Perry in another U-turn over borough’s vanishing bus shelters

CROYDON IN CRISIS: It’s taken him 18 months to realise it, but the borough’s slow-on-the-uptake Mayor has finally realised that Valo Smart City was never going to deliver on any of its ambitious promises.

Slow on the uptake: Jason Perry has taken 18 months to realise that Valo Smart City have no record of making bus shelters, selling roadside ads or honouring contracts…

Having told dozens of residents at a public meeting last month that he would not be cancelling the contract for the delivery of bus shelters around the borough because re-procurement would take far too long, Croydon Mayor Jason Perry has now decided to cancel the contract with the suppliers and to pursue damages.

Croydon’s piss-poor Mayor made his latest U-turn having read Inside Croydon’s exclusive report that the founder of Valo Smart Cities Ltd, Isaac Sutton, intended to pull out of the deal after three years of failing to deliver a single bus shelter and leaving debts with his suppliers of an estimated £1million.

Sources close to the negotiations have told Inside Croydon that the council signed an understanding with Valo as recently as August 2023 agreeing not to sue the company, in return for a ex gratia payment of £500,000. It seems very likely that the understanding was entered into with Mayor Perry’s approval.

It means that Sutton has had one over Croydon Council’s gullible officials once again. Not a penny of that promised payment has been received by Croydon’s cash-strapped council, like they have not received a penny of the £670,000 per year in advertising revenues that Sutton promised when he appeared on the scene nearly three years ago.

Perry told a council meeting as recently as March this year that council lawyers would be pursuing Valo Smart Cities for some kind of settlement for their failures to fulfil their contract, before changing his mind over the course of this summer.

Elusive: the closest that Valo Smart Cities got to delivering any bus shelters to Croydon was this CGI

The prospect of ever getting any financial compensation from Valo Smart Cities after three years of non-delivery remains elusive, though: Valo has no cash to pay or assets to seize should the council go to court and get a judgement in their favour.

Given Mayor Perry’s own projections over how long it might take to procure a new bus shelter deal, it could be spring 2025 before new shelters start to appear on bus routes around the borough. This would mean that passengers in Croydon will have endured five winters in the wind and rain while waiting for their buses thanks to their council’s crass incompetence.

In a statement hidden away on the council website, they said: “Croydon Council is taking steps to terminate its contract with Valo Smart City to deliver bus shelters in the borough.”

According to Perry, “This is an incredibly frustrating and unacceptable situation.” Perry has persisted with the situation for 18 months, despite existing warnings that the Valo deal was always too good to be true.

“The council awarded this contract in 2021 to Valo Smart City which had no track record of delivering a contract like this in the UK and has failed to deliver a single bus shelter in our borough,” said Perry, who will have known all this since before he became Mayor in May 2022.

According to Perry, “Many attempts have been made to arrange a working plan that would deliver the shelters; timelines have been shifted, negotiations have taken place, and none of this has resulted in a satisfactory outcome. Our residents have waited long enough.

“The council is taking immediate steps to terminate the contract with Valo Smart City and we have informed them of our intent to pursue damages.” Good luck with that, Jase.

“Meanwhile council officers are reviewing our options to get bus shelters back on our streets as soon as possible.”

As usual, Mayor Perry has said nothing about taking disciplinary action against those council directors, and the council chief executive, Katherine Kerswell, who did such a poor job of due diligence and then approved and advocated the deal with Isaac Sutton’s Valo Smart Cities in the first place.

Read more: Perry drops action against bus shelter firm and loses £500,000
Read more: Company behind ‘smart’ bus shelters has CCJs for unpaid bills

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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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7 Responses to Perry in another U-turn over borough’s vanishing bus shelters

  1. Dan Kelly says:

    Vanished, not vanishing.
    Looking at the CGI they look as useful as a chocolate teapot. Open three sides to the wind and rain. Any attempt to sit in wet weather would get you a soggy bottom.
    The only decent shelter I’ve found in Croydon is the one at the Colonnades.

  2. Becca says:

    Why were perfectly serviceable bus shelters removed before the council received new ones?

    • Ian Kierans says:

      The company providing them decided to remove the property they own as they were no longer contracted and told that to the council. Three years and no revenue AND no shelters. So how many Council staff and Croydon Residents are going to catch a cold waiting fore a bus this winter?

      So much for staff and residents wellbeing being a priority for Ms Kerswell!

  3. David Wickens says:

    Let me save the Council some money. You cannot “sue a man of straw”. Thoughts of pursuing damages when the last set of accounts (2021) showed this start up company to be £350,000 in debt is a total waste of time and money. I’d love Perry to prove me wrong but if he fails is he going personally going to pay for the abortive costs?

  4. Ian Kierans says:

    Perry is to blame for not dealing with this in his first few months. He knew and was at the Council when this was shoddy deal was done.
    But honestly I have no idea how such a deal could ever has gotton through in the first place.
    That a purportedly professional procuement department alowed this is preofessional malfeasance.
    So if they were at fault that should be dealt with.
    If they were not and were told to accept this. Internal fraud and security should be heavily involved in the whys,whos and wherefores.

    Bu as taxpayers having to pay usurious 15% rates without consulltation Croydon Residents deserve the truth as to how this came about.

    We are repeatedly told ”commercial interests” when we ask for detail at the outset.

    Lets hear the reasons for not disclosing the details of this debacle from Perry.

  5. MatthewP says:

    Who is Perry fooling? “We’re going to cancel the contract with Valo Smart City and pursue damages”?? We already know that Valo Smart City only exists on paper and between two or three people. The fact the business was “registered” in a rented office in the Regus building in Landsdown Road indicates that this was a backroom deal created to extract tax payers money for a service that would NEVER happen. And nobody will get sued by the council. Valo Smart City was created for two reasons: 1) So the council could say it found a more affordable alternative than JC Decaux and 2) Secretly, so they could slice off a little bit of council money for themselves.

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