Cllr Andy Stranack looks at the impact which the endemic poor culture within the Labour Council, coupled with the harsh cuts which they are making to services, is now having on the lives of Croydon residents.
Normally a Councillor’s mail bag is full of important, but not life threatening, mail and emails regarding missed bin collections, planning issues and complaints about noisy neighbours. However, this week has been very different because in and amongst my usual e-mails, I have received messages from residents raising serious safeguarding issues.
On Monday at Cabinet – we heard a passionate plea from Fransoy Hewitt who described how the Council had left her family in ‘life threatening’ living conditions for over four years, in her mould-ridden sodden Regina Road flat. She described how she had lost faith in the Labour councillors who were supposed to be helping her and of the ongoing detrimental impact which being ignored for so long is having on her mental health.
On Tuesday I heard from a young family who are living in privately rented accommodation. The roof to the property had been leaking, the landlord had made a temporary repair but wind and rain on Monday night caused the temporary repair to blow off the roof and the property had been flooded. The situation was so bad that the Fire Brigade was called in the middle of the night to turn off all the utilities to the property. The family, with a child under five, was left in a flooded flat with no access to utilities. I wrote an urgent email to Council officers asking for information about emergency accommodation for this family. On Thursday I escalated the issue to the Council’s CEO but three days later I have still had no response from officers.
On Thursday I was contacted by another young family who were living in a Council property that has been full of damp and mould for years. The stress of their living conditions is putting the family under considerable strain and creating serious safeguarding issues. I went straight to the CEO with this case. I got a rapid response from the CEO stating that officers would deal with the case as a matter of urgency, I then received another email from an officer saying that the case was being looked into and someone would send me a response. Over 48 hours later I have still heard nothing.
On Friday I was contacted by a constituent that I have known for some time. A number of years ago she was attacked at work and sadly the viciousness of the attack has left her partially sighted and wheelchair bound. Despite her physical and mental trauma she has coped amazingly well and with a support package provided by the Council she is able to live a semi-independent life. She has just been informed by her social worker that because of cuts being made by the Labour Council , her care package is going to be reduced. She is now terrified for her future.
I am one Croydon Councillor, with one mailbag and the above is a short summary of my experience over just 5 days.
I am very concerned that the Labour Council’s current culture of ignoring residents and failing to appreciate their needs, running alongside a significant cuts programme (which is only just beginning), is already putting vulnerable residents’ lives at risk.
I don’t think that it is too much to ask the Labour Council to listen to residents, take some responsibility and DO something to help. We hear plenty of words from them in the Council Chamber - but words don’t fix leaks, give care or offer safe accommodation at times of emergency need.
Fewer words and more listening, compassion and action for Croydon residents is desperately needed from the Labour Council.