⚠ GUIDANCE ON CORONAVIRUS ⚠
Following Croydon Council’s announcement yesterday to launch a full inquiry and review of conditions in all their high-rise blocks, I have called for a reassessment of social housing provision in Croydon, including the development of a tenant’s charter
Yesterday, after the ITV news report into the conditions of properties at Regina Road, Croydon Council has launched a full inquiry to establish how this was allowed to happen. The immediate inquiry is being overseen by Sarah Hayward, the council’s interim executive director of Place, however it will be transferred to an external, independent investigator as soon as possible. The council will also be reviewing the conditions in all of their high-rise blocks as a matter of urgency.
I am pleased that the Council has launched a full investigation into what happened, and that they will be reviewing the conditions in all of their high-rise blocks. The horrific scenes reported on ITV has shocked the community – no one should have to live like that.
We know there is an underlying and fundamental lack of affordable housing, but it is alarming that any tenants of the council could live in such horrific accommodation, despite so many attempts to get the Council to act.
I am calling for fundamental changes to improve our housing provision in Croydon and make sure that no one has to suffer such terrible living conditions again.
I am calling for:
- A tenant’s charter of rights and responsibilities where tenants are equal partners with the council
- An investigation into repairs and maintenance, including the conduct of Axis, the company contracted to carry out council housing repairs.
- A new forum for people in temporary accommodation to raise concerns and seek advice
- A review of how many other London boroughs are placing families in temporary accommodation in Croydon
- A review of the housing association provision within the borough
- A regular routine of walk-abouts with Cllrs, MPs, housing officers and the police across the borough
From the 3500 people who have asked for my help on housing issues since 2017, it is clear that the fundamental lack of affordable housing has driven the following 5 core areas of concern:
- Repairs and maintenance
- Quality of temporary accommodation
- Responses to people in extreme need
- Response times and complaints processes
- Overcrowded accommodation
Update on Sandilands Tram crash (03/03/2021)
This week I had a meeting with Alex Chalk MP, the Minister responsible for the court system, as the families of the victims of the tram crash had asked me to talk to the Government about the ongoing delays to the inquest.
The inquest was due to start in October 2020 at Croydon Town Hall. However, the inquest was adjourned just 1 working day before the start date. The date was then postponed two further times, until a date of 17 May 2021 was provided. This is a significant delay to an important inquest that has left the families stuck in a prolonged period of stress and anguish.
The Minister listened to the concerns I raised, and although he can’t intervene in legal proceedings, he offered to meet and learn the lessons after the inquest to discuss if any policy changes are necessary. I will provide a further update in due course and will keep on pressing the Government to do all they can to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.
My full statement on the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill vote (30/12/2020)
I will be voting for the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill today. The choice is whether to support a thin deal with huge gaps and lots of new bureaucracy, or to enable no deal with all its horrific consequences. The right thing to do is to vote for this Bill today as a foundation to build on for our future.
As Shadow Policing Minister, I have significant concerns about the security arrangements in the deal. At the moment, police officers have access to databases in real time which tell them if people are wanted for crimes across Europe. Those databases will no longer be available, and the alternative arrangements negotiated will be bureaucratic, slow and cumbersome. We have suggested an amendment to the Bill today to compel the Government to open debate with the EU about access to this data – and I hope the Government will support us.
The deal that Boris Johnson has negotiated falls far short of what he promised. The months of delay and theatrics from the Government have caused businesses to suffer and left us with limited time to scrutinise the deal. Our services sector, which is so important for Croydon, will be rightly concerned about significant gaps in the deal for them.
I made the decision to vote for this legislation in the national interest. Against the only other option of no-deal, this deal is the least-worst option for business, the economy and jobs. This deal is a basis upon which to build and move forward, and I will be holding the Government to account for it.
With Brexit behind us, Labour’s vision is to rebuild and reunite our country in a fair and equitable way, with good jobs, a good quality of life, standards and rights. A Labour Government would make the case for a future of cooperation with our European partners and allies. I will vote for the deal today so we can move on from the Brexit debate and work to forge a better future for our country.
My full response to the section 114 notice issued to Croydon Council
“Croydon Council has issued a section 114 notice due to the very serious ongoing financial challenges it faces. This is a significant step and comes following a number of other financial interventions – including a ‘letter in the public interest’ from the council’s auditors.
The financial problems faced by the council have developed over many years. Ten years of austerity and the impact of Covid have both taken their toll, but it is also clear that mistakes have been made.
The new Leader of the Council, Cllr Hamida Ali, has appointed a new cabinet and their single focus is to ensure we find a way out of this situation. The section 114 notice means that the council will stop all new non-essential spending while an emergency budget is developed, and savings are identified. There is currently a shortfall in the budget of £66 million.
My priority, clearly, is to my constituents, and I have been talking to the council in some detail over some time – along with Croydon’s two other MPs – to understand the implications of the financial situation. I want to help develop solutions but recognise some very difficult decisions will need to be made. My two priorities for my constituents are to make sure the services supporting the most vulnerable are maintained, and to ensure the council gets the basic universal services right as well – such as collecting the bins and supporting the public realm.”
Click here to read a piece by local government expert, Adam Lent, on the impact of austerity on Croydon’s financial situation.
Proud to be re-elected as your MP for Croydon Central
“I am incredibly proud to have been re-elected as your Member of Parliament for Croydon Central. To those of you who voted to re-elect me or helped with my campaign I want to say a huge thank you. Whether or not you voted for me, I want to be clear that I am here to represent and serve the whole of our fantastic community.
“I’m fully committed to delivering on the pledges I made to you during the election: continued action on knife crime, fighting Tory school cuts, developing a green new deal for Croydon, opposing a no-deal Brexit and delivering affordable homes for local people.
“With the backdrop of a Boris Johnson majority, with more austerity ‘baked in’ to their spending plans according to the IFS, these campaigns will be more challenging. But I have delivered for you over the past two years and I will strive every day to deliver a fairer, safer Croydon.”
I hold a regular weekly advice surgery for constituents. To book an appointment, click here.