As I write this latest blog post, I am reflecting on Croydon’s first Ambition music and arts festival, which took place last month – and what a stunning event it was. Alongside up-and-coming young talent from Croydon, it featured international stars such as Soul II Soul, and nationally recognised comedy names, as well as theatre, dance and much more. But, more than anything, the festival proved to be another event putting people and local communities at the heart of celebrating art and culture across Croydon.
And when positioned alongside this summer’s already hugely successful Purley, London Road, Crystal Palace and South Norwood festivals, the arrival of the iconic Rise gallery, and fantastic announcement of Boxpark Shoreditch coming to our town next summer, it proves beyond any doubt that Croydon is changing forever.
No longer a sleepy outer London suburb, it is a vibrant, modern borough with an array of fantastic district and local town centres, a truly diverse population, and new job and training opportunities being created in numbers we could only have dreamed about a few years ago. And that’s all before Westfield/Hammerson’s new world-class retail centre opens in a few years’ time.
However, Ambition and growing success bring their own challenges, so that is why, as a council, we are proud to be delivering a number of new schools for local people, ensuring thousands of new homes are being built, and introducing a licensing scheme for private landlords to improve the standard of accommodation for those who choose to rent.
Also, we are campaigning to further improve Croydon’s fantastic public transport provision, which is rapidly becoming a victim of its own success with buses, trams and trains often running near, or at, capacity.
It is, in fact, with the pressures on public transport in mind that I, as council leader, have launched Croydon’s campaign to convince national government and the Mayor of London that the proposed Bakerloo line Tube extension should continue on from its proposed route to Lewisham and then cut through south-east London to Croydon.
I hope you agree that the Tube would be a good thing for Croydon; if you have a moment spare, do let us know your views.
Enjoy the rest of the summer, and if you have children, do ensure you take up the offer we are repeating from last year of free swimming for young people in borough leisure centres.
Leader, Croydon Council