By Mike Swadling
The first Pride rally in London took place on 1st July 1972. That means this year’s Pride events are not only the first big events since 2019 and the hiatus of lockdown they also commemorate 50 years since that first U.K. event.
Croydon has hosted its own Pride event since 2016 when the first march went to Surrey Street, and we enjoyed a Council (Taxpayer) funded (to the tune of £30,000) party. Since then ambitions have increased, and in 2018 Croydon Pride moved to Wandle Park, where it was hosted again in 2019 at a cost of £65,000 to local taxpayers.
You might wonder did we get value for money? Well Croydon’s politicians who got to speak to the assembled crowd certainly came across as if they thought so. As an attendee I was less convinced my taxes subsidising the over £5 a pint drinks in a cordoned off area for Pride was the best use of funds. Of course, a few months later Croydon issued its first of two Section 114 notices, declaring de facto bankruptcy. Money that could have been spent on social workers protecting the most vulnerable children in the borough was instead spent subsidising my weekends entertainment. I didn’t want you to subsidise my weekend, I would rather the council spend the money on at-risk kids.
We’ve had two years of cuts to services and council scrutiny of budgets from central government. Libraries have gone part time, Purley Leisure Centre is still closed, hundreds of jobs were lost, cuts were made to the anti-social behaviour team, yet still Croydon in 2022 appears to have found funds to sponsor Croydon Pride. Now you might expect at this point I would state how much taxpayer funding had gone to Croydon Pride. Ideally, I might even be able to point you to a press release stating Croydon’s sponsorship but alas no. Despite Croydon being listed as a sponsor no record as I write this can be found of what funds are being paid from Croydon taxpayers for the 2022 Croydon Pride. I again attended the 2022 Croydon Pride and was more than happy that private companies choose to advertise to offset the costs of the event. This is exactly how these events should be paid for, by the market. If people think this is worth sponsoring, if they want to be associated with the event, let them pay for it.
The average household income in Croydon is £37,000 p/a, which with an average property price to buy at £387,767 and a median rent of £1,450 pcm, it’s not clear why working class Croydonians should subsidise what is clearly a very middle class event. At a time when people are struggling to pay their energy bills, why should Croydon taxpayers on minimum wage be forced to subsidise anyone’s weekends entertainment? Especially when front line services are being shut down.
An afternoon spent in glorious sunshine listening to music, I very much enjoyed Croydon Pride 2022. I hope next year I can enjoy it more, knowing the event isn’t funded by forced subsidy from taxpayers and isn’t taking much needed funds from front line services.
Once I have been able to confirm the Croydon subsidy, I will of course let you know.