Perry permits Town Hall question that helps return of Morgan

How closely did the Tory Mayor work with notorious motoring lobbyist over a council question that opposes the Brighton Road cycle corridor?
WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, investigates

He’s back…: motoring lobbyist Peter Morgan, asking council questions after a lengthy absence

After a lengthy absence, Coulsdon motoring lobbyist Peter Morgan, a character so divisive he was once declared to be unacceptable even to be a member of UKIP, has made a reappearance at council meetings – putting up a patsy question for Jason Perry, the Croydon Mayor, to parade his pro-pollution credentials.

There was once a time in Croydon when not a day could pass without Morgan circulating lengthy, rambling emails about the state of roads, council parking policy, or being involved in activities to undermine public consultations on motoring issues such as school streets and the borough’s 20mph speed limits.

In the days before Putin-backed bots were a “thing”, Morgan was implicated in creating multiple bogus identities on social media to spread fake news on behalf of the motoring organisations with which he was associated, as an official of the Association of Bad Drivers.

Twenty-five years ago, it was Morgan who ran a one-man campaign to have the Croydon tram network blocked.

In the meantime, Morgan has attracted ridicule for claiming that walking to school is bad for children’s health, and public disgust for his efforts to prevent a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor from giving a talk to a meeting of the East Coulsdon Residents’ Association.

Morgan has been a serial local election candidate, for UKIP as well as an independent, without ever attracting much public support. He has also been a leading figure involved with the racist apologists at the Croydon Communities Consortium.

Yet all that seemed to come to a stop around 18 months ago, with the compulsive campaigner Morgan suddenly silenced. No explanation was forthcoming.

Wand-ered off: Mayor Perry has already done much to undermine the safety measures on the Brighton Road ‘cycle corridor’, by having many reflective wands removed

Until, that is, the meeting of full council last month, when he had a question accepted for Mayor Perry.

Morgan, who is in his late 60s or early 70s, and lives on Cordrey Gardens, did not attend the meeting in person, although it was confirmed in the Town Hall Chamber that he was the questioner.

“As South Croydon councillor and candidate for Mayor a year ago, you campaigned strongly against the council proposal for a segregated cycle lane along the Brighton Road between Purley and South Croydon,” Morgan’s question began.

“Please set out the reasons you gave last year for why this was a bad idea and should be scrapped.

“I say your reasons then were correct.” What a surprise!

“You now say the council is short of money and must avoid unnecessary expense.

“Why then have you now as mayor spent our taxes imposing this dangerous cycle lane which damages travel on this key main road?

“Why should we trust you?”

It was typical, unreformed Morgan, making wild and false accusations with barely any regard for things like facts, or the truth…

Some felt that Morgan’s question – “Why should we trust you?” – was excessively aggressive and probably in breach of the council’s constitution, which forbids questions are “defamatory, frivolous or offensive”.

But it seems very likely that Mayor Perry wanted to have the question placed in the public domain, so he could showboat his own anti-cycling agenda while rabble-rousing more ill-informed opposition to the important piece of new infrastructure.

In the 16 months since he took office, Perry has already presided over the scrapping of a school street scheme which will have improved safety for thousands of children attending three schools in South Croydon, but which might have diverted some motor traffic down the road near Lloyd Park where the Mayor and his family live in a £1.3million mansion.

It is also a sign of how increasingly desperate Perry, the man who hiked Croydon’s Council Tax by 15per cent, is becoming to attract any support that he is prepared to give a voice to the likes of Morgan.

Pro-pollution: Jason Perry, Croydon’s piss-poor Mayor

In his reponse to the question, Powerless Perry did his usual “nuffink to do with me, guv” routine. The £550,000 Brighton Road cycle lane, funded through a Local Implementation Plan – therefore using cash for the purpose allocated from the Tory Government – “was agreed by the council prior to my election as Mayor”, Perry said.

“I have personally opposed the Brighton Road cycle scheme since it was initially proposed,” puce-faced Perry went on.

“Whilst we need to provide safe routes for cyclists…”, which is nice of him, “… I also recognise the concerns that Brighton Road may not be the right location for this kind of cycle route, given the wider impact it has on the effective management of the highway and the potential to increase congestion on an already busy route.” None of which has ever been demonstrated.

“Whilst I was not able to stop the scheme going ahead,” Perry said, labouring the point (no pun intended), “I insisted that TfL agreed significant changes including protecting parking for local businesses, reducing the number of ‘wands’ and ensuring access to the recycling centre wasn’t affected.”

So it seems very likely that it was Perry himself who gave the order for costly extra work to remove the protective wands just days after they were installed, and at a stroke undermine the safety of the cycle route, for motorists and motorbike-riders as well as cyclists.

Tory stall-wart: Peter Morgan (in black) ‘helping’ at a Conservative stall in Coulsdon with ‘Lord’ Shaun Bailey and Neil Garratt AM

Perry’s response continued: “The scheme was introduced under an Experimental Traffic Order which means that it will come to an end in 18 months, though a further decision may be taken earlier…

“The results of [statutory] consultation will be fully considered when any decisions are made about whether to retain the cycle lane following the trial period,” said someone who has clearly already made up his mind that he will do everything he can to undermine the cycle land scheme and scrap it at the earliest opportunity.

What troubled some who attended the Town Hall meeting was that in his desperation to play to the anti-woke, anti-vax, anti-mask conspiracy theorists and climate crisis deniers, Perry has in some way given encouragement to Morgan to break cover and make a return to council business.

It is barely 18 months since Morgan was suspected of “a troubling act of valdalism” to a hedge alongside a primary school on How Lane, to the deep concern of many parents, with a Conservative ward councillor publishing a report on his local party’s website notifying residents that he had notified the Metropolitan Police and Surrey Police (How Lane runs close to the borough/county boundary).

“How Lane is just over the Croydon borough border in Reigate, but multiple eyewitnesses tell me that the culprit lives in Coulsdon,” the Tory councillor wrote at that time.

“Not only is this a case of clear vandalism, potentially hazardous to vehicles, and creates waste that could block our already struggling sewer system – but it also creates a child safeguarding issue with holes in the hedge meaning the field is there for all to see,” wrote Coulsdon Town councillor Mario Creatura.

“It is completely unacceptable.”

Now, though, 18 months on, it is apparently completely acceptable for Mayor Perry to take questions from Peter Morgan to shape the borough’s roads policy.

Read more: Council’s ‘new’ cycle corridor to Purley doesn’t go far enough

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7 Responses to Perry permits Town Hall question that helps return of Morgan

  1. Carl Lucas says:

    Hopefully the cycle lanes are scrapped, the take up unnecessary space because they are rarely used, it’s very selfish people who want them.

  2. T, Hawkins says:

    Hi Carl, yes the lanes do take up space but it was a single lane road before and is still a single lane road. The only difference is the lanes are narrower and there is a protected space for bikes.

    I cycle with my children along it to school (5 year old and 7 year old). This wouldn’t be safe without a protected lane. It’s barely safe now as we still have to pull out around parked cars anyway.

    As I’m sure you’ve noticed, at peak times it’s much faster to cycle than drive. Every bike that goes past is one less car adding to the congestion. I used to drive but now cycle as it’s faster and better for my health. If you dislike the congestion I suggest you encourage more cycling as it’ll further reduce car traffic.

  3. Dan Maertens says:

    Pathetic isn’t it that there are still those that consider stoking a ‘culture war’ between ‘drivists’ and ‘cyclists’ is a useful expenditure of their and everybody else’s time, with accusations about cycle lane ‘underuse’ and ‘additional congestion’ bandied about but unsupported by evidence, as a continuation of the campaign to justify the unjustifiable.

    As a frequent user of the Brighton Road on my regular cycle commute from Caterham-on-the-Hill to South Norwood, Norbury, Streatham, Brixton and Southwark in the late 70’s and early 80’s, traffic volumes during peak hours on Brighton Road are much less now than they used to be. Along most of the route, morning northbound and evening southbound traffic would be twin lane nose to tail for almost all of the stretch between Stoats Nest Road and South End, where the carriageway could accommodate them. Much of the cycle journey would involve filtering between the two lines as the only option.

    Then as now, cars cause the congestion, not bicycles. As T Hawkins says above – “every bike that goes past is one less car adding to the congestion”. Croydon’s health stats are amongst the poorest in Greater London; Croydon is also languishes at the lower end of the league tables in terms of modal shift away from car use for local journeys, journeys that are eminently ‘doable’ for many by analogue or electric bicycle. Maybe the two are linked.

    Sure there have been some fancy improvements in cycling provision in parts of Croydon, but there is still no protected cycle lane linking the north and south of the borough, and much of the provision that is there stops short, disappears into nothing, or leads users into conflict with pedestrians. It’s all a bit haphazard, and far short of what other Boroughs have achieved.

    IC raised the following question in one of the linked articles above:
    “Ẁe’ll know how good this new cycle lane really is when the Mayor and councillors are prepared to get on their bikes and try it out for themselves”

    Well, I challenged the now Mayor to do just that in a comment in response to the April 2022 article also linked above. Needless to say, our ‘Glorious Leader’ didn’t take up the offer. Fear not ‘Jase’, that offer still stands. So Mr Perry, all you have to do is ask yourself – “Do you feel lucky? Well, do you?”

  4. adrian waters says:

    I frequently use this cycle lane. It’s far from perfect but it’s a lot better than nothing.

  5. Simon Shepherd says:

    I have cycled between Purley and Croydon for many years and this new cycle lane has definitely improved safety for cyclists.

    However, removing the wands from some of the defender bases makes the bases much harder to see (especially at night) and there has been no sensible explanation from the Council as to why they did this.

    When the cycle lane was first installed, every defender base had a wand, but the council started to remove random wands a few weeks after they were installed.

    This cycle lane has only been installed as an experimental scheme (i.e. it is not permanent and could be removed after the experimental period expires on 3/10/23). I would urge anyone who wants this cycle lane to remain to give their views on the Croydon Council website before the end of the consultation period on 3/10/23.

    Go to the Croydon Council website and type in “Brighton Road corridor project” and you’ll be able to leave your comments.

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