The 2015 General Election has seen our country arguably more divided than ever and voters in Croydon turning the Croydon Central parliamentary constituency into the third most marginal seat in the country. A week on from this momentous event it is more important than ever that this council has a clear focus on ‘putting Croydon first’.
As the Labour leader of London’s largest borough I am absolutely committed to ensuring we get the very best deal for our town. This means working with local businesses, the voluntary sector and politicians of all parties. However, we should also be clear that as locally elected politicians we will robustly oppose any plans by national government to make further cuts to public services in Croydon. This involves placing particular focus on protecting the budgets of those services which support our elderly and vulnerable.
We are currently seeking greater devolution of decision making and budgets to Croydon from central government and will now work with the newly elected Government, namely the Treasury and the Mayor of London, to immediately reopen our discussions and make the case for further investment and support for our much-needed infrastructure projects. This investment from central government is essential if we are to accelerate the economic growth that is already apparent in our town. Extensions to our trams, better train services, zone 4 travel status, improved cycle routes and much more will be campaigned for, because these are all improvements that the council cannot deliver alone.
I am proud, though, that in the first year of our council administration we have not only made the creation of local housing and jobs a priority, but that we have delivered on those commitments and have done so together, as a council.
We will see new homes being built across Croydon in the coming months and a significant proportion will be both affordable and available for local people. On the provision of local jobs, we have ensured our procurement practices now make it easier for smaller and hopefully local companies to bid for council contracts. In addition, we have pledged that Croydon will be a London Living Wage borough, thus supporting the principle that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.
Despite all the serious issues we have to deal with, Croydon is a fantastic place to live and work. As such, I hope you will find time this spring and summer to attend our forthcoming ‘Ambition’ music festival in July, the Pearl Izumi Men’s Tour Series and Matrix Fitness Women’s Grand Prix – two of Britain’s biggest professional cycling events that we’re hosting on 2 June – or to simply relax in the sunshine in one of our many wonderful parks. Personally, I will be doing all three!