My contribution to the Coulsdon Debate
26/04/2016 09:47:00......Posted by Jeet Bains
My ward colleague, Luke Clancy, recently posted here regarding a debate in Coulsdon. We debated Maureen Levy on the motion “Croydon council is destroying Coulsdon”. This was held at the Old Coulsdon Centre. We opposed the motion, emphasising that it's particularly the Labour administration that is ruining Coulsdon, contrasting this with the Conservative record. Luke concentrated on Coulsdon issues, and I referred to wider Croydon issues and their relevance to Coulsdon. I thought you might like to see my notes which are below.
Hello, and thank you for inviting me to this debate. And particular thanks to Maureen Levy and Angela Applin for organising this and keeping me informed about it. The motion in front of us is “Croydon council is destroying Coulsdon”. I oppose this motion and I’ll say up front that I will be very political in my argument tonight. My opposition makes a distinction between the current Labour administration, which is indeed destroying Coulsdon, and the previous Conservative one which I contend, far from destroying Coulsdon, was moving Coulsdon forward. In short it’s not Croydon Council per se that we need to look to as the bane of Coulsdon, it’s the Labour party that currently runs it.
My ward colleague, Luke Clancy, and I have broadly divided our opposition to this motion so that Luke will cover specific Coulsdon matters, and I will address how wider Croydon decisions by Labour are adversely affecting Coulsdon.
First I’d like to tackle transparency. As with many things, I guess that achieving 100% satisfaction in this regard is nigh-on impossible, as is keeping all interested parties completely happy with the level of transparency. But transparency is important to Coulsdon and all Croydon wards. It’s important that residents are clear about the priorities for the Council by the party they have elected. It’s also important to know what’s going to be measured and then how the Council is performing against those criteria. Whether it’s governing or running a business or any important endeavour, it’s crucial for us to know that the right things are being done and that things are being done right.
With regard to the current Labour administration, despite much noise about transparency when they were in opposition, their own track record is patchy at best. A couple of recent examples:
The live broadcasts of Council meetings have been reinstated. But who listens to them? Hardly anyone. And what meaningful information is gathered by watching them? Not much. It is fine in opposition to take a high moral tone about transparency. But when you are given the opportunity in power to address the supposed transparency deficit, it behoves you to implement something that is meaningful and useful to the electorate. It’s too easy to just broadcast meetings on the web. I think you’ll find the recordings to be not of the highest quality and the proceedings will be a mystery to many. Is this what Labour meant by transparency? I would say that this is an eye-wash, mere posturing, insubstantial and counter-productive. People see it for what it is and the consequence is disengagement and disillusionment. If Labour were serious about transparency, they would be much more careful and deliberate about their approach to such things, and there would be a revisiting and checking and fine-tuning to make it easier and better for the electorate. But the reality is that effort does not go into such things. Instead it is a mere tick box: tick, we’ve done the web thing.
This matters to Coulsdon because it sets the tone for what Cousldon residents can expect in terms of information and answers from the Council.
Another example: recently, your Coulsdon West councillors asked to see the details of the decision not to proceed with the Lion Green Road car park development. This was and is an important matter for the area. There will be different views about the proposed development and its various implications for traffic, parking etc. But on the point about transparency, the Council would not provide important information about the delay to the scheme, despite clear indications that the developer is still interested and despite Councillor requests.
Again, the tone is set by the current Labour administration and Council officers take their lead from this. Coulsdon loses out from this faux transparency that Labour has imposed. But the conclusion to be drawn from this is not that Croydon Council is destroying Coulsdon. Rather, it is the current Labour administration that is bad for Cousldon, and a key manifestation of this is the lack of transparency. Contrast this with the previous Conservative administration: wide consultation on all matters, scrutiny meetings open to the public and in fact held in various locations around the borough, and clear setting out of priorities and sound implementation.
Building on this theme, I now turn to the matter of Fairfield Halls. Coulsdon benefits from Fairfield Halls as the prime entertainment location south of the Thames, just as all Croydon wards do. In fact, one might say that it benefits Coulsdon more for this reason, as the northern Croydon wards are obviously closer to central London locations as an option. So Fairfield Halls is good for Coulsdon. Coulsdon is not destroyed in any way by being in the same borough as Fairfield Halls. But, again, the current Labour administration is taking away this great boon to all Croydon wards. Quite apart from the lack of transparency (again) – there has been no proper consultation and no meaningful accommodation of views. But aside from the transparency issue, the actual decision to close Fairfield Halls is detrimental to Coulsdon. The organs in Fairfield were unique – now to be dismantled and carted away. The acoustics of the main hall were superior to those of the Royal Festival Hall in London, and some say the best in the country. What it needed was sensible, well managed investment to see it back to its best. Even in its admittedly less than perfect state it was attracting some of the best musical and theatrical acts around. Its history and pedigree boasted some of the biggest names in the history of the arts. So of course it was great for Coulsdon, as it was for all wards. Its demise and disappearance betrays the current administration’s short-sightedness and lack of cultural and intellectual depth. Contrast this with the previous Conservative administration’s commitment to invest in and protect Fairfield Halls.
I want to touch on two more things to illustrate my contention that it’s not Croydon Council that is the problem for Coulsdon, rather it’s the party that currently runs the Council. These two things are Boulders and the Fairness Commission. I’m sure you’ve all seen the boulder outside the Coulsdon library. I’m sure you all love it, especially when you trip over its unlit beauty at night. What’s this all about? Costing thousands of pounds, the Council took it upon itself to distribute 20 of these things around the borough to celebrate these particular wards being part of the London Borough of Croydon for 50 years. Well, I think the priorities should lie elsewhere. And it’s yet another example of who you vote for as being important rather than whether you’re part of Croydon.
And finally the Fairness Commission. I don’t know how many of you have heard of it but the Labour Council has seen fit to spend £200,000 on a Fairness Commission. Whilst admirable in its aim to ensure that council decisions are “fair”, why should a new layer of bureaucracy be put in place to pronounce upon this? Decisions should be made by elected Councillors and then they should be held to account for those decisions. There was no demand from the public for this commission. It serves no useful purpose and it undermines Labour’s claims of operating in a tough environment. This decision does not benefit Coulsdon. The answer, however, does not lie in somehow being outwith Croydon because bad governance can be found in other places too.
The contrast is to be made with the previous Conservative Council which looked after the interests of Coulsdon, fought for residents and their views and ensured that the benefits of being part of Croydon were accrued.
I therefore oppose the motion that Croydon Council is destroying Coulsdon, and instead contend that it is Labour that is harmful to Coulsdon.
Cllr. Jeet Bains
|Return to Coulsdon Town's main page
Letter to save the Coulsdon Medical Centre
06/04/2018 12:33:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Following the surprising news that the Care Quality Commission are to close the Coulsdon Medical Centre, we wrote to Sir David Behan (the CEO) for an explanation.
Dear Sir David,
Coulsdon Medical Practice, 66 Brighton Road, Coulsdon, S CR5 3EE
We write as representatives of the Coulsdon West ward of the London Borough of Croydon to register our strong objections to the closure of the above Medical Practice in our ward.
Our residents have benefitted from the excellent service provided at the Centre for many years and we fail to understand why the practice is to close when the demand for services in the area is increasing.
Locally, we are seeing the development of the Cane Hill site which when completed will bring over 600 houses and many more residents to the area, all requiring the services of local doctors. Now is the time for health provision in the area to expand not contract.
We believe there are over 3500 patients registered at the practice. How do they go about registering with another GP?
We would appreciate your justification for the closure together with some explanation as to how the health provision will be increased elsewhere to cover the closure of the practice and to meet the ever growing demand locally.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Cllr Luke Clancy. Cllr Mario Creatura and Ian Parker (candidate)
Labour's track record - not something to be proud of
27/03/2018 16:13:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Last night I was pleased to speak against Labour's debate motion in the final Council meeting before the local elections. Their motion read:
'This Council recognises the achievements of this administration including delivering, the London Living Wage, Private landlords licensing scheme, Don͛t Mess with Croydon, Pride Festival, White Ribbon Borough, Fairfield Halls regeneration, Improving Schools, Choose your future, Investment in services for older people, affordable housing for local people and much more, Croydon is a place that all our residents are increasingly proud of. However there is still much more to do to secure Croydon's long term future, and our town cannot afford to go back to the years of cuts, closures and austerity.
You can watch my contribution here, or read a transcript below:
Thank you Madam Mayor, in rising to speak to Labour’s motion I have to admit to being a little, well, disappointed. If this is intended to be a list of their greatest successes in the last four years then it’s a little pathetic. With a genuinely heavy heart I’ll explain why.
They highlight the landlord licensing scheme, more commonly known as the Tenant Tax, touted at improving the living standards of renters across the borough it forced our 30,000 private sector landlords in Croydon to pass the £750 license fee to their tenants. It’s raised tens of millions - but how many dodgy landlords have been prosecuted by our Labour Council? Newham prosecuted over 1,000 – Croydon has prosecuted ONE - one single solitary person last year.
I’m bemused that they’re proud about ‘Don’t Mess With Croydon’. Proud of the 64% increase in fly-tipping since they took over the running of the Council compared to just 12% across London. Proud of the reduction in recycling rates since 2014. Proud of sacking 20 street cleaners. They shouldn’t be proud, they should be ashamed.
They boast about Fairfield Halls being regenerated – but they forget to mention the hundreds of passionate performers, expert technicians, and loyal locals marched on the Town Hall to stop its complete closure. They won’t mention the thousands who petitioned to beg them to stop – thousands who Labour didn’t listen to. Lo and behold Labour Leader admitted last month the delivery date has slipped – again – this time by a whole year. Is that something to be proud of?
The claim they’re building affordable housing is similarly ludicrous - the Labour Mayor of London’s stats show that last year just 5% of all new builds in Croydon were affordable. In their manifesto they say ‘we’ll provide more Council homes’ but in 2017 this Labour administration announced it would be shutting down the Council House Building Scheme. Since 2014 not one Council house brick has been laid. In 2016 Cllr Newman tweeted ‘Proud Croydon Labour is delivering 50% affordable housing… that’s why I’m supporting Owen Smith.’ Guess you were wrong on both counts eh?
Their 30-page long 2014 manifesto was branded ‘Ambitious for Croydon’. It contained some 109 pledges but here they highlight just 10 they feel deserve of praise. But every single one is either a half-truth, a distortion of reality or taking credit for something started by others.
In conclusion, Labour’s 2014 manifesto serves as a monument to failure – and the nearly 400,000 local residents they have let down.
I oppose this motion.
My Lion Green Road objection
23/03/2018 11:30:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
17/06297/FUL – Lion Green Road (redevelopment of site to provide 5no. five, six, seven storey buildings providing 96 one bedroom, 42 two bedroom and 19 three bedroom flats: provision of vehicular access, residential and town centre car parking spaces, hard and soft landscaping works and new private and public amenity space.)
That’s 237 bedrooms.
116 public car parking spaces and 45 residential car parking spaces – for 237 bedrooms.
If we assume every bedroom has a driver, which is possible, then that means we are deficient in 192 car parking spaces.
If we assume there’s just one vehicle per flat, which is highly unlikely, then that’s 112 residential parking spaces extra that we need for this plan to work. If we halve that then we are still out by 11.
The main reason for my objection to the plan for Lion Green Road is this – where do those new residents and their vehicles go?
The current Lion Green Road car park has over 100 of its 115 spaces used nearly all day. In the context of the rest of the town, there is no argument for adding a further 237 plus residents and their inevitable vehicles
- The CALAT car park has 35 well-used spaces.
- Aldi car park is often full with four or more queuing and over-flowing into the main road, obstructing public transport and other vehicles. I’m pleased to be meeting with the Property Director next month to try to work out a solution on that.
- Waitrose car park likewise is often full with a couple queuing and some obstruction of passing traffic.
- The side roads with free bays or no controls are also heavily parked - notably The Avenue, The Grove and South Drive. Other roads with no charges are also well parked.
- During peak times traffic is jammed from the Lion Green Road junction with Chipstead Valley Road and backs all the way down that road to often as far as Barrie Close and the traffic is practically gridlocked on Lion Green Road.
This is not the first time that I’ve made this argument to this committee – imagine you own a car, and you have gone through the stress and strain and bought a flat in this 157 flat development.
You’re told that there are 45 residential car parking spaces. Do you sell your car, knowing the odds are you’ll not be able to part? Or do you chance it? You think about all those trips to the North Downs or out into Chipstead and Hooley and greater Surrey. The reason why you moved to Coulsdon! Of course you chance it. Because you simply don’t think that someone else will have the same idea. Only they all do. And they all add their vehicles into our town.
If nothing else, listen to the residents. Residents in Coulsdon are reasonable. That’s why I’ve no problem at all with the two proposals for the applications for the land west of Malcolm Road and the former CALAT centre. Both have more support than objections.
But in this case there objectors include: Chris Philp and Crispin Blunt MP; Hartley and District Residents’ Association; Hooley Residents’ Association; Chipstead Residents’ Association; Steve O’Connell; Old Coulsdon Residents’ Association.
And 256 real people objecting. 256 people saying, please don’t do this to our town. 256 people saying – think again.
I’d urge the committee to support them.
My Coulsdon Community Centre objection
23/03/2018 11:30:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
17/06216/FUL – Community Centre on Barrie Close - demolition of existing community centre and erection of 33 residential units comprising 4 one bedroom flats, 12 two bedroom flats and 17 three bedroom houses, together with provision of car parking, landscaping and other associated works).
Two strands to my argument against this plan – the first is that there is no need to demolish a beloved community centre and relocate it in the first place, and the second is that what will be constructed there is deeply unpopular with some 165 of my residents.
There is no compelling case for Brick by Brick to demolish and relocate the Coulsdon Community Centre given its immense popularity with the thousands of residents who use it on a regular basis. It has a 95% usage rate and the car park is full most of the time. It is used by parents taking their children to classes, it’s used by elderly residents with mobility issues who need to park close to the centre, and everyone in between. It is used for our surgeries often accompanied by the regular Zumba class!
Parking is already very heavily congested at the section of Chipstead Valley Road that the Centre currently occupies, including the perpendicular roads of Coniston and Sherwood. One space per property for 33 properties is not enough for these new builds and will only make parking worse for those residents already in the locale - particularly those in Barrie Close.
As the new proposed development is up hill from existing properties residents have contacted me fearing that they will be able to look down directly into bedrooms and bathrooms of existing properties, seriously affecting privacy and security.
The 21st November 2017 Development Presentations for item 5.1 of the Committee Planning Agenda state:
“It is considered that 3 storeys would be an appropriate maximum height for the properties to avoid the development having an overbearing impact on the surrounding 2 storey context. It is important that only the rooftops of the properties are visible through the trees from the surrounding area to be consistent with local character.”
The design of four storeys high is therefore contradictory to the council’s own development presentation. A reduction in the height/size of the development should be considered to mitigate these very real fears.
It is well known that the sewage system on this part of Chipstead Valley Road has overflown several times in recent years, adding this many properties to the outflow without heavily investing in underground sewage infrastructure is believed it will only make the problem worse. There appears to be no guarantee from the developer that this will be improved should these additional residents move in to the congested area.
There are a large number of other residential developments that are either in construction, have been recently finished or have recently been approved including the hundreds of homes on Cane Hill, the Lion Green Car Park development, new flats at 177 Chipstead Valley Road, new flats at 193/195 Chipstead Valley Road etc. all with insufficient parking provision. Altogether, this will result in around an extra 900 dwellings in Coulsdon. Without any planned changes to the town’s infrastructure – especially with regard to trains, roads and schools – this is a clear case of over-development of Coulsdon more broadly.
The loss of the existing Coulsdon Community Centre building would be a sad event for the history of Coulsdon. The building dates to 1935 and has much architectural and historic interest to the local community. It is well-used, with 95% occupancy rate. Last year Cllr Timothy Godfrey, Labour Cabinet Member for culture, praised the community services offered by the Coulsdon Community Centre and has cited it repeatedly as an example of best practice in the borough. Demolishing this Centre seems entirely contradictory, hypocritical and destructive to our community.
Again, I ask the committee to listen to the residents of my ward. Listen to the two MPs and the residents’ association who have deep concerns. They are not being unreasonable, they have legitimate concerns as I have outlined and 165 have taken the time to write to object and ask you to think again.
Objectors include Chris Philp and Crispin Blunt MP, Hooley Residents’ Association. The Coulsdon Community Centre is against/neutral.
Labour dominated planning committee approve controversial Coulsdon schemes
23/03/2018 11:26:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Sadly last night our Labour-dominated Planning Committee decided to ignore the hundreds of local residents who objected to the intensive development of Lion Green Road and the demolition of the much-loved Coulsdon Community Centre and grant two controversial local schemes.
256 residents and local businesses objected to the former, 165 for the latter. Naturally I am very dissapointed by the result, but I'm more concerned by the strain that these 190 new properties will add to the infrastructure of our town.
The Croydon Advertiser has covered the result of the meeting on their website, it's well worth a read.
My objections to the plans are laid out below but you can watch it and access the contributions of others by clicking the link in the headings.
Woodcote Medical Centre
21/03/2018 15:35:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Residents are understandably concerned about rumours that Dr Khan’s Coulsdon practice will have to close - leaving some 4,000 patients without a GP.
We've contacted the Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group who looks after such matters who tell us: “We are aware of the situation regarding The Coulsdon Medical Practice. We are committed to working with the practice and the Care Quality Commission, as the national organisation responsible for inspecting the quality of health services, to ensure that all registered patients have access to the best possible GP services in Croydon.”
We've asked them to keep us updated with the very latest news on this important local service.
The Citiscape Tribunal decision
15/03/2018 20:52:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
As someone like you who lives in the CitiScape building, I wrote to my fellow neighbours following the recent tribunal decision that replacing the cladding on our Croydon housing block should be paid for by we residents.
It is clearly not the residents fault that the cladding needs replacing and it seems very unfair that we are being asked to pay for it.
The Judge in the Tribunal case said that the developer of the building, the warranty provider (the building control company) or even the Council, if they signed off the work as safe, could be liable to pay for the work.
If elected me, Ben and Elizabeth will fully support residents in pursuing these potentially liable parties.
I will continue my regular contact with the Citiscape Residents’ Group to see if there is anything they would like particular support with in continuing this important fight.
If any neighbours would like to arrange a time for me to pop by to discuss any of this, do get in touch as above and I’d be happy to meet.
Aldi replies - and wants to meet
14/03/2018 17:24:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
At the start of the month we wrote to the CEO of Aldi UK to see if he would be willing to help fix the intolerable gridlock outside their very popular Coulsdon store.
We're grateful that he replied very swiftly which you can read here.
We're in the process of trying to agree a meeting time for both Aldi, Council Officers, Councillors and TfL.
The saga with the Coulsdon Town toilet continues
07/03/2018 09:30:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
I've just been informed that the Council's Neighbourhood Safety Manager met with their contractors last week and they are in the process of ordering the replacement parts for the broken toilet door. These will hopefully be in by early next week and I'm told the Council will have the toilets open as soon as possible.
The Neighbourhood Safety South team are due to start some local engagement activities with businesses and residents. They are essentially looking to see if anyone can provide them with information as to whom may be responsible for vandalising of the toilet. It does seem rather coincidental that the same type of damage appears to occur on a semi regular basis. Hopefully this work will bear fruit and the Council can work with the SNT to stop the vandalism permanently.
The emergency button inside the WC isn't working at present. The Council accepts the delay on fixing this is not good enough and has resolved to do their best to speed maintenance up.
I've sent in several additional questions (including the potential use of camera's) and I'm told I'll receive a response in the near future.
Traffic around Howard Primary School
04/03/2018 20:59:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
A while ago we visited Southbridge Road to introduce ourselves as the Conservative candidates for Croydon Town Centre – Fairfield Ward in the local council elections in May 2018.
During our visit some residents nformed us that they were concerned about the traffic management/road layout around Howard Primary School due to difficulties in crossing the road and the knock on effect of the safety of school children.
We have been working with council officers on this issue to try to help deal with some of the concerns.
Council officers have stated that requests for road safety measures around school sites are usually dealt with through the school travel plan process, where schools can identify the problems and issues faced by their pupils and parents concerning highway safety on their journeys to school and present them in a clear format called the travel plan document.
This process enables funding to be secured for the investigation and development of suitable safety measures and solutions where appropriate. However, at the present time difficulties crossing the roads around Howard Primary School have not been mentioned in the schools current travel plan.
Council officers have stated that it would be useful to understand further the details of residents' concerns. For information, they have stated that a zebra crossing has recently been introduced on Bramley Hill near to its junction with Southbridge Road and a further one is planned later this year on Warham Road near to Nottingham Road.
Clive Whittle, one of the senior engineers has offered for residents to contact him directly with any concerns so that they can be discussed further. His contact details are Clive.Whittle@Croydon.gov.uk.
I hope this reassures residents that the issue is being managed, if you have any other questions about this or your local area, specifically that the council can deal with then please don’t hesitate to contact us.
See older blog posts