Well, I hope everyone is enjoying the long hot summer here in Croydon and taking full advantage of our many green parks and spaces. The sun also shone on some great community events across Croydon this past weekend, including the South End Food Festival, West Croydon carnival of cultures, South Norwood Arts festival and Grangewood Park community event. It was great to see and meet so many people taking part and celebrating the wonderful community spirit we have right across Croydon.
So, as our children look forward to the school holidays and their parents wonder about how they can occupy them, I am delighted to confirm that our new Labour administration has immediately reinstated FREE SWIMMING over the summer holidays for all children in our borough aged 16 and under.
The free swimming offer, when set alongside our other decisions taken after May’s local elections – to end the council’s pension fund investing in tobacco shares, and to encourage healthy eating in schools – are part of a drive to ensure we improve the health of our young people right across Croydon. If we can achieve this, not only will people live longer healthy lives, but the demands on our National Health Service will also be reduced.
Managing the demand for all public services, including those provided by the council in tough economic times, is one of the key challenges myself and colleagues face. That is why it is so important to get right our Don’t Mess with Croydon campaign to clean up our streets and end the borough’s fly-tipping epidemic.
Clearly, right now we need to put in significant extra financial resources to clean up our town but, in the long term, this is not the complete answer. The only way we will keep Croydon’s streets clean permanently is to ensure that, as so many residents do already, we all take responsibility for, and pride in, our own local streets and neighbourhoods. This will send the clear message to those few who continue to fly-tip or drop litter on our streets that this is something that we as the residents of Croydon will simply not tolerate anymore.
And keeping Croydon clean is one of the reasons we are consulting on a licensing scheme for private landlords, to ensure that landlords who let out their properties right across our borough, also understand they have a responsibility to keep their properties and their gardens in a clean and tidy state, just as the rest of us do.
Another benefit of the licensing scheme is that it will also guarantee decent homes for those increasing numbers of people who are relying on the rented private sector as rising house prices make buying a home more difficult than ever, especially for so many younger people.
So, as the leader, I will do my bit to ensure the council provides the highest possible quality of services, even in these tough financial times. But, to ensure the quality of life in Croydon continues to improve, we all, as local residents, landlords and businesses, have to play our part in keeping all our neighbourhoods both clean and safe.
Enjoy what remains of the summer.