The recent history of Old Ashburton Library 17/09/2013 21:46:00......Posted by Adam Kellett
The future of the former Ashburton Library building - and the future of Ashburton Park in general - is an issue of great importance to local residents. Along with Avril and Eddy my fellow ward councillors for Ashburton, I very much welcome discussion about it, including contributions from the Labour Party's newly set up Friends of Ashburton Park group.
Many people have fond memories of using the old library and enjoying the park. As such we wanted to take this opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings about the situation surrounding the building so that residents have all the facts at their disposal when considering solutions for what is a rather complex problem. Residents will remember that the problems with the building started when the previous Labour Council (who were in charge until 2006) included the library as part of the "Ashburton Learning Village PFI Project", run by the construction company Jarvis.
The intended use was for a children's nursery but this became financially unviable following the collapse of Jarvis Construction. To be clear, it was the previous Labour administration that left the building vacant. In their wisdom, the library was moved to the Ashburton Learning Village and no plan was made for the future of the premises. As a result of mistakes made with the legal documents, the site has been vacant since 2006 and has sadly significantly deteriorated due to the financial mismanagement of the Labour-commissioned contracts for the building. When the Conservatives returned to run the Council in May 2006, finding a use for the library was made a priority. However, by this point the building was in dire state of disrepair and this made finding a viable solution more complicated. Significant investment estimated in the millions of pounds would be essential to make the space usable.
But of course, it is the future that people are interested in. To that end, it is important to spell out the work that has been happening to find a new use for the former library.
Given the building's former usage, the planning restrictions state that it must be utilised for educational or community use. Considering this, it of course made sense to talk to local schools and other education providers and find out if they had the resources to make it appropriate for that need. So that is just what we did. When it became apparent that, sadly, none of these options would succeed, the Council decided that we should do all we can to ensure that the building is put to use for the good of the whole community.
As a result, Croydon Council recently finished liaising with local community organisations across the borough with an aim of finding someone who can make a positive use of the building. The bids are currently being evaluated so we can't yet say whether an organisation will be found who are able to take on the scale of financial risk that the building clearly involves. If one does come forward, then clearly that will be a good thing. If not, we will have to think again.
As we hope you now understand, the future is not a certain one for the building. We will continue to fight for a solution that will result in a good use for the site. Despite the various circumstances that have made it difficult to find a quick solution for the library, investment in the park has still continued. After persuasion from us local councillors, there was a refurbishment and upgrading of the play area - another aspect of the park that the Conservative Council inherited in poor condition.
As I said at the beginning, we are highly aware of how important the park is to the people of Ashburton. Therefore we would love to hear from anyone who has a view as to what should be done. In turn, we can ensure that this is fed back to the Council. Please e-mail us if you have any ideas.
We look forward to working with local residents and community groups to preserve this fantastic part of Ashburton where so many happy hours have been spent.
Labour decide to let Old Ashburton Library rot! 01/07/2014 00:03:00.......Posted by Adam Kellett
OK, I know I have been off licking my wounds for the last month but I was gobsmacked by what I heard at Cabinet tonight. Readers may recall that plans were progressing well to let a church group from Thornton Heath have a 125 year lease on the old library building in Ashburton Park which would see them renovate it and include significant community uses in its new role.
During the election campaign Labour claimed we were ignoring the fate of the building, which was actually far from the truth as the history above shows. It is the three new Labour Councillors for Ashburton who have sealed the fate of this fine old building by failing to stand up to new regime's leadership. Presumably a fine upstanding Christian organisation does not fit in with their chosen model of soviet aethiest utopia.
Labour brought in Arnie Graff from America and sent him to work on projects like this without a work permit. He was conned. If he had known that the end result of his efforts was for the Party he was working for tearing up an existing agreement and leaving the building boarded up until it fell down he would have been on the next flight home.
Sadly we don't have that option and must look at the boarded up ruin until the next Conservative Council comes along.
Thank you and goodbye! 01/06/2014 23:05:00.......Posted by Adam Kellett
Most will be aware by now that the Council election on May 22nd was lost and I failed to be re-elected. I would like to thank those who did vote for me and my team-mates Sylvia and Gareth. I have no animosity for those who did not support us, but I do think they have made a big mistake. Time will tell of course, but I fear that the huge steps taken by the Conservatives towards the regeneration of Croydon could now be in jeopardy.
At a ward level I do hope that our Labour successors Maddy, Steven and Andrew look after you all well. I wish them well. Sylvia and Gareth are as dissapointed as I am but I am sure they will be back.
As for yours truly, I am going to take a break from politics. I will have to do five full days a week driving the cab now, so what spare time I have will be spent in a more relaxing manner than of late. In particular I owe it to Hilary and Finlay to spend more time with them. Their support and understanding has been vital in my intense but all too brief political career.
In conclusion can I say that it has been an honour to serve the good citizens of Ashburton ward and I hope that I have helped in a small way to make the lives of many there better.
No trams next week due to bridge replacement 19/05/2014 16:47:00.......Posted by Adam Kellett
Don't get caught out next week as the next stage of the Spring Lane bridge replacement happens. All trams from Croydon town centre will terminate at Addiscombe from Saturday 24th May until Sunday 1st June. No trams will run to Elmers End or Beckenham Junction for the whole week.
A replacement bus service will run from East Croydon to Beckenham with stops close to Addiscombe, Blackhorse Lane, Woodside, Arena and Elmers End tramstops along Lower Addiscombe Road and Long Lane.
Next week has been chosen as it is half term and passenger numbers are lighter than normal. I would expect the buses to be very busy though.
Congratulations to MORA on their 90th birthday! 04/04/2014 23:11:00.......Posted by Adam Kellett
I was delighted to be at the AGM and 90th birthday celebrations of the Monks Orchard Residents Association (MORA) tonight along with Cllr Avril Slipper and our colleagues representing Shirley ward. Gavin Barwell MP helped cut the cake and in a short speech he commented how much easier his job was where there is an active residents association such as MORA. I would add that they have been a pleasure to work with these past four years, even though they quite rightly keep me on my toes at times!
Greater London Assembly Member Steve O'Connell and Council Leader Mike Fisher added their insights to proceedings and there were presentations for the three retiring Councillors Avril Slipper, Eddy Arram and Janet Marshall. All in all an enjoyable evening so thanks to Chairman Dave King and all the other hard working committee members.
Here's to the next 90 years!
Planning inspector overturns Croydon Council's decision at Woodmere Avenue 26/03/2014 00:05:00.......Posted by Adam Kellett
I learnt today that retrospective planning permission has been granted on appeal for the large outbuilding at 31a Woodmere Avenue. Most residents will be dissapointed not only by the decision but by the way that an unelected inspector from a Bristol based Quango can over-rule their democratically elected Council.
To those not familiar with this site's history, let me summarise. The residents requested and were issued with a lawful development certificate for an outbuilding to be used as a gym. If it had been built according to the plans it would have been permitted development. Sadly what was built was larger than the plans and also appeared to residents as being used as accomodation. The Council then rejected a retrospective application for the building as it was built and allegedly used.
The inspector considering the appeal based his decision on the use being ancilliary to the main dwelling house as stated in the application.
The one piece of good news here is that the inspector did impose a condition that the building must not be used as a dwelling.
I hope that all makes sense!
Monks Orchard Primary gets a "Good" from OFSTED 17/03/2014 22:20:00.......Posted by Adam Kellett
Monks Orchard Primary School was inspected by OFSTED on the 25th and 26th February and has been given a "Good" rating once again. As the judging criteria have been toughened up since the last inspection in 2009 this represents a solidifying of the school's position. Monks Orchard was found to be "Good" in all the categories of Achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership & management. Criticisms within the report were so few and far between that you wonder why "Outstanding" was not awarded in at least some of the categories, but as a Governor I would say that wouldn't I?
Congratulations to Headteacher Mrs Misson and all the rest of the staff as well as the splendidly behaved and hard working children that contributed so much to this result.
Learn more about Spring Lane closure at drop-in session. 13/03/2014 23:06:00.......Posted by Adam Kellett
Works to completely replace Spring Lane bridge are about to enter their most difficult stage. Access will be restricted from 22nd March until final completion on 7th July with a total closure to vehicles scheduled from 25th March until 15th June.
To help explain the process and publicise the timetable, Transport for London and Croydon Council are holding a drop-in session on Thursday March 20th between 7.00 and 8.30 in the evening. The venue is Saint Luke's Church Hall in Spring Lane. I intend to be there for some of the time and look forward to meeting you.
I fully appreciate that the next few months are going to be very difficult for local residents, but I firmly believe that it is the right decision to replace the bridge in 2014 while we have a window of opportunity.
Progressing towards community uses at Old Ashburton Library 26/02/2014 23:52:00.......Posted by Adam Kellett
At the Town Hall tonight, the Corporate Services Committee decided unanimously to recommend that a 125 year lease be offered for the Old Ashburton Library building in Ashburton Park. The need for commercial confidentiality means that much of the detail can not be revealed as yet.
If the deal proceeds then some of the community uses we are likely to see in a refurbished building include a pre-school nursery; a place of worship; a family contact centre and a youth club.
I am sure that all will welcome this outcome for this attractive local building, perhaps even the ghost that is said to haunt it!
Sixteen hour reprieve for Spring Lane 25/02/2014 23:03:00.......Posted by Adam Kellett
I discovered tonight that the closure of Spring Lane Bridge on Friday 28th February has now been put back until 21.00. The scheduled end of the closure remains Sunday 9th March.
I have also learnt that Council officers, in conjunction with TfL, have grasped a narrow window of opportunity to get the work done this year. The circumstances are not ideal as co-ordinating with work to replace the nearby Tennison Road bridge means a tight timescale and short notice of the works commencing.
However when the new Spring Lane bridge is completed in July, I am sure most will consider that the disruption was a price worth paying. Amongst other things, Ashburton residents will get the 312 bus back and the 130 will revert to its short route to Norwood Junction, with its extension to Thornton Heath to follow shortly.
Spring Lane bridge closure 25/02/2014 13:03:00.......Posted by Adam Kellett
Spring Lane bridge will be closed to all vehicles from this coming Friday 28th February at 05.00 until Sunday 9th March. This is to allow UK Power Networks to divert utilities as a first step to rebuilding the bridge. Further closures will follow until the replacement bridge is fully open in July.
Whilst TfL is in charge of the work, Croydon Council has to co-ordinate the diversions and try to minimise the impact on residents and through traffic. You may we be aware that the nearby Tennison Road bridge is also due to be replaced this year and much effort has gone in to keeping to an absolute minimum the time that both bridges are shut concurrently.
Further details will follow but for now the key date is this Friday 28th. First days of a closure are always the worst so please give the area a wide berth if at all possible.
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