Negrini signs off on £8,000 MIPIM junket to south of France

Cannes Cote d'AzurWHO REALLY IS RUNNING CROYDON (Part 94): Croydon Council is spending nearly £8,000 to send three senior members of staff to the South of France next week on a sales trip – to flog flats and property on behalf of the multi-billion developers who are taking over this corner of south London.

Next week sees the staging of the annual developers’ bun-fight, MIPIM, in Cannes, a champagne-fuelled four-day short-break beside the Mediterranean, where deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds are done on “investment” properties and office schemes.

In the past, such spending on the rates has been criticised thus: “It’s a junket on the taxpayers and people don’t want to see highly paid council officials swanning around the French Riviera.”

And flat-broke Croydon Council will be spending thousands of pounds of Council Tax-payers’ cash to be there to help promote Westfield, Hammerson, Laings, Menta, Redrow, Barratts and any other property dealers who have got their claws into the borough, and probably for some who haven’t done so just yet. Continue reading

Posted in "Hammersfield", Business, Council Tax, Croydon Council, Jo Negrini, Menta Tower, Planning, Property, Tony Newman, Whitgift Centre | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tory Philp must choose Croydon South or his investments

CROYDON COMMENTARY: The Tories’ parliamentary candidate for Croydon South has financed multi-million-pound housing projects around London. Does this influence his views on schemes in our borough? By JON BIGGER

Chris Philp, the Conservatives’ parliamentary candidate in Croydon South, has been talking about a proposed development in Purley. The Purley development, on a long-vacant plot, is set to include a church with community centre, plus some housing to increase the profitability of the scheme.

The acceptable face of Conservatism? Chris Philp, left, out campaigning with Gideon Osborne

The acceptable face of Conservatism? Chris Philp, left, out campaigning with Gideon Osborne

Under planning regulations there needs to be some “affordable housing” included in the development and in order to make enough cash out of the scheme, the proposal is to make the building 16 storeys high.

Here’s what Philp is reported to have said to the Sadvertiser: “The council is being greedy, it wants everything. It wants the money, the housing, the community facilities, and so to do that they need a big building.

“I think given all the community facilities, they could compromise.”

The report suggested that Philp thinks the compromise should be reducing the number of affordable units built as part of the development. Philp also mentioned the project on Twitter, saying that being 16 storeys meant that the new building wouldn’t be in keeping with the rest of the area. Continue reading

Posted in 2015 General Election, Business, Chris Philp, Croydon South, Jon Bigger, Planning, Property, Purley | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

UKIP make ‘crass’ member chairman of Croydon North branch

Selhurst polling station

The scene at a polling station in Selhurst this morning for the unnecessarily prompt by-election. Don’t expect to get trampled in the rush

UKIP in Croydon, who caused widespread disgust when three of its members lodged the call for the Selhurst ward by-election before the funeral of former councillor Gerry Ryan, have rewarded one of those who created the outrage by making him chairman of their local party branch.

The Selhurst by-election is being staged today, at a cost to local Council Tax-payers of up to £20,000.

Had UKIP members Emmanuel Ehirim, Peter Morgan and Janet Stollery not demanded the early staging of the by-election, it is likely that the council ward ballot papers could have been distributed together with General Election paperwork, reducing the cost to very little.

Peter Staveley, the UKIP parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central, described the actions of his own party members as “crass” and accused them of lacking respect. Continue reading

Posted in 2015 General Election, Croydon North, David Wood, Gerry Ryan, Peter Staveley, Selhurst, Winston McKenzie | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

International playwriting festival at Fairfield Halls, June 6-7

Warehouse Theatre logoThe Warehouse Theatre’s 2015 International Playwriting Festival will take place at the new studio theatre at the Fairfield Halls on June 6 and 7.

The deadline for entries for this year’s competition has been extended to March 15.

The IPF has been established since 1986, and was formerly staged at the Warehouse Theatre on the site alongside East Croydon Station. Continue reading

Posted in Art, East Croydon, Fairfield Halls, Ruskin Square, Theatre, Warehouse Theatre | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Sheen’s speech is an eloquent rallying call to save our NHS

NHS petitioning 28 March 2015 5Last Saturday, a doughty band of campaigners spent a cold and wet day outside East Croydon Station seeking signatures for a petition in support of the NHS.

It was a nationwide day of action to Save Our NHS. More than 9,000 people were expected to take part in national protests organised by the campaign group 38 Degrees. So far, more than 340,000 people have signed the campaign group’s petition.

That same weekend, across the country in south Wales, Michael Sheen gave a speech in Tredegar. It was St David’s Day, and he was addressing a rally in memory of Nye Bevan, the founder of the NHS.

It was a speech for our age, in which Hollywood actor Sheen – noted in the past for his portrayal of Tony Bliar – spoke with true passion of Bevan’s “cast-iron integrity”. It was a warning as much to Labour as to the Tories.

Sheen’s speech was a total contrast to the Punch and Judy political point-scoring we endure each week from parliament, a world away from the sterile preaching we hear from self-serving, career politicians. We will never hear such effective, and credible, oratory from the likes of Tony Newman or Gavin Barwell, from Steve Reed and certainly not from Tim Pollard.

Continue reading

Posted in 2015 General Election, Health | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Council calls in Ronald McDonald to help pay off £144m bill

Ronald McDonaldIt would be a cheap shot to suggest that Fisher’s Folly is run by a bunch of clowns.

But Ronald McDonald has registered a presence recently in Croydon Council’s £144 million headquarters building.

Desperate to rake back some of the cost of the over-priced office block, the council has been renting out Bernard Weatherill House, as it is sometimes known, as a filming location.

In the past month, the council offices have been used at least twice, over two separate weekends. Continue reading

Posted in Bernard Weatherill House, Business, Croydon Council, Mike Fisher, Nathan Elvery, Tony Newman, URV | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-Spurs star Sol Campbell urges Tories to back Barwell

The things that some people will do to secure selection in a safe Tory seat.

Sol Campbell, the former Tottenham, Arsenal and England footballer, has suddenly discovered he is Gavin Barwell’s biggest fan. Presumably, Campbell has not yet discovered that the “lifelong Croydon resident” is a Liverpool supporter.

Barwell's newest, biggest fan: Sol Campbell

Barwell’s newest, biggest fan: Sol Campbell

With Sir Malcolm “67 grand is not enough” Rifkind jumping before he was pushed from the safe Kensington parliamentary seat, Campbell has “failed to rule himself out” (newspaper speak for failing to get a straight answer to a straight question) of seeking selection ahead of the May General Election.

And multi-millionaire Campbell at least has one thing in common with Rifkind: they both think MPs should be paid more.

What the 40-year-old has to offer the political arena is as yet unknown. But it may be an indicator that Tory Central Office quite likes the idea of the stardust which a high-profile former England team mate of David Beckham might bring to the House of Commons, since yesterday Conservative Party members in London received a letter, apparently signed by Campbell, urging them to do all they can to support… Croydon Central’s Gavin Barwell.

Hmmm. Continue reading

Posted in 2015 General Election, Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell MP, Sarah Jones | 1 Comment

Heritage Walk booklet project, Wandle Park, Mar 14

Wandle Park Heritage Booklet Continue reading

Posted in Activities, Broad Green, Friends of Wandle Park, History, London-wide issues, Transition Town, Waddon, Walks, Wandle Park | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tax-payers pay £5.8m for councillors’ job creation scheme

Political patronage on the rates has reached ridiculous proportions at Croydon Town Hall, reports WALTER CRONXITE

Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, parliamentary elder statesmen and former Foreign Secretaries, are clearly not as sharp as they would have liked us to think that they are. And to think that Rifkind reckons he can barely manage as a “freelance” MP on a mere 67 grand a year.

LoadsamoneyStill, £5,000 for half a day’s “consultancy” shouldn’t be sniffed at by any Loadsamoney MP. You have to wonder what the going rate might be for, say, hiring the chair of a select committee?

But all the earnest calls last week for MPs to be restricted to holding down just one job, that of being an MP, missed the point entirely. It seems unlikely that the response of the dishonourable members when the Channel 4 Dispatches sting operation came calling would have been any different, whether they had one job, three jobs or 10 jobs.

Taking every opportunity to line your pockets while being paid generously at public expense - just as Croydon South’s Tricky Dicky Ottaway was exposed as doing in the past – appears to have become an occupational necessity for many of our elected representatives.

Continue reading

Posted in 2015 General Election, Croydon Council, Gavin Barwell MP, Tim Pollard, Tony Newman, Whitgift Foundation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Democratic control is an alien concept at the Town Hall

CROYDON COMMENTARY: What powers and influence do our elected councillors really have? ROD DAVIES, a local resident and a local authority official in the past, poses the questions

Water colour by artist Lis Watkins

Water colour by artist Lis Watkins

Croydon Town Hall’s 70 elected councillors are all dependent on professional officers, the borough’s civil servants, providing best advice to them on situations and the range of available options, and helping them develop the strategy. This encompasses a vast and diverse range of complex services, unlike any private sector organisation, many of which the public is barely aware of. Many of these services are delivered on behalf of central government. As a consequence, councillors can only direct a small proportion of the total budgets.

The council’s Chief Executive Officer is charged to ensure that councillors create policies that deliver on these mandated services. So the CEO inherently appears to dominate elected members at times.

“Sorry Councillor X, I know that Children’s and Adult’s Services are uneconomic and that no private sector organisation would consider attempting to deliver them; but you can’t decide to stop delivering these services on that basis.” It is not unknown for elected members to lack any business, management or leadership skills whatsoever and to hold some extraordinarily eccentric views. The consequence is that CEOs and their management teams must be able and willing to stop members doing daft and illegal things.

However, there are questions to be asked about the culture prevalent in Croydon Council. Does a competent council get involved in a partnership deal with a private sector developer during a recession, where they manage to build new offices that end up costing more, per square metre, than one of the most prestigious buildings in the world? Continue reading

Posted in Bernard Weatherill House, Croydon Council, ECCO, Fairness Commission, Nathan Elvery, Tony Newman, URV | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Volunteers day at Marlpit Lane bowling green, Mar 14

The Friends of Marlpit Lane Bowling Green in Coulsdon is seeking volunteers for its “action morning” and volunteers afternoon on Saturday March 14.

The scene at a busy Marlpit Lane on its opening day last April. Can you help get it ready for the 2015 season?

The scene at a busy Marlpit Lane on its opening day last April. Can you help get it ready for the 2015 season?

The morning session from 10am will be spent preparing the green and equipment ready for the new season, which opens on March 28.

The afternoon session from 2pm till 4pm we will be welcoming existing and new volunteers to join us for refreshments and to see how the new online rota will work.

Demos of the basics for playing and whats involved in manning the pavilion during the season will also be explained.

All welcome. “Come and give us a try and be part of this lovely facility in the heart of our community,” say the organisers. Continue reading

Posted in Bowls, Coulsdon, Friends of Marlpit Lane Bowling Green, Marlpit Lane, Sport | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Classic movies to get free screening at Stanley Halls

Bad Day at Black RockThe Stanley Halls Film Club is to screen two movie classics in the next week – absolutely free for members.

David Lynch’s Mullholland Drive screens this Wednesday (March 4), and the Spencer Tracy thriller, Bad Day at Black Rock, is on next Monday (March 9). Continue reading

Posted in Community associations, South Norwood, Stanley Halls, Stanley People's Initiative, Theatre | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Vote now to help really connect Croydon at Wandle Park

Inside Croydon’s loyal reader has 24 hours left to help transform Croydon for the better. Or at least one bit of it.

Your vote could help win funding to pay to improve the access to Wandle Park

Your vote could help win funding from the Mayor of London to pay to improve the access to Wandle Park

When the highly paid consultant PR spinners came up with the “Connected Croydon” campaign, they did so without a hint of irony.

Their notion of connecting the public realm for pedestrians all the way from East Croydon to Wandle Park remains the epitome of Dis-Connected Croydon: one eight-lane urban motorway, one six-lane Flyover, a suburban railway line and a very busy light rail system makes the PR spinners’ claims of connectivity all a bit of a mockery.

But there is chance that one piece of the “connected” jigsaw might be put in place, through the Mayor of London’s Big Green Poll.

Continue reading

Posted in Boris Johnson, Broad Green, Community associations, Connected Croydon, Friends of Wandle Park, Mayor of London, Tramlink, Waddon, Walks, Wandle Park | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coulsdon suffers a nasty dose of irritable vowel syndrome

Coulsdon isn’t so cool any more.

According to the Old Coulsdon Residents’ Association, when talking about the town at the southern end of the borough, positioned on the old Brighton Road route at the foot of the North Downs’ chalk valleys, “the correct pronunciation is Coalsdon, not Coolsdon“.

Are these moo-cows or moa-cows? Some of the Sussex cattle which roam Happy Valley in Coulsdon

Are these moo-cows or moa-cows? Some of the Sussex cattle which roam Happy Valley in Coulsdon

Which may come as a surprise to many residents, as well as those living in the rest of Croydon and broader south London.

OCRA’s spring newsletter, a glossy, 28-page A5 publication stuffed full of useful information and ads for local shops and tradesmen, this week dropped through the letter boxes of households around the Coulsdon/ Coalsdon/Coolsdon Road.

It included one page with some fascinating historic detail about the derivation of the settlement’s name.

Continue reading

Posted in Community associations, Coulsdon, Coulsdon East, Coulsdon West, Old Coulsdon Residents' Association | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Planning meeting became an Arena for education strategy

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Woodside resident PAULA GOODMAN feels betrayed by her Labour councillors over what she sees as an abuse of the planning procedures to permit the development of a 1,300-pupil Oasis academy next to Croydon Arena

In a meeting with Woodside residents before Labour took control of the council last year, our ward councillor, Paul Scott, advised us that when the proposals to build an Oasis Academy secondary school at Croydon Arena came to the planning committee, we should focus on planning issues such as traffic, highways and congestion. He emphasised that issues relating to school places, the choice of provider and whether there were other available sites were not relevant to planning applications.

Looks good on paper? How the scheme to hand over a large chunk of public property to Oasis was presented at a lip-service public consultation

Looks good on paper? How the scheme to hand over a large chunk of public property to Oasis was presented at a lip-service public consultation

Yet when it came to Thursday night’s decisive planning committee meeting at the Town Hall to decide whether the proposals for the large, six-forms-of-entry Oasis Arena Academy were suitable, residents in the public gallery could have been forgiven if they thought they had entered an education strategy meeting by mistake.

The chair of the planning committee was Paul Scott.

From the chair, Scott was loquacious on the issue of a “crisis in Croydon’s school places”. Our two other Labour ward councillors at the meeting – Tony Newman, the leader of the council, and Hamida Ali – warmed to the chairman’s theme, both referring to the need for school places as a major consideration at what was supposed to be a planning meeting.

Continue reading

Posted in 2015 General Election, Ashburton, Croydon Council, Education, Gavin Barwell MP, Hamida Ali, Oasis Academy, Oasis Academy Shirley Park, Paul Scott, Planning, Schools, Stephen Mann, Tony Newman, Woodside | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments