I wanted to blog today about growth in Croydon and how we’re making our borough the great place you asked us to make it when you elected us as your Labour administration in 2014.
I’m inviting you to contact me with your priorities for how we can involve more local people in local decision making – because local people know best and I want to make your priorities our priorities.
As the leader of Croydon Council, I’m proud that our borough is now rapidly experiencing the growth and economic investment that other parts of London have already enjoyed – frankly, it is long overdue.
I knew, when we were elected just over two years ago, that our priorities had to be to start cleaning the streets properly, prosecute those that blight our borough with their filthy fly-tipping (council prosecutions now number more than 100, and we’re still cracking down), to have a true partnership with the Mayor of London (something we have done successfully, both with Sadiq Khan and Boris Johnson before him) for the benefit of the borough’s residents, and send a big and bold message to both business and national government that Croydon is 100% open for business.
One of the early achievements of our Labour administration has been the signing of a major ‘devolution deal’ with national government that is linked to our town-centre growth zone and the way in which we invest business rates to support investment in local infrastructure, such as trams and roads. The government has signed a similar agreement with Manchester, but Croydon’s innovative approach has led the way in London and the south-east, something we are immensely proud of. However, there is a lot more to do to really ensure this investment benefits all communities across Croydon. That is why we, as a council, have taken a clear view that devolution of budgets and decisions must spread from the Town Hall and be taken, wherever possible, by you, the residents, in the communities where you live.
Our ward budgets initiative has been a great start to devolving decisions to a local level, and has seen councillors working in partnership with residents’ associations and community groups in the wards they were elected to represent. The amounts of money they have been spending may have been relatively small, but they have generated lots of local interest and commitment to renovating public spaces, improving children’s playgrounds, supporting local community groups, and much more. This year, we are getting bigger and better by increasing the ward budgets, but I want to go further still. I want to hear your views on how many more decisions could be taken locally, rather than in the Town Hall.
Should local environmental decisions on cleaning and litter be taken locally? Should our parks have much greater input from local residents in terms of what facilities they have? Could our libraries provide more IT support or child care facilities for local people? These are just a few thoughts; I am sure you will have many ideas of your own, so chat to me about them when you see me in your area. Alternatively, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at The Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR9 1XW.
My job is to listen to you and, as I mentioned earlier, ensure that your priorities are our priorities. Together, we’re ambitious for Croydon.
Leader, Croydon Council