By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter
Residents are “furious” with a council as they face their third straight winter without borough-wide bus shelters.
Croydon council has announced the installation of four Transport for London (TfL)-funded shelters in the borough, but many bus users in Norbury may have to brave the elements for the foreseeable future.
The lack of shelters has led community groups across the borough to petition the council to reinstate the old TfL shelters that were taken down three years ago.
Residents complained that the lack of a comprehensive bus shelter network is hitting the elderly and disabled the hardest.
The missing shelters go back to a contract dispute between the local authority and an offshore company called Valo. In early 2021, the previous Labour administration entered into a deal with the company, which would provide 185 new bus shelters, complete with Wi-Fi and CCTV.
But Valo allegedly had no prior experience in building shelters and never honoured its commitment. Croydon’s current TfL-operated shelters were unaffected by the deal and remain in place.
According to Croydon councillor Scott Roache, “council officers have undertaken a range of actions since then to try to get Valo to deliver on the contract, including issuing two default notices earlier this year, but to no avail”.
The council has now reportedly terminated the contract and is considering pursuing Valo for damages for their failure to deliver on the contract.
Being on the edge of the borough, with minimal tram access, Norbury relies heavily on buses.
The Love Norbury group, along with other groups across Croydon, has since petitioned the council for what it sees as an unsatisfactory response to a problem that has been allowed to go on for too long.
When the group asked for an update on the current status of the shelters last Wednesday, Cllr Roache said “clearly this is a very unsatisfactory position”.
He added: “We have to reflect on how past decisions allowed a contractor who had no track record of delivering a contract like this in the UK to win it, and why the existing bus shelters were allowed to be removed before the new contractor was in a position to replace them.
“We have asked officers to prioritise moving forward to secure alternative arrangements for getting bus shelters back in the borough as soon as possible, and they have been working at pace to find alternative ways of doing this.”
Valo has been approached for comment.
Pictured top: Michael Woodruff and Ann Creighton, members of the Love Norbury group, are unsatisfied with what they see as a slow response from the council (Picture: Harrison Galliven)
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