French president Nicolas Sarkozy has snubbed a visit to Croydon, sending a clear ‘non’ to the borough.

The French premier had been invited by Croydon Business for lunch at Croydon French restaurant, Le Cassoulet.

The invitation followed reports Mr Sarkozy wanted to use Croydon as a blueprint for the suburbs of Paris.

After his visit to London earlier in the year, he is said to have been impressed with the borough’s high-rise buildings.

As part of his Greater Paris plans, he was looking to create high rise hubs in the outskirts of Paris, linked with an orbital railway.

His belief was that such a scheme would encourage more people to move away from the congested city centre and into the suburbs.

Chief executive of Croydon Business, Brian Stapleton, was so delighted with the plan he immediately penned a letter to Mr Sarkozy inviting him to discuss the borough.

He wrote: “Dear Mr President. I was delighted to see recently in the British media that you are considering Croydon as a potential role model for the Parisian suburbs.

“You can get to Croydon in less than three hours from Paris by Eurostar – so perhaps you would like to come for lunch?

“I could then explain how Croydon’s concept can be successful in the context of a large city such as London or Paris, and how important it is to have such hubs in the suburbs rather than over developing the centre of the city.

Yours sincerely, Brian Stapleton PS: Please bring your wife”

But Mr Stapleton announced at the Croydon Business Christmas lunch last week that Mr Sarkozy had politely refused the invitation.

He said: “I am disappointed that President Sarkozy has declined my invite to lunch.

“I also thought that Mrs Sarkozy would have enjoyed a pre-lunch shopping trip to central Croydon.

“We still believe that Croydon, as a business district situated in outer London, offers an interesting model for Paris to consider in the future.

“We have now written to the French ambassador to see if he will accept our invitation instead.”

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