By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
The Conservative candidate in Croydon’s mayoral election said he will reform the council’s housing department after the exposure of residents “living in squalor”.
Jason Perry, a Croydon councillor for 28 years, is in running in the borough’s mayoral election.
The borough will choose its first directly-elected mayor at the 2022 local elections on May 5, changing the way the authority is governed.
Cllr Perry, 52, has lived in Croydon his whole life and runs a building material company – Carton Building Supplies – which is based in Beddington and was started by his father in 1988.
He currently lives in South Croydon with wife Melanie and his son and daughter, who are 20 and 19-years-old respectively.
He said: “I’m a Croydonian born and bred. Croydon has always been my home and it has always been an amazing place.
“I started life in a bedsit in Blenheim Park Road and then we had a council flat in Purley. I also spent a lot of time with my aunts and uncles in the north of the borough.
“The main issue on the doorstep is what Labour has done to Croydon, the bankruptcy, the dirty streets, the graffiti.
“People feel ignored, they feel let down by the current council. People are so upset about what has gone on.”
Mr Perry, who has been the leader of the Croydon Conservatives since 2020, said he was shocked to see the conditions of council flats in Regina Road which were exposed by ITV News in 2021.
He said: We’ve got tenants living in squalor – I was totally shocked when I saw Regina Road, I was speechless that our residents were living in these conditions.
“And it wasn’t like they weren’t telling anybody, they were just being ignored for years.
“It is unbelievable we can do that and It is even more unbelievable is that nothing has changed a year on. What is wrong with the culture of this council?
“We need to take a look at the housing department and how it is operating. We need to get the leadership of the department properly in place. We need to change that culture into respecting our tenants.”
And on the subject of planning, the politician wants to see changes to the council’s design guide which sets out how homes can be redeveloped into flats and new homes can be built on back gardens to meet housing targets.
He said: “The first thing I would do is drop the design guide, it is causing a lot of damage and ignoring the character of Croydon.”
When Croydon’s first mayor takes office, the council-owned Brick by Brick developer will be well on its way to being shut.
The company was set up by the council in 2016 and is expected to be wound up in 2023.
It was loaned £200 million by the authority and Cllr Perry fears it will not recoup most of this.
He said: “Brick by Brick is in the process of being wound up. We will finish that process but it is still going to be a horrendous loss to the council whatever they claw back [through sales].
“It is not just the money, it is that they have built on green spaces and amenity spaces on council estates in the borough.
“For a council to think they can suddenly be a successful property developer in a difficult market was arrogant, if not naive.”
Cllr Perry is also committed to reopening Purley Pool. He thinks refurbishment could be done for less than £3million, and with cash from developers put aside for community projects.
The current council said spending £3million to repair the centre would be a “sticking plaster”.
He said: “We have the facility there and the pool worked perfectly well before it was closed.
“It needs a bit of modernising but we can get it up and running quickly.”
Jason Perry is one of eight candidates standing in the election on May 5. The other candidates are: Richard Howard (Lib Dem), Farah London (Taking the Initiative Party), Winston Mckenzie (Ind), Gavin Palmer (Ind), Andrew Pelling (Ind), Val Shawcross (Lab) and Peter Underwood (Green).