Politics today sometimes struggles to close that credibility gap between politicians and their promises, and the quite legitimate expectations of the public.
In Croydon over the past 10 months, as the still relatively newly elected Labour council administration, we have been trying to do something about this. Yes, by keeping our promises, but also by listening to what you, the public, think of our ambitious vision for Croydon.
So, as the leader of the Council, I am pleased to report we have, as promised, frozen council tax bills at last year’s levels, while protecting key frontline services. We have, as promised, begun the major task of cleaning up Croydon; 88% of reported fly-tips are now picked up within 48 hours (up from just 3% a year ago), and we have started to prosecute those caught fly-tipping, with more than 30 cases heading for the courts.
We’ve also committed the council to:
- employing more local companies when we offer contracts for tender;
- paying the London living wage; and
- building more affordable housing for local people.
But, equally importantly to delivering on our key election promises, I am proud that for the first time in Croydon’s history we published our entire budget several months in advance, so it was genuinely out for public consultation
As a result of that public budget consultation we listened and we made some changes, so Purley swimming pool will now remain open while long-term regeneration plans are discussed.
Additional money has been found to bring forward the implementation of 20mph zones, and we have been able to save some of the school lollipop crossing patrols cut under the previous council administration. Fieldway Family Centre will also remain open to serve local families.
So, as we rapidly head toward the forthcoming general election, let nobody tell you that your vote is not important, or does not count or make a difference. It does count and it can make a difference.
Clearly, I am biased toward the red team in May, but whoever you support, remember people gave their lives for the right to vote, so use it and help us restore some much-needed credibility to politics.