To debate any motions submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rules.
The Mayor started the item with the first motion which read as follows:
“This Council recognises the achievements of this administration including delivering, the London Living Wage, Private landlords licensing scheme, Don’t Mess with Croydon, Pride Festival, White Ribbon Borough, Fairfield Halls regeneration, Improving Schools, Choose your future, Investment in services for older people, affordable housing for local people and much more, Croydon is a place that all our residents are increasingly proud of.
However there is still much more to do to secure Croydon’s long term future, and our town cannot afford to go back to the years of cuts, closures and austerity.”
Councillor Newman, proposing the motion, stated that tough decisions were made to re-establish strong fiscal management of the Council finances after the last administration. This had provided for the funding of numerous projects that had been launched over the previous years. It was stated that the administration had delivered on health, housing, support for young people, and schools; promises that were made were kept, and the pledges moving forward would be made for the benefit of all residents.
Councillor Ali seconded the motion and reserved her right to speak.
Councillor Hale, speaking against the motion, stated that the achievements by the administration were disappointing and had failed to consult with residents along the way – particularly in relation to planning matters. It was stated that residents had lost faith in the planning system, with green spaces being sold off and the character of local areas being changed with blocks of flats replacing family homes. It was stated that the interests of developers were being put ahead of residents.
Councillor Creatura stated that a number of the administration’s achievements had been disappointing. No landlords had been prosecuted under the licensing scheme, fly tipping had increased significantly in the borough, and the Fairfield Halls redevelopment had been delayed. There had been a lack of affordable housing built and no council homes at all. It was further claimed that the administration had taken credit for schemes launched by the previous administration.
Councillor Ali stated that the administration had supported all residents and not just a few. It had improved the living standards of housing and was ambitious in its cultural work alongside partners. Despite government cuts, the administration had delivered significant investment in the borough. It had also led campaigns for residents that usually go unheard, such as the white ribbon campaign against domestic violence. Despite the government cuts to the police, the administration had introduced community budgets and structural funding for the voluntary sector – unlike the previous administration who had cut funding to the voluntary sector. It was stated that the adminstraiton had implemented a range of measures to support residents – from the London Living Wage campaign to fire safety improvements in the Council’s tower blocks.
The Mayor then put the motion to the vote and it was carried.
The Mayor then moved to the second motion which read as follows:
“The closure of Fairfield Halls. Withdrawing the free Green Garden Waste service. Removing the protection on dozens of parks and green spaces. The Purley Skyscraper. Insensitive development in Shirley. Scrapping free parking in Coulsdon. Traffic schemes in Addiscombe. Thousands of objections to contentious planning applications. The deeply unpopular Local Plan. Brick By Brick destroying the green space on estates.
These are a few examples of the issues that literally tens of thousands of residents, from the very north to the very south of Croydon, have petitioned the Council on. But the current administration has systematically not listened to those residents on these issues and many others.
This Council regrets the failure of its Cabinet to listen over the past four years and resolves to treat the citizens of Croydon with respect in future - by listening to them.”
Councillor Tim Pollard, moving the motion, stated that residents across the borough were claiming that the Council was not listening to their concerns. Objections had been raised about how the Council had been dealing with Fairfield Halls, green waste collections, the Local Plan, and the many Brick by Brick developments. It was stated that what was needed was more decisions held in public and credibility restored to the planning process. Resident Associations needed to be promoted and area forums set up across the borough to ensure decisions were made with the support of local residents.
Councillor Bennett seconded the motion and reserved her right to speak.
Councillor Wood, speaking against the motion, stated that the administration was proud of listening to residents and had introduced devolution such as through ward and community budgets. Changes had been made through consultation on the Local Plan. It was stated that the motion misunderstood the difference between not listening and not agreeing. Difficult decisions needed to be taken and the loudest voices are not necessarily the majority.
Councillor Rendle, speaking against the motion, stated that re-development of Ashburton Hall was an example of the Council listening and acting on the views of residents. Other examples were provided such as better crossings on Bingham Road and enforcing parking restrictions on Lower Addiscombe Road.
Councillor Bennett, seconding the motion, stated that a large number of developments were being approved in areas such as Shirely Oaks, where the vast majority of residents were opposed and not being listened to. It was questioned where affordable housing was really affordable for residents in Croydon. It was stated that the Council should listen to residents and build on Council-owned land. It was claimed that the Council also failed to listen to its own social workers who stated that workloads were too high in children’s services. Ofsted had blamed the Council leadership and not central government, for failing its inspection of the service. Residents wanted to have their voices heard.
The Mayor put the motion to the vote and it fell.