CARING FOR CROYDON
Through my work for a national charity, I have learned the power of associational life. Research tells us that joining a community can reduce the risk of dying -but also that loneliness can be fatal. My local Woodside associations include the Love Lane Community Garden, and our community play and work days bring me great joy.
Organisations like the South Norwood and Woodside Community Association in our wider area provide a vital service for many vulnerable adults. Their lunch clubs are the only daily or weekly contact some of their learning disabled adults have. A massive hole would be left in their lives if we lost them- which we may once the Croydon Community Fund closes in March.
I have already highlighted my concerns at full council about the loss of this funding and how it will impact the delivery of the Mayor's Business Plan over the next four years. Labour is the party of community power - but we need proper funding for our local social support services. I would love to see a new Community Power Act passed as part of the next Labour Government and as chair of We Love SE25 will support the use participatory budgeting approaches for local community-designed and delivered projects in 2023 which aim to improve our environment and bring people together.
TACKLING ROAD DANGER
I am horrified that Croydon has the highest number of serious traffic collisions of any outer London borough. I've heard first-hand accounts of the lifelong trauma that road violence causes and want to work to making our roads safer for everyone. This includes my work on the Council's Streets Scrutiny Sub-Committee and as a community activist. I am proud to be the Vice-Chair of the London Road Safety Council where we are working to understand the inequalities of road traffic incidents in the capital. I believe we need to use measure like the ULEZ to support investment in sustainable transport in outer London to help tackle transport poverty and help us work towards a sustainable future for our city.
AN END TO INSECURITY
Since being elected, I have worked to highlight the harm the current insecurity crisis is having on our borough. Nearly 25% of children are eligible for free school meals in Croydon, but we know many families who are on low incomes are also struggling to manage rising food prices. In Croydon, all children in reception and KS1 are entitled to free school meals-elsewhere in London all 3-11 year olds in maintained schools and nurseries are offered a free hot meal each day at school. I want this changed so we can deliver a similar offer to meet our strategic goals around food insecurity and health. Our borough needs better funding to make sure the long term health of our people growing up in Croydon isn't damaged by poor nutrition in early childhood. Nationally, I see how the benefits system needs to be reformed and options like cash-first benefits explored to provide a longer term solution to this national crisis affecting everyday living costs.
Street cleanliness is an issue that comes up again and again across Woodside. I know that residents want more; we want our bins collected on time and our streets to be free of dog-fouling and fly-tipping. I am grateful to all the residents who help the Council act on these issues by reporting them on the Clean Streets app but have raised the need for enforcement of offences and transparency around Veolia action plan to improve standards in the borough at Scrutiny and will continue to chase answers on this matter. Over the summer I ran a clean-up of a local stream in the South Norwood Country Park and with support from local MP Sarah Jones, we've met the Thames Water team and have agreed a commitment to investigate the source of sanitary waste leaking into the park.
HEALTHY HIGH STREETS
I was elected Chair of We Love SE25 - our local Town Team- in September and look forward to supporting the South Norwood Business Neighbourhood through our work this year with the neighbourhood mini-grants project. Our local businesses have supported Portland Road's festive lights and a crowdfunder for new street trees. Our local familiar faces strengthen our community and we need to ensure that they are not disproportionately affected by rising utility costs. Labour's proposals to overhaul the business rate system for small firms is a necessary step to helping local high streets survive the cost of living crisis.