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

Maiden speech on Labour's #TenantTax consultation
15/07/2014 23:38:00......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Last night I delivered my maiden speech as a councillor supporting a motion against Labour's proposed Selective Landlord Licensing scheme. You can watch it here or read the transcript below

The Motion

'This Council is concerned about the impacts on the most vulnerable tenants arising from the introduction of the proposed Landlord Licensing Scheme. The proposed charges would inevitably be passed on to tenants leading to rises in their rental levels. We ask the Council to carefully consider the impact on the most vulnerable and look again at the scheme and the proposed charging structure.'

The speech

"Like many of the schemes recently announced by the party opposite, they are meant with the best of intentions. We all want to improve the quality of poor housing stock in Croydon. We all want to tackle rogue landlords and raise the standards of accommodation for our residents. But we on this side want a scheme that is guaranteed to work.

A survey was recently carried out of the 12 local authorities that have already implemented selective licensing regimes to see whether they were having the desired effect of improving housing quality and decreasing antisocial behaviour.

Of those twelve local authorities, between them they managed to prosecute just 216 landlords. All of these landlords, however, were prosecuted not for having poor quality accommodation, but for failing to fill in the correct paperwork to be on the register.

Leeds Council, which introduced its scheme in 2009, has prosecuted just 42 landlords for licence offences and six for hazard offences up to December 2013. By the same time, Durham, Hartlepool, Hyndburn and Bristol councils hadn’t prosecuted any landlords at all.

So despite the idealistic hope that Selective Licensing will lead to more prosecutions of poor landlords, that claim doesn’t seem to stack up when we look at where it’s already enacted around the country.

The head policy officer for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health says, and I quote: “Many colleagues working to improve standards in the private rented sector tell us that the licensing approach is fraught with difficulties and carries with it high levels of bureaucratic burden.”

So how much can we expect this burden to cost in Croydon? Blackpool charges £670 for its licences. Newham Council has introduced it at a cost of £500. Croydon estimates it’ll be £200 per year.

There are 20,500 registered landlords in Newham which amounts to just over £10,000,000 being made by their Council. For that amount of cash, you’d expect hundreds of dodgy landlords to be kicked out of Newham. In reality just 18 have been banned. That means 20,482 good landlords have paid £500 each to get rid of just 18 bad eggs. Talk about a poor return on investment!

As someone who rents in Croydon, I know the strain that tenants are under to pay their bills. My friends and neighbours struggle and work every day to be able to live in Croydon. I want what’s best for them, and frankly I also want what’s best for me! Despite this, I understand that private sector landlords are not charities. 30,000 largely good landlords in Croydon will be hit with this increased and demonstrably weak licensing scheme and they will of course pass the cost onto tenants making Croydon Council anything upwards of £6 MILLION profit.

That’s wrong. I don’t want to pay an extra £670 like they do in Blackpool or £500 like those in Newham. It’s not something I signed up for as a tenant, it will be forced upon me. It’s a tax, a Tenant Tax, pure and simple.

As I said at the start Madam Mayor, Labour’s Tenant Tax is of course meant with the best of intentions - who can blame them for wanting what’s best for residents? But as demonstrated by other authorities 1) it is unlikely to improve the quality of housing and so is unlikely to work 2) it increases the bureaucratic cost to the Council in a time when we should be streamlining and 3) it will pass hundreds of pounds each year onto hardworking tenants, already struggling with exorbitant rents.

I therefore ask the Council to please reconsider this scheme and the premise behind it, revise it and to do what’s in the best interests of struggling tenants."

 
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Evolving the suburbs
15/10/2018 08:25:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Today is the deadline to respond to the Council's 'Evolution of the Suburbs' planning document, a piece of work that will provide the framework for a significant number of buildings and developments across Croydon.

Residents have until tomorrow to feed their views into the process - my submission is below. You can find the full document here and email your views to ldf@croydon.gov.uk.

___________

To whom it may concern,

I am writing as one of the elected representatives for Coulsdon Town ward, please accept this as a submission on the SPD2 Document that is currently out for consultation.

I have a number of concerns about the language used in the paper, not least that it appears to be a subjective document that raises significantly more questions than it is supposed to clarify. The report should be more of a definitive piece of work, instead it appears to allow a substantial amount of interpretation which could have detrimental effects on the character of Croydon.

There appears to be scant suggestion about developing the infrastructure needed to support significant population growth – was this not considered to be something merited in the document? Will there be a supplementary paper outlining the plans for increasing capacity on roads and services to cope with the residential increase? My fear is that the impartiality of the Planning Committee necessitates that each application is considered on its own merits, but that this does not factor in the wider implications of many applications sequentially being considered for the same area over a period of months. Put simply – if 10 applications are considered and approved in the same area over the period of 12 months, what guarantee is there in SPD2 that commensurate infrastructure improvements will be developed and progressed to aid in the increase in parking, sewage and other vital requirements for a good standard of living?

A good example of this is contained in paragraph 2.30 on car parking – an issue that is plaguing my ward in Coulsdon. Multiple blocks of flats are being erected, without commensurate car parking spaces. Residents moving into the properties, knowing that parking space on the street is limited, still bring their vechiles. They feel it will be the job of others to abandon their cars. Coulsdon is on the edge of the North Downs and is quite hilly. Whilst public transport is well-connected, the train service quality is intermittent and most modes do not reach out into Reigate, Banstead and wider Surrey in way that means cars lose their value. The increase in population due to the density of the new developments means there is a huge volume of vehicles needing parking space, causing traffic gridlock most mornings and evenings. Parking is not a luxury, it is a basic necessity to support the sustainability of development and communities.

Has the recently rolled out amended waste service programme being accounted for in paragraph 2.31? If not, then this will have implications on the ability for officers and councillors to interpret the report.

Whilst I am fully supportive of the need to develop new housing opportunities, these can and must be done in line with the reasonable support of the local residents already habiting in the area. Paragraph 4.2 details the papers support for ‘character’ but then details the three residential extension approaches of subservient, innovative and seamless. Can a development policy simultaneously respect the existing ‘character’ whilst being ‘subservient/innovative’? I am fearful that good quality affordable housing that fits into the local community aesthetic will not be a red-line in the document, meaning anything can and will happen to my residents.

In paragraph 2.7 and 2.8 the three types of approaches to character is described as ‘sympathetic and faithful’, ‘innovative and original’, ‘contemporary reinterpretation’. Surely any application, development or scheme can apply to any of these? Isn’t the scope for interpretation so large that this set of descriptions is legally meaningless? How can it be measured and enforced on each application? What happens if it can be easily justified (due to its lack of definitiveness) that a scheme has breached this criterion?

This fear for the respect of the local residents and existing character is not eased when I read paragraph 2.2 which details the overarching principles for development: to provide the right mix of homes in the right location, improve or positively contribute to local character and minimise impact on neighbouring amenity. How is this monitored and maintained? Is this rhetoric or are there tangible figures and targets that can be applied to what is a laudable aim? What is to stop someone ignoring this piece of guidance? To what extent are the views of the local people and their representatives taken into account on inappropriate developments that do not fit this nebulous aspiration?

This subjectivity and lack of clarity also exists in figures 1.3a, 1.3b and 1.3c which detail the evolution of the different types of suburbs, but are open to interpretation.

I believe that SPD2 requires a substantial reworking to address the concerns I’ve outlined above. These are very real, practical fears that I know many of my residents feel. Each time they attend a Planning Committee meeting to comment on a scheme they leave disheartened. I hope that by engaging with some of my concerns that this may be limited in the future.

Croydon badly needs good quality, affordable family homes. I know my residents would support them if they are proposed, and this plan is vital in making that happen.

Kind Regards,

Cllr Mario Creatura, Coulsdon Town

 


 

Response to local planning consultation SPD2
14/10/2018 17:59:00.......Posted by Luke Clancy

 
 

Documents setting out planning guidance for the borough and how the Council will engage with stakeholders are available for comment. Below are some of the points from my response to the consultation on Suburban Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document (SPD2).

Figures 1.3a, 1.3b and 1.3c are used to justify expected development patterns including ‘backland development’ in the suburbs over a period of 10 – 15 years, “so that change is gradual and can be managed to ensure that the benefits of such growth are optimised.” But the examples given of the types of development expected are not defined in sufficient granularity and are too scattergun to give an objective sense of whether what is being proposed would be acceptable.

In terms of how acceptable a development might be to existing residents, the bullet points provided in paragraph 2.2 will be key, in particular emphasis on two of them: whether a proposal improves or positively contributes to local character; and how the impact on neighbouring amenity can be minimised as far as possible. Much will depend on how sympathetically these policies are applied.

Para 2.3.2: “Smaller suburban proposals providing up to 9 dwellings should also seek to maximise the number of dwellings with 3 or more bedrooms.” It would be helpful if this could be expressed more accurately, perhaps setting a target or requirement for three bedroom family units in developments of 9 dwellings or less.

Para 2.3.6: “A development proposal that seeks to deliver a scheme that could form part of a larger potential development on the same or adjoining land will be assessed as an application for the larger development potential.” Whilst the intention of this policy might be laudable, I have concerns that in borderline cases this could result in developments being tipped over the threshold because more studios, one- and two-bedroom units are built at the expense of larger three bedroom properties which would be suitable for families.

Paras 2.3 & 2.4: “Optimising sites building across boundaries.” Whilst in economic terms this makes sense, in reality the developments that result from such consolidation may not be sympathetic to an area if they create ‘mega’ blocks. The schema in Figure 2.4a is an alarming example of the type of over-development that could result.

Paras 2.6.3 and 2.6.4: ‘Minimal necessary car parking will be the starting point for all development proposals and the borough will encourage lower parking provision in areas of PTAL 4 and above.’ I can see why the Council may want to do this. The Croydon Local Plan currently seeks to reduce the need to travel by concentrating development in areas with a higher PTAL rating. As such, from 2011 to 2014 the majority of new homes (58%) were in areas with a PTAL rating of at least 3 - typically areas that have already undergone a degree of intensification. Only 10% of homes were built in areas with a PTAL of 4. The proposals therefore seek to increase density in less urban areas. But this ignores the fact that areas with PTAL ratings of 4 can have quite patchy access to public transport. Also, that residents in those areas will still aspire to owning a car. Any policy should seek to balance these challenges in part by ensuring sufficient provision of more public transport and other sustainable methods of transport, as is encouraged in 2.6.8.

Para 2.7.2 refers encouragingly to some areas within Croydon “being defined by the predominance of certain types of homes”. This aspiration may give hope to residents that the Council will extend protection to what is perceived to be the character of their areas on those grounds. But the three approaches to how to respond to local character in the design of new developments that the Council goes on to endorse in Para 2.8 would appear to allow a very broad interpretation of what is acceptable in any area, if interpreted loosely. A braver and more specific interpretation of what is acceptable would be welcomed in the SPD.

Para 2.9.9: “Where there is a concern that a development would appear overbearing to a neighbouring property and/or create a poorly designed streetscene, they will not be supported.” This is to be welcomed.

Para 2.15.2: “Proposals which span plot boundaries may seek to achieve this through stepping form to create a link element between two main building forms located on each of the original plots.” I am not convinced that such designs necessarily reduce sufficiently the sense of massing created by developments that incorporate links.

Para 2.23: A prohibition on materials that are proven not to weather well or provide longevity is to be supported.

 


 

Labour threatens U-turn on free bulky waste collection
14/10/2018 12:23:00.......Posted by Luke Clancy

 
 

Last week at a meeting of Croydon Council’s Streets and Environment Scrutiny Sub-Committee, I challenged the Cabinet Member, Cllr Stuart Collins, when he said that Labour is looking to renege on a manifesto pledge to run a free bulky waste collection service.

The meeting was webcast here: http://webcasting.croydon.gov.uk/meetings/4215

Labour only made the pledge after the Conservatives had come up with the idea earlier this year. We put the policy to tackle the fly-tipping plaguing Croydon’s streets in our manifesto ahead of May’s local elections. We were pleased when Labour later also recognised the soundness of the idea by copying it.

It would be cynical of Labour to steal this policy only to drop it once they got re-elected.

The free bulky waste collection service is extremely popular, but Labour now says it is expensive to run and creates a too much of a financial pressure on the Council's budget.

At the meeting, Cllr Collins claimed the free bulky waste service was always intended as a “trial” to see what effect it would have on fly-tipping. But when he was challenged to demonstrate it was only intended as a trial - and not introduced to residents as a more permanent measure - he could not do so.

Even Cllr Collins’ Labour colleagues on the Committee then went on to express their concerns that a review of one of their manifesto pledges was taking place so soon after this year's election.

The Conservatives will continue to hold Labour to account over the withdrawal of a key policy to tackle fly-tipping in the borough.

 


 

Petition on wheelie bins achieves partial win
14/10/2018 11:36:00.......Posted by Luke Clancy

 
 

Last week at a meeting of the Full Council in Croydon I presented a petition to residents objecting to the new wheelie bins in Ashdown Park in Coulsdon.

The meeting was webcast here: http://webcasting.croydon.gov.uk/meetings/4244

Residents in Ashdown Park felt that as their houses all have small frontages they did not have the facilities for storing two large bins, one medium sized bin and a food caddy in a discreet way. 

In 2005, the estate was granted an exemption from the Council’s requirement for landfill collections to be from medium sized wheelie bins, as these would not fit inside the bin cupboards.

Shortly after the petition was sent in, the Council granted a continuation of the concession for retaining the smaller cupboard-size landfill bins. 

Residents do support aspirations in the borough to increase recycling rates but say they already separate their rubbish by type and think it unlikely that they are withholding materials that could be recycled if bigger bins are provided.

Looking around the estate, residents say the majority of houses are struggling to hide the new bins away. All the houses on the estate have covenants that the associated grounds be maintained in a good and tidy condition, and the front gardens be open plan - the latter making it difficult to store the bins.

 


 

Bid for funds from our Community Ward Budget
08/10/2018 20:14:00.......Posted by Luke Clancy

 
 

Each year every council ward in Croydon is given a £24,000 ward budget to spend on local activities and resources that benefit community groups.

The budget is actually £8,000 per councillor, but in Coulsdon Town your three representatives elect to jointly pool the funds and spend the money as one lump sum.

For a number of years now we have therefore contributed to the costs of the Yulefest lights in the town centre - although as a recurring item of expenditure this is rare. In fact, the vast majority of projects sponsored by our Community Ward Budget are one-offs.

That means if you have a good idea for a project that would benefit the community, but lack the funds to make it a reality, we may be able to help. The type of projects that we can support include those that require revenue or capital expenditure, but cannot create an ongoing maintenance cost for the Council.

An example of a project that gained our support in this financial year, for example, is buying some kitchen equipment for Purley & Coulsdon Clubs for the Elderly, while in the past we have bought defibrillators and hearing loops that benefit local people as well as funded youth activities including the Scouts.

But there are still some funds left to be bid for this year. So if you have any suggestions as to how we should spend that money please don’t hesitate to get in touch:

Cllr Luke Clancy
luke.clancy@croydon.gov.uk
Tel: 07710 183567

 


 

Shredded litter
04/10/2018 13:42:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

A resident has got in touch to let me know that while they were litter-picking on the A23 between Coulsdon South station and Woodplace Lane, that they noticed a significant amount of the litter in the area had been shredded.

On investigating it appears that TfL, who maintain the grass levels, had cut the grass but not removed the litter in advance, thereby shredding it and making it that much harder for the Council or conscientious residents to pick it up.

I'm pleased that TfL have said they are going to get a copy of the Council's clean-up schedule so that they can co-ordinate better in future. A victory for common sense!

 


 

Coptic Church - Coulsdon
07/09/2018 14:34:00.......Posted by Ian Parker

Delighted to have been invited along with ecumenical and other representatives to hear His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos speak on the integration of the Coptic Church in society. 

The Coptic Church, St Mary & St Shenouda on Rickman Hill, Coulsdon provided the perfect setting for an inspirational address by the Archbishop.

A tour of the impressive church after the address was the 'icing on the cake'. 

 


 

Residents' Associations - Stewards Night
06/09/2018 10:58:00.......Posted by Ian Parker

I attended a joint meeting of Hartley and District and East Coulsdon Residents’ Associations at which their road stewards were warmly thanked for their good work on behalf of the two associations.

It was a great opportunity to thank the association members for their good work delivering leaflets and collecting subscriptions throughout the year.  Also an opportunity to thank the organisers of both residents’ associations for their sterling work fighting to preserve what's good about Purley and Coulsdon. Councillors have a good working relationship with the residents’ associations.  Long may this continue and thank you to the organisers of the ‘Stewards Night’.

 


 

Details to re-register for a doctor following the closure of Dr Khan's surgery
31/08/2018 16:35:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

We've now had in confirmed that Coulsdon Medical Practice, a single-handed practice run by Dr Jamil Khan, is closing permanently on 26 October 2018.

NHS Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group have written to the patients currently registered at his practice to advise them of the closure. A list of nearby practices which all have room on their register for extra patients is included here:

BRAMLEY AVENUE SURGERY*

1B Bramley Avenue, Coulsdon CR5 2DR. Tel: 020 8660 0193

*this is a very small practice with a limited number of registrations available

DOWNLAND SURGERY

59 Tollers Lane, Old Coulsdon CR5 1BF. Tel: 01737 556880

KESTON MEDICAL PRACTICE

70 Brighton Road, Purley CR8 2LJ. Tel: 020 8660 8292

Old Coulsdon medical practice

2A Court Avenue, Old Coulsdon CR5 1HF. Tel: 01737 558288

WOODCOTE MEDICAL

MAIN SITE: 32 Foxley Lane, Purley CR8 3EE. Tel: 020 8763 5620

branch surgery: 140 Chipstead Valley Road, Coulsdon CR5 3BB

They are also holding drop in sessions for patients who wish to discuss next steps and registering with a new practice:

Saturday 8th Sept 10 – 12 noon

Monday 10th Sept 10 – 12 noon

Wednesday 19th Sept 11-1 pm

Wednesday 26th Sept 5.30 – 7.30 pm

All will be held at the Coulsdon Methodist Church, 83 Brighton Road, CR5 2BE.

 


 

New waste regime - impact on those with mobility issues?
30/08/2018 17:21:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

I've just sent in this question to Cllr Stuart Collins, Labour's waste and recycling chief, to find out how much consultation and mitigation work has been done to ensure those with mobility issues will not be adverslly affected by the big increase in street bins that his reforms are necessitating across Croydon.

With many streets where the front door opens up directly onto the path, no side alley or other location for storing the bins, having them on the street may cause significant issues for some residents.

I'll update the blog as soon as I hear back from Cllr Collins.

'The Cabinet Member is currently overseeing the rollout of a dramatic change in the way Croydon is processing our waste and recycling, which is understandably causing some difficulties for many residents.

Many of the properties across Croydon have small frontages, with no front gardens and front doors immediately off pavements. This means that the three full-size bins will often be blocking the public high way.

Could the Cabinet Member please:

1. Publish the list of streets in the borough assessed to have small frontages. Those being properties where the front door is immediately on the pavement, there is no front garden or area for storage and no side passage for storage.

2. Publish the results of any formal consultation and correspondence with organisations like the Croydon Disability Forum and Croydon Vision who represent the many residents who will be impacted by the practicalities of the waste and recycling changes.

3. Detail guidance for any resident with mobility issues who may find their path regularly obstructed by these bins

4. Outline the communications plan for how and when these residents and organisations will be informed of this advice.’

 


 

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 Older Blog Posts
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
01/05/2018
CQC replies about the Coulsdon Medical Centre
01/05/2018
Burst sewage pipe on Portnalls Road
27/04/2018
Leaking pipe on Portnalls Road
27/04/2018
A second letter to the CQC about the Coulsdon Medical Practice
26/04/2018
Pigeon mess back under Coulsdon Town bridge
25/04/2018
Paint disposal advice
25/04/2018
Welcome 30m investment in Coulsdon South
24/04/2018
'Absolutely massive' pothole fixed
24/04/2018
Rescuing a resident at the tip!
23/04/2018
Enough CCTV in Croydon?
21/04/2018
Productive meeting with Aldi
06/04/2018
Letter to save the Coulsdon Medical Centre
 
 
 
 
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