Six Public Questions will be heard at this meeting, which will be responded to. The questioners then will have the opportunity to ask a supplementary question based on the answer received.
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 work with Westfield and other providers to bring skills and investment into Croydon.
In response to a call for the Mayor to apologise to staff for the late implementation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) which had seen some failure of the scheme, the Mayor explained that it was not the fault of council staff that the schemes had failed and so no apology was necessary.
In response to a question about tackling homelessness the Mayor explained that the council was conducting a multi-agency approach and that it had re-established the Safer Streets group to improve the situation.
In response to a question about the Council Tax Support Scheme Councillor Jason Cummings, Cabinet Member for Finance, assured members that any potential increase in Council Tax payments had been modelled against the necessary increase in support. The Mayor added that a hardship fund was available for residents in need of it.
In response to a question about waste management on housing estates the Mayor explained that a number of initiatives were going ahead to make improvements, such as the Housing Improvement Board, the Housing Transformation Panel, the Residents’ Charter, and that the new repair contract was being assembled in consultation with residents.
In response to a question about encouraging footfall in district centres the Mayor stated he was listening to residents on this matter, working with BIDs, fulfilling a key election pledge of reopening Purley Pool, and trying to improve the resurrected graffiti removal service.
In response to a question about community funding the Mayor confirmed that he did not terminate the Community Fund but that it was a three-year long programme that had expired. The Mayor also explained that the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) existed to deliver infrastructure and development in the borough but could not be used to fund projects outside of this.
Regarding traffic safety in Waddon Ward, the Mayor stated that TfL had provided funding to look at the Five Ways junction, and that the Mayor was putting pressure on TfL to deliver the scheme. The Mayor also expressed that he would be happy to meet with Waddon Ward councillors to discuss how to make progress.
Regarding planning applications the Mayor stated that the council was working on a design guide that would respect the character of places in the borough to make residents proud of where they lived.
In response to a question about what will be done with the Cherry Orchard Garden Centre once closed, the Mayor confirmed that assets were up for disposal as the council needed to offset its debt. Only once that had happened would the council have money to spend on more services.
Regarding the negative effects of the Cost-of-Living Crisis on residents’ mental health the Mayor explained that lots of effort was going in to dealing with this. Councillor Yvette Hopley, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, explained that the Public Health team was dedicated to this and that a strategy would be reviewed by the Health and Wellbeing Board.
In response to a question about tackling anti-social behaviour, knife crime and drug dealing the Mayor confirmed that he was working with the Public Space Protection Officers and Police, and that he was happy to meet with street traders to discuss their concerns.
In response to whether the Norbury Library café could be leased short-term the Mayor explained that it was difficult to provide a service such as that short-term.
The Mayor explained that the council was committed to improving the housing offer for care leavers.
In response to a question regarding Council Tax the Mayor explained that the Hardship Fund was in place to help residents who needed support but who fell outside of the benefits system.
When asked what the Mayor was doing to ensure that the Borough of Culture celebrations truly reflected the diversity of Croydon the Mayor supported by Councillor Andy Stranack explained that there had been over 60 responses to the call for bids for funding to take part, and that there would be an all-member briefing happening which members were encouraged to attend.