Croydon’s recent cost cutting includes many valued services that will produce very modest savings. The closure of 6 libraries would have saved just £0.7m. The £1.4m of youth services savings will force the closure of many youth clubs. A total of 41 Croydon charities have lost their entire funding for a saving of just £1.2m. The closure of the Clocktower and scrapping the Summer Festival will save just £1.5m. The abolition of the Neighbourhood Partnerships saves a paltry £60k.
The Clocktower and Summer Festival decisions are especially regrettable. Croydon’s poor image is a real bar to inward investment. Part of this poor image derives from Croydon’s external perception as a “cultural desert”. A major theme in marketing Croydon at MIPIM (a property industry conference held in the south of France each year) in 2010 was its cultural provision. Unfortunately, the recent cuts do great damage to Croydon’s cultural scene.
Given these swinging cuts, it is surprising that £20m is being spent on a rail bridge at East Croydon station linking the Stanhope Schroders and Menta development sites. Our Council is funding £6m of the cost. The balance of £14m is provided by Network Rail - a publicly owned company. The footbridge provides easy access to the station from the two development sites. The Council therefore argues that this £20m spend makes it more attractive for the two sites to be developed. Despite the uneasiness on this expenditure - as evidenced by it being "called in" for a Scrutiny Committee review, the project was approved on 2 February.