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 The Coulsdon Town Blog
 
Cllr  Luke  Clancy
Cllr  Mario  Creatura
Cllr  Ian  Parker
 

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.

Thank you.
Cllr. Jeet Bains

 
Return to Coulsdon Town's main page
 
 Other Blog Posts
 

Illegal discharge on Cane Hill
02/01/2019 07:32:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

A resident recently got in touch having spotted an illegal discharge into a cattle grid at the bottom of Cane Hill Drive. They also reported that there is a constant breach of the 8:00 noise restriction as the sweeper is in full operation from 7:00am.

I've been working with the Council to get to the bottom of both these complaints.

The site manager has been contacted and as the road sweeper is vital to mitigate dust on site the Council has recommended that they clean the areas where there is no residential impact earliest in the morning before moving onto other areas later.

The manager has also been asked to investigate the ‘illegal discharge’ and I hope that now we're out of the Christmas period that we'll have a swift resolution to the issues.

If you spot anything like this where you live, then please do contact the Council's construction enforcement team.

 


 

Damaged parking pole
27/12/2018 13:26:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

I've reported to the Council a damaged parking pole about 50 tards east of the Woodplace Lane Rail Bridge. It looked like it was hit by a vehicle.

The highways inspector has said they'll investigate and get it sorted as soon as possible.

If you see anything like this, then please use the Council app or contact information to report it.

 


 

Speed limit sign knocked down
24/12/2018 11:42:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

A speed limit sign has been knocked down at the Croydon/Surrey border on Woodplace Lane, opposite the stables. 

I've reported this to the Council who tell me they'll investigate and get it sorted as soon as possible.

If you see anything like this, then please use the Council app or contact information to report it.

 


 

Dust and mud on Cane Hill
19/12/2018 13:48:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

The builders on Cane Hill are doing an excellent job, and the community is thriving. But there have been some issues with their dust mitigation measures and I've been working with the Council to get these up to scratch.

There have been clear issues with mud being tracked from the construction areas to surrounding roads and the Council has noted the lack of wheel washing facilities on the spine road which has resulted in construction dirt and debris from vehicles which is being tracked onto the main vehicle and pedestrian thorough-fares. In addition the road sweeper was not clearing the road areas effectively.

The Planning Enforcement team have contacted the site requiring the following measures to be employed:

  1. that wheel washing facilities will be reinstated immediately(if not present) to clean vehicles before leaving the construction phases of the development.
  2. That the road sweeper will be immediately deployed across the site where necessary to effectively clean the footways/highways.
  3. That the drainage system which serves the highway is adequately maintained to ensure it can cope with the run-off from the seasonal weather and any washings coming from construction traffic which use this main route in and out of the site.

A further site visit will be carried out to ensure these measures have been employed.

If there are continued issues regarding this matter residents should please contact the pollution team direct using the contact details below:

Tel: 020 8760 5483 9-5

Out of hours emergency 020 8726 6000 and press option 4

Email: pollution@croydon.gov.uk

 


 

Lights on Coulsdon Town footbridge repaired
18/12/2018 07:40:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

After a lot of pushing by residents, Residents' Associations and councillors, I'm really pleased that the bridge has finally been repaired so that all the lights are now working.

With the dark mornings and evenints it's important that we all feel safe when walking around the neighbourhood, with most of the lights out of action for so many weeks that wasn't the case.

Thank you to everyone who helped to lobby to make this happen.

 


 

Would Labour apologise to the vulnerable residents it's been letting down?
03/12/2018 23:43:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Tonight the Conservatives put forward a motion for debate at the Council meeting:

This Council needs to do more to protect its most vulnerable residents – and apologises to all those it has let down to date.

A simple question, and you would think they'd be able to answer. Throughout the evening many of my councillor colleagues had raised serious cases of vulnerable people being let down by the Council:

  • Cllr Perry referenced a much-loved South Norwood business, closed because of a Council planning application. They were promised help by the Council, but none came.
  • Cllr Hale described a single mother, forced to sleep with her children in a car, refused Council housing appointments for weeks at a time. Since 2015 the Council hasn't completed one single affordable or Council house.
  • Cllr Streeter referenced the difficulties 98-year-old Shirley resident was having sorting out her neglected waste collections, only able to be helped thanks to the persistence of her neighbours.
  • Cllr Brew referenced a block of flats on the Brighton Road where vulnerable elderly people are living - where their food waste has not been collected since the summer.
  • Cllr Stranack spoke of a widow in his ward, seeking help through the Council system and unable to speak to a real person for weeks at a time.

There were numerous other worrying examples shared, and to their credit many of the Labour Cabinet members offered public apologies for the failure in service.

It's this that made what followed so disappointing. Here was my speech, opening the debate this evening:

Tonight we have heard dozens of examples of this Labour Council failing our most vulnerable residents. 

We’ve heard about small businesses closing saying it’s due to a lack of support from the Council, hurting our district centres and destroying the livelihoods of many of our residents. 

We’ve heard that since 2015 Labour have not finished one, single affordable or Council house – with many hundreds left stranded on the housing waiting list. 

We’ve heard about elderly, vulnerable residents, living among their refuse, left to rot for months on end and when they ask for help with their assisted collection they are ignored for weeks at a time. 

We’ve heard that immunisation of our young people is among the worst in London. We know that health visitors have such huge caseloads that they aren’t able to support the many vulnerable families who need their support. Out of 6000 babies born in Croydon every year, 858 will experience physical abuse, 720 will have parents with mental health problems and 1320 will experience parental separation. 

We all know about Ofsted’s damning children’s services report which revealed in its update just last month that this Council is still suffering from ‘drift and delay’ - leaving vulnerable children in worrying circumstances for far too long. 

Madam Mayor, it’s not just children. We know that when vulnerable adults try to access the contact centre for support, they are often left unaided and unacknowledged. 

Earlier this year Council had to pay out thousands of pounds to ‘a young man with complex needs’ for ‘failure to provide suitable respite care’ which caused him and his carer ‘extreme distress.’ 

Throughout the complaint, the Social Care Ombudsman was ‘concerned by the Council’s lack of engagement’. It took a total of 12 weeks for the Council to respond to his enquires. Then when the Ombudsman drafted a report, the Council failed to respond to that! He said: ‘this was particularly concerning given the significant failings identified by the investigation and the resultant injustice to a young man with complex disabilities and his carer.’

This is not an isolated case. There were 226 other complaints made this year alone.

Now, this motion asks Labour to accept what they have already accepted via the Ombudsman – that they must to more to protect our most vulnerable residents – and it asks that they apologise to those they have let down to date. 

I hope – I sincerely hope – that the Labour speakers following me are going to be humble, that given the mountain of evidence presented this evening, that they will accept that an apology isn’t an unreasonable request, and that it’s the least our residents deserve. 

Madam Mayor, I sadly support this necessary motion and hope Labour does too.

Cllr Newman, the Labour Leader of the Council, was next up to speak - at least in theory. What followed was a shouted and intensely negative set of ad hominem attacks. An angry, rambling rant the likes of which I've never experienced in my over four years of being on the Council. He was incoherent, he was illogical, he was frankly embarrassing. Despite Labour Cllrs Collins, Butler and Avis apologising to varying degrees during the meeting, despite all the factual evidence listed throughout the evening by my colleagues and by me (including the legal pay-outs demanded by the Ombudsman), Cllr Newman and his Labour councillors seemed incapable of accepting themselves culpable for the shocking service they are offering our residents.

Labour voted against our polite, considered and factually accurate motion. A tremendous shame.

I'll post the link to the footage as soon as it's up so you can see for yourself and make your own judgement about how the debate progressed.

With a temper tantrum like the one we saw tonight, and the denial that seems to be gripping our Labour Council, I fear that our most vulnerable residents are far from getting the support and the services that they deserve.

 


 

Superb scouting send-off for Steve
16/11/2018 22:44:00.......Posted by Luke Clancy

 
 

Great send-off tonight for Steve French, District Scout Commissioner at Royal Russell School.

From Christmas 2018 Steve is stepping down from role and Greg Cook takes over as DC in Croydon. 

Steve says the role has been challenging but very rewarding over the past 10 years and trusts everyone will continue to give Greg all the support that was previously given to him.

You can find more about what the famous and well-regarded scouting movement does locally here: www.croydonscouting.org.uk

 


 

Coulsdon Town paint markings
13/11/2018 17:56:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

The worn paint markings in the town centre have been causing some concern, and I've been on a mission to get them re-painted. As ever, never an easy process...

Some years ago a decent investment in the public realm of Coulsdon high street was made, and the standard tarmac approach to road maintenance was forgone in favour of some nice granite stone slabs. The standard road markings were applied using the usual paint, but the two do not work together as well as in other parts of the borough. This has lead to much easier than expected wear and tear, so the point where road markings are barely visible. In the case of the zebra crossing outside Tesco's, this is clearly dangerous, but it also affects driving and parking behaviour up and down the road.

The Council is recommending using a sprayed on paint as opposed to the usual thermoplastic paints – something that they use extensively in Westminster. The Council is working hoping to do a test initially to see how effective the treatment is and are intending to use the forthcoming closures in Malcolm Road to facilitate this – the entry point adjacent to Waitrose. This will likely take place 19-23rd November.

Hopefully this trial will be a success and the markings can be re-applied soon after.

 


 

Remembrance Sunday
11/11/2018 22:54:00.......Posted by Luke Clancy

 
 

"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers."

The Remembrance Service at Croydon Minster and the wreath-laying in the Town Centre was very well-attended event this year, at the centenary of the ending of the First World War.

It was great to see so many members of the armed forces and uniformed groups who marched from North End, and the wreaths that were laid to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

 


 

Pay-to-use cash machines
30/10/2018 18:24:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

I've sent versions of the below letter to the CEO of both Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail after learning that there is apparently to be a network-wide rollout of pay-to-use cash machines at stations across Croydon. I've also sent on to the MD for Cardtronics UK. I'll update with a reply as soon as I received one.

I am writing as a councillor in the London Borough of Croydon, for the ward of Coulsdon Town.

Over the last few weeks cash machines in stations across the borough have started to charge residents for the withdrawal of funds - £1.99 per withdrawal. These include those at East Croydon station and South Croydon station.

Govia Thameslink Railway have reportedly told commuters that the decision was taken by an organisation called Cardtronics, and that all cash machines on all stations will be pay-to-use by the end of October 2018. Croydon Council has informed me that these machines are on land owned by Network Rail.

It is reported that Croydon has more pay-to-use cash machines than any other London borough. These machines particularly affect those on low-incomes as they are likely to have a relatively small amount of money in their account. The news that this is to become standardised across the network is therefore deeply concerning.

Those on low incomes rely heavily on cash to manage their finances. The Citizens Advice Bureau revealed that despite a third of all cash machines in 2011 being pay-to-use, ‘almost 97 per cent of UK cash withdrawals at UK cash machines were made free of charge, demonstrating our understandable reluctance as a society to pay to access our own money.’

In January this year the Government introduced rules which say that all surcharges for using credit and debit cards should be halted.

With this in mind, I would appreciate your answers to the following:

  • Was Network Rail consulted by Cardtronics about the change to charge for cash machine use on your property?
  • If you were, could you please outline what has changed recently to warrant now charging for this service? If you were not, what is your position on the fee change?
  • Given the well-documented detrimental impact of pay-to-use machines on those on low-incomes, could you please outline why Network Rail felt this change was necessary?
  • Is Network Rail benefiting financially from this decision?

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Kind Regards,

Cllr Mario Creatura, Coulsdon Town

And to Cardtronics:

I am writing as a councillor in the London Borough of Croydon, for the ward of Coulsdon Town.

Over the last few weeks cash machines in stations across the borough have started to charge residents for the withdrawal of funds - £1.99 per withdrawal. These include those at East Croydon station and South Croydon station.

Govia Thameslink Railway have reportedly told commuters that the decision was taken by your organisation, and that all cash machines on all stations will be pay-to-use by the end of October 2018. Croydon Council has informed me that these machines are on land owned by Network Rail. Statements from Cardtronics say that this hike is due to rental increases, but LINK claim this only accounts for 1.5p per transaction, significantly lower than the £1.99 being charged.

It is reported that Croydon has more pay-to-use cash machines than any other London borough. These machines particularly affect those on low-incomes as they are likely to have a relatively small amount of money in their account. The news that this is to become standardised across the network is therefore deeply concerning.

Those on low incomes rely heavily on cash to manage their finances. The Citizens Advice Bureau revealed that despite a third of all cash machines in 2011 being pay-to-use, ‘almost 97 per cent of UK cash withdrawals at UK cash machines were made free of charge, demonstrating our understandable reluctance as a society to pay to access our own money.’

In January this year the Government introduced rules which say that all surcharges for using credit and debit cards should be halted.

With this in mind, I would appreciate answers to the following:

  • How did you consult consumers about the change to charge for cash machine use in your machines?
  • Could you please outline in detail your position about why the change was warranted?
  • Do you envision that these charges are permanent?
  • Do you believe the information supplied by LINK is correct? If it is, how can you justify to customers the blanket fee increase?
  • Given the well-documented detrimental impact of pay-to-use machines on those on low-incomes, what is your message to those on low incomes who rely on cash machines like yours?
  • Given the information supplied by LINK, is Cardronics benefiting financially from this decision?

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

 


 

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 Older Blog Posts
28/10/2018
Air pollution concern at Coulsdon South station
15/10/2018
Evolving the suburbs
14/10/2018
Response to local planning consultation SPD2
14/10/2018
Labour threatens U-turn on free bulky waste collection
14/10/2018
Petition on wheelie bins achieves partial win
08/10/2018
Bid for funds from our Community Ward Budget
04/10/2018
Shredded litter
07/09/2018
Coptic Church - Coulsdon
06/09/2018
Residents' Associations - Stewards Night
31/08/2018
Details to re-register for a doctor following the closure of Dr Khan's surgery
30/08/2018
New waste regime - impact on those with mobility issues?
02/08/2018
Impact of potential House of Fraser closure
27/07/2018
Bourne Society Blue Plaque
25/07/2018
Purley & Coulsdon Clubs for the Elderly (PACE)
13/07/2018
Labour push through unwanted traffic scheme at Woodcote High
13/07/2018
Pedestrianised Zone - Dunsfold Rise, Meadow Rise and Fairfield Way
05/07/2018
Dust on Cane Hill
28/06/2018
Traveling Council
21/06/2018
Progress with Aldi
21/06/2018
HADRA AGM
19/06/2018
Travellers on Lion Green Road
18/06/2018
Getting ECRA access to Coulsdon South station
14/06/2018
East Coulsdon Residents' Association AGM
13/06/2018
Opposing Reddown Road plans
11/06/2018
Questions...
30/05/2018
Meeting with Croydon's Director of Education
26/05/2018
Coulsdon Town's Safer Neighbourhood Team
15/05/2018
Community Engagement
15/05/2018
The fish that got away...
05/05/2018
Portnals Pipe update
 
 
 
 
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