Cllr. Jeet Bains, the Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Culture and Regeneration in the London Borough of Croydon, took the Labour-run council to task over their huge waste of taxpayers’ money on Fairfield Halls.
Cllr. Bains asked Labour’s Cllr. Lewis to own up to his mistakes:
“Cllr. Lewis, you are the Cabinet Member responsible for Fairfield Halls. This all happened on your watch. One of the first sentences in your Cabinet report regarding the awful collapse of Fairfield Halls states that all ‘outstanding costs [will] be borne by the Council’. It is intolerable for the public to keep putting up with this. Isn’t it high time that you face up to what you have done and stepped down from your position?”.
A recent issue of the prestigious entertainment industry publication, The Stage, poured scorn on the Labour-run council for its shocking £70 million of wasted expenditure on Fairfield Halls. This is tens of millions of pounds over the approved budget of £30m, and yet there is little that can be discerned in terms of improvement. In fact, the project is over three years behind schedule and has not delivered all of the promised improvements such as new seating. In contrast to The Stage publication, Cllr. Lewis presented a paper to Cabinet that painted a picture of all being well.
Commenting on Cllr. Lewis’ whitewashed report, Cllr. Bains said:
“Cllr Lewis, I read your flowery report on Fairfield Halls with interest, which blithely tries to assure the public that all is well and that you were going to hand everything back to the Council anyway.
But we have an independent summary in last week’s prestigious industry publication, The Stage.
A quote from the previous Head of Operations at Fairfield Halls:
“The seats that were taken out of the Ashcroft Theatre had been kept in storage, and brought back in the same state, because there was never a plan for new seats.
I sat there thinking: ‘I’ve got Dame Judi Dench opening this playhouse in a few weeks’ time and we’re going to have an audience sitting on seats that are ripped and dirty”.
It is unacceptable that Croydon taxpayers will be forced to pay even more of their hard-earned money to fix Labour’s failure on Fairfield Halls. At the point when the venue was closed, Labour still had not presented a full plan for the refurbishment. We cannot believe that Labour had the gall to host a boozy, backslapping “re-opening” event in 2019, despite a recent report submitted to Council arguing that the building is still unusable even two years later.