Last night, 17th May, saw yet another Cabinet meeting and yet another exercise in ensuring that there was no opposition to the dreadful choices of Croydon’s failing Labour Council.
Last night’s agenda included matters costing Croydon’s Council Taxpayers £millions, and yet the Labour Cabinet spoke at length, often about nothing, in order to blame lack of time for questions from the Conservative Opposition.
The report on Regina Road and the conditions that this slum landlord Council have allowed to exist for four years was discussed at length. Miss Fransoy Hewitt, one of the worst affected tenants, was invited to speak and frankly tore the Labour Cabinet to shreds. Her raw emotion was palpable and her bravery in speaking in such a daunting environment was commendable. Miss Hewitt’s contribution highlighted how ignorant this Labour Council is to the heartache and suffering they are inflicting on our Council tenants. Fine words of ‘I’m not going anywhere’ from the Cabinet Member for Housing was indeed true, she has been the Deputy Cabinet Member for the last four years whilst our Council tenants have been suffering.
On the issue of the open sore that is Brick by Brick, the Cabinet once again was trying to clean up the mess they’ve created with their wholly owned development company.
The refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls, that should have been a zero cost to this authority, is now actually being accepted as a £73m cost, rather than a loan, to the Council’s budget and the Croydon taxpayers’ purse.
Only in February this year they agreed that a final £10m would be lent to Brick x Brick and yet last night Croydon Labour approved the potential for yet another £10m to be loaned to the company.
Now they are using the Housing Revenue Account, the account that holds our tenants rent payments, to buy homes built by Brick x Brick. Once again using taxpayers’ money and borrowing to bail out their wholly owned developer.
It would have been so much easier to have built council homes in the first place, just as the last Conservative Council did.
In making these changes Labour Croydon have reduced Brick x Brick’s debt to this Council to just shy of £162m, shocking in itself, but the reality is that Brick x Brick combined with their involvement in Fairfield Halls has currently cost this Labour Council, and in turn us as local taxpayers £235m in total.
It is clear that this Labour Cabinet still has no control of Brick x Brick, a company of their creation and wholly owned by the Council.
The future of our libraries was also rushed through with only one question allowed from the Conservative Opposition. A disingenuous paper that put forward three options for consultation, although this Labour Council has already pulled a rabbit from the hat and saved South Norwood Library with a £1m investment from CIL funding. Yet, no such funding for libraries such as Old Coulsdon or Shirley, or indeed Purley Pool which remains closed.
Fees and charges for Council facilities and services were also reviewed. Whilst many of the changes were not large it was concerning that a 15% increase for football pitch rentals and an 8% increase for charity use of greenspaces were pushed through despite questions from the Conservative Opposition.
The clock is counting down to the local elections in May 2022, when all 70 Councillors will be up for re-election. Labour only have eleven months left to try and talk their way out of the mess they have created; bankrupting the borough, doubling Council debt to £1.5billion, building on our precious green spaces, raising our Council Tax whilst cutting services and leaving our Council tenants to live in squalor.
Labour’s choices have destroyed our borough.
The only choice at the ballot box next year is to vote Conservative to ensure that Croydon has a brighter future.