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

13 businesses stop street trading due to Labour's Sunshine Tax
26/06/2017 11:51:00......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

I recently sent a series of questions to the Council about the status of their 'Sunshine Tax', asking SMEs to pay to have chairs and tables outside their businesses. It's a charge that they get nothing for and adds yet more financial pressure on those entrepreneurs trying to grow their businesses.

CQ054-17 from Councillor Mario Creatura to Councillor Hamida Ali

Could the Cabinet Member please answer the following questions about the Labour Administrations Sunshine Tax please? 

  • How many businesses in the borough does the Council believe are required to pay the street-trading tax? 
  • How many businesses in the borough have actually paid the streettrading tax since implementation? 
  • How much revenue has the Council amassed since the streettrading tax was implemented? 
  • How many businesses have reached the annual cap on the fee?
  • What has been the take-up rate of the new sign up 75 per cent discount? 
  • How many hours of Council enforcement have been devoted to policing those businesses that should pay the tax to ensure they comply? Please detail, if possible, how many FTE staff have this in their job requirement.
  • How many businesses that should pay the Council's additional tax have had enforcement action as a result of non-compliance?
  • With reports of businesses closing citing the negative impact of the sunshine tax (for example 117-year-old hardware store Emerton's in South Norwood), does the Cabinet Member feel the tax is working and will it be continuing or altering the scheme over the next fiscal year?
  • How many businesses in Croydon have cited excessive locally determined taxation as their reason for closure?

Reply

Could the Cabinet Member please answer the following questions about the Labour Administrations Sunshine Tax please?

- How many businesses in the borough does the Council believe are required to pay the street-trading tax?

169 businesses currently hold a street trading licence

- How many businesses in the borough have actually paid the street-trading tax since implementation?

110 business have so far paid for their street trading licences. There are renewals due for May and others become due thereafter.

- How much revenue has the Council amassed since the street-trading tax was implemented?

From 1 May 2016, when the new fee structure went live to 24 May 2017, application income has been £79,928.

- How many businesses have reached the annual cap on the fee?

21

- What has been the take-up rate of the new sign up 75 per cent discount?

1

- How many hours of Council enforcement have been devoted to policing those businesses that should pay the tax to ensure they comply? Please detail, if possible, how many FTE staff have this in their job requirement.

3 FTE staff have this in their job requirement. In addition NSO staff are tasked with checking for street trading compliance. Other staff are involved in the administration/enforcement of the street trading licensing process as part of their duties.

- How many businesses that should pay the Council's additional tax have had enforcement action as a result of non-compliance?

Eight

- With reports of businesses closing citing the negative impact of the sunshine tax (for example 117-year-old hardware store Emerton's in South Norwood), does the Cabinet Member feel the tax is working and will it be continuing or altering the scheme over the next fiscal year?

The intention is for the current fee structure to continue. The Council has a duty to try and ensure that the costs associated with providing a street trading licence service are met by the income from the fees attached to applications for that service. The previous fee structure did not come close to providing the necessary income needed to provide a street trading service so the council were heavily subsidising this through other funding streams, which it could no longer afford to do. The previous fee structure was also unfair as there was a single fee, regardless of the size of the area so the current fee structure has rectified this by requiring people to pay by the square metre of the highway that they use. New street trading designation applications continue to be made and considered by the Council’s licensing committee. In addition, at the last committee, there were applications to increase the trading area on one licence and increase the trading hours on another licence.

- How many businesses in Croydon have cited excessive locally determined taxation as their reason for closure?

We are not aware of any businesses that have closed down as a result of the increase in fees. However, 13 businesses have so far surrendered their street trading licences citing the increase in fees as the reason for withdrawing. 

I have written back to the Cabinet Member asking the following:

'In CQ054-17 in relation to the Council Sunshine Tax, the Cabinet Member states that 13 businesses have so far surrendered their street trading licences citing the increase in fees as the reason for withdrawing.

Could the Cabinet Member please list these businesses and in doing explain whether she believes their withdrawal indicates a failure of the policy?

The answer also stated that 8 businesses have had enforcement action taken against them as a result of non-compliance. Is the Cabinet Member able to reveal who these businesses are, what the enforcement action was issued for and what the procedure was for enforcement? E.g. were fines issued and if so how much?'

Reply received:

I can confirm that 13 businesses have surrendered their street trading licence and when doing so, indicated it was because of the new fee structure. Some 169 businesses in the borough have maintained their street trading licence. The purpose of the fee review was so that the council was legitimately recouping its expenditure in providing the licensing service. So, in that respect the fee review has been a success. The vast majority of business have decided to continue with paying for street trading licenses. The fact that a small number have decided to cease trading on the street is ultimately a commercial decision for them but the council could not continue subsidising commercial activities, as it had effectively been doing previously. With respect, I do not think it is appropriate to publicly list premises who have made the decision to surrender their licence, as the question asks, as the information was provided to the council in confidence.

I can confirm that eight businesses have had enforcement action taken against them. All were issued with a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for overspreading, which means they were not staying within the area permitted by their licence. An FPN costs £100, reduced to £60 if the recipient pays within 14 days. Where the recipient of an FPN is a sole trader, we would not be permitted to disclose their details due to data protection requirements. Where the recipient is not a sole trader, there is a risk that disclosing their details may prejudice the commercial interests of the particular businesses. 

 
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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 development.management@croydon.gov.uk.

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 developmentcontrol@sutton.gov.uk. The three ward councillors are: moira.butt@sutton.gov.ukTim.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.

 


 

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?

Reply

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 http://www.furryfriendsrescue.co.uk/donate/ to make a donation. Every little really does help.

 


 

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 Older Blog Posts
06/07/2017
Labour failing affordable housing pledge
30/06/2017
Croydon Labour refuse to support London National Park City campaign
29/06/2017
Questions of Fire Safety in Council-owned blocks
27/06/2017
Favouritism for Labour HQ repeat fly-postering?
26/06/2017
Labour steals voice of Croydon voluntary sector
26/06/2017
13 businesses stop street trading due to Labour's Sunshine Tax
16/06/2017
Fire safety in Croydon Council buildings
24/05/2017
Meeting HH Pope Tawadros II
24/05/2017
Manchester and security in Croydon
09/05/2017
The Pope visits Coulsdon!
03/04/2017
Planned Lion Green Road parking spaces upped to 80, but falls short of demand
10/03/2017
Permits at tip needed from April 2017
09/03/2017
Supporting Purley Youth Project
03/03/2017
Fairfield Halls planning concerns
03/03/2017
Lion Green Road to be slashed to 50 parking spaces
02/03/2017
Surgery this Saturday cancelled
27/02/2017
Lion Green Road carriageway surfacing
15/02/2017
How many Council tenants have made 'disrepair' claims?
15/02/2017
Objection to the 20mph zone consultation process
09/02/2017
Lost revenue from 1 hour free parking?
08/02/2017
How should Coulsdon police communicate with you?
08/02/2017
How do we build schools for the future?
08/02/2017
Empty units in Croydon Town Centre
07/02/2017
How do Emergency Placements for vulnerable children work?
03/02/2017
The future of Coulsdon Community Centre
02/02/2017
How will 20mph be enforced?
01/02/2017
Why won't Croydon Labour support making London a National Park City?
01/02/2017
How many children are currently missing in Croydon?
31/01/2017
Why the welcome u-turn on free parking?
31/01/2017
Welcome u-turn from Labour on 1-hour free parking in Coulsdon Town
 
 
 
 
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