Addiscombe Labour Councillors have called-in Monday’s Croydon Cabinet decision to fund £6 million of Network Rail’s £20 million programme to improve East Croydon Station on the grounds that it fails to deliver an entrance from Cherry Orchard or deliver the promised A to B route from Cherry Orchard Road to East Croydon Station.
On Monday 20th September Croydon Cabinet agreed to fund £6 million of the £20million cost of the East Croydon Station improvements and new divided bridge, and Network Rail hopes to deliver this by 2013. From local newspaper reports last week there seemed little reason to oppose this as it gives benefits to rail passengers and to local residents who will use the new bridge to cross between Dingwall Road and Cherry Orchard Road, as well as easier access to the station, and these claims were repeated at the Cabinet meeting by Cabinet Members on Monday night. But it is clear from the actual council papers this isn’t what the Council approved, and that only one entrance is proposed from Dingwall Road.
So how will the Cherry Orchard Road entrance be achieved? This issue is not discussed in the paper but it is clear that this objective can only be delivered by funding and land from Menta. Addiscombe Councillors are concerned that the Council’s desire to get this new bridge and station improvements raises the issue of how neutral will the council be when it comes to deciding Menta’s forthcoming planning application to build a 171 metre skyscraper. Let alone the fact the East Croydon masterplan, which proposes the new bridge and A to B route, is still out to public consultation until 18th October 2010.
The concerns about this decision are laid out in the call-in proforma below.
This call-in has succeeded in getting the support of 13 other councillors and so freezes the decision until a scrutiny meeting is held to review this issue. This should mean a more thorough review of the pros and cons of this decision will be undertaken. The recommendations of the scrutiny committee will be passed back to the Cabinet, who will then have another chance to make a decision on this issue.
REFERRAL OF A KEY DECISION TO THE SCRUTINY AND OVERVIEW COMMITTEE
For the attention of: Jim Simpson & Julie Belvir, Democratic & Legal Services Division
Meeting Date: 20th September 2010
Agenda Item No:Agenda item 9:
East Croydon Station Bridge & Associated Station Improvements Funding Agreement
The Cabinet has agreed
(1) that the Council enter into a funding agreement withNetwork Rail in respect of a contribution of £6m towards the £20m station improvement works as detailed in the report; and
(2) that the Executive Director Planning, Regeneration & Conservation, in consultation with the Council Solicitor, be given delegated authority to negotiate terms and complete the agreement.
Reasons for referral:
The decision is outside of the Policy Framework: yes
The decision is inconsistent with the budget: yes
The decision is inconsistent with another Council Policy: yes
Other: Please specify: yes
The East Croydon Masterplan is still under consultation until 18th October 2010 and many residents and local businesses comments have not yet been received by the Council, let alone reviewed or considered. Residents in particular have not had time to respond to this consultation.
The £20 million scheme does not deliver pedestrian access from Cherry Orchard Road to the new bridge and platforms or a new A to B route across to Dingwall Road.
East Croydon Masterplan has not been adopted or approved by Croydon Council.
£6 million has been committed to this scheme at a time of severe financial strain on the council finances, with major cutbacks across departments. The Council is likely to receive a lot less support for capital projects from Central Government, and the Cabinet and Council needs to give more time than a cursory consideration on whether spending £6 million or more on a project is the right.
This decision puts the council in conflict with its planning policy and guidance. The Council’s aspirations for access to the station from Cherry Orchard Road and a new A to B Route can only be delivered by funding from Menta, who have not yet submitted a planning application. This decisions casts doubts on the council’s ability to treat Menta’s forthcoming planning application for 171 metre tall skyscraper in a non-prejudicial manner, as they have indicated that they will be funding this new link.
This decision has been rushed, that there has been a lack of scrutiny of how this decision was negotiated and agreed, it is unclear whether there were other ways of achieving this objective, at a lower financial cost of the council. A scrutiny meeting would allow exploration of all these issues.
Alternative decision proposed:
1) Decision is delayed until the outcome of the East Croydon Masterplan Consultation is completed and a full report of the findings is produced.
2) That the decision should have included funding for a pedestrian access from Cherry Orchard Road to the new divided bridge, so created the new A to B route.
Information required to assist the Scrutiny and Overview Committee to consider the referral:
1) review of East Croydon Masterplan proposals.
2) More detailed information from Network Rail about their proposals and funding issues.
3) Clarification of Stanhope Schroders and Menta’s roles and interests in the formulation of this decision.
4) to review the timescales associated with these decisions, and why the recent rush.
5) Details of the Council’s financial situation, the availability of resources for capital projects, and the funding streams for them.
6) To find out if there were any alternatives to this decisions, considered, suggested or available to the Council.
Signed: Date: 23rd September