The Public Gallery: Slow cars and slower judicial reviews

By - Thursday 23rd October, 2014

Tom Black explores one of the ‘hot’ issues dividing Croydon, and prepares to twiddle his thumbs for a while

Is twenty plenty, or merely trendy?

How fast should cars be allowed to drive on residential roads?

If you accept the current situation as fine, then you’d say 30mph.

If you were part of our local governing party, Croydon Labour, you’d say 20mph.

If you were part of our local opposition, the Croydon Conservatives, you’d say “it should vary street by street, and residents should be consulted”.

If you were part of UKIP, which has no particular standing locally, you would say 20mph is far too slow, and that accidents happen at slow speeds too.

Photo by Albert Bridge, used under Creative Commons licence.

Croydon’s cycling community is fairly militantly in favour of the council’s plan to introduce a ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ policy, but while the Conservatives chose the slightly less confrontational ‘consultation’ route, Croydon UKIP has begun to hit out at the plan as madness, bringing themselves into a fairly unpleasant slanging match with Croydon’s famously blunt cyclists on Twitter.

The incredibly ill-natured ‘debate’ has been given an extra edge by the circumstances surrounding the man at the heart of the UKIP campaign.

No, not UKIP’s leader in Croydon North, Winston Mackenzie, whose task of appearing on Newsnight this week was tantamount to cruelty.

No, not Peter Staveley, either – the UKIP ‘leader’ for the rest of the borough has been relatively quiet recently.

It’s Peter Morgan, UKIP social media organiser and… Conservative member?

For UKIP, this move means war on drivers

Yes – it turns out that Morgan has been a member of the Conservative party since Mrs Thatcher was in Number 10, but he’s also been in UKIP since 2004. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t in fact illegal or even against all party rules – UKIP allows dual membership with any party that isn’t the BNP and its ilk.

The Tories, however, do have a rule barring anyone from being in another party, as does Labour. The Croydon Conservatives are believed to be attempting to expel Morgan, though that will take time – they need to get approval from the central party, as local parties being able to expel people sounds like a recipe for Militant, to those old enough to remember it.

Morgan, who for years been an infamous presence at all manner of public meetings, has been arguing via UKIP’s many, many Croydon Twitter accounts that the plan is part of the so-called ‘war on drivers’, will not be safer, and is generally a bad idea. There are, however, more nuanced cases against the generally popular scheme – Labour-controlled Islington, which itself introduced Twenty’s Plenty in 2011 – is rumoured to have a poor enforcement rate, and local police in Croydon confirm that ‘extra effort’ would not be employed to to enforce the new limit if and when it goes ahead.

But if the current 30mph limit is already enforced, 20mph would be enforced in the same way… surely?

Whether you’re a driver, cyclist, pedestrian, resident on a busy road, or someone who likes arguing about things on the internet, let me know in the comments or on Twitter what you think about Twenty’s Plenty.

Incinerator judicial review finds itself waiting in limbo

Shasha Khan, local Green Party activist, has been at the centre of a legal challenge to the construction of the so-called ‘Beddington Lane incinerator’ by Viridor. After proceedings in court concluded two weeks ago (with barrister Justine Thornton, who is married to Ed Miliband, representing Khan’s challenge), the judge retired to consider a decision. This was meant to take two to three weeks.

Shasha Khan at the beginning of his legal challenge against the incinerator. The end is now almost in sight.
Photo by Shasha Khan, used with permission.

However, the outcome of a case in Redhill relating to use of public land has been deemed directly relevant to the incinerator review. The decision regarding that case, which is still underway, would have to inform the judge’s decision about the incinerator. As such, the two or three week wait became ‘four to six weeks’.

The next few weeks will be a tense period for Khan, who in brighter news has just been selected to represent his party in Croydon North for the fourth time. Local businesswoman Esther Sutton, famous for her role in ‘turning around’ a number of Croydon’s pubs, will stand for the Greens against Gavin Barwell and Sarah Jones in Croydon Central. Peter Underwood, chair of Croydon Friends of the Earth, is representing the party in Croydon South.

What’s Hammerfield going to announce tonight?

There are lots of rumours circulating about tonight’s Croydon Partnership presentation, taking place at the Hampton by Hilton hotel. A hundred Croydon Business Improvement District (BID) levy-payers will be informed of progress on the building programme so far, but speculation is rife that a negative announcement is going to be part of the proceedings.

With the Whitgift Trust (no relation to the Whitgift Foundation) having had its legal challenge to the council’s compulsory purchase orders thrown out, things might still be all plain sailing for the project, which aims to build a Westfield shopping centre in Croydon that will open some time in 2018.

But rumour has it that some kind of delay will be announced tonight. I’ll be livetweeting from the event, so keep an eye on the @CroydonCit account from about 6pm.

Tom Black

Tom Black

Tom is the Citizen's General Manager, and spent his whole life in Croydon until moving to Balham in 2017. He also writes plays that are occasionally performed and books that are occasionally enjoyed. He's been a Labour Party member since 2007, and in his spare time runs an online publishing house for alternate history books, Sea Lion Press. He is fluent in Danish, but speaks no useful languages. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

More Posts - Twitter

  • Terry Coleman

    I’m both a motorist and pedestrian, have also done my fair of cycling over the years. I live on a fairly busy route..
    I have no objection to a 20mph speed limit on all roads in the town, although I suspect that a selective zone/road approach will be the favoured option.

  • David Callam

    The Peter Morgan to whom you refer. Is this the same Peter Morgan who objected so vociferously to the building of Tramlink. He said it would be the biggest white elephant ever. How wrong he was.

    • Tom Black

      I don’t know for sure, David, but I can say from my own experiences of Peter, that sounds just like the kind of thing he would say. He has always struck me as being very anti-public transport and very, very pro-motorist.


    As a regular cyclist in and around Croydon, I am beginning to suspect that I may be alone in my findings that the vast majority of drivers seem to be fine. I have many, many more occasions to wave in thanks for considerate driving than not. I have much more cause to wonder exactly where the pedestrians who wander out in front of me all the time actually think they are, and why they seem to think that crossing a road without looking is the best approach. As for the 20mph limit, why not set up some trial areas and monitor the difference?

    • RSDavies

      I suspect that all of us have our individual perspectives of road users. As a pedestrian I would say it is generally my experience that cyclists are the least predictable and the least likely to adhere to the Highway Code of any road users. How many adult cyclists fail to stop at red lights and pedestrian crossings, ride on the pavement, ride in the wrong direction down one-way streets?
      While I would agree that most motorists behave considerately, there are those who don’t. In the East Croydon residential area, the anti-social behaviour exhibited by some drivers is appalling, the obscene language, aggression and in some instances violence between drivers.
      The 20 mph speed limit would persuade drivers to keep to the main roads and would improve the general environment.
      However this is only the first step and what is needed is a full review of central Croydon traffic planning and some clear leadership from the council. More consultation is merely more obfuscation. Inevitably those residents whose lives are blighted by heavy traffic flows will want action taken, while those residents who may be required to share some of the burden of the displaced traffic will oppose it vociferously.

  • CroydonUKIP

    I find it hard to believe that Croydon Conservatives would expel Morgan as it helps them to have their man in the enemy camp, as it were.

  • Stephen Giles

    Having just driven through the Camberwell/Oval area where main roads have a 20mph speed limit, all I can say is in future I will find an alternative route. No doubt if this ludicrous speed limit ever happens on all roads in Croydon, many potential visitors to Croydon will simply go elsewhere, and we will have nothing but an infestation of cyclists on our roads!