Dear Cllr. Ali
Congratulations on your recent election as Leader of the Labour Group on Croydon Council.
As a key member of the Labour Cabinet that has brought Croydon to the brink of bankruptcy you will be more than aware of the many challenges that Croydon now faces.
You have previously backed plans to sack social workers and street cleaners, raise our already record-level Council Tax and cut vital services that will hit the most vulnerable the hardest.
In order to show your commitment to driving our borough forward in a sustainable way, we believe there are four fundamental actions that you need to take as a matter of urgency.
1. Over the last six years, Croydon’s wholly owned development company ‘Brick by Brick’ has concreted over precious amenity and green spaces and yet delivered very few genuinely affordable houses.
This company has a comprehensive loan arrangement, currently standing at over £250million, with the Council for each of its sites, which mean that they don’t have to start making any loan repayments until every unit in each site is sold/occupied.
Not only is Brick by Brick not operating effectively in terms of building affordable properties, but it is unacceptable for Croydon Council Tax payers to bear this substantial funding risk in this way. When you add this to the thousands of objections to poorly designed schemes, and the continual concreting over of our precious green spaces, we feel the Council has no choice but to wind up this wholly owned development company and remove the lead member responsible for this travesty.
We call on you to begin the process of shutting down Brick by Brick and to remove Cllr Alison Butler, who has presided over this mess, from her position as Cabinet Member for Homes and Gateway Services.
2. Week after week residents object to deeply contentious planning applications across this borough, which often involve the demolition of family homes and the felling of hundreds of trees, to make way for ugly blocks of flats. These schemes destroy the character of our communities, have a devastating impact on biodiversity and do not serve the best interests of current residents.
Over the last six years, Labour members of the Planning Committee have ignored residents well argued objections and pushed through applications against local and regional planning policies as well as local opinion. Residents that attend committee have often been treated with nothing more than contempt. This aggressive, hectoring approach is spearheaded and normalised by one Labour Councillor in particular.
We call on you to restore faith in the Planning Committee by removing Cllr Paul Scott from his position as Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Regeneration and from the Planning Committee.
3. The Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes, implemented by this Labour Administration without consultation, have caused gridlock in Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood in particular, as well as other locations across the borough.
These roadblocks prevent emergency services from doing their critical life-saving work, harm small businesses by reducing footfall and increase air pollution on major routes. Over 7,000 local people have demanded its end – to date they have been ignored.
We call on you to listen to our residents and immediately re-open our roads, by reversing these unpopular and damaging LTN’s.
4. Over many years there has been a fundamental erosion of public trust in the democracy of our town. Residents are routinely ignored by your Administration. Questions go unanswered and Labour Councillors hide in the Town Hall – unaccountable to our electors.
Local residents have worked hard to gather over 20,000 signatures to demand a referendum on a Directly Elected Mayor of Croydon, yet Labour choose to ignore them. You have the power to call the referendum and in previous Labour manifestos you pledged to be ‘the most open and transparent Council ever’.
We call on you to immediately announce a timetable for holding the referendum on a Directly Elected Mayor for Croydon.
We, the Conservative Party, love every part of our borough and desperately want to see it thriving again.
We hope, therefore, that you will implement these actions as the first steps to getting our borough back on the road to recovery and towards a much brighter future for Croydon.
Cllr Jason Perry, Leader of Croydon’s Conservative Councillors
Cllr Lynne Hale, Deputy Leader
Cllr Jason Cummings, Deputy Leader