From 2002 to May 2018 each parliamentary constituency in Croydon was made up of exactly eight wards, all fully contained within it. Shortly after taking control in 2014 Croydon Labour requested a review of the local authority boundaries. This has resulted in each ward in the borough changing, and the size of wards become much more varied, each contraining one, two or three councillors. As a result, the wards can no longer fit neatly into the three parliamentary constituencies and a number now appear in two parliamentary constituences.
Croydon South covers the south-western part of the London Borough of Croydon.
Here are some of the local issues which Chris has been working on.
Fighting Labour’s Planning Mess
For some time, Croydon’s Labour-run council has been granting planning permissions indiscriminately. Over 90% of all applications are getting approved by the Planning Committee. In particular, they are routinely allowing family housing to be destroyed and replaced with small blocks of flats. Neighbouring Boroughs Bromley and Sutton do not allow this, and there is nothing in national policy that requires it either. We do need more homes, but blocks of flats should go on brownfield sites and in Croydon town centre. The council would then have no reason to destroy houses in suburban areas, which changes the character of the area and removes much-needed homes for families. They should not destroy any family homes until all the brownfield sites in the Borough have been used – which we are at least 10-15 years away from doing.
Chris has been vehemently opposed to the Labour run council’s damaging planning policies and Chris will continue to fight to stop the further loss of family homes and green spaces.
Better care at Croydon hospitals
Chris successfully been lobbied the Health Secretary for the £25 million needed for a new A&E department at Croydon University Hospital (Mayday). The Health Secretary agreed, and the new A&E was officially opened in May 2019. The new A&E will give the hospital almost twice as much space to provide better care for patients. The new A&E also has more private and better facilities for patients, as well as better treatment for children.
Purley War Memorial Hospital is also looking after people better. In 2014 Purley Hospital entirely cut the morning opening hours of its Minor Injury Unit / GP Hub. Chris campaigned with local residents for the hours to be extended again. They succeeded in 2017 and the Unit is open 8am to 8pm every day of the year, ready to treat everything short of a fracture.
Funding for more police
Under Sadiq Khan the level of violent crime in London has skyrocketed, and Croydon is no exception to this. We need to do more to keep our streets and the people living here safe from violence and knife crime. The Government has recently increased national police funding for 20,000 extra Police Officers across the UK over the next three years. Chris calculates that Croydon will get about 130 of these, an increase of 15% in the borough’s force, and have been successfully lobbying the Government to make sure that Croydon gets its fair share. Chris is now campaigning for a Police base in the Coulsdon / Purley area.
This extra spending is only been possible because of the responsible approach of the last few years, and the economic growth we have had.
Stopping the Purley skyscraper
In December 2016, the Labour-run Council granted planning permission for a 17-floor skyscraper to be built in Purley. It was the wrong choice. The skyscraper would be completely out of character with the area and was overwhelmingly opposed by people living locally.
Over 9,000 residents and seven Residents Associations have campaigned with Chris against the decision. Thanks to our efforts, the Government ‘Called In’ the planning application and the Secretary of State overturned the council’s decision. However, the Sky Skyscraper’s developers launched a legal challenge against the decision, and so there is now a further review. An independent Planning Inspector will now decide whether the skyscraper should be cancelled.
A Directly Elected Mayor for Croydon
Chris backing the resident-led petition for a Directly Elected Mayor for Croydon. Croydon’s Governance system is broken. The Labour council routinely ignore us, especially on planning. This is because they can win the town hall based on a few marginal seats in the centre of the Borough. So they ignore everyone else. A group of residents’ associations from across the Borough wants to fix this by changing the way Croydon is run to a Directly Elected Executive Mayor (DEM) model – where we directly elect an Executive Mayor. This means all our votes would count equally, and whoever runs the town hall will have to listen to everyone if they want to win. If about 14,000 signatures are collected, the council has to hold a referendum on adopting a DEM. Please go to the Residents’ Group’s website and donate to their campaign and/or download their petition sheet (it has to be done on paper). Please get as many of your neighbours to sign as possible and post it back.
Chris has been lobbying for more funding for Croydon Schools and next year Croydon they will get a 7% increase – the second highest in the country – if the Conservatives are re-elected.
Fixing our trains
The appalling service on Southern Rail in the past few years has largely been a result of appalling mismanagement from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and industrial action from the RMT. However, another reason things have been so bad is that the tracks and points are failing. So Chris led a campaign in Parliament to update the railway – which included personally meeting the Prime Minister on the issue. A £350m investment was secured and work started in April 2017. Chris was also able to secure compensation season ticket holders as a small gesture of acknowledgement that the service they paid for had not been delivered. Chris has been maintaining pressure on GTR and the RMT the avoid further strike periods like those we saw in 2016 and 2017.
These steps have meant that the service – while not perfect – has improved a lot.
But we can’t stop there. Chris believes we need to remove the franchise from Southern/GTR, who are inept. Chris also wants to see legislation making strike action on the trains harder. And we need to invest a further £1 billion to increase the line’s capacity, by widening the track around East Croydon and increasing the number of platforms there to eight. Chris will keep pushing hard for these things.