On Sunday I attended the HOME Residents' Association AGM on Outram Road. It was great to see everyone in the garden, eat some amazing home-made cakes, and enjoy a glass or two of summery drinks.
This RA is a great boon to the area, creating a real sense of local community. They do regular litter picking, book sales, events, and valiantly oppose planning applications that are unsuitable. Always at such events, there is a heartfelt expression that more housing is required, and that we were all young and starting out once upon a time. So, residents do want to support the provision of accommodation, but that doesn't mean huge conversions of houses into flats all along a residential road. Nor does it mean that shoddy designs and poor quality material should be tolerated.
But by far the biggest issue raised was the hellish traffic on HOME roads. Prior to the 2018 elections in Croydon, the Labour-run council made numerous roads in Addiscombe West one-way. This meant that cars could no longer enter those roads from the southern end. Guess what happened? All the traffic got diverted into roads in Addiscombe East, chiefly Elgin Road and Havelock Road. It must be a coincidence that Addiscombe West has three Labour councillors, whereas Addiscombe East has a Conservative councillor. Residents in the HOME RA roads are living with 24 hours of constant traffic in both directions, many being large thundering HGVs. There have also been several very serious accidents, as local residents warned many times would happen. We have tried numerous times to make the Labour council listen, but every single option is rejected, every suggestion batted away. I feel so sorry for my residents in these roads. It's not right that a council behaves in such a blatantly partisan way. One of the suggestions that residents gave was to have ANPR cameras that could detect HGVs illegally using these roads, but the council dismissed this out of hand as too expensive. Can you believe that one camera was quoted to us as costing £50,000 ! We asked why such cameras are going to be installed at Dalmally Road, why was it affordable there? Answer there came a long, bureaucratic diatribe about budgets and pots of money and who provides the pots. It's clear, and shameful, that the council constantly seeks every way possible to say No to the legitimate needs of Addiscombe East residents. I have met residents from Addiscombe West, whose roads were closed to traffic by Labour, and they talk about how they can hear the birds and children can play safely in their roads. I dearly hope that residents in Addiscombe East can one day have parity of treatment.
Finally, someone expressed to me they are surprised that at the local council level things are so political. Why would an entity dealing with bins, libraries, streets, planning and licensing be so full of politics? And I have to say this person isn't wrong. It shouldn't be so hyper-political. But the example of this traffic diversion tells us why it sadly is so political. Many residents aren't even interested in politics, so why should they have to suffer because one party is insistent on being hyper-partisan on an issue such as traffic? I think we all have lessons to learn here. One thing I have learned, or been reminded of, is the importance of humility. As elected councillors, we aren't here to lord it over everyone. Our job is to serve, and to make sure that everyone is looked after.