Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Boris Bikes, Boris Buses and now Boris Bungs??

Yesterday's Evening Standard had a headline which read, "Help Me Make Croydon Great Again." The report said that Mayor Boris Johnson is investing £23million to improve Croydon's town centre and urging investors to do the same.

This morning I checked the wording of the press release on the GLA web site. It says that:

The money is a large chunk of the Mayor’s £70m Regeneration Fund set up to help repair the damage caused to high streets and town centres in the August riots
However, we all know that Croydon's town centre - in other words its pedestrianised zone with its shopping centres - was protected by the police and remained reactively untouched, whereas it was open season in the surrounding areas. Many shops and homes were burnt to a cinder.

Question: So why is riot money being used inappropriately?

Answer : Maybe its being used as an inducement to encourage the investment - like a bung....a BORIS BUNG

I'll attempt to explain: On November 10th Westfield announced it was in “exclusive arrangements” with the Whitgift Foundation to be the development partner of the Whitgift Shopping Centre site. The Croydon Guardian headline stated that, “Million of pounds of investment at stake.”

The Mayor’s announcement is just twelve days after the Westfield announcement; too close in time not to be a coincidence?? Using the riots as a backdrop, Boris has been able to justify a town centre investment to improve the infrastructure around the Whitgift Shopping Centre.

What adds weight to this idea of a bung is the fact that in the aforementioned Evening Standard article, Croydon council leader Mike Fisher said:

"Croydon is committed to investing in major regeneration. The funding from the Mayor of London will help us realise many of our ambitions.Coming so soon after the Westfield announcement this shows there is a real buzz about Croydon right now."
Yes there is already money earmarked for Croydon (and Tottenham) BUT this £23million seems to be, at best, inappropriately used. There will be nothing left for victims of the riots who had their homes and businesses levelled on Church Street and London Road. The Mayor's press release makes this clear:

The Mayor’s investment will support work across the four following areas:

- £5 million to improve the key entrances to Croydon, making them welcoming with more space for pedestrians and improving the transport interchange around West Croydon station, and the junction of Dingwall Road and Lansdowne Road near the new East Croydon station footbridge.

- £7 million to repair and strengthen Croydon’s high street including its main north-south high street.

- £6 million to make Croydon better connected by removing barriers to walking and improving routes between key destinations with improved pedestrian crossings across the Wellesley Road at Bedford Park Road, Lansdowne Road, George Street, the Fairfield Halls and Edridge Road.

- £5 million to attract business with a three year package of support.

= £23 million

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

£46.2m of the Mayor's "fund" is from borrowing - I thought borrowing was bad, or is that only when Gordon Brown does it?

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