A FAIRER Croydon for ALL the borough’s residents is one of several major policy ideas set to be introduced by Croydon’s new Labour administration as its cabinet prepares to meet for the first time tonight Monday (June 30th).
They plan to introduce a ‘Fairness Commission’ – one of whose first tasks will be to “consult with groups and communities across the borough, gather evidence and recommend actions that will improve the quality of life for all Croydon residents.”
Other moves to be considered at tonight’s meeting include:
- Play streets across the borough
- A major blitz on flytipping and litter
- A new community safety strategy aimed at reducing the crime rate, improving safety for children and young people and boosting community confidence
- Cracking down on rogue landlords (see separate story)
WORKING TOWARD A FAIRER CROYDON FOR ALL
A Croydon where fairness and equality are applied to all its residents will be the central tenet of a Fairness Commission to be set up by the council.
It is proposed the commission will be chaired by one of a shortlist of six independent experts, who will have responsibility for the production of a report outlining recommendations for the council and its partners.
The chair will be supported by a vice-chair and a team of commissioners drawn from the public, and private and voluntary sector organisations in the borough.
One of the first tasks of the commission will be to consult with groups and communities across the borough, gather evidence and recommend actions that will improve the quality of life for all Croydon residents.
The council acknowledges that the current economic climate, coupled with the impact of wide-reaching welfare reforms and cuts in funding have led to an increase in inequality and poverty.
But it points out that working with the Local Strategic Partnership has resulted in a number of positive outcomes, including a reduction in joblessness, improvements in health and well-being, and a fall in the overall crime figures.
Through the commission, and by working with partners, the council will gain an understanding of inequality and inclusion issues and help shape policy that will address those issues and help tackle the deprivation that is evident in some parts of the borough.
Initial steps for the setting up of the Fairness Commission will be taken over the summer, with a proposed first meeting in September, when it will review information on the key inequality and fairness challenges facing the borough, and discuss how to move forward.
The formal launch of the Fairness Commission will take place in September and it will be the main theme of the Croydon Congress meeting in November.
Council leader Cllr Tony Newman said: “We’re all too aware that there are areas of the borough, and communities within those areas, that do suffer inequalities – be it in matters of health, prosperity, job prospects or life opportunity.
“By setting up a Fairness Commission we’ll be taking a detailed look at exactly what shape those inequalities take and how they can be addressed.
“Taking appropriate action will see an improvement in the quality of life for everybody who lives in Croydon, and take the borough forward in terms of equality and fairness for all.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
PLAY STREETS PROMISE HEALTHY KIDS AND STRONG COMMUNITIES
Children playing in safe, traffic-free streets within sight of parents reassured that their little ones can be easily called and are unlikely to come to any major harm.
That is the scenario that could be played out in residential roads following approval, by Croydon Council’s cabinet tonight (Monday) of plans to help residents establish a series of play streets across the borough.
A play street is created by the regular closing to through-traffic of a residential street for set periods – a Sundayafternoon, for example – so that children and families can use the street space for play.
The idea has gained popularity following interest shown by community groups keen to see facilities for play made available closer to home than a park that might be some distance from the front doors of local people.
An added advantage is that play streets increase the sense of community by bringing neighbours together, both in setting up and managing the play street and in taking part when the play street is in operation.
The concept has been running in Hackney since November 2012 and has seen the successful launch of 24 play streets in that borough.
Community groups wishing to set up play streets would be expected to consult with all residents in the proposed road and share the results of the consultation with a council-appointed play streets coordinator.
If significant opposition to the siting of a play street could not be resolved, the play street application would not be accepted.
Cabinet member for transport and environment Cllr Kathy Bee said the adoption of the play streets scheme would have a number of benefits.
“Older people will remember with fondness how ‘playing out in the street’ brought neighbours together and forged genuine, lasting friendships,” said Cllr Bee.
“In addition to building stronger communities and promoting a real feeling of neighbourliness, the sort of regular, physical activity the scheme encourages would go a long way to improving children’s fitness and reducing childhood obesity.
“Setting up and operating the play street would bring together parents who, despite living in the same road, might not otherwise have the chance to meet and get to know each other.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
DON’T MESS WITH CROYDON: TAKE PRIDE
A cleaner Croydon is on the horizon as the council sets out a series of new plans to tackle fly-tipping and litter.
The new ‘Don’t mess with Croydon: take pride’ campaign is top of the agenda at tonight’s public cabinet meeting.
With a focus on educating people about the range of existing and new council cleansing and enforcement services on offer it will be emphasising both how easy these are to use and how fines and legal action will be used to punish those who break the law.
Promoted through a wide-ranging marketing drive, the campaign is to be backed by a series of new approaches to dealing with the problems which all too often spoil the borough’s streets and are seen as a huge priority for everyone who cares about the local environment.
Those residents who want to get actively involved will be encouraged to become ‘community champions’ and will be supported by Croydon’s street cleaning contractors, Veolia, to carry out a series of community pride clean-ups.
Another new initiative is a dedicated fly-tipping hotline and e-mail address to complement the existing smartphone app, MyCroydon, which has already proved very successful.
Thousands of reports of fly-tips have already received since its recent launch. The next updated version of the app will include the option for people to report on who might be responsible for a fly-tipping incident.
New systems are also being put in place to ensure anyone who leaves their contact details when reporting a fly-tip will be told once the rubbish has been removed.
Alongside this, all council staff and contractors, regardless of their job titles, will be encouraged to act as additional eyes and ears and will be given the means of quickly logging any problems they see whilst out on their normal duties.
This will include everyone from parking wardens and social workers to planning officers and housing tenancy officers.
Every fly-tip tip-off received by the council will be thoroughly investigated by one of three newly-formed fly-tip flying-squads, made up of staff from Veolia supported by council enforcement officers.
“These will predominantly focus on the parts of the borough where the incidence of rubbish dumped on the streets tends to be higher. They will also respond to problems elsewhere if local hot-spots are identified.
These hotspot areas will also be used as trials for removal of the current charges for bulky waste disposal to see if this has any impact on the levels of fly-tipping.
The council will also be looking at increasing street cleansing frequencies and investing in new litter bins in these areas to go alongside this move.
Where evidence is found when investigating fly-tips Croydon’s teams will be quick to issue fixed penalty notices for standard offences. The council is increasing these from £75 to £80, the maximum permitted by the law.
Failure to pay will result in court prosecutions. More serious fly-tips or cases where people are caught for repeat offences will be pursued immediately through the courts in order to ensure fines match the scale of the crime.
‘Eyesore’ front gardens will also come under the spotlight, with officers initially speaking to owners to get them to tidy up. Where this fails enforcement action will be considered.
Cllr Stuart Collins, cabinet member for a cleaner and greener Croydon, said: “The volume of calls shows interest in reporting fly-tipping has been sky-rocketing recently and we want to capitalise on this to keep the reports coming in.
“Over just the last few weeks we’ve had approaching 1,500 reported incidents from across the borough. “This is great, because the sooner we hear about a problem, the sooner we can investigate who might have been to blame, issue fines, and get it cleared up.
“These calls show how much pride people already have in Croydon – again, this is a brilliant starting point and we’ll be doing everything possible to keep up the momentum.
“Of course the flip side of this is the picture it paints of the scale of the problem. “In the long term we have to stop people dumping rubbish in the first place.
“We’ll be making it increasingly easy for people to get rid of their waste in the proper way – and for those who don’t they can look forward to a significant cash fine or a court prosecution, and quite likely being publicly named and shamed.”
The smartphone app, MyCroydon, can be downloaded free from both Apple and Android devices. The new hotline number becomes active on 30 June on 020 8604 7000 and this, along with the email [email protected], can be used to report fly-tips and provide information about who caused them, with this information being used to issue fines or seek court action. Reports can also be made online at the council’s website through the MyAccount service, www.croydon.gov.uk/myaccount. (Source: Croydon council press release)
FIGHTING CRIME AND BOOSTING COMMUNITY CONFIDENCE
The Safer Croydon Partnership’s (SCP) ambitious new Community Safety Strategy promises work that will reduce the crime rate, improve safety for children and young people and boost community confidence.
The three-year-plan goes to the council’s cabinet for approval tonight, and includes the strong message – do not commit an offence in Croydon as we will seek you out.
Priorities between now and 2017 include tackling violent crime, domestic violence and residential burglary.
Work to reduce the overall crime rate will tackle street violence and personal robbery, burglary, particularly domestic burglary, domestic violence and reoffending.
An anti-DV campaign is now underway with stickers and posters, with helpline numbers, placed at key venues including; local libraries, sports centres, GPs surgeries, Croydon University Hospital and Crystal Palace Football Club.
The safety of children and young people will also be improved through early intervention work, tacking serious youth violence and working to reduce gang activity.
Community confidence will be boosted with targeted activities to reduce the fear of crime in West Croydon and the town centre, encouraging people to join community groups, such as Neighbourhood Watch and Pathfinders.
Cllr Mark Watson, cabinet member for safety and justice, said: “Safety and stopping domestic violence are top priorities, and this plan supports our goal to ensure more offenders are caught and prosecuted.
“We also know that antisocial behavior and environmental crime is a concern for people in Croydon and we will take a tough approach to tackle these and others worries, and engage more with the community, working together to restore pride in this borough.”
Since 2010/2011 crime offences have reduced from 32,306 to 31,070 in 2012/2013. (Source: Croydon council press release)