We will make Croydon the transport hub of the south, but don’t worry if you miss your connection

By - Thursday 30th July, 2015

Croydon Labour’s Tony Newman, Leader of Croydon Council, explains his administration’s vision for Croydon – a connected town with plenty of reasons to visit it

Photo public domain.

Last week, Croydon councillors from both parties buried the hatchet and backed Labour’s call for Gatwick expansion, and for bringing the Bakerloo Line to Croydon. The case for Gatwick is clear and compelling: it comes at no cost to the taxpayer, and will deliver new jobs and economic growth to Croydon. The Bakerloo Line will offer us another artery into Central London – direct to Charing Cross, Waterloo and Paddington.

I want Croydon to be the hub of the south, but I don’t just want people changing platforms at East Croydon. And so whilst we continue to make our case for Gatwick and for Bakerloo, we must redouble our efforts to reinvigorate Croydon’s cultural life, and to tell the world about the buzz which surrounds our growth Borough of Croydon. It was fitting, therefore, that we called for the Bakerloo Line and the expansion of Gatwick in the same week Croydon’s Ambition festival launched with an incredible performance from Tinariwen, and Boxpark held a packed launch event in Ruskin Square.

Under the previous Tory administration, and against the advice of the Museum Association and the pleas of community groups, the Riesco collection was sold. It’s often said that Tories understand the price of everything and the value of nothing, and were it not for their £100m overspend on Bernard Weatherill House and their leader awarding himself a huge pay rise, I’d agree!

There is an undeniable buzz about Croydon these days

Well folks, the new Labour administration is different. So whilst we’ll never stop eking out every last drop of value from every penny we spend, we’ll always find a place in Croydon for fantastic art, theatre and music. Croydon isn’t a dormant backwater suburb, it’s a modern European city, and we’re giving Croydon’s cultural life the support to reflect that.

The fact is that there is an undeniable buzz about Croydon these days. The Ambition Festival may only last for four days, but in its spirit we see the present and future of Croydon. Watching Alternative Dubstep Orchestra I was struck not just by the quality of the performance, but by the sheer number of people in attendance, the vast majority of whom were from our town.

But even whilst we celebrate our town and district centres, and attract international athletes and entertainers to them, we must never forgot that for some people in Croydon, each day is harder than the last. At the sharp end of ideologically-motivated Tory cuts, many people quite rightly care first and foremost about their home, their family and their street. Cultural vitality is the icing, but I’ll never forget that the cake is the basic services we all rely on, and we are working tirelessly to defend and improve those services.

Tony Newman

Tony Newman

Councillor Tony Newman is currently the Leader of the Council in the Town Hall, and Labour local government's national spokesperson on housing. Tony was a member of the previous government's home ownership task force, and has given evidence to a number of parliamentary committees on housing policy. He also served as Council leader from 2005 - 2006, was deputy chair of the Association of London Government from 2002-2005, and is currently a member of the Housing and Environment Board at the Local Government Association.

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  • cpmatthews

    Came here for information about the future of Croydon. What I got is more party political bull and cheap shots. I really don’t care who’s in power as long as they’re doing good. Slagging off others to make yourself look better really just reflects badly on you, not on the other person/people, no matter how true the slagging off is.

    This probably also only serves to further the general publics annoyance with politicians who seem more interested in telling others why the others are rubbish as opposed to just focusing on the good they are doing – and sandwiching the slagging off in positives doesn’t cancel out the petty slagging.

    So much slagging!

    By the way, I’m not a Tory supporter or Labour supporter.

  • Stephen Giles

    That’s funny, I was under the mistaken impression that the Croydon Citizen was non-political.

  • Anne Giles

    Tony Newman should be ashamed of himself for writing this anti-Tory article.

  • http://batman-news.com Mark Johnson

    I think it’s clear that the Citizen has made a bit of a mistake here. The best thing about the Citizen is that it allows anyone to write articles free from political bias.

    I have no problem with Tony Newman writing an article, he is after all the Leader of Croydon Council not just leader of the Labour Party. The problem is using that article to attack his political rivals. Some of the article is good. Croydon is buzzing at the moment but it’s down to the work of all of the community and not one political party. If he had cut out the political references then this would be a top notch article.

  • Sean Creighton

    As a regular contributor and someone left of Labour, of course Croydon Citizen is political. What it is not is party political. It has people writing for it who are members of both the Tory and Labour Parties, and those who are political but not in parties.

    The mere act of commenting and questioning what authorities like the Council do is a political act.

    Therefore I welcome Tony Newman’s contribution. I disagree with him about the alleged benefits of runway expansion at Gatwick. The idea of Croydon being a connected town is an illusion. The Council strategy is for retail, office, restaurant and cultural zones in the Town Centre, which will detract from people walking through from one zone to another, which are they are likely to do if uses were mixed across the whole Town Centre.

    Other writers have been critical of the Council under both Tories and Labour. Newman is entitled to criticise the previous Tory administration, and its former members now in Opposition can always respond.

    The Labour administration’s approach to culture has good aspects, but it is also too top-down. Much of the growing cultural vibrancy is of course bottom-up. Some of the issues raised in the South Croydon Community Association initiative to debate the future of Fairfield Halls which led to the formation of Croydon Arts Network and the Just Croydon website, remain unresolved.

    The advantage of Councillors occasionally writing for Croydon Citizen is that it allows readers to comment. And finally not lets forget that whatever you think of Tony Newman as Leader he was a cultural practitioner years ago in a band.

    Finally he is quite right to draw attention to the Tory cuts. This will see further cuts in Council services, including less money to support cultural activities, and impoverishing a large % of Croydonians who will not be able to afford activities which will have to be charged for.

    The buzz generating for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership bid of the Labour Party shows that people are waking up to the need to fight the austerity measures and back a positive programme of re-building public services and jobs and restoring the sense of community care into society. The meeting with him organised by Croydon TUC on 4 August should be an up-lifting event.

    • Anne Giles

      Tony used to be a keyboard player. So was I! I used to play keyboard when Northwood Morris were putting plays on in Addington Park.

  • Lemur

    It’s about time East/West Croydon was made Zone 4, in line with several other towns that are much further away from London.