Residents, conned into voting for Jason Perry on the promise that he would re-open Purley Pool, will try to get a straight answer from the part-time Mayor at a meeting next Tuesday. Good luck with that…
Much of Perry’s and the Tories’ local election campaign 12 months ago was based around the firm pledge that the Mayor would re-open the leisure centre and swimming pools, which closed due to the covid pandemic in 2020 and have never been opened since, denying their facilities to tens of thousands of people in the south of the borough.
Perry and the Croydon Conservatives had claimed that they had a fully costed plan to re-open the pool, and they even tabled an amendment to the council budget in March 2022 which said that they could get it done for as little as £3million (which in the context of cash-strapped Croydon Council really is not that much at all).
The Tories claimed that the money they would use, taken from levies raised from developers building in the Purley area, would not affect other council budgets and had never been earmarked for other projects.
The Tories even got their “plan” signed off as viable by a council finance director.
Even that Tory scheme would take at least two years before the place would be fit to open again.
Those proposals were dismissed by some as ridiculously low-balling the real costs of upgrading the 1970s-built facility into a usable state. Greenwich Leisure, who as “Better” operate Croydon’s leisure venues, were known to be uncomfortable about the probable expense of running the inefficient and costly Purley centre.
Rising fuel prices and the council’s worsening financial position have not made the proposition any more viable.
In his first week in office, in May 2022, Perry doubled down on his election pledge. On May 12 last year, he got the council’s propaganda department in Fisher’s Folly to issue a press release “Mayor Perry to reopen Purley Pool and Leisure Centre”.
The press release omitted to say when, how, or how much such an undertaking might actually cost.
Instead, the publicly funded press office simply offered Conservative Party political propaganda.
It was as if the council press staff had just cut-and-pasted from one of the Tories’ election leaflets: “Mayor Perry has today announced that he will get Purley Pool and Leisure Centre back up and running as quickly as possible for local people.”
Perry, they said, had met with council and leisure centre staff and “tasked them to immediately start exploring options to make it happen”.
“Immediately”. “Make it happen”.
This from the same man who less than two months earlier had said that he already had a plan to make it happen…
Perry was quoted as saying, “Purley Leisure Centre is a much-loved local facility that people of all ages rely on – it is at the heart of our community and our high street, and I am determined to get people back through the doors as soon as possible.
“Re-opening the centre will restore much-needed health and wellbeing facilities for residents, while also driving footfall to our district centre, benefitting [sic] local businesses.
“It’s totally unacceptable that the pool has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair due to lack of proper care or attention, and this morning I have set the wheels in motion to get it sorted.”
Nothing more was heard of Perry’s plan for the pool again for a couple of months. In July, Perry’s appointees in cabinet all nodded through a proposal for an “independent report into different options for the site was approved at cabinet”.
But Perry had told everyone before he was elected that he already had a plan for the pool. What had happened to that?
Among the proposals Perry was now considering was “making the refurbishment a joint venture as part of a wider commercial redevelopment scheme”.
Croydon Council? Joint ventures? Commercial redevelopment? If that didn’t set off alarm bells after the multiple failures of the Tories’ CCURV project, the Tory-backed Westfield intervention and Labour disaster Brick by Brick, then nothing would…
Significantly, now Perry was talking about a “self-sufficient” centre – something which leisure centre operators faced with massive fuel bills will tell you is nigh-on impossible without charging entry fees that are unaffordable for most people.
According to the council’s propaganda website, in July last year Mayor Perry said, “Purley Pool and Leisure Centre has huge amounts of potential and I want us to look at how we can make it into a modern, high-quality centre that is self-sufficient and offers what our communities want, now and in the future.” Hmmm… Still no costings, still no timetable for reopening.
Since when, Perry, the Mayor with the Plan for Purley Pool, has been largely silent on the subject, as he has been about most of his broken election promises.
Last month, though, the Government’s procurement website did publish details of a contract offer from Croydon Council for “Purley Pool Options Appraisal Consultants”.
Given procurement reference “CROYD001-DN663992-62799998”, this was listed as being of relevance to those working in building services, building consultancy services or construction-related services.
Croydon was offering a grand total of zero pounds for this consultancy contract.
The procurement notice was amended at least once, but according to the official website, this is now a “Withdrawn opportunity”.
They say, “This means that the contract has been withdrawn early. This could be due to a change of circumstances.” Or that there had been no interest from companies prepared to work for Croydon Council for nuffink.
Now, Perry – who has refused all interview requests from Inside Croydon – is to face Purley residents. The meeting is being held at Christ Church Primary School, 859-887 Brighton Road, Purley on May 16, from 6pm.
Perry had surfed his way to becoming the borough’s first elected Mayor on a tidal wave of support from residents’ and community associations, the same people who had earlier campaigned so hard to bring in the directly-elected mayoral system. It hasn’t taken long for Perry to piss them off, with the 15per cent Council Tax hike imposed last month also on the agenda of the increasingly agitated public.
“We need to show him that we need Purley Pool and Leisure Centre reopened,” according to the nice people who run the Save Purley Pool campaign.
“Mayor Perry pledged as part of his election campaign to reopen Purley Pool if people voted for him to become Mayor. Many people voted for him because of this. Since becoming Mayor over a year ago, Purley Pool has not reopened and Mayor Perry has not fulfilled his promise,” say the campaigners.
“We are told the council has no money.
“However the council receives sports funding and has found an additional £82,000 per year to pay Mayor Perry. It also receives funds from all the new buildings in the area which should go to community infrastructure projects such as Purley Pool.”
The Save Purley Pool campaigners have calculated that in his first year in office, what with his mayoral salary and staff costs, part-time Perry has cost the residents of Croydon £402,382. “Money that could have reopened the pool,” they say.
“Please attend the meeting on May 16… and remind him that he promised to reopen the pool. We want action. We want the pool open.”
Tickets for the Question Time event with Croydon’s Mayor are free, though the questions to be put to Perry are not open to all-comers, but must be submitted in advance. Only carefully vetted questions are allowed, and then only after Perry and his advisers have spent hours carefully crafting their non-answer replies.
And the council controls who attends: tickets can be applied for by visiting the eventbrite page by clicking here.
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It is a national scandal that politicians get themselves elected by making false promises that they are unable to meet. If one considers that Councils and Parliament are the foundations of our democratic system, membership should be based on truth rather than lies.
Were a company to make false promises then the Advertising Standards organisation might take an interest but there is little one can do about elected politicians in the short term. They know this and voters need to remember the failures next time they want your vote.
So Part Time had a oven ready deal to reopen the Purley Swimming Pool. Yet again it turns out to be a oven ready whopper. He is still being rewarded for his constant failures.
Is anyone really surprised here ??.
Part-time Perry pulls piss-poor Purley Pool promise