Croydon had a good 2013. 2014 could be even better
2013 has been a good year for our town.
We had the news that Westfield and Hammerson, two of the top retail developers in the country, would be working together to redevelop the Whitgift Centre and Centrale and the subsequent granting of planning permission for their scheme.
We had Boris allocating us an extra 120 police officers and a fall in crime (far be it from me to suggest a connection between the two).
We had over £100 million from the Government to build the extra school places we so desperately need.
We’ve seen unemployment fall by about a quarter as the economic recovery has picked up (that recovery hasn’t happened by accident by the way - it’s due to the tough decisions this Government has taken to reduce the deficit, decisions our political opponents have resisted every step of the way).
And to top it all Crystal Palace were promoted to the Premiership!
There’s no room for complacency, however. The economy may be recovering, but many families are yet to feel the benefits of stronger growth in their pockets. Westfield and Hammerson’s scheme may have planning permission, but they don’t yet have full control of the site. A number of major schemes may now be underway, but we urgently need to build more homes to solve the current housing crisis. Unemployment may be down, but too many people are still out of work or working part-time when they want a full-time job. And Palace may be promoted, but they face a tough battle to stay up.
But there’s every reason to think 2014 could be even better. If we stick to the long-term plan the Government has been following, the recovery should gather pace and everyone should start to see the benefits. Unemployment should continue to fall. Westfield and Hammerson should acquire the remainder of the site either on the open market or, if necessary, through the use of Croydon Council’s Compulsory Purchase powers, removing the last remaining obstacle to the scheme going ahead. We should see other developers take an interest in Croydon on the back of Westfield and Hammerson’s investment. And as for Palace, if they can sustain their recent form, they should beat the drop.
It's going to be a good year for our town and I hope it is for you and your family too. Whatever you are doing tonight, have a great time and stay safe. Happy New Year.