The council has reneged on a public statement it made a year ago that it it would NOT sell Heath Lodge in Grangewood Park.
The bankrupt council had kept secret the list of assets it planned to sell discussing it under Part B, which is confidential and not open to the public. Now the details have been revealed in papers being discussed at cabinet tonight Thursday (Feb 18).
In the case of Heath Lodge this is the third time the council has tried to sell the Victorian park building. Previously the council had assured the Friends of Grangewood Park that at least 20 per cent of any sale would be ploughed back in to improving the park.
In January last year the council advertised, its plans to dispose of Heath Lodge and part of 195 square metre strip of land for access to the property, in the Sutton Guardian on Boxing Day without any consultation with the FoGP.
The council was forced into an embarrassing u-turn after over 3,000 residents signed a petition opposing it with local ward councillors promising that it would be up to residents what happened to the building.
On January 6 2020, the council issued a statement saying that the strong public opposition was reason it had decided not to sell the building or land, adding: “… Croydon Council’s elected members and officers will work with local people over the coming months to find a viable solution the community supports.”
Councillor Karen Jewitt responded at the time saying she was “delighted” with the news along with fellow Thornton Heath councillors Pat Clouder and Callton Young, who had objected to the strip of land being ‘disposed of’.
Meanwhile, the parks department is having to save over £400,000 and plans to achieve this by not cutting the grass so often and buying larger bins which it will empty less frequently!
The barmy plan was unveiled at a scrutiny committee by Steve Isles, director of public realms and was challenged by chair of Scrutiny Streets, Environment and Homes Sub-Committee Councillor Leila Ben-Hassel, who questioned the below average spend on parks compared with other London boroughs.
She said the ‘savings’ did not reflect the importance that parks have in the future, particularly given their increased usage during Covid.
Cllr Stephen Mann, said parks were ‘critical’ and that a lot of Croydon parks were looking ‘increasingly tired.’
Mr Isles who revealed he had to make £20 million savings to his department’s budget went on to explain that he was dealing with a backlog of £77.4m million to repair the borough’s roads and potholes which he reassuringly said was not unusual for a London borough!
He said he was having to prioritise repairs on main roads with repairs to minimise disruption and third party claims .
In 2019 it was reported Croydon was the worst London borough for pothole complaints. There had been 4941 complaints in two years compared to just 13 in Lambeth.
Mr Isles explained how he was hoping to offset the cuts by generating income from the Landlord Licensing Scheme which generates £5million. Unfortunately the scheme was suspended in September last year as the council had to resubmit an application to the government but after a favourable consultation is awaiting a decision.
The council also plans to shut a recycling centre but this will only save £100,000 and the meeting heard that residents could be charged to dispose of certain items at the tip. Forty-seven local authorities are now asking for payments to get rid of items including boilers, doors, fireplaces, windows and empty water tanks.