#GE2020: Seven seismic changes that will shape the next battle for Croydon Central

By - Thursday 28th May, 2015

In the wake of Croydon Central’s bellwether election result, Jonny Rose gives his predictions for the next five years

Photo by @CroydonPhotos, used with permission.

And, lo, it has come to pass: Croydon Central remains a Conservative ‘hold’.

The battle for Croydon Central was a good one, replete with unflattering selfies, transvestite celebrity endorsements, and exceptional public debate. However, it came at the end of what was a relatively staid and unremarkable half-decade for Croydon. By contrast, the parliamentary aspirants of 2020 will be making political hay against a very different and unpredictable backdrop:

1) Westfield arrives in town

Despite a series of agonising legal coughs and planning ordinance splutters, it seems that we are likely to have a Westfield open in Croydon in 2019.

The appearance of Westfield Croydon brings with it the promise of 5,000 local job opportunities, up to six hundred new homes, over three hundred shops and improvements to the public transport network. Ultimately, the development promises to make Croydon – once again – a ‘top 10 retail destination’. Whatever your views on the mega-mall, the effect it has on the borough will make for some rich political capital.

2) Electoral boundary changes in 2018

The ‘Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies’ refers to the latest review by the UK Boundary Commission to comply with the revised rules for the number and size of constituencies introduced by the coalition government. The process was intended to be completed by 2015, however a 2013 Commons vote saw it delayed until 2018.

Far be it from me to invoke the spectre of gerrymandering (the manipulation the boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favour one party or class) in Croydon, but a little constituency line feng-shui will certainly be a gamechanger.

3) Croydon NOW: The money rolls in

Croydon Now refers to a cross-party pitch to the Chancellor late last year to “devolve” powers to Croydon’s local government – allowing the borough to reinvest business rates, stamp duty and new homes bonus. You read the argument in full here.

The bid was approved which means £7 million will initially go the Greater London Authority but, it is clearly earmarked for Croydon to help support the delivery of the Growth Zone from this financial year through to 2019/20.

4) The outcome of the 2018 council elections

The broad trend (although not one displayed in Croydon Central this time round) is that the colour of the council determines the colour of the MP.

The current council has seen early successes in flytipping, engaging with local businesses, and the establishment of an Opportunity & Fairness Commission – but will it be enough to keep Katharine Street red in three years time?

5) The Croydon Masterplan: culmination of the Croydon Vision 2020

The Croydon Masterplan(s) refers to a series of council-delivered planning and ‘place-making’ strategies across the borough. You can find all six masterplans here – all except one fall within the Croydon Central constituency.

Each Masterplan serves to realise the ‘Croydon Vision 2020’: a regeneration programme by the London Borough of Croydon that seeks to affect urban planning extensively and promote Croydon as a hub of living, retailing, culture and business in South London and South East England.

Whether Croydon in 2020 will be a yuppie utopia, a cyclist paradise or an arrivistes’ Arcadia is unknown. However, the actualisation of the Masterplan will undoubtedly change the way (and type of) people living, working and, perhaps, voting in Croydon Central.

6) The diversity drive

White Brits now make up less than half of Croydon’s population according to data from the 2011 Census, which shows 47.3 per cent – 171,878 of the borough’s 363,378 population – describing themselves as being “White British”. In 2001, the figure stood at 63.7 per cent. The second-largest ethnic group in Croydon was Black Caribbeans who make up 8.6 per cent – 31,251 people. Indians were the third largest group at 6.8 per cent – 24,710.

The racial composition of Croydon Central is changing, and fast. What can be done to appeal to aspirational first generation economic migrants and their more integrated children and grandchildren?

7) The Croydon Tech City movement continues

Far from an insulated talking-shop or a tribalistic party, Croydon Tech City has become a dynamic thousand-strong community that incorporates people from every part of Croydon and of all different backgrounds, shapes and sizes (where else can three Jerk Chicken chefs build a successful tech startup?).

The outlook of the typical Croydon Tech City member isn’t the identity politics of self-pity: they’re go-getters unbridled by victimhood looking for creative opportunities, not handouts, to make their mark on the world. Nor are they exponents of a self-involved ‘greed is good’ mantra: these people are deeply committed to their community and volunteering time, expertise and money to change it radically for the better.

Far from waiting to make change every four years, Croydon Tech City is a movement that wants – and makes – change now. Whether it’s intervening in local schools to teach extra-curricular classes or bringing new companies to the area or building a volunteer workforce to put on free community classes. Expect the community to grow by 2020. Expect its influence on Croydon matters to grow even more, too.

In a future pieces, I intend to write on what the Conservatives must do to maintain their hold and what Labour can do to secure a win… until then, are there any other major changes in Croydon that you think will impact the next Croydon Central election?

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  • Anne Giles

    All exciting stuff!

  • moguloilman

    Housing is an issue that gets raised frequently. How many houses are built, of what kind and of what tenure will impact both Council and Parliamentary elections.

    I would like to think that the landlord licensing scheme, if it gets implemented, will also have an impact though I think this is unlikely. In my view it will add costs and make no difference to tenants, but no objective diagnstic data will get gathered so we will be left with anecdotes. People will then believe what they want to believe so in that sense it will sway no votes and make no difference.