A life long Croydon resident Zack is standing Selsdon and Addington Village ward in May’s local elections.
Zack thank-you for your time.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your party?
I have lived all my life in Croydon’s suburbs and have come to harbour some considerable affection for the borough. Although some parts of Croydon have their problems, and it seems to be suffering more and more each day from inappropriate and unsympathetic development, it has a proud history and still retains a lot of fine architecture and, at the fringes, natural beauty. I am very keen to celebrate and promote these aspects of Croydon.
The Heritage Party was founded in 2020 to rectify the absence of traditional conservatism in our political system. As its name suggests, it exists to protect and promote our country’s history and culture, as well as defending other fundamental components of a healthy society, such as individual liberties and the traditional nuclear family. In particular, we are staunchly opposed to the tide of ‘cancel culture’ and discriminatory identity politics which pose a threat to free speech and equality of opportunity.
You’re standing in Selsdon and Addington Village ward, can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?
Selsdon and Addington Village is a charming part of Croydon close to its rural fringe, where pleasant suburbia mingles with Green Belt land. Addington in particular is one of the most historic parts of Croydon and one of the last reminders that much of what is now the London Borough of Croydon was once open countryside, although it arguably suffers slightly from its proximity to what Clough Williams Ellis termed ‘the Octopus’ of London’s sprawling conurbations.
Highlights of the ward’s rich history include Addington Palace, a splendid 18th-century Palladian mansion which once served as the country home to the Archbishops of Canterbury, and the ancient St. Mary’s Church, which has one of the finest churchyards in all Croydon and contributes to Addington’s feel of a rural parish. For walkers, there is an abundance of green space, including Addington Park and Threehalfpenny Wood, sections of the London Loop and the Vanguard Way leading to the North Downs, plus the wonderful ornamental gardens of Heathfield, another historic house.
Unfortunately, all this is ever under threat. Croydon Council is considering building on a number of the borough’s green spaces. Although nowhere in the ward appears to be threatened at present, the council has been eyeing up open land in New Addington and near Lloyd Park. If there were to be any development on these sites, apart from it being a terrible loss for biodiversity and our natural landscape, it would lead to an increase in traffic which would directly impact residents in Selsdon and Addington Village, especially since Addington Road already suffers so badly from congestion at peak times. I will not stand for any attempts to build on greenfield sites and will oppose every such application.
I am happy to consider developments on brownfield sites provided they do not involve the destruction of any historic or otherwise significant buildings, and provided the new buildings meet the very highest standards of construction and aesthetics. As a case in point, I would work to overturn the decision to permit the demolition and redevelopment of the wonderful Art Déco Selsdon Garage. This building, although an eyesore all the while it remains unoccupied and derelict, once looked superb and is of enormous local significance for its unusual and exciting Modernist design. The community would suffer a great loss if it were to be replaced with mundane, generic rabbit hutches, but I would strongly encourage its refurbishment as two to four maisonettes preserving the original structure.
I consider myself a supporter of the arts – that is, fine art, music, literature and theatre – and I believe every resident of Selsdon and Addington Village should have access to culture. To that end, I will ensure that Croydon’s libraries remain open and will defend Selsdon Library against any plans the council may conceive to close it. I would also like to make the most of the council-owned Heathfield House, which in recent years has been well used by the Croydon Ecology Centre charity, but which Croydon Council last year suggested could be sold as part of a ‘series of proposed asset disposals’. The house formerly belonged to Raymond Riesco, who was known for his important collection of artworks and antiques which he bequeathed to the council (but which they partially sold in 2013). While ensuring the Ecology Centre retains its rights to the building, I should also be keen to see parts of it opened up to the public as a historic house, with the remaining items of the Riesco Collection put on display for the education and enjoyment of the public. This would, of course, bring visitors to Croydon and encourage spending in the local area.
Presumably Croydon Council had something different in mind in 2020 when it began the process of licensing Addington Park for music festivals, similar to one staged in Lloyd Park in 2019. Anyone who had the misfortune of witnessing the Lloyd Park event will recall that it was not so much a celebration of culture as an antisocial Bacchanalian orgy of intoxicated cretinism. That such an event should happen anywhere is embarrassing; that it should take place in a residential area is unacceptable. Selsdon and Addington Village deserves better, and I will make sure it gets it.
More widely what would you like to see change at Croydon Council and across the borough?
Perhaps the one thing that unites everyone across the borough is their anger and frustration at Croydon Council’s unrelenting financial irresponsibility. While 28 council employees were earning over £100,000, residents have been missing out on waste collections because the council went bankrupt and remains in a precarious situation even after a £120 million taxpayer-funded bailout.
You might think the council would have turned over a new leaf, but it has not. It has yet to scrap Brick by Brick, its good-for-nothing, loss-making property firm with a curious aversion to social housing, and it has recently announced the roll-out of so-called ‘Smart’ bus shelters, which are made by an American company and require a constant energy supply to fund their internet connection and garish LED lighting. They also have sinister overtones because they will all have cameras connected to the internet. Whatever was wrong with analogue bus shelters? I will save money and protect residents’ right to anonymity in public by opposing this development.
My love of natural beauty will, of course, be applied to green spaces all over the borough. In particular, I will support Chris Philp MP and others in their bid to have the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty extended to include Farthing Downs, Happy Valley, Riddlesdown and Coulsdon Common, thereby providing them with further protection against the threat of development. I should even like to go further and extend the designation to Croham Hurst and the Addington Hills.
I would also like to see money saved by scrapping Croydon Council’s equality and diversity strategy, and ending its support for divisive and politically-charged non-events such as black and LGBT+ history months (October and February to you and I). When the council runs a programme ‘the aim of which is to increase the number of BAME managers in the council’, we realise that ‘equality’ refers to equality of representation rather than equality of opportunity. This is unfair, discriminatory and precisely the opposite of what Martin Luther King campaigned for when he said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”.
Finally, when Croydon’s finances are secure, I should like to make a statement of local pride. As an antidote to the onslaught of fanatical iconoclasm masquerading as social justice which began with the illegal vandalism of Bristol’s Edward Colston statue, I should like the council to affirm that it loves its town and its history and erecting a statue would be a good way to do that. I’m not an advocate of making statues for statues’ sake, but I would be in favour of anything which enhances the town centre, performs an educational function and gives recognition to a worthy individual. Croydon has produced many great individuals who merit commemoration, composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor being a particularly well-known and deserving example.
How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved?
I would be glad to answer enquiries sent to [email protected]. Anyone interested in finding out more about the Heritage Party should visit heritageparty.org.