croydon, has launched a petition which warns against “traffic chaos” in his ward – and uses a photograph taken in Vancouver, nearly 5,000 miles away on Canada’s west coast.

This could be a cause of some embarrassment for Perry, whose election campaign revolves around him repeating, ad nauseam, that he is a “proud Croydonian, born and bred”, and not much else.

What’s worse, Perry’s petition actually goes against the Conservative Party’s own policies, as championed by none other than his leader, keen cyclist and party-goer Boris Johnson.

Perry is one of the three Conservative councillors for South Croydon ward who have decided to use Tory government-funded proposals for a protected cycle lane down the busy Brighton Road as an excuse for a bit of pre-election data-scraping.

Wrong turn: the Tories’ petition page, featuring a photo from Vancouver, Canada. Not South Croydon

“The South Croydon councillors oppose these works,” Perry’s councillor colleague, and former IRA gun-runner, Maria Gatland, said in an email over the weekend.

“They are damaging to the local community and local businesses,” Gatland claimed, without offering any evidence for the claim.

“We will be meeting with the director soon to hand in our petition.”

But environmental campaigners and cycling groups have rejected Gatland’s claims.

“This is just a data-scraping exercise that’s pandering to prejudice,” one source said after viewing the Tory petition.

“It’s such a shame too. In the early 2000s, Maria’s husband, Mervyn Gatland, helped fund a couple of electric rickshaws to try to kickstart a passenger service with a cooperative venture involving the Croydon Cycling Campaign and the council, which met with some initial success.

“If they really want to ‘Stop the Brighton Road Traffic Chaos’, they should get right behind the plans and push Transport for London to complete the link by building a protected cycle lane all the way down to Coulsdon.”

A government report Gear Change: One Year On, published in July 2021, hailed the 46per cent increase in cycling in England in the covid-hit previous 12 months (“the greatest increase in postwar history”).

On your bike: did Cllr Perry not read the PM’s memo about cycling?

In the report, the Prime Minister wrote that he would be increasing the amount given to councils for “active travel” to £338million as a means to reduce the ever-increasing number of motor vehicles on the nation’s roads.

Johnson wrote about investing “in more low-traffic neighbourhoods and protected cycle lanes”, exactly like the one being proposed for the Brighton Road.

The best way to discourage motor vehicle use, the Conservatives’ Prime Minister wrote, “is to make better use of the roads we’ve already got, by encouraging vehicles such as cycles and buses that take up less space per passenger.

“I know many people think that cycling and walking schemes simply increase car traffic on other roads. But there is now increasing evidence that they do not. We sometimes think of traffic as like water: if you block a stream in one place, it will find the next easiest way.

“Of course some journeys by car are essential, but traffic is not a force of nature. It is a product of people’s choices. If you make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, more people choose to walk and cycle instead of driving, and the traffic falls overall.”

Which could be a bit embarrassing for Councillor Perry if he gets that quoted back at him at any of the forthcoming Mayoral hustings events.

Indeed, closer examination of the Croydon Tories’ petition shows that they haven’t even bothered to read the council’s proposals properly.

Embarrassing: Tory Jason Perry

Perry and Gatland are claiming that the Brighton Road cycle lane “will cause huge amounts of congestion and damage local businesses by removing parking and loading bays – even at ‘off-peak’ times of day, which is even more impacted by the decision to make the existing bus lanes 24/7”.

However, in a letter dated March 9, the council said that, following initial public consultation, “amendements (sic) have been made to the original plans prior to the Experimental Order being implemented”.

These “amendements” include:

  • Amending the spacing of the segregation of the Mandatory Cycle lane, to allow for vehicles to pull in to enable Emergency Vehicles to pass if required
  • Retaining the timed bus lane operations, with parking in the bus lanes also retained to assist residents
  • Allowing off-peak loading at shopping parade locations along Brighton Road, to assist with Local Businesses

This directly contradicts the Croydon Tories’ claims. And the council letter – which you can view by clicking here – is even uploaded on the Croydon Conservatives’ own website.

The reality is that the council is not removing parking and loading bays, as the scaremongering Tories would have it, but simply relocating them.

Perry’s petition says, “We think that it’s time the Labour council started listening to Croydon.”

But as our source says, “Looks like somebody somewhere did. How inconvenient.”With fuel prices rocketing and covid rising, what better time to support a free alternative to driving and an alternative to buses filled with legally unmasked superspreaders: cycling!”

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 2022 council elections, 2022 Croydon Mayor election, Boris Johnson, Cycling, Environment, Jason Perry, London-wide issues, Maria Gatland, Michael Neal, Parking, South Croydon, TfL, Transport, Val Shawcross and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Tories accused of ‘pandering to prejudice’ over cycle lanes

  1. Hi there. I’ve visited Vancouver several times and I think the similarities with south Croydon and Sanderstead are obvious.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Yep rolling down wast 15th with 2 parking lanes and 4 driving lanes I spot a spire similar to the town hall and there is a Surrey Suburb. I do note that there are quite a few bikes about.
      Not sure those block type buildings would fit in Sanderstead but with this planning department they would probably grant retrospective permission to – well anyone.
      Personally I prefer the Flames to the Canucks but as a bit of a fan any game will do!

  2. Peter Stanway says:

    I think it’s going to be really interesting with these new Mayoral candidates coming forward with ambitious project for our borough – so much better than the lazy Tony Newman.

    Might be concern is Katherine Kerswell’s ability to deliver on these manifesto promises. She has done nothing that speaks of an ability to lead the council. I’m calling on her to removed from office. Croydon deserves more than yet another lame CEO

  3. What Maria Gatland did and said 50 years ago is irrelevant now. What is relevant is what Jason Perry said just 3 weeks ago, on his Mayoral campaign webshite:

    “I confirm my commitment to improving our local air quality in this climate emergency, because it is of national and local importance to take the urgent actions necessary to improve our environment in Croydon. This means tackling air pollution, as well as moving towards ending our reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

    I commit to developing policies that will help achieve our target of being carbon neutral by 2030 through a community-led approach. Acting on climate change is not the remit of any one part of Croydon. I am pleased to see that the Climate Crisis Commission Report places an emphasis on building trust, so that initiatives to cut emissions are genuinely co-created, not pushed from the top down.

    I am also pleased to commit to implementing most – if not all – of the 23 Climate Recommendations detailed in the Climate Crisis Commission Report. As part of my own “Listening To Croydon” pledge, I will ensure that the community is brought with us as we implement these initiatives. We all saw the result of the Council’s implementation of the Parsons Mead LTN, which led to huge protests as their community felt completely ignored. Acting without listening is not a sustainable way to create change.

    Any environmental schemes introduced by me, if I am Mayor of Croydon, will have evidenced based social and environmental benefits for residents and businesses, whilst not disproportionately impacting the poorest in our borough.

    I will take strong action to protect Croydon’s vital and unique green spaces, which improve the environment and ensure that every resident (no matter whether they own a garden) can enjoy the great outdoors. It is vital that we protect the green lungs of Croydon, whether that be parks, woods or natural open spaces that help clean our air and support the physical and mental health of residents. Development must be sustainable and I will ensure stronger planning protection for trees, to slow down the loss of mature trees and nature habitat which are so important to our ecology. I will protect allotments and will look at how we can use ‘bits and pieces’ of land around the borough for some form of “green use” for local communities, creating a ‘garden city’ environment.”

    This was posted on 15 March 2022, just days before the launch of this petition. Goes to show you can’t trust Perry and the Tories.

  4. Dan Maertens says:

    I’ll happily accompany Mr Perry in ‘rush hour’ on any day of his choosing to cycle both directions of the Brighton Road so that he can personally identify all of the locations where providing a segregated cycle lane will cause ‘traffic chaos’ over and above that which already exists and which is caused by the sheer volume of vehicles using the road with a single occupier during peak hours. That way, he can see for himself what the real issue is. We could always start up by the Fire Station in Purley and work our way northwards towards Croydon, and he’ll have the added bonus of having to negotiate the 5 lanes of Purley Cross without ‘crapping his keks’. Let’s hope it’s not raining. Well Mr Perry?

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