As the newly elected leader of the council I’m sitting here tonight at nearly 10pm – still in the office, and tired at the end of another long day, but still running on the adrenalin that comes from winning such a significant election.
It’s a funny old game, politics – one minute you’re in opposition, and the next you’re the leader of London’s largest borough. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing for the past four weeks, the meetings are back to back, and the evenings and weekends are spent at community events. Don’t tell anyone, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. As someone once said, one day in government is worth a thousand in opposition, and they were right.
So I’m proud that, just four weeks into office, our Labour administration has hit the ground running here in Croydon.
That we’ve been able to do that is no accident, but down to a lot of hard work and planning prior to the election. Hard work from both our politicians and from officers of the council in ensuring everyone was ready for a change of administration if that’s what the public voted for, and thankfully they did.
Our manifesto is titled Ambitious for Croydon, and we are, for the whole borough. That’s why we’re not just focusing on the regeneration of our city centre, but also on district centres such as New Addington, Purley, and South Norwood. Further, we’re determined to ensure a good mix of affordable housing across the borough, and that we maximise the number of high-quality local jobs. All of these commitments run like a thread through our manifesto; in short, we’re determined to ensure every local resident in Croydon gets the chance to benefit from the increased investment that’s heading our way.
Croydon has been in grave danger in recent years of becoming just another sleepy dormitory suburb of London, a place where people sleep at night but travel elsewhere to work and spend their leisure time. However, this isn’t our administration’s vision for Croydon. So, once we’ve literally cleaned up the streets and ended the fly-tipping crisis left by the outgoing administration (and that work has already started) we’re determined to set about turning our vision into reality.
A massively increased leisure and cultural offer is vital, a celebration of our wonderful diversity equally so. Our successful tram network must be extended, first to Crystal Palace and then on into London and down to the south of the borough. The Croydon Partnership’s exciting plans for our town centre are well under way and help send a signal that Croydon is open for business. We’re the biggest economy in the south-east and one of the few places left, south of Watford, where affordable investment opportunities still exist.
So, tomorrow we begin our second month in office. The challenges of ongoing budget cuts and much more lie before us, but right now it’s time to go home and catch the highlights of today’s world cup action on TV.
Thanks for all your kind words and support, see you soon,