Furious Green campaigners accuse Croydon council of inaction over climate crisis

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

Activists have criticised Croydon council for not taking enough action in the five years since it declared a climate emergency, with one campaigner saying: “It’s just not good enough”.

Campaigners claimed authority has missed ‘easy wins’ and not engaged with the borough’s dedicated volunteer groups to address the crisis. They believe this is even more pressing considering Croydon’s large population and fuel poverty levels.

This apparent lack of progress has prompted a wave of protest from green groups across the borough, including a dramatic ‘die-in’ demonstration outside Croydon Town Hall as the council was meeting on Wednesday of last week.

Connie Duxbury, chief executive of Croydon Community Energy, led the protests by calling for a greater environmental commitment from the council.

Ms Duxbury told the crowd: “As part of the climate and ecological emergency pledges made in 2019, the council committed to being carbon neutral by 2030 – now not even six years away.

Activists protest outside Croydon Town Hall (Picture: Connie Duxbury)

“Since that date, there has been a Citizen’s Assembly, a Climate Commission and an Action Plan, all of which required the time and effort of local volunteers and other citizens of Croydon, not to mention the costs to the council, but it has resulted in very little meaningful action. We heard the phrase deeds, not words – where are these deeds?”

The phrase ‘deeds not words’ was used by then Labour council leader Tony Newman when announcing the declaration at an event in 2019. This phrase was accompanied by ambitions for Croydon to become London’s ‘greenest borough’.

While Croydon does have some of the largest areas of green space in the capital, its population size and geography place it at an acute risk of being disproportionately affected by climate change, Ms Duxbury says.

Indeed, higher rainfall than usual over the winter has left large parts of Croydon covered by a flood alert warning of heightened groundwater levels.

Ms Duxbury said: “It’s the most populated London borough, it’s got above average levels of fuel poverty and there’s loads of flooding risk. Of course, it affects the world, but specifically in Croydon there are lots of people that are going to be affected by climate change.”

She added: “Back in 2019, like many other councils, Croydon declared a climate emergency. Since then there have been assemblies and action plans but they haven’t actually done anything, it’s just not good enough.

“The Croydon Climate Crisis Commission produced 23 recommendations about how to tackle the climate crisis and as far as we know they haven’t done any of them.

“It’s costed and a lot of it is free. They will try to blame Covid for the delay but the action plan gave lots of free and easy low-hanging fruit that they could do to start making progress. It’s five years later now and it’s meant to be an emergency but they haven’t even got their own house in order.”


Making a stand – Connie Duxbury leading the protests outside the town hall (Picture: Connie Duxbury)

During their protest, the group staged a ‘die-in’ with testimonies of global climate-related suffering, while Croydon Climate Action’s Sam Baker read out a list of Mayor Jason Perry’s hustings promises.

Some of the groups attending the protest included the Croydon Green Network, Croydon Community Energy, Christian Climate Action, Croydon Climate Action and Extinction Rebellion.

During the question time section of the council meeting, Ian Morris, of Sustainable Thornton Heath, questioned the council on its apparent lack of transparency and requested greater community engagement.

Croydon’s cabinet member for streets and environment, Scott Roche, said the council was still committed to a carbon neutral action plan agreed in 2022, but Mr Morris said those plan and strategies were not being implemented,

On a Facebook post made following the meeting, Mr Morris said: “Croydon council was only last month ranked 28th out of the 32 London boroughs by Climate Emergency UK in terms of the action it has taken towards net zero, dropping from 14th when the ranking was done only the previous year.”

Green councillor Ria Patel said: “It’s been five years since Croydon council declared a climate emergency and yet very little has been achieved to tackle the climate crisis since then.

“The council is doing the bare minimum rather than implementing a strategic, coordinated plan that cuts across council departments to tackle the climate crisis.”

Croydon council has been approached for comment.

Pictured top: Croydon Green Network’s ‘Die-In’ protest outside Croydon Town Hall last Wednesday (Picture: Connie Duxbury)

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