Our Town Hall staff reporter, PEARL LEE, on the latest disappointing set-back for the Conservative Mayor
Despite growing social deprivation in the borough and its failing town centre economy, Croydon has failed in its bid for £20million of Levelling Up funding.
This is a significant setback for Jason Perry, Croydon’s part-time Mayor, who ostentatiously headed up Croydon’s bid, based on dusted-off old plans and half-forgotten schemes.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Richmond constituency in Yorkshire is to get £19million. Very cushty for Rishi.
According to the 2021 Census, 52per cent of Croydon residents encounter social deprivation, a statistic that most reasonably-minded people might think requires a bit of levelling up. But that need has gone ignored by Sunak’s government colleague, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.
In total, Greater London is getting £151million from the new round of levelling up funding. Not a penny of it is coming Croydon’s way.
Lewisham town centre, just a few miles away, is getting a £19million refurbishment.
Sutton is getting £14million for improved public transport to Belmont and its London Cancer Hub.
These millions will buy rail engineering to allow for a doubling of train frequencies on the Belmont line. The station will be made more accessible. There will be improved routes for people walking and cycling.
The area is in the Sutton and Cheam constituency of Conservative government minister Paul Scully. Belmont’s Tory councillor, Neil Garratt, the London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton (especially Sutton), will be pleased.
Garratt and Scully probably did some lobbying on behalf of the areas that they represent. If Chris Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South, bothered to do any lobbying of government colleagues for the benefit of his constituents, it clearly wasn’t very successful.
Croydon Mayor Perry saw the funding as the start to his regeneration of central Croydon that would put “town centre generation back on track”, making Croydon “a destination where people want to live, work and visit”. Oh well…
“With this funding, we plan to make necessary changes to reconnect, refresh, revitalise and regenerate key areas of our town centre – restoring a sense of local pride in Croydon,” Perry boasted back in July.
The government’s spurning of Croydon leaves it with more than hurt pride.
For all the Mayor’s words while he was enjoying a warm glow following his election victory, the frosts of winter have come to a council that has since declared bankruptcy for a third time, with its pre-emptive Section 114 notice, unique in the history of local government in predicting a council’s bankruptcy, leaving Perry wanting instead to see Croydon as the first Enron-style local authority in England, being allowed to default on its debts.
There was no way that £20million levelling up money would come Croydon’s way while another bailout was being sought for a council that can’t be trusted to sort its own finances.
Chalk that down as another £20million cost of Labour’s original hidden financial misdemeanours and crashing of Croydon council’s budget – it is something that Perry, after coming back pot-less from government, is certain to do.
Read more: Mayor bids for £20m funding with old and failed projects
Read more: Croydon is in a right Pickles and it is easy to work out why
Read more: Council forced to issue 3rd bankruptcy notice in just two years
Read more: ‘There is no solution in sight’ warns council’s finance chief
Read more: Croydon needs deal that could set precedent for all councils
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