Time to scrap Boris’s Crystal Palace vanity project, say Greens

Time is running out for one of Boris Johnson’s vanity projects, the £500 million Chinese Crystal Palace which although unbuilt, has cast a dark shadow over the park and the National Sports Centre there, and blighted planned improvements and developments in the area ever since the Mayor of London took it upon himself to try to foist the scheme on south London more than a year ago.

"Do what you like. We'll take your cash, and we won't tell the locals", is what someone might have said when Boris Johnson and  Chinese developer Ni Zhao met at last year's  announcement for the new Crystal Palace

“Do what you like. We’ll take your cash, and we won’t tell the locals”, is what someone might have said when Boris Johnson and Chinese developer Ni Zhao met at the announcement for the new “Crystal Palace” in October 2013. Little progress has been made since

On Sunday, February 1, the exclusivity agreement between Bromley Council and the ZhongRong Group will expire, 16 months after it was signed. To date there;s been no public indication of a deal from either party.

Today, the Green Party has called on Bromley Council – signatories to the exclusivity agreement and the former managers of the park – and the Greater London Authority to abandon talks with the ZhongRong Group and to shelve any plans to build a massive commercial facility on Crystal Palace Park. Consultation about the scheme has been poor and details sketchy, but the Chinese are believed to have proposed building a large 6* hotel, a precious gems trading floor and a conference centre.

London’s Tory Mayor wanted to flog off the public land in the park cheaply, on a long lease to the private developer, ignoring all other considerations surrounding the Grade II-listed parkland.

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Posted in Boris Johnson, Bromley Council, Business, Community associations, Croydon North, Crystal Palace Community Association, Crystal Palace Park, Environment, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Outside Croydon, Upper Norwood | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fair’s fair, but Bishop has been given a task to test a saint

So now we know.

Councillor Hamida Ali, the vice chair of the Fairness Commission, addressing its opening meeting at the Stanley Halls in South Norwood last night

Councillor Hamida Ali, the vice chair of the Fairness Commission, addressing its opening meeting at the Stanley Halls in South Norwood last night

The Croydon Opportunity and Fairness Commission (as it has now finally resolved to be snappily titled) had its first meeting last night, where it revealed the members of the commission – the “commissioners” – and its finalised terms of reference.

According to the report submitted to the council cabinet more than six months ago, this independent body, supposedly at arm’s length from the council and politicians, is supposed to “make a particular effort to reach out to people with multiple needs who often find it hard to make their voices heard, so that they have every opportunity to be engaged in its work and to influence council priorities”.

And who are the commissioners who have been picked to “reach out” to the people of Croydon who “find it hard to make their voices heard”. Why, they include:

  • a Croydon Labour councillor
  • the recently retired deputy chief executive of Croydon Council
  • a director of the £1 billion shopping mall developers, Westfield
  • the deputy chairman of the council-funding dependent Croydon Voluntary Action
  • the husband of a Labour council candidate (who’s self-penned biog describes himself as “one of the most inspirational and entrepreneurial men of the time”), and
  • a public relations exec who once deliberately misled local politicians in order that she could provide a public platform for the National Front.

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Posted in "Hammersfield", Bernard Weatherill House, Bishop of Croydon, Business, Charity, Church and religions, Community associations, Crime, Croydon Council, Fairness Commission, Hamida Ali, Nathan Elvery, Opportunity and Fairness Commission, Tony Newman, Woodside | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things are changing, and growing, around Transition Town

SUSAN OLIVER catches up with developments at Croydon Transition Town after an active 2014

Transition Town CroydonCroydon Transition Town celebrated its second birthday in November, after its members helped to create community gardens in Wandle Park, Park Hill Park and at Ramsey Court in 2014, while continuing to work on one of their earliest projects, the Thornton Heath Rec Garden. We hosted two Give and Take Days (first created by Veolia, the council’s waste contractors) and helped Once Upon a Time Nursery in Thornton Heath to start their own fruit and veg garden.

Andrew Kennedy created a website for the group, and has started to post our minutes online. Continue reading

Posted in Cicely Mary Barker, Environment, Gardening, Susan Oliver, Thornton Heath, Transition Town, Wandle Park | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Your chance to take part in TV’s ‘Neighbours’ (not that one)

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UKIP condemned for election call ahead of councillor’s funeral

UKIP’s out-of-control members in Croydon, who are usually fronted by the notoriously incompetent Winston McKenzie, have struck again, causing widespread disgust by impatiently demanding a by-election in Selhurst ward following the death of widely admired Labour Councillor Gerry Ryan.

UKIP logoRyan’s funeral is not until next month, and common decency, simple respect and political protocols usually demand that no action is taken over by-elections until after the ceremony.

But such considerations have been ignored by Emmanuel Ehirim and Peter Morgan, both UKIP colleagues of McKenzie, and by Janet Stollery, who sits on the governing board for “Croydon Communities Consortium”, a self-appointed and self-important talking shop which in 2013 was given a £5,000 grant by Croydon Council. Continue reading

Posted in 2015 General Election, Croydon North, Gerry Ryan, Selhurst, Steve Reed MP, Timothy Godfrey, Toni Letts, Winston McKenzie | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Flaky staffing’ led to emergency at A&E says hospital chief

NHS nurse genericThe “internal major incident” which was declared at Mayday Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department earlier this month was caused by the coincidence of the worst winter for flu-type illnesses since 2009, people not making use of GP surgeries over the Christmas holidays, and a 25 per cent fall in the number of nurses training in London in the past year.

The analysis of the difficulties faced by the borough’s largest A&E was laid out yesterday by John Goulston, the chief executive of Croydon University Hospital, to a meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee.

The internal major incident was declared on January 6 when there were more patients arriving and awaiting urgent treatment than the hospital could cope with. Croydon’s hospital was one of several around the country which appeared to be struggling with patient demand. Continue reading

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Stanley Halls stages Invention Theatre Festival, Feb 13

Nine theatre-makers are coming together at Stanley Halls next month to produce one surprising night of theatre in south London’s new performance space.

Invention ImageFrom 7.45pm on Friday, February 13, Stanley Halls are being opened up to performers from various disciplines – story-tellers, interactive artists, durational performers, dance, Shakespeare, location specific – all committed to inventing a series of short works in this gem of a building.

The audience will journey through the building and discover new work in surprising locations.

The companies will be exploring issues as diverse as children and adults story-sharing, the science of being in a bubble, the legacy of the Halls’ founder, comings and goings on a staircase, breast is best and Jekyll and Hyde. Some are community inspired, others installations, some require role play, others are there simply to experience. All are original and made for Stanley Halls. Continue reading

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Museum of Croydon free event: Victorian Lives, Feb 14

East Croydon Station in 1898

East Croydon Station in 1898

The Museum of Croydon is staging a series of free events during 2015, beginning on Saturday, February 14 with a family event: Victorian Lives.

Drop in from 11am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4pm.

Discover how photographs and maps show us how Croydon has changed since Victorian times.  Get a feel for Victorian life in Croydon by handling objects from the time.

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Don Steele Jazzband at Stanley Halls, Feb 7

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Council meeting goes through the motions as a costly joke

WALTER CRONXITE, our man watching the webcast with a Yorkie bar and  a cup of strong black coffee, calls for another reform of Croydon Council: scrap meetings of the full council. They’re a complete waste of time and public money, and expose many of our councillors as being simply not very good

What do we, as tax-payers, get for £72,000 a year?

Steve O'Connell: how much is this man really worth?

Steve O’Connell: how much is this man really worth?

The answer, in the case of Steve O’Connell, is questions such as this:

“I understand that the leader wishes to rename East Croydon Station, if so will he join me in urging that on the platforms and other signage the words ‘Home of the Eagles’ is added?”

Oh, how we laughed when we saw that among the thick wodge of blue papers for “written questions from council members” – that is, elected councillors – submitted ahead of the first full council meeting of 2015.

Former mortgage salesman O’Connell is the man who has been described, by the Daily Mail, no less, as the country’s most over-paid councillor, as at one stage back in 2011 he was raking in £129,000 for various positions as the London Assembly Member for Sutton and Croydon, a member of the Met Police Authority, and as a Kenley councillor.

When challenged on this largesse, the ever-modest O’Connell (he has plenty to be modest about… boom, boom), said, “I’m worth it.”

Even that was not quite enough for O’Connell, though. Earlier this year, when his party leader and colleague Mike Fisher was trousering an extra £13,000 in allowances on the quiet, O’Connell, too, stuck his snout close to the trough to see if he could snuff out more that he could claim. Continue reading

Posted in Andrew Pelling, Chris Philp, Coulsdon West, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, Gavin Barwell MP, Julie Belvir, Kenley, Lynne Hale, Mario Creatura, Mike Fisher, Nathan Elvery, Phil Thomas, Purley, Purley Pool, Richard Ottaway MP, Sanderstead, Steve O'Connell, Tim Pollard, Tony Newman, Waste incinerator, Whitgift Foundation, Woodside | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Survey predicts MP Barwell is facing capital ‘punishment’

Even the Evening Boris is predicting that Gavin Barwell, the MP for the Whitgift Foundation, will lose his parliamentary seat at the General Election in 100 days time.

Looking for a new job? Gavin Barwell

Looking for a new job? Gavin Barwell

Barwell had London Mayor Boris Johnson attend his glitzy campaign launch last year, but London’s evening paper, noted for its unquestioning support of the buffoon at City Hall, could not make the numbers look any better for the Croydon Central Tory MP in a capital-focused poll published last night which shows Barwell to be one of six Conservatives likely to lose their seats on May 7, among 10 London seats held by members of the ConDem Government which will change hands.

According to the Standard’s poll, support for Labour in London has risen by 1 per cent since December, to 42 per cent.

In Greater London polling, the Tories are down by 1 per cent, to 32 per cent, the FibDems have fallen 2 per cent in one month, to 7 per cent, while UKIP is up 1 to 10 per cent and the Greens up 2 to 8 per cent.

Based on those figures, Government whip Barwell is set to lose to Labour’s Sarah Jones in Croydon Central, while two prominent south London ConDem figures, Simon Hughes, the LibDems’ deputy leader in Bermondsey, and former Health Minister Paul Burstow in Sutton and Cheam, look vulnerable.

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Posted in 2014 council elections, 2015 General Election, Boris Johnson, Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell MP, Paul Burstow MP, Sarah Jones, Sutton Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

POLL: Back our scheme to save Purley Pool – permanently

flip flop 4FLIP FLOP (Part 94): Purley Pool has been given a reprieve, of sorts.

Following an announcement this morning by Tony Newman, the council leader, the only public swimming pool serving a vast catchment area in the south of the borough can now be confident that it will stay open until… May 8. That’s the day after the General Election, in case you were unsure.

The announcement came this morning, just days after Newman held “an urgent meeting” with campaigners, and ahead of what was expected to be a mass protest at the Town Hall tonight. Continue reading

Posted in 2015 General Election, Chris Philp, Coulsdon, Croydon Council, Croydon South, Emily Benn, Fusion, Leisure services, Mike Fisher, Planning, Purley Pool, Swimming, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Up to 15% off wines at Ye Olde Bottoms Up, South Croydon

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Labour council continues to charge for reading lessons

GENE BRODIE, our education correspondent, has discovered that Croydon’s Labour-run council is using a legal loophole to continue to charge local children up to £3,500 per year just to teach them how to read and write

Reading lessons schools educationCroydon Council continues to charge some parents thousands of pounds for their children’s remedial reading lessons, despite warnings from the Department for Education about breaking the law which demands that the teaching of basic reading and writing should be provided by local authorities free-of-charge.

Local authorities are banned by law from charging for education, according to the provisions of Section 451 of the Education Act 1996.

Last May, we reported that Croydon Council’s education department was charging the parents of some Key Stage 2 primary school children more than £3,500 per year just so that they can receive their legal right to be taught to read and write. Then, the council claimed that because the children were being taught “off-site”, away from their usual school at the special literacy unit at Purley Oaks, the council was able to raise the charges if the pupils’ schools did not pay for the special lessons from their own budgets.

Some local schools have been able to pay for the remedial lessons from their own budgets. But others – including Cypress Primary in SE25 and Beulah Junior in Thornton Heath – have been forced to present some parents with a dreadful dilemma: pay-up for reading lessons that the state is supposed to provide, or risk their child not receiving all the help and support that they need in this essential skill. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Education, Julie Belvir, Paul Greenhalgh, Schools, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop the Incinerator Quiz Night fundraiser, Feb 9

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