Thursday, 31 May 2007

Councillors Come Out Against The Arena

I am pleased to see that conservative councillor Maria Garcia, yesterday, publicly came out against the arena development (just about ruling it out) on her site:

"I am no fan of the current proposed arena."

It is puzzling that, aside from yesterday's public announcement, she has made no reference to the arena in her site (either in favour, or against it).

I am also pleased to see that councillor Andrew Price has publicly stated that he is a "million miles away from being supportive of the scheme".

I wonder if we will see other councillors disassociate themselves from this unwanted development, as it becomes ever more apparent that Croydon council will lose its CPO bid?

Who Was Invited?

Sent to Croydon Council today:

"Regarding yesterday's report in the Croydon Guardian about councillors being invited to Hamburg by Arrowcroft.

Arrowcroft state:

'We have invited a small number of councillors to the arena in July'.

That implies more than the two who were named in the piece.

-Who else has been invited?
-Who has accepted?
-Who has refused?
-Who remains undecided?

Thank you

Kind regards

Ken Frost
"

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Arrowcroft's Jolly Junket

It seems that Arrowcroft, the council's preferred developer for the Gateway site, has invited two Croydon councillors (Andrew Price and Maria Garcia) to a Rod Stewart concert in Hamburg on July 18; as part of a second all-expenses paid research trip for the Croydon Gateway scheme.

Hands up all those of you who think that this offer is not in any way designed to try to sway the councillors to support the unwanted arena scheme?

Coun Garcia has turned Arrowcroft down. However, Coun Price said he was still considering the offer.

A spokesman for Arrowcroft said:

"We have invited a small number of councillors to the arena in July. The purpose of the trip is to allow the councillors to experience the trip first hand and one can only fully appreciate the design of the type of arena planned for Croydon if they see it themselves.

Arrowcroft will be paying for the trip so there is no cost to the public purse
."

That's all very nice. However, Arrowcroft already paid for members of the council to come over to see Bruce Sprinsteen last October.

The result of that being the rather ambivalent Pollard report on the arena.

(By the way, why have Croydon Council removed the Pollard report from their site?

It was here:

http://www.croydon.gov.uk/council/yourreps/councillors/455712/489709/491907.pdf)

Why do Arrowcroft need more councillors to come over?

Here's a little bit of free advice to the council, based on my experience as an FCA, head of audit and fraud investigator.

When holding a position of responsibility you have not only to be independent and ethical, but you have to be seen to be independent and ethical.

Carry On Regardless

I am pleased to see that Stanhope intend to start work on the Gateway site later this year, thereby sticking a metaphorical two fingers up at the council's compulsory purchase order (CPO).

According to the Croydon Guardian, Stanhope will start work as soon as minor conditions are approved by the council.

Charles Walford from Stanhope Plc said:

"However we have everything we need to start - we own the land, we have finance, we have occupier interest and we have planning permission granted from the council."

Rather amusingly, Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for finance and regeneration whined:

"The council has always tried to have constructive dialogue with both Stanhope and Schroder and Arrowcroft but Stanhope seem determined to hold us back."

Can this be same the same council that doesn't want Stanhpope to build on the land?

Is this not the same council that has signed a contract with rival developer Arrowcroft?

Is this not the same council that is trying to impose a CPO on Stanhope's legitimate ownership of the land?

Is this not the same council (albeit under the guise of a Labour administration) that are referred to in the minutes of the Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions (1 November 2004). Where it was made very clear that the committee believed that the then Labour administration had a conflict of interest?

Quote:

The minutes also note that the then Labour administration made the dispute between themselves and Stanhope personal. Sir Paul Beresford is quoted as saying:

"I just happen to have been given the Croydon Gateway report that you gave to your Labour group. It is quite abusive, it is personally abusive. I find it quite extraordinary...

It is the report that went to the Labour group on 5 February this year and it says:

'These so-called blue-chip developers have acted like irritable children when their toy has been snatched from them, whining and screaming to the press and anyone else who will listen.' Then it goes on to name a number of individuals, including Sir Stuart, but naming him with a rather abusive phrase, which I will not use, and others that have resisted or not agreed with you also get abusive names applied to them?..

Calling one of the individuals, that I have not named, 'Mr Slime' and another one 'Mr Dud'..

You are in a position where, certainly by the paper, you have got some personal difficulties with individuals, you want an Arena on the schemes and really you want Arrowcroft to do the development, so that, in essence, anyone else putting in an application, including the people that own the land, is wasting their time?.."


Therefore how can Councillor Pollard claim that the council have tried to have a "constructive" dialogue with Stanhope?

The council have done their very best to block Stanhope, and to remove them from the site and public consciousness.

Good luck to Stanhope, by commencing work on the site they will all but nullify the absurd CPO and stick a very well deserved two fingers up to the council who have failed the citizens of Croydon.

Let us develop the site now, and build a better brighter future for Croydon (with or without the council).

Monday, 28 May 2007

Infrastructure

The proponents of the arena (the council and Arrowcroft) would have you believe that East Croydon station will be able to cope with the vast hordes of people that are forecast to descend upon Croydon, if the arena is built.

Aside from the highly dubious statistics being bandied around by Arrowcroft and the council, as to how many people will really come to Croydon to visit the arena, there is also the question of the capacity/infrastructure of East Croydon station.

Last Friday evening 4 ticket machines were out of action, resulting in tortuous queues developing for the remaining active machines and the human ticket counters. Needless to say, people ended up missing their trains because of this.

Does the council seriously think that the decaying infrastructure of East Croydon station will cope with the numbers of people that they forecast will come to Croydon, if the arena is built?

The council would have you believe that money will be pumped in to restore the station.

However, has anyone actually seen a written plan and budget with deadlines for such a restoration?

Pie in the sky fantasy, from start to finish!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Residents' Associations Excluded

The other week, Croydon Council proudly held an Expo showing their vision of the future of Croydon.

The Expo at the Whitgift Centre was accompanied by a market research exercise, the results for which will doubtless be used by the council in their ongoing propaganda exercise to try to bulldoze their arena development plans through the opposition from the local residents.

Now here is the funny thing, normally when market research is carried out certain groups, such as journalists or connected parties, are excluded.

So far so good.

However, there was an extra group excluded from the Expo market research survey.

Can you guess who they were?

None other than members of any local residents' associations.

Why would that be?

Seemingly members of local residents' associations are considered to be "better informed" than other members of the public. In fact a cynic might argue that the council knows that the local residents' associations oppose the arena development, and don't want the embarrassment of having their views "muddy" their propaganda exercise.

It would appear that for the purposes of Croydon council's propaganda exercise, the views of the "better informed" are not required or indeed welcome.

Does this not rather skew the results of the survey?

This "cordon sanitaire" around the survey may be a tactical mistake, for market research companies are meant to follow the Market Research Society Code of Practice. The exclusion more than likely violates part of this code, as such a formal complaint may be expected.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

The Croydon Expo

Next week the Expo comes to town, EXP07 is (to quote the website):

"your chance to experience the amazing things happening in the borough today and in the next 15 years. Croydon Council and our partners in Industry and the community are working together to establish Croydon as London’s 3rd city."

EXP07, according to Councillor Pollard, will be financed entirely by private sponsorship.

Therefore it should not be of any surprise to learn that the EXP07 website is but a one page list of links to property developers et al who are operating, or who wish to operate, in Croydon. Needless to say Arrowcroft, Croydon Council's preferred developer for the Gateway site, is listed.

However, Stanhope Schroders are not listed. This is somewhat surprising given that they have a development scheme for the Gateway site, and actually own a large amount of the land on which the Gateway development will be built.

EXP07 will feature a large 3D model of the future Croydon town centre. The question is, will this model feature the arena (which is currently subject to the public enquiry) and therefore is unlikely to be built?

Anyone care to take a bet on that?

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Date Set For Inquiry

A date has been set for the gateway planning inquiry, which will determine which development will be built on Croydon's Gateway site.

The inquiry whiill start on September 17th 2007.

The inquiry is expected to last six weeks, and a verdict could be announced next summer.

So, thanks to Croydon Council's insistence on pursuing a CPO, we have to live with the dereliction of Dingwall Road for another year.

Thanks for nothing!