I have said that my absolute priority as leader is to get Croydon back on a stable financial footing and last night, as a council, we took an important step forward.
I know how angry many of you will have been at the findings of our auditor’s report in the public interest, which raised serious concerns about the way the council has managed its money in the past.
While a decade of cuts to our government funding and Covid-19 have made things tough, they do not excuse the mistakes Croydon has made and last night, we came together as a council to ensure that they never happen again.
The action plan we have agreed fully addresses all the issues raised in the auditor’s report and will strengthen the way we manage our money, at every level of the organisation. You can read the action plan in full here.
For me, a really important part of the plan is we have committed to set up an independently-chaired improvement board which will oversee all of this work, to challenge us and hold us to account.
As leader I am absolutely determined that from now on, Croydon will live within its means – and we will be open and honest with you about what that means. We will need to sharpen our focus, so that we can balance our budget, while still delivering the quality services and value for money you all expect and deserve.
Next week, our cabinet will consider Croydon’s renewal plan which will set out how we are going to achieve this over the next three years.
It won’t be easy and will mean some tough choices but I will keep you informed every step of the way and I want to work with all of you, our staff, residents and our partners, so that we rebuild together.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 cases are continuing to rise across Croydon as are the numbers of people in Croydon University Hospital. We hope that soon, we will start to see the numbers reducing in the community, thanks to the incredible effort you have all made. However, we know it takes 10-12 days from the time of infection for people to become very unwell, and so sadly we are still likely to see those hospital numbers go up for the time being.
I know how worrying this will be for some of you and it is a reminder for us all to think carefully about who we have contact with. We know that in London most infection happens when households meet and that is why it is so important that we all follow the restrictions and limit our social contact with others. I know how hard this is, particularly after many months of restrictions but it will help to protect you and your loved ones.
Please continue to stay home as much as possible, consider whether you really need to make the journeys you do and follow the advice on hands, face, and space, so that we can protect our residents who are most vulnerable to the virus.
Transgender Day of Remembrance
Finally, I want to acknowledge an important event. Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, where we remember trans people who have lost their lives in acts of anti-trans violence.
I read today that there have been 350 transphobic murders globally this year, which are the highest figures since 2013. In Croydon we have worked hard to tackle hate crime in all its forms – last year 24,000 residents signed our anti-hate crime pledge – but these global figures remind us that we must do more. We must all stand united in showing zero-tolerance for all forms of hate crime making clear that it has no place in our borough.
Stay safe and have a good weekend,
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council