Both the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London were quick to pledge their support for Croydon in the aftermath of the riots. Transport for London got the trams back running in a few days. The Mayor helped us publicise the fact that the town was back open for business. The Government, the Greater London Assembly have promised significant funding.
But one real frustration has been the time taken to compensate many of the victims (some, principally those who lived or had businesses along the London Road, still haven’t received any help). The reason for many of the delays lies in the Riot Damages Act that has remained largely unchanged since 1886.
It was the view of the Council that this outdated legislation needed to be looked at. For example it does not give the council any legal powers to challenge insurance companies and do more to help those affected.
This is why I welcome the Government’s recent announcement that it is commissioning an independent review of the Riot Damages Act (RDA) so that victims of future riots (hopefully there won’t be any in Croydon) are quickly and adequately compensated.
This is an important step in the right direction and comes after myself and Mike Fisher, Leader of the Council, have been in talks with the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London.
As part of the lobbying, we’ve:
• requested a thorough overhaul of the existing RDA;
• raised concerns over mortgage lenders insisting on payments for properties that residents are unable to inhabit;
• called on companies to suspend interest or payments in exceptional circumstances; and
• asked the government to recognise those businesses forced to file for bankruptcy after receiving insufficient financial support.
The review will examine the existing criteria which determine when compensation is payable and includes key issues such as the definition of a riot, who should be liable and what level of compensation is suitable.
The Council has already announced that they will hold public meetings across the borough over the next few months. They expect the review to be concluded by September and followed by another public consultation.
I’ll of course update constituents as soon as more information becomes available.