A huge thank you to all our Croydon arts and culture groups who helped us to launch This is Croydon – our year as London Borough of Culture – earlier this week. So many people across Croydon have worked tirelessly to plan and deliver this special year, which is funded by the Greater London Authority, Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund, and which gets under way on 1 April with the opening event, Oratorio of Hope at Fairfield Halls. I particularly want to thank all the performers who took part in the launch and our hosts from The BRIT School – it really was a fantastic showcase of Croydon talent. I’m looking forward to celebrating our communities in every corner of Croydon, with hundreds of local activities alongside the flagship events. Find out more, book your tickets and sign up for updates at www.culturecroydon.com
We’ll also once again be supporting Croydon’s families over the Easter break, having distributed £350k to 60 organisations to deliver a great range of free holiday clubs for children and young people in receipt of free school meals. The clubs will include a nutritious meal as well as a fantastic range of activities – find your nearest club in our directory.
I was also pleased to see the government recognition of the progress Croydon has made in tackling its financial challenges since I was elected last May. This is welcome recognition from Government that despite the deep historic challenges facing Croydon, our political and officer team are making good progress and are willing to take the difficult decisions necessary to return the council to a sustainable footing.
Fixing the council’s finances and putting Croydon back on a sustainable path has been my top priority since I was elected Mayor last year.
Last month the government approved £224m of additional support and we are continuing to press our request for a partial write-off of Croydon’s debt. Given this, it is understandable that the government wants to strengthen our current improvement panel, as a precautionary measure, to provide them with added reassurance.
I welcome the continuing focus the government and the improvement panel are giving to support our goal of returning sustainable local government to Croydon and reducing the £1.6bn toxic debt level inherited from the previous administration.
The Minister’s statement to the House of Commons recognised the difficulties the council continues to face due to the debt I inherited and other historic issues which continue to affect the council.
Finally, I’d like to wish a belated happy New Year to our Sikh community, who celebrated on 14 March, as well as a happy St Patrick’s Day to all those with Irish connections.
Executive Mayor of Croydon