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 The Coulsdon West Blog
Cllr  Jeet  Bains
Cllr  Luke  Clancy
Cllr  Mario  Creatura

Monday's shambles of a Council meeting
27/01/2016 07:49:00......Posted by Mario Creatura


On Monday evening Croydon's Councillors gathered for another Council meeting.

There has been quite a lot of press about the more than 400 Shirley residents who queued around the block to get in and participate in a debate about our Labour administration's de-designation of Metropolitan Open Land. You can read more about what happened here. 

The first item on the agenda was a rather confusing set of amendments to the Council Constitution. Whilst admittely not the sexiest of subjects, it was a very important matter that was rushed through without debate or with the unanimous support of councillors from both political parties. You can watch the exchange here (which includes a political intervention from the theoretically neutral Chief Executive of the Council). I had intended to speak in a debate against the changes, but the Mayor did not allow that to take place. Here are the amendments that restrict members of the public the freedom of speech that our democracy should enshrine. I intend to write about this in greater length at a later date.

The next item on the agenda was the debate on Shirley's loss of metropolitan open land. You can watch the full debate here.

Key moments include:

After the debate, Cllr Fisher moved that there was a 'suspension of standing orders' to allow a vote on the Shirley debate. It was seconded by Cllr Chatterjee. Now this bit may be a slightly confusing so bear with me. A 'suspension of standing orders' means that the usual procedure (in this case for the public petition) would be suspended. The councillors would have to vote on whether this should be allowed to happen. If that suspension had been agreed by a majority of the 70 councillors then the councillors could then vote on whether they agreed or disagreed with the premise of the petition. This vote would have no formal standing and no bearing on Council policy, but it would enable the public to know the mood of the Council. A reasonable request you'd think? Despite this, the Mayor ruled that it would not be allowed.

Cllr Fisher asked for a 'poll vote' on the suspension of standing orders. Normally when we vote it's by saying 'aye' or 'no' and it comes out as an undistinguishable wall of noise. A poll vote is where the name of each councillor is read out and we vocally and individually say how we are voting, revealing the individual intentions of each of us. The Chief Exec said this was not allowed, but confirmed that councillors could "have a vote on whether they wished to have a vote on the matter at hand, but that this would be taken in the usual way of a 'yay or nay', and if you want to take a show of hands we can take a show of hands, but you cannot have a poll vote and from then that decision we can decide whether a vote will take place." After a brief intervention from Cllr Newman, the Mayor of Croydon decided not to allow the vote to take place, saying: "We've now had a period of discussion on this, and we've spent a lot of time on this, and I think it's very clear what opinions are in the room, and it's now my decision that we move on. I need to move on." Understandably this was not appreciated by the public.

I politely asked the Mayor for a point of clarification: "If there has been a motion put forward by a councillor in the room, that has been seconded, are you allowed to overrule that?" She did not choose to answer, saying: "I will not discuss this further."

The Mayor was undestandably in a very difficult position and so she chose to suspended the meeting for 15 minutes.

The Mayor is the politically impartial guardian of free debate, guaranteeing our political processes are fair to all. The Chief Executive had explained our request was entirely justified and in line with the Council Constitution. The Mayor chose to rule against that justification, as is her right. It's only fair to ask: why?

Anyone in the public gallery watching, or the press reporting, who believes that councillors were particularly raucous on Monday evening needs to understand the many reasons why. We are the elected representatives of Croydon and we were denied our democratic voice. Residents were not allowed to see their representatives voting on their petition. The constitution was amended to restrict debate without so much as a debate.

Does that sound right to you?

Return to Coulsdon West's main page
 Other Blog Posts

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

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:



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 The three ward councillors are: and



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

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.



Questions on Knife Crime in Schools
16/08/2017 13:20:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


CQ069-17 from Councillor Mario Creatura to Councillor Hamida Ali

At full Council on Monday 26th June, I asked the Cabinet Member what the Administration was doing to combat the rise in reported knife crime in Croydon. I pointed out that those young people that go to the Croydon Congress, whose parents attend public meetings and who regularly engage with the authorities are not likely to be those that are caught up in gang and knife-related crime. That those disenfranchised from the establishment are the ones that are both hardest to reach and those most in need of engagement.

As part of the Mayor of London's recently published London Knife Crime Strategy, it's been reported in the local press that every secondary school in Croydon could get metal detectors installed at entrances in order to find concealed weapons.

I'd like answers to the following please:

1. How many incidents involved knives have taken place in secondary schools in Croydon since 2014?

2. How does that figure compare to knife-related crime that does not take place in our schools?

3. Does the Administration believe that metal-detectors are required in our secondary schools?

4. If it does, what is the mechanism by which the Council would enforce metal detectors at our secondary schools?

5. Is the Cabinet Member aware and able to provide the view of Croydon's police force on this suggestion?


1. How many incidents involved knives have taken place in secondary schools in Croydon since 2014?

The council works closely with schools and we do support them in dealing with knife related issues but information is not held on the number of incidents in school.

2. How does that figure compare to knife-related crime that does not take place in our schools?

Given the answer above no comparison can be made. HoweverTotal knife related crime is as follows Years 14/15 - 443, 15/16- 340, 16/17 -674. More detailed figures are attached

3. Does the Administration believe that metal-detectors are required in our secondary schools?

This is just one of a number of tactics that can be deployed to assist schools in tackling knife related issues. While metal detectors in schools can assist in ensuring safety, they are used at the school's invitation, in partnership with the police and in a targeted way based on intelligence and any operations must be approved by the relevant Chief Inspector. There is evidence that those who carry knives can go to some lengths to 'hide' them elsewhere including getting other people less likely to be searched to carry for them so arches can be useful in preventing this. And just because a knife may be carried into school, it does not necessarily follow that it is intended to be used in the school. As such, we would see arches as potentially augmenting the work we are doing in having a zero tolerance policy for illegal knives on our streets more broadly. If you would like more information Ch Insp Mike Spies is happy to help 0208 649 01 14.

4. If it does, what is the mechanism by which the Council would enforce metal detectors at our secondary schools?

Schools, working in partnership with their schools’ police officers are best placed to determine the best way to keep children and young people in their care safe based on local risk assessments made for each individual school. The Council does not have the power to enforce metal detector use in schools, but will continue to work in partnership with Head Teachers and governing bodies to ensure our young people are safe. The council is working closely with the police and other agencies to tackle serious youth violence in the round - and that includes a range of activity in addition to police enforcement tactics, including engaging with young people and their parents to raise awareness about the dangers of carrying a knife.

5. Is the Cabinet Member aware and able to provide the view of Croydon's police force on this suggestion?

This is clearly a question for the police and would encourage the councillor to raise this with police colleagues directly.



Helping our Furry Friends!
26/07/2017 13:55:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


Last week the Croydon Advertiser reported a sad story of a beautiful greyhound cross that had been found dumped in a phone box on Chipstead Valley Road with a broken shoulder.

Severley dehydrated and shaken from his ordeal, the three year-old was thankfully noticed by a passer by who immediately called up Furry Friends - a phenomenal organisation based in Old Coulsdon.

The dog, now named Barry, has a great new foster home in Caterham where he is making a full recovery.

Barry was found in my ward, and given the incredible work that Furry Friends carries out locally, rescuing and finding homes for pets that have been abandoned by scurrilous owners, I thought the least I could do was donate £500 of my ward budget to help their sterling work.

My donation will go towards supporting the rescue of animals across Croydon, funding various consultations and check-ups, x-rays etc and will contribute to the vet bill of the charity.

I'll be visiting them in the coming month, but if you are able to support them then visit to make a donation. Every little really does help.



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