CROYDON RIOTS: Council defends low recovery fund spend
Just £1.3 million of the £25m to regenerate the town has been spent in the years since the riots.
But the leader of Croydon Council has called for riot-hit resident and business to have patience over regeneration of the town.
The council was allocated £23m as part of the Mayor of London Regeneration Fund shortly after the riots, but has only £1.3m has been spent so far.
Councillor Mike Fisher said plans were in place and work was set to start.
He said: "We could have spent £23m on business recovery straight away - some will say we should have, but that would have been short and medium term. "We want to use this money to best serve the town in the future. We want to get on with the infrastructure investment, there is no dragging our feet here but we have got to go through processes and have our plans signed off before work can be done."
Much of the £18m allocated to infrastructure development is on long term projects including £5 on work on Wellesley Road and £4.8m on transforming the gateway from West Croydon to the town centre.
A further £7.1m is to go on High Street regeneration, replacing damaged signage, street lights and paving.
Coun Fisher defended the delay over beginning this process.
He said: "In New York Mayor Giuliani introduced the broken window policy - if you see a smashed window you replace it immediately. This gives a community a sense of pride. This is something I very much believe in but we have only just been signed off on carrying out the work on the high street recovery - it is our next priority."
In the wake of the riots the council offered interest free loans to businesses affected and offered business rate relief to those impacted.
The government raised business rates in April, but Coun Fisher said rate relief was still available for those who applied.
He said: "West Corydon had the worst of the riots, there was a long period where effectively it was lawless and people were able to get away with committing some awful crimes. "The people there see the results on a daily basis and I can understand their frustration. We offered help at the time and that help is still there if people come to us."
Royal Mansions, on London Road, was so badly damaged it had to be demolished and is an empty plot of land.
Coun Fisher said the council had put together a planning brief to allow all the leaseholders, freeholders and tenants who had a stake in the site to get involved.
He said: "Royal Mansions is an incredibly complex situation. There are lots of people with a stake, different insurers, some had full coverage, others had none at all. We are working to produce a plan everyone can agree with."
The council hope to have the site re-occupied by 2014.
Coun Fisher said: "There has been no real investment in West Croydon in 40 or 50 years. By opening up the station gateway we hope to improve access to the town centre improving employment opportunities for those living in the inner north and encouraging people to come from the town centre into London road."