Cold-hearted Perry refuses to open warm banks in Croydon

More than half of local councils in England are planning “warm spaces”, where people can shelter from the cold this winter amid soaring energy costs.

£81,000 per year: but no warm banks on offer from Mayor Jason Perry

But not in Croydon, where the borough’s cold-hearted Mayor, Jason Perry, has decided that the cash-strapped council cannot afford to open the doors of its public libraries or other buildings to offer some community-minded respite.

A survey by charity Save the Children found that out of 355 councils in England and Wales, at least 194 are directly involved in, or supporting local groups to open, warm spaces designed to take financial pressures off local residents and vulnerable groups. Many councils have spent thousands of pounds on grants to fund initiatives, with warm spaces being set up in libraries, leisure centres, theatres, art galleries, museums, children’s centres, churches and other community facilities.

“We are planning as much support as financially possible during a winter likely to be dogged by huge energy bills, a deepening recession and heightened risk of homelessness,” The Municipal Journal quoted a “senior councillor” as saying.

But not in Tory-controlled Croydon, where Perry was handed the £81,000 per year role of executive Mayor in May with a borough-wide election majority of fewer than 600 votes.

That’s according to a response last month to a Freedom of Information request asking what plans and provisions Croydon was making to provide warm banks around the borough.

Warming gesture: but not from Tory-controlled Croydon Council

The questioner had asked when might any such scheme be launched and what the eligibility criteria might be for users.

They also asked the council what buildings had been allocated, and how had they been chosen. And they asked how the warm spaces would be managed, and whether they would be run by council staff or contractors.

“We have no such plans at present,” the council stated, somewhat coldly.

“Thus the answer to the remaining questions is N/A,” meaning “not applicable”, without even going to the trouble of typing out the words in full.

One obvious solution for warm bank venues might be the borough’s public libraries. But most of these are currently closed for five days each week at present, as part of the bankrupt borough’s cost-cutting exercise. In South Norwood, the library there is closed altogether until December 13 (at the earliest) while the building’s boiler is repaired.

There will, however, be some warm banks operating around the borough, though no thanks to Mayor Perry and his council.

There’s to be a “warm hub” operating at Selhurst Park, the home of Crystal Palace Football Club, in a scheme run by the Palace for Life Foundation and partners Cinch.

Under the scheme “local residents aged over 65” will be invited once a week to enjoy a free hot meal and drinks, as well as an opportunity to socialise.

Bingo, quizzes and board games will also be available, as well as talks from guest speakers – and all free of charge. The Selhurst Park warm hub will open for the first time next Tuesday, December 6, from 10am to 2pm, and will operate through to February (with the exception of December 27).

Booking is essential, the club says, and can be done by emailing or by phoning 020 3906 8715.

The art of the possible: Better are offering warm banks at two council-owned centres over the winter

The South Norwood Community Kitchen is open in the Socco Cheta Community Centre on Portland Road from Tuesday to Friday each week, where as well as a warm welcome they offer their “Pay What You Can Afford” café. The Community Kitchen is also open lunchtimes every Saturday.

And Better, council leisure centre operators GLL, are opening up some of their venues around the country as warm banks over the winter months.

“For a few hours a day in a leisure centre near you… you’ll receive a warm welcome, comfortable seating, free WiFi plus the chance to charge your phone and portable devices. Our warm spaces sessions are for everyone in our community,” they say.

At the (council-owned) Waddon Leisure Centre, there’s even an opportunity to have a free hot shower when the warm bank operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1pm to 3pm, while the (also council-owned) Ashburton Hall centre will be operating its café as a warm bank on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 2pm.

The scheme is supported by Age UK, and Brakes, the wholesale food service company, has agreed to donate free tea, coffee and biscuits.

Demonstrating the art of the possible, the Better scheme began this week. It’s not known whether Mayor Perry was asked along to cut a ceremonial ribbon, or whether he just showed up because free biscuits were on offer…

The general manager at Waddon Leisure Centre, Bobby Moore, said, “As a facility at the heart of our local community we quickly became aware that a number of local residents were concerned that they might struggle to heat their homes this winter and as a charitable social enterprise we wanted to help.

“Leisure centres are ideally suited to serve as warm spaces, they are easily accessible, known to everyone and a natural meeting place. Our staff will be on hand to offer a warm welcome to anyone wishing to make the most of our warm space during the difficult months ahead.”

For further information on this scheme, email

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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
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9 Responses to Cold-hearted Perry refuses to open warm banks in Croydon

  1. James Seabrook says:

    If the council got back the money from all their shady golden handshakes I’m sure this could be paid for many times over. It looks like as long as they get their fat pay cheques that’s all that matters.

    Croydon Council and the hollow mayor have got a lot to answer for.

  2. Dan Maertens says:

    Never mind.

    Croydon residents in search of a warm place to stay during the day can always head out to 6, Beddington Trading Park where the good people there can find you a spot to rest up amongst the plastic offcuts for a few hours. You never know, they might even offer you a cup of tea …

  3. Those most vulnerable to the cold aren’t likely to be the better off people whose support the Tories cultivate and whose interests they represent. It’s therefore hardly surprising that Croydon’s answer to Cyril Smith says, in the run up to Christmas, there’s no room at the inn

  4. derekthrower says:

    These are grim times. The achievement of the likes of Perry and the Conservatives of the last decade is to turn British society back into one that looks like life a Dickensian past.

  5. Sarah Bird says:

    If the council chased the huge debit it has very cheerfully allowed to run up ,the money would be there .Exactly what support is offered by the council? I am disabled. Not a penny has been offered to me ever in 8 years. I am far from alone .Are there no depths the council will not sink to?

  6. Pete Jenkins says:

    If Crystal Palace and cinch can provide warm rooms at Selhurst Park, why can’t BHLive and Fairfield in their many rooms and areas provide the same?

    This time next week the Pantomime will have started, so the building will be open anyway (for a change)

  7. Haydn White says:

    Well one thing for sure at £81,000 plus expenses, no doubt Perry wont be cold or hungry this winter, and I guess you can add the rest of the councillors to the list

  8. Pamela Stockwell says:

    Never mind the council! Croydon still has many warm places where residents can go to keep warm. Emmanuel Church are opening their hall on Fridays and free lhot drinks are available. No doubt there are other churches doing likewise? The Centrale and Whitgift Centres are open and it’s free to go into the shops. For the price of a coffee or a snack there’s the M&S café and a number of others, more coffee shops and cafés in George Street and North End – and most pubs will serve soft drinks, tea and coffee, as well as alcoholic beverages. There are two large multi-screen cinemas with some concessionary rates for the occasional early film, and the Waddon leisure centre is open to the public. Admittedly, most places are not totally free, but a few hours with the heating at home off can be a help with those huge bills. It’s the housebound I feel for.

  9. Pingback: Warm Banks In London: Where To Find One And How To Use Them … – Londonist – Hi Surrey

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