Friday, September 21, 2007

Who is checking workers' safety in Croydon's construction industry?

On Wednesday, a third serious industrial incident took place in central Croydon in a matter of months. Wandering into Dingwall Road at lunchtime, the road was blocked by fire engines and police cars. It turns out that a mechanical digger fell into a basement during demolition work. The driver was badly shaken.

Back in June, a crane collapsed into the Croydon Park Hotel seriously injuring one man. And in April this year much of Croydon was closed to motorists when a large container almost fell from a crane by Croydon Flyover.

So that is three incidents in close succession, with impact on local residents and motorists - the terrible incident in Battersea last year shows the dangers involved. But above all, we have to be concerned for the safety of the construction workers in Croydon. What are the Health and Safety Executive doing? How is Croydon Council - particularly planning control - controlling developments and demolitions?

With the massive amount of development about to take place in Croydon in coming years, we need to get this sorted. I have raised this matter with leading members of Croydon Trades Council - their vigil after the last incident helped raise awareness, but now we need policy change.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Croydon Gateway public inquiry set to open

Tomorrow sees the start of the long-awaited inquiry into planing permission and then the compulsory purchase order being sought by Arrowcroft so that they can build their Arena scheme in central Croydon, without any viable scheme to replace the Warehouse Theatre and against the background of increasing public opposition to the scheme.

Meanwhile the site owners, Stanhope Schroders, have unveiled a new name for their alternative scheme - Ruskin Square, after John Ruskin, the writer and social commentator with strong links to Croydon. Ruskin's parents are buried in Shirley and he spent much of his childhood here.

Local residents and Stanhope themselves are among those who will be objecting to Arrowcroft's council-backed CPO. Although the Warehouse Theatre is pleased that Arrowcroft is slowly coming round to a replacement theatre, it too is making its objections. Arrowcroft's scheme leaves the theatre without the home for three years, then promises an entirely inadequate and unfunded building subject to stringent requirements. If they change their mind, Arrowcroft keep the three million for their own purposes - a privilege not extended to Stanhope. Ken Frost has an analysis here.

The Inquiry starts tomorrow, Tuesday 17 September, at 10am at the Jury’s Hotel, 26 Wellesley Road, Croydon.

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