Aldi parking - just not good enough
04/12/2017 11:12:00......Posted by Mario Creatura
The parking situation at the Aldi supermarket in Coulsdon is not tolerable. Cars are regularly queuing out of the entrance, across the roundabout and up the Brighton Road. This blocks the road and key access points for drivers and public transport.
We have written to Aldi's head office to ask them to urgently look into this and will post their reply. If it is not good enough, then further action will be taken to address this intolerable situation.
Dear Mr Barnes,
We write as elected representatives for Coulsdon Town Centre, the location of one of your stores.
We, and residents, welcomed the store to the Town some years ago and we very much hope the store is proving to be a success for the Aldi Group.
Local residents however have complained bitterly about the problem of cars entering the store’s car park and creating traffic flow problems at the roundabout. They are unable to speedily find a space resulting in cars backing up or stopping on the roundabout. This is having a significant impact on traffic flow through the Town Centre.
The Police have been involved at store level but were rebuffed by the duty manager at the time who claimed to be unaware of the problem. This we find hard to believe in view of the number of complaints we, the Police and local residents’ associations have received and the clear evidence of traffic disruption.
It would be appreciated if you could look into ways of solving this problem. Maybe a site visit with ourselves and the local Police with an appropriate Aldi representative would be beneficial?
Thank you in anticipation of your help sorting out this problem to the benefit of our residents and your customers.
Cllr Jeet Bains, Cllr Luke Clancy and Mario Creatura
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A question about Mud - and the viability of businesses in BoxPark
05/12/2017 09:20:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
A question from Councillor Mario Creatura to Councillor Mark Watson:
Today news has emerged that Mud, a unit in BoxPark, is closing its doors.
It joins Donde, The Potato Project, Knot and many others who have shut up shop since BoxPark opened.
Could the Cabinet Member please detail the total number of units that have closed in this Council-subsidised business?
There have been whispered reports of poor management practices in BoxPark that may have influenced this spate of closures.
Could the Cabinet Member please research and detail the reasons why the units closed and whether he feels the rate of closure is indicative of an issue with the business model?
It is clear that there have been some changes at Boxpark since it opened with some units closing and some new ones taking their place. It is important to recognise that our businesses are facing increasing pressures; the rise in the cost for goods, increase in business rates and pension auto enrolment to name but a few. This is especially hard for new businesses just starting their journey or existing businesses expanding into new ventures.
In order to support their tenants Boxpark have delivered an extensive event and promotional programme to attract visitors. Between January and June 2017 Boxpark Croydon held 157 events (10 of these events were held in partnership with Croydon Council). These events featured 420 performers and were attended by 48,052 people.
Boxpark is seen as an extremely positive addition to the Croydon economy, offering a real draw for visitors and we are very keen that we work with Boxpark, their tenants and the surrounding business community to ensure the area continues to thrive.
This year the Council has spent a lot of time engaging with hundreds of businesses through the Small Business Commission. The aim of this work was to understand the barriers to, and opportunities for business growth so that we, in partnership with others, can create the right kind of environment for our small business community to thrive and prosper. The Commission has allowed us to work with stakeholders to understand and promote the Croydon business support offering.
I regularly meet with businesses to explore issues and will be holding a surgery in Boxpark for occupiers to better understand their concerns and to identify what the council, partners and Boxpark themselves can do to ensure continues success.
I recommend that any business in Croydon that needs help or advice is that they contact the Economic Development Team which is well placed to offer support with regards to loan financing and Discretionary Business Rates Relief as well as general signposting to business support through initiatives such as Business Hub Navigators. We and our partners have designed these services to delivery business growth and sustainability across Croydon.
Letter to Lloyds Bank
04/12/2017 10:27:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Late last week, Coulsdon West councillors were informed about the closure of yet another bank in the town. We have written to Lloyds Bank to ask them to urgently rethink their decision:
Dear Mr Harris,
We write as the councillors for Coulsdon West ward in the London Borough of Croydon.
We are very concerned at the news we recently received that the Coulsdon branch of Lloyds Bank will be closing on 26th February 2018.
This past week we received notification of the closure of this branch, and it appears there has been no consultation among your customers or key local stakeholders.
This news follows the closure of NatWest bank and Yorkshire BS this autumn and HSBC branch a couple of years ago. Each has made money management more difficult for our residents.
We note that you advise our residents to travel to Caterham branch in future - a full 30-minute journey from Coulsdon by public transport requiring two trains or two buses. This is not acceptable, particularly for the elderly who often do not have access to personal computers, let alone online banking.
We urge you to reverse your decision, particularly taking into account the increase in housing units that are in the process of being constructed in our town, and the footfall that will bring.
Cllr Jeet Bains, Cllr Luke Clancy, Cllr Mario Creatura and Mr Ian Parker.
We have also written to Barclays and Santander, the remaining bank branches in Coulsdon, to ask them to confirm they will be staying in the town.
UPDATE - 5/12/17
Barclays have confirmed that they have no plans to close their branch in Coulsdon, saying:
'I can confirm that we have no plans to make any changes at this branch and if this situation changes then we will contact you.
'Clearly it is not possible to give an open ended commitment to remain open, however we do not take the decision to close any branch lightly and we are committed to following the Access to Banking Protocol.'
UPDATE - 6/12/17
Santander have written back confirming they won't be closing their branch:
'We have no current plans to close the Santander branch in Coulsdon. However, if this were to change, we would of course contact you as soon as we’re able.
'I note your concerns regarding the elderly customers of the community. We are committed to offering our customers a variety of ways to bank, including online or mobile banking, using Santander branches is just one possible option for the local communities. For customers who are unable to access online services, all Santander current account holders can also use local Post Office’s for cash and cheque deposits, withdrawals and to check their account balance. We also have Telephony Advisors who are available to support customers with account management and any advice they may require.'
New lifts and bridge to be installed at Coulsdon South station
02/11/2017 12:17:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Plans will shortly be going to the Planning Committee at Croydon Council for a significant investment in Coulsdon South train station.
The plans will see lifts and a bridge installed to go over the tracks to make it significantly easier for those with mobility issues to move between the two platforms.
You can look up the plans using the Council's planning portal and entering 17/05225/GPDO and send in your comments either there or by emailing email@example.com.
I will be writing in support of this investment, and welcome the consideration that Network Rail is making in our town.
South Drive petition success - eventually!
30/10/2017 21:18:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Tonight I presented a petition from the residents of South Drive in Coulsdon who ask the Council:
“It is currently extremely difficult for residents of South Drive, Coulsdon to park on the street due to parking by non-residents.
We would like Croydon Council to make parking on South Drive available to residents only, using a Pay and Display system.
We understand that those residents wishing to participate in this scheme would incur charges of £80, £126 & £305 per annum for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd permit issued to a household.”
I'm very pleased that Cllr Stuart King, the Cabinet member in charge, has agreed to consult formally with residents on this but that due to other consultations this will not happen until next Summer. Odd that it takes this long, it cannot be said that Labour Croydon is in a rush to work for their residents!
Question on housing policy
29/09/2017 18:41:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
I today have asked this question of Cllr Alison Butler, the Labour Cabinet Member for Housing in Croydon:
'At this week's Labour Party conference Jeremy Corbyn, your Party Leader, announced that under a Labour government, those who live on an estate earmarked for redevelopment would have to be guaranteed a replacement home at the same site and on the same terms, and no work could take place unless approved by a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders.
Haringey, a London Labour-run Council, has today said that they would oppose such a measure because a yes/no vote would risk 'oversimplifying a complex issue' citing guidance from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Whether Labour form a government or not, could the Cabinet Member please outline Croydon Council's position on what is now official Labour Party policy?
Were this policy to be enacted, could the Cabinet Member please list any local developments since 2014 (including those of Brick by Brick) that this would apply to?'
I'll update this blog as soon as she replies.
Question on the recent tram strike
29/09/2017 18:32:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
I have just sent in a question to Cllr Stuart King, Labour Cabinet Member of Transport and the Environment, asking him:
'Tram drivers in Croydon recently voted overwhelmingly for strike action over what the ASLEF union calls a "failure to consult" over a new safety device which would help detect when drivers are fatigued or distracted.
In total, 94.7% of ASLEF members working on the tram network who voted said they were prepared to take part in strike action, with the remaining 5.3% voting no. The turnout in the ballot was 61.5%.
Chris Philp, Conservative MP for Croydon South, has publicly condemned the strikes calling them 'selfish'. To date, the other two Labour MPs for Croydon (Sarah Jones and Steve Reed) have made no comment on the strike. Neither has the Council Leader, you as Cabinet Member or the administration as a collective.
The Croydon Advertiser have reported that Marilyn Logan, whose husband Philip was tragically killed in last year's terrible crash, said she was "absolutely disgusted" and that the vote to strike was a “kick to the stomach”.
- Could the Cabinet Member please outline whether he and Croydon's Labour administration support or oppose this strike?
- Is the Cabinet Member willing to use the influence he has with his Labour Members of Parliament to encourage them to issue public statements on whether they support or oppose this strike?
- Whatever his views, what message does the Cabinet Member feel this strike vote sends to those linked to this tragedy?'
I shall update this blog when he answers.
Speech on the Council's shocking Ofsted review
19/09/2017 16:03:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Last night I spoke in an Extraordinary Council Meeting about Labour's shocking dereliction of their most basic duty: keeping our most vulnerable chilren safe. You can read all about it online.
My speech starts about 29 minutes in, or you can read the transcript below.
'Thank you Madam Mayor. who is running this Council?
Cllr Newman is the Leader. Cllr Flemming is the lead councillor for children and social services. Both senior leaders in the Council. It’s not unreasonable to infer that when voters elected them they expected it to be them running the Council.
And yet on this shocking Ofsted report it’s apparently everyone’s fault but theirs. ‘It’s the Officers, they didn’t tell us’ – cried Cllr Newman on the radio last week.
Ofsted say that the service is inadequate on three damning counts. Worse than the scandal in Birmingham 18 months ago: ‘The local authority [THAT’S YOU] is too slow to take action, this means that some children are left in harmful situations for too long…’; ‘senior leaders [THAT’S ALSO YOU] know that services need to be better, but they have taken too long to take action to improve them’.
What do Cllrs Newman and Flemming say to that? ‘It’s not our fault Guv’!
Well then whose is it? Madam Mayor, who is running this Council?
Ofsted say they knew and did precious little about it. They have the gall to stand in this chamber and pretend that it’s not their responsibility – putting their fingers in their ears and hoping it all just goes away. Those children you’re neglecting try that trick councillor, but for them it doesn’t just go away.
You’re elected to be the Leader, the most senior member of this administration. But when Ofsted say ‘senior leaders’ are at fault conveniently that doesn’t apply to Cllr Newman or Cllr Flemming.
Lightning-quick to take credit when things go well, they run for the hills when the going gets tough. Is this Leadership?
Ofsted say the fault is yours. That’s not up for debate. Either you are the Leader of this Council, in which case Ofsted say you knew and are guilty of a shameful dereliction of your duties OR you aren’t running the Council, you didn’t know about it, in which case we have to ask: what’s the point of you being here at all? What on earth are Croydon taxpayers paying your salary for?
Whatever way you cut it, a change of leadership, the resignation of both Cllrs Newman and Flemming, is the only way that we can start to move past this tragic situation and begin to sort out this crisis.
I get that it’s tough to take responsibility when you’ve messed up. It’s not easy to be principled and have a backbone. And yet I hope you do the honourable thing councillors. The right thing for these vulnerable children, is to take ownership of your mistakes, stand aside and let one of your colleagues take the helm.
I come back to my original question, Madam Mayor: who is running this Council? Because if it is this Leader, then it’s high time we got a new one.'
Accessibility improvements for Coulsdon South station
15/09/2017 15:38:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Network Rail engineers are about to submit planning applications for lifts and other accessibility improvements at Coulsdon South station.
The improvements, which include a mixture of lifts, ramps and new footbridges, are being delivered as part of the Access for All programme, which is funded by the Department for Transport and administered by Network Rail, improving step-free access across the railway network. Together they are worth around £10m.
These improvements will make travelling by train much easier for people with reduced mobility, people with buggies, bags and bikes, and they will make a real difference to how people get around. Train travel should be for everyone, and while there are historic reasons as to why not all our stations are accessible, we remain focussed on making improvements to as many as we can.
Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South (Coulsdon South) has commented to the press: “It is great to see the work that Network Rail have been doing to improve the accessibility of our rail services. This means that it is becoming easier than ever before for people to utilise our excellent local connections for work and to stay connected to family and friends.”
Network Rail will be submitting designs in the autumn for planning determination by local authorities in 2018. Work will take place once permission has been received and designs are complete, with the schemes intended to be completed over the next two years.
You can see the plans here: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/who-we-are/publications-resources/our-plans-for-the-future/the-hendy-review/
Objection to huge Sutton green belt construction project
18/08/2017 17:58:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
I've been made aware of a huge scheme, 99 properties, that are to be constructed on green belt land to the north and rear of Grove Lane.
You can view the application on Sutton Council's planning portal using ref C2017/77362.
The application falls just outside the Croydon borough-boundary and into Sutton, so whilst I have no formal role or ability to refer it to their Planning Committee for refusal, I have still written in and objected - asking the three local councillors to do the same.
Here is my objection:
'I write as a Croydon Councillor to object to the published application ref C2017/77362 for 99 properties to be built on green belt land to the north and rear of Grove Lane.
My ward of Coulsdon West directly borders Clockhouse ward and so I write with concern about the impact this will have on my ward and my residents.
Not only is the scale of this development out of keeping with the picturesque local area, enjoyed by many of my residents, but it is to be built on protected green belt in fields that are a natural habitat for a wide variety of wildlife - including horse grazing.
The published planning documents claim that the development will not be seen by neighbouring properties. Many residents, particularly those already living in Grove Lane, have written to me protesting that this cannot be true given their proximity and the sheer scale of the intended design.
For my ward, I am particularly concerned about the increased pressure this scheme will place on Croydon's already groaning transport infrastructure. Coulsdon/Purley have a well-documented problem with congested roads and lengthy queues, particularly during peak commuter hours. Adding 99 houses to one site in Grove Lane will likely attract double the number of adult residents, implying a potential increase of some 200 resident-owned vehicles. With Coulsdon Town's parade of shops being so near, this will significantly increase the strain particularly on main roads such as Woodmansterne Road; Woodcote Grove Road and Smitham Downs Road.
This will in also negatively impact the already low-number of available parking spaces in Coulsdon Town.
Residents seeking to get into London terminal train stations will more than likely also increase pressure on our limited parking offer near to Coulsdon Town and Coulsdon South station, further adding to the already difficult journey many of my residents face on a daily basis.
For these reasons, I hope the three ward councillors will support my call for the Council Planning Committee to refuse the application.'
If you would like to object, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. The three ward councillors are: email@example.com; Tim.Crowley@sutton.gov.uk and Amy.Haldane@sutton.gov.uk.
Who is your Croydon Hero?
16/08/2017 14:13:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Nominations are now open for the 2017 Mayor of Croydon Civic Awards!
These awards celebrate those in our community who through volunteering, campaigning, awareness raising or in some cases, by simply being there, are helping to make our borough a greater and happier place.
I would be very grateful for your support by promoting the awards as widely as possible. For information about award categories and to nominate online go to www.croydon.gov.uk/civicawards.
If when reading the categories below, a person or group comes to mind, I would ask that you invest 10 minutes of your time to nominate them – recognition goes such a long way and we, like so many other councils, increasingly depend on the goodwill and commitment of those in our community who go that extra mile.
- Volunteer of the year
- Voluntary Group of the Year
- Young Achiever of the Year
- Contribution to Sport and Healthy Living
- Don’t Mess with Croydon – Take Pride
- Business in the Community
- Fairer Croydon
- Carer of the Year
- Good Neighbour
- Stronger Together
The nominations deadline is Friday 8 September and winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Hilton hotel on 17 October.
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