This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 18/12/2017.
‘I would make Croydon better by…’, one year on
In January 2017, the Citizen unveiled a pocket-sized book of ideas collated from its readers over the preceding two-and-a-half years. In the presence of the Mayor of Croydon, the Leader of Croydon Council, and the council’s Chief Executive, copies of the book were handed out to representatives of influential Croydon organisations, with the express purpose of seeing the ideas come to life across the next year.
We can now reveal that the council has provided the Citizen team with a full spreadsheet of the ideas contained in the book, with detailed commentary on if and how each idea can be implemented, or how they have already been put in place, as well as a relevant contact at the council for each specific idea. The highlights of this spreadsheet, along with correspondence with activists across the last year, form the basis of this update on ‘I would make Croydon better by…’.
Already implemented ideas
In the twelve months since our launch of the completed set of ideas, we’re thrilled to say a combination of council and individual action has led to the delivery of several of the ideas in the ‘I would make Croydon better by…’ book. They are:
- The creation – and maintenance – of an urban mushroom farm in Croydon. Contributor Andy Dickinson’s farm in Reeves Corner is still going strong.
- Bring back Croydon Council’s Culture Department. The council’s response to this proposal was that Paula Murray was appointed by the council as Creative Director at the end of 2016. Murray recently oversaw the bid for Croydon to be London’s first Borough of Culture in 2019.
- Kit out the new Fairfield Halls for the hard of hearing. The refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls, currently underway, is required to do this, according to council documentation.
- Litter awareness in schools. The council spreadsheet said that the borough’s ‘Don’t Mess With Croydon’ initiative now involves an education programme across 2017 and 2018, in which council officers will visit and speak to schools ‘in areas where litter and recycling has been identified for improvement’.
- Introduce cargo trikes for hire. The council says it has introduced a scheme to loan cargo bikes to Croydon-based businesses (tricycles were ruled out on grounds of their additional width).
Potential next successes
Some of the ideas are not within the remit of the local authority. The following ideas are big in scope but would be appropriate for a private or third sector organisation to step up and deliver.
- An arts centre in the Exchange Square Pump Station. The building is privately owned but there is no reason a proposal to make this use of the site would be rejected out of hand.
- A sponsored ‘empty shop’. It’s not possible for the council to launch this alone, but it has made clear that groups wishing to start such a project would receive assistance in identifying a property and securing funding. This idea would be a particularly good fit for an owner of retail property in Croydon.
- Open an Edwardian tea room. The council has informed us that any operator that wished to open such a café would be supported via a business growth package including loans and business rates relief.
How you can help
The council did not commit to working on these ideas, but they would be suitable for a community group, local business, or even an enterprising individual to take on:
- Restoring the mosaic on the corner of Sydenham Road and Dingwall Road
- Removing signs telling children not to play from your property, and encouraging their removal elsewhere
- Encouraging and installing anti-bacterial handwash in restaurants