One of the key commitments of our council administration – which took office just over a year ago – was to serve all of Croydon, and accelerate the borough’s economic growth as a matter of urgency, while ensuring that as many local people as possible benefited from that growth.
So, for once, I have a list of positive stats and facts that reflect the progress we, together as Croydon, are making and, in so doing, turning those ‘ambitious’ plans into a reality.
- Office vacancy rates at less than 10%, falling from 55% in 2011.
- A 49% rise in the now-flourishing ‘tech sector’ since 2011.
- 1,800 new homes being built, and 1,053 affordable new homes completed.
- Imminent start of a major commercial development on the prestigious Ruskin Square site.
- Box Park pop-up shopping mall at East Croydon set for the summer of 2016.
- Work about to start on transforming the Fairfield Halls into the Southbank of Croydon.
- District centre improvements under way in South Norwood and Thornton Heath, with others to follow shortly.
What all of the above illustrate is how fast we are now turning around Croydon’s economy and truly making it London’s most exciting and vibrant borough. Taken along with events such as this summer’s forthcoming Ambition Festival and the recent hosting through the town centre of a major international cycle event, we are, once and for all, ending the cheap jibes we once saw aimed at Croydon. Instead, we are reinforcing the view that Croydon is the place to be, the place people are moving to, and the place new jobs are being created.
However, with growing success comes a new set of challenges that together we must address.
East Croydon station is no longer up to the increased demands being placed on it and must be modernised – so, come on Network Rail, let’s get on with it. More trams, and tracks to run them on, are needed urgently, so we will be lobbying the Mayor of London, whose responsibility this is, as a matter of urgency.
More schools are needed and council, with partners, is building them; and we need the government to approve the planning process that will allow Westfield/Hammerson to get on and deliver the much-needed and talked about new retail centre.
Finally, as council leader, my job is also to ensure that, even as Croydon is being transformed, as a council we remain focused on delivering high-quality local services such as continuing to improve our street cleaning, increasing recycling, keeping your council tax bills as low as possible, and much more.
We are making good progress on all these fronts, but, as ever, if you have any problems or ideas about how we can further improve services, do not hesitate to let me know directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leader LB Croydon