Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX
Contact: Marianna Ritchie, Democratic Services Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 14 December 2022 as an accurate record.
The minutes of the meeting held on 14 December 2022 were agreed as an accurate record.
Disclosure of Interests
Members are invited to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) they may have in relation to any item(s) of business on today’s agenda.
There were none.
Urgent Business (if any)
To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.
There were no items of urgent business.
To receive Announcements, if any, from the Chair, the Mayor, and Head of Paid Service and Returning Officer.
The Chair MOVED the suspension of Council Procedure Rules. This was SECONDED by Councillor Creatura and,
1. Reduce the amount of time allocated to Mayor and Cabinet questions from 1 hour 45 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes;
2. Direct questions to the Mayor who would be afforded the opportunity to call on other members to support answering questions where necessary; and,
3. Reduce the amount of time allowed for each of the Maiden Speeches to a maximum of two minutes to make parity with previous meetings.
The Croydon Debate
Members will debate the following petition, which will be introduced by a lead member of the petition’s signatories:
Save Cherry Orchard Garden Centre
Croydon Council has decided to shut down this much-loved local garden centre, that has existed for more than thirty years. Not only does it provide a useful amenity for the people of Central Croydon and surrounding areas, but it also provides valuable livelihoods for people with learning difficulties. This much-loved local institution does not cost much to run but is a precious public asset that is valued by many people in Croydon. The closure will save the bankrupt Council hardly any money but will devastate the lives of the people who work there, and Croydon will be a far poorer place without the Cherry Orchard Garden Centre. I have therefore started this online petition so that many of the garden centre’s customers can show how strongly they feel about the proposed closure. We urge Croydon Council to reconsider their decision and allow the Cherry Orchard Garden Centre to continue to thrive.
Council received a petition from the public that had achieved just under 2,000 signatures by the deadline for submission to the meeting. Charles Barber, the lead member of the petition group, attended Council to put forward the case for the petition, and told the story of a resident who had volunteered at the garden centre for 31 years. Charles Barber explained that closing the garden centre would take away the livelihoods and sense of purpose of so many people, and that he hoped Council could share the vision he had of the garden centre, and of the place it could be for the people of Croydon.
Councillor Jason Cummings, Cabinet Member for Finance, responded describing the financial position of the council, and stated that closures such as these were the personal consequences for a lot of residents. Councillor Cummings explained that the marking of the centre for closure was not a reflection on the work of the centre itself, but that the council had no choice. Councillor Cummings explained that more decisions like this would need to be forthcoming, thanks to the mistreatment of council finances by the previous political occupiers of the council, but that the council would try to mitigate the impact of the closure on the volunteers and members of the centre.
Councillor Mohammed Islam thanked the resident for their passionate speech and recognised that they were speaking on behalf of the borough’s most vulnerable. Councillor Islam expressed the opinion that closing the centre would be to contravene members’ duty of care to those residents. Councillor Islam suggested thinking creatively about the use of the centre and its relationship with the Cherry Hub to continue to provide services that were needed. Councillor Islam called upon the Mayor to investigate whether there were opportunities for the garden centre to be self-funded, rather than closing it.
Councillor Yvette Hopley, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, clarified that the Cherry Hub Day Centre was not up for closure, and assured residents that the excellent services for those with disabilities and autism would continue, and that an impact assessment on whatever decision was made would be undertaken.
The questions are as follows:
What is the council doing about getting
homeless people off our streets and into accommodation?
In view of the public support and
affection for Cherry Orchard Garden Centre, which offers both
horticultural therapy and valuable work experience for people with
learning difficulties, and a wide range of plants for
Croydon’s local gardeners and park groups, would the Council
be willing to delay the Centre’s closure for three months and
set up a cross-party committee to look at the future financial
viability, (perhaps with more community involvement and support) of
such a valuable public resource that would be sorely missed and has
now served the Croydon Community for more than thirty
The recent census shows that Islamic
communities make up 10.6 % of the Borough's population. What can
the Executive Mayor promise to do to assist Islamic communities to
secure sufficient burial spaces and to help all faiths find places
of worship, including my own Croydon Ugandan Islamic community that
has to rent a place for prayer outside the Borough?
Mr Mayor, In the run up to your election
in reference to LTNs, you stated, "I do not want Croydon to be
dependent on fining its residents to be able to balance the books
but removing that dependency will take some time. I will do it but
it won’t be on day one!” It is now day 268,
you’ve opened the books and discovered ridiculous and
achievable income predictions related to these schemes. There is
still no data and no public outreach as was also promised. When
will you keep to your word?
Will the mayor confirm he will be seeking
the resignation of the Head of Directorate responsible for parking
and LTN revenue for submitting figures “plucked from the
air“ (quote Councillor Scott Roche) to be included in the
“fantasy budget“ (again quote Councillor Scott Roche)
that has now contributed to the third bankruptcy of the borough? As
custodians of the public purse, council officers should be held
accountable for their actions.
6. Since your election and that of the council, please give examples of any tangible improvements that have taken place to date, outside this building within the Central Croydon Conservation Area. In particular on Katharine Street, High Street, Park Street, and St. George's Walk?
Member Questions to the Executive Mayor
To receive questions from councillors.
The questions and answers were printed in the agenda ahead of the meeting. The first questioner did not attend, and so the Chair invited the next resident to ask their question, to which Mayor Jason Perry responded thanking them for their commitment and care to the Cherry Orchard Garden Centre. The Mayor also stated that a final decision had not been made on the matter. Charles Barber then asked why volunteers had been prevented from selling Christmas trees during the festive season, to which the Mayor explained he was not involved in the day to day running of the centre.
Carolyn Kellaris asked whether Mayor found it acceptable that residents had been issued fines from Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes that were not fully implemented and that the Mayor did not support. The Mayor explained that there would be engagement with residents later in the month on the LTNs that had just gone live.
The Chair explained that the next question, as printed in the agenda, breached the rules of questioning as laid out in the Constitution (Part 4A, Council Procedure Rules), and would therefore not be responded to at this meeting.
The next question from Mark Samuel was followed by a supplementary question, in which Mark Samuel asked whether the Mayor would make a request to HM King Charles III to visit Croydon during the coronation year, to which the Mayor responded that he always welcomed a royal visit, and that the council was making great progress making the town centre of Croydon cleaner and brighter.
Members of Council then asked questions of the Mayor and Cabinet Members, the first of which concerned the government’s plans to end Windrush remedy measures, to which the Mayor responded that the Conservative group had appointed Windrush Champions the previous year but that the Labour group did not appoint and so the council did not run the scheme.
In response to a question regarding the plans by Transport for London (TfL) to implement the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) into Croydon the Mayor expressed that he had objected to the plans and that he did not believe that it tackled air pollution.
In response to further questions regarding the costs of running the Cherry Orchard Garden Centre the Mayor stated he was happy to share a breakdown of the costs if they were requested following the meeting.
In response to a question the Mayor expressed his disappointment at seeing shops closing in Crystal Palace, and that the council was looking at having a shared prosperity fund and potentially a Business Improvement District (BID) in the area. The Mayor also agreed to raise the issue that ending the energy discount caused to businesses with the Borough Commander.
In a question regarding the refusal for Levelling-Up funding that had come from Central Government, the Mayor confirmed that the Labour group, when in power, had not applied for the first round of funding. However, the Mayor had begun a Town Centre Advisory Board that was doing ... view the full minutes text for item 19/21
Council and Committee Meetings - Municipal Year Calendar 2023-24
Review of Council Tax Support Scheme – 2023/24
The Chair of the General Purposes Committee, Councillor Amy Foster, introduced the report to members, asking them to note the dates that the committee had agreed for Council in the year 2023-24, and to approve the full schedule of meetings as contained in the report.
It was MOVED by Councillor Foster, SECONDED by Councillor Mario Creatura and RESOLVED:
1. To approve the full schedule of council meetings for the municipal year 2023-24 (Appendices A & B); and,
2. To note the dates of Council approved by the General Purposes Committee.
Recommendations deferred for Debate
Mayor Jason Perry then introduced the report on the Council Tax Support Scheme to members.
Councillor Callton Young MOVED that the recommendations be deferred for debate. This is SECONDED by Councillor Leila Ben-Hassel, who reserved her right to speak.
Councillor Young stated that the recommendations proposed making financial savings by causing detriment to the most vulnerable, and asked how non-working residents would be able to make ends meet if they could not work additional hours.
Councillor Jason Cummings, Cabinet Member for Finance, responded that the removal of the minimum income floor created a net benefit change for claimants. Councillor Cummings also pointed out that last year the Council had voted that all members of a household must contribute towards Council Tax, which now the same members wanted to vote against.
Councillor Leila Ben-Hassel responded that difficult decisions had had to be made, but that residents were experiencing a cost-of-living crisis and that this would be too great a difficulty to add to their current financial pressures. Councillor Ben-Hassel also explained that, as a disabled person, she personally would not want to be dependent upon others under her roof to help pay Council Tax.
Councillor Andy Stranack then spoke for the motion, explaining that those with disabilities should not be used as tokens for others in their households to benefit financially, and that the change to Council Tax would tackle the root causes of disabilities and enable people to display their true abilities and talents.
The Chair then put the motion to the vote.
RESOLVED, with 34 votes for and 35 against, the Chair having used their casting vote, to reject the proposed changes to the Council Tax Support Scheme and retain the existing arrangements.
To hear maiden speeches from up to five Councillors newly elected at the election held on 5 May 2022.
Council then heard the Maiden Speeches from the following members:
- Councillor Gayle Gander, Kenley ward;
- Councillor Tamar Nwafor, Thornton Heath ward;
- Councillor Samir Dwesar, Purley and Woodcote ward; and,
- Councillor Elily Ponnuthurai, Waddon ward.
There were no proposed changes to appointments.
To debate any motions submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rules.
The following two Motions, one from the Administration and one from the Leader of the Opposition, will be debated:
Conservative Group Motion
‘This Council opposes the Mayor of London’s extension of the ULEZ to the boundary of Greater London.
Sadiq Khan’s plan will not only force hundreds of Croydon residents to pay £12.50 a day just to drive their car, but his own studies show it will have very little environmental impact.
For many Croydonians, their car is the only reliable option to get around given the reduced public transport options compared with inner London. Punishing those who cannot afford to buy a more modern vehicle is deeply unfair and out of touch, particularly at a time when the cost of living is increasing.
Labour Group Motion
This council notes the Mayor’s failed bid to secure much needed Levelling Up funding from the Government.
This council further notes that since 2010, Croydon has seen its grant funding from Government cut by over 80%.
This council, therefore, is disappointed by and disagrees with the Government decision to ignore Croydon’s strong case for levelling up funding which would have supported local regeneration and helped Croydon to become cleaner, greener and more accessible.
This council believes that the allocation of funding through the Levelling Up Fund – which saw [well-funded] areas like Richmond and Sutton receive money in contrast to Croydon - is evidence that the Government is being unfair to Croydon, and we continue to lose out as a result.
The Chair read out the Conservative Group Debate Motion, and Mayor Jason Perry spoke first, outlining that the Executive had objected to the proposals on the grounds that they were a hammer-blow to businesses and residents in Croydon. The Mayor argued that it would be unfair to carers and the elderly, and that there would be no health or environmental benefits to extending the ULEZ into Croydon.
Councillor Mario Creatura seconded the motion and reserved his right to reply.
Speaking in opposition to the motion Councillor Amy Foster argued that the benefits of extending the ULEZ would tackle health inequalities across the borough. Councillor Foster demonstrated that the most deprived of children living with asthma were 2.5 times more likely to be admitted to hospital due to the condition, and that chronic health problems kept children off school and that this had long-term economic effects on poor families.
Also speaking in opposition Councillor Stuart King argued that the Conservative members were only in opposition to the ULEZ because the Mayor of London was a Labour member. Councillor King argued that 4,000 Londoners died prematurely each year due to pollution, and that the ULEZ scheme had reduced pollution levels be almost half in Central London. Councillor King also explained that 85% of road vehicles were already ULEZ-compliant, and so there should not be a huge financial burden put on most residents.
Speaking on behalf of the motion Councillor Creatura explained that an independent report associated with ULEZ expansion showed that emissions would be very small and that the scheme was not backed up by data that it would reduce pollution in outer London. Councillor Creatura argued that it was not fair to push the costs of the ULEZ onto residents who were already struggling with the cost of living.
The Chair put the motion to the vote, and Council RESOLVED, with 34 votes for and 35 votes against, the Chair having used their casting vote, to reject the Conservative Group Motion.
The Chair then read out the motion submitted by the Labour Group, which was MOVED by Councillor Chris Clark and SECONDED by Councillor Rowenna Davis who reserved her right to speak.
Councillor Clark argued that Central Government should hear members’ shared intention to put regeneration of the borough back on track, and that the Mayor should invite the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to speak to Croydon Council about its failed bid for funding.
Councillor Jeet Bains, Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, pointed out that the Labour group had missed the first round of funding that could be applied for, and also that only a handful of London councils had received any funding. Councillor Bains also pointed out that the Mayor was already in talks with the Secretary of State.
Councillor Alasdair Stewart added to the observation, stating that of the 529 bids made only 111 were successful, but also that the Mayor was already taking action to help improve the town centre and ... view the full minutes text for item 24/21