Enthusiasm delayed by late arrival of Boris Johnson
WHEN you are booked to make a major announcement about post riot regeneration for Croydon before 200 top businesspeople, it is a good idea to arrive on time.
But things went dramatically wrong for London mayor Boris Johnson and delegates at the Develop Croydon conference were left waiting for about an hour to hear about his funding initiative – £23 million, as it eventually turned out.
When Boris did arrive, he explained his lateness by saying he had been experiencing the wide range of public transport available to Londoners.
And indeed he had.
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It appears his hassles started when, arriving late and on his own, at London Bridge, he leapt on the first train with an "East" on the destination board.
Unfortunately the train was on its way to East Dulwich, not East Croydon.
But ever quick-thinking, the mayor left the train at East Dulwich, joined another to Selhurst where he switched to a train for West Croydon.
West Croydon saw him board a tram for East Croydon where Croydon's slightly worried London Assembly member Steve O'Connell was waiting as the official greeting party.
Perhaps a bit ruffled from his transport tussle, the mayor made a rather hasty and lacking-in-detail announcement about the £23 million investment in Croydon before moving to attempt to extol Croydon's virtues, explaining why companies like Westfield and Hammerson were proposing to invest in overhauling Croydon's shopping centre.
Unfortunately, the main attribute that seemed to come his mind was that Croydon was noted for its beautiful women – Kate Moss, Adele and Amy Winehouse – although he did give Fairfield Halls and restaurants a plug eventually.
He seemed to many delegates to disappear with undue haste for his next venue – the Croydon Visitors' Centre next to East Croydon Station, handy for an unhindered ride back to town.
And there, in front of TV and press cameras, he was in his element, posing with local businesspeople and talking with a great deal more cohesion about what the £23 million will mean in terms of regenerating the town.
It was going to help riot-struck businesses back on to their feet and set Croydon on its way to becoming the envy of London. Words it would have been better to address to the conference itself but a better-late-than-never fillip for the town.