Calibre of candidates in local elections called into question

Hat-tip to the Tory blogger and LBC radio presenter Iain Dale for this, which he linked to on Twitter with the note: “And these people want to represent us?”

Conservative-Rosette1Up to the April 24 deadline this week, all candidates who want to stand in next month’s local elections have to find 10 residents to nominate them. A pretty straightforward piece of admin really, you’d think. Name, address and voting roll number required to complete the paperwork.

Andrew Kennedy, the chairman of a local Conservative association in a true-blue part of Kent, has to oversee such work. This week, he gave examples of what some of his candidates are capable of doing… Continue reading

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Coulsdon residents summon candidates to hustings sessions

There are plans for three sets of election hustings in Coulsdon next month, organised by local residents’ associations.

cropped-coulsdon.jpgOn Thursday May 8, there will be a hustings for the Euro MEP election at the Coulsdon Community Centre from 7.30pm.

The RAs say, “We would like one candidate from the London MEP list from each of the five main parties – hopefully as high up the list as possible, and ideally for UKIP and Green the No1 on the list.” Continue reading

Posted in 2014 council elections, Cane Hill, Community associations, Coulsdon West Residents' Association, East Coulsdon Residents' Association, Old Coulsdon Residents' Association, Planning, URV | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The council’s in a hole, and yet they still keep on digging

ANDREW FISHER, the author of a new book on the failed economics of the last four decades, says that the same mistakes are being repeated in £1 billion shopping centre-fixated Croydon

John Maynard Keynes: preferred the building of homes over burying money

John Maynard Keynes: preferred the building of homes over burying money

In the 1930s, the economist John Maynard Keynes advocated the Treasury digging holes in the ground, filling them with banknotes and covering them up, and then leasing rights to dig them back up again. This would stimulate the economy.

Keynes’ prescription sounds absurd and utterly pointless, but it was better than the painful option chosen by British governments in the 1930s of letting unemployment rip.

To be fair to Keynes, he does add, “It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing.”

Today, Croydon’s grand economic strategy is essentially knocking down a shopping centre and building another one. But are the obstacles to building something socially useful like council housing really so great that knocking down and rebuilding a shopping centre is the best we can do? Continue reading

Posted in "Hammersfield", 2014 council elections, Allders, Andrew Fisher, Boris Johnson, Business, Centrale, Housing, Mayor of London, Tramlink, Transport, Whitgift Centre | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beware council’s misleading parking signs, warns Butcher

Mark Butcher: parking "rant" is well-placed

Mark Butcher: parking “rant” is well-placed

Mark Butcher, the South Croydon-based guitar legend and occasional Test match batsman, has been in touch with Inside Croydon with what he calls a “rant on behalf of all the other dopes that were and will be booked down there”.

Butcher’s ire has been raised by what he sees as deliberately misleading parking restrictions signs on South End, outside what used to be called the Fish and Grill in South Croydon.

Butcher’s distrust of the local authority appears well-placed.

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Posted in Business, Croydon Council, Fairfield, Parking, Restaurants | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Eagles fans reject Tory councillor’s call for civic parade

What Crystal Palace fans think of their former senior steward Tony Pearson, the Tory councillor in New Addington

What Crystal Palace fans think of their former senior steward Tony Pearson, the Tory councillor in New Addington

Last year, when Crystal Palace won promotion to the Premier League at Wembley, Croydon Council did nothing to mark the achievement. This year, with the club’s survival in the top division all-but-secured with the midweek 3-2 win at Everton, and suddenly there’s populist calls from a local councillor for some sort of extravagant civic reception, all paid for, no doubt, on the rates.

There must be an election coming up.

That the call to mark Palace’s Great Escape comes from a Tory councillor in a marginal ward who must fear for his chances of getting re-elected on May 22 is probably not a surprise.

That the call for the civic celebration comes from Tony Pearson, councillor for New Addington, probably deserves some sort of award in itself for sheer brass neck.

Pearson is widely loathed by Eagles fans who wanted him banned from the club when he worked part-time at Selhurst Park as a senior steward. They dubbed him “Pillock” Pearson when he was involved in a violent incident with home season ticket-holders at the Holmesdale End, though Pearson escaped any disciplinary action, according to some sources after considering taking legal action over his position. Continue reading

Posted in 2014 council elections, Crystal Palace FC, Football, New Addington, Selhurst, Sport, Tony Pearson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Croydon’s rubbish council: the 2014 Garbage Gallery

APRIL 18 UPDATE: And there is, of course, more. There’s always more.

The corner of Warrington Road and Epsom Road, Apr 16 2014

The corner of Warrington Road and Epsom Road, Apr 16 2014

This is something of a commonplace around the streets of the borough, and is a particular problem in those areas with multi-occupier properties – such as when there are flats above high street shops, when the occupants have no proper provision to store their waste until collection day, which of course is now only once a fortnight.

It is not an issue confined to the north of the borough, either.

Continue reading

Posted in 2014 council elections, Council Tax, Croydon Council, Fly tipping, Refuse collection, Selhurst | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Volunteers wanted to help chart the Wandle’s history

Wandle History Volunteer poster-WEB

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David Lean Cinema re-opening is a people’s authentic triumph

STEVEN DOWNES was delighted to return to the Clock Tower’s arthouse cinema when it welcomed home Johnny Moped last month

The David Lean Cinema is re-opened.

Star of the show: Johnny Moped deep in conversation in the packed bar of the David Lean Cinema on its re-opening night

Star of the show: Johnny Moped deep in conversation in the packed bar of the David Lean Cinema on its re-opening night

Please note, Madam Mayor. It is re-opened. Not “opened”.

The fizzy stuff was flowing and the mood was overwhelmingly positive. The Save the David Lean Cinema Campaign had, after years of hard-work and heartache, finally got the council’s padlocks removed and got access to the intimate venue for the purpose for which it was intended.

And there was more than a touch of surreality about it all, too. “It was hard to come to terms with,” said Raymond Burns. “There was Johnny Moped, and he was meeting… the… Mayor of Croydon.” The delight and surprise at such a counter-intuitive meeting of the punk legend and the borough’s civic representative was not lost on those fortunate enough to be  there on this night of nights.

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Crystal Palace residents debate park’s future: Apr 30

With the prospect of a large chunk of Crystal Palace Park being handed over to a Chinese developer to build a vast new palace, a group of residents has started The Information Project to publicise the possibilities for the park and to help create a debate about the identity of community, place, culture and design for the 21st century.

One of the neglected statues from the original Crystal Palace on the terraces overlooking the park: a residents' group is staging debates to help shape their future

One of the neglected statues from the original Crystal Palace on the terraces overlooking the park: a residents’ group is staging debates to help shape their future

The first debate is scheduled for Wednesday, April 30.

The programme of debates will feature architects, developers, planners, politicians and London-based broadcasters, thinkers and writers. There are also plans to include local residents in what they call “a visioning exercise”.

Noreen Meehan, the chair of the Crystal Palace Overground Festival and one of the project organisers, said, “Crystal Palace is an extraordinary place to live, with myriad aspects to its cultural heritage. The park has been the scene for many of these activities. The debates and events we are organising will draw thinkers and experts into a conversation about what the future should be for this enigmatic and beloved space and what culture actually means during our lifetime.”

Local architects Dagmar and Christopher Binsted are co-curators of the debates. Continue reading

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George cheers travellers while they wait for the tram

ANDREW LENG’s Croydon pub crawl takes a pause, as indeed does he, while waiting for a tram in George Street

It’s Wednesday afternoon, I’ve just finished work and before I hop on the tram home, I nip in to The George for a quick pint. Business is brisk, even midweek. Inside, the pub is decorated with different national flags to indicate that Wetherpoons, who run the George Street pub, is part way through their “International Beer Festival”.

The George, CroydonThe JD Wetherspoon chain, or “posh pub company” according to its literature, opened its first pub in 1979. The chain now has more than 800 pubs, seemingly with one on every high street in the country, employing around 23,000, and as well as owning the Lloyds No 1 bars, the company has also successfully branched out into the hotel business.

Until recently, there were three Wetherspoons in Croydon: The George, The Skylark in South Croydon and the Ship of Fools opposite West Croydon station. The Ship bit the dust in 2013 and was turned into a small Sainsbury’s.

In a previous life, The George was a furniture store. It opened as a large pub in 1993 and has two bars, positioned at the front and back of the pub. Several years ago it was the place where a small number of colleagues and I used to spend our Friday lunchtimes. Happy days, but you wouldn’t get away with that now. My colleagues have all moved on but, being Croydon-based, I visit the pub every now and again, usually when the trams in George Street are up the spout. Continue reading

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Tea-time leaflet leaves Easter egg over faces of Waddon Tories

Direct from an election meeting where the most impressive thing was Eddie Izzard’s new glasses, WALTER CRONXITE, our man on Katharine Street with the rolled up copy of the local free paper and an e-cigarette tucked behind his ear, reports on possibly the shoddiest piece of literature yet seen in the 2014 campaign

Occasionally, our local politicians go in for something conceptual in their attempts to win the attention of voters, who are often either jaded about politics or cynical of politicians, or most commonly, both. So a different slant is taken, moving away from the routine photographs taken by bored local newspaper snappers, showing a glum councillor pointing out yet another pot hole or pile of steaming dog turd – as illustrated so well by the glum councillors website.

Waddon councillor Simon Hoar: Has form when it comes to delivering dodgy leaflets

Waddon councillor Simon Hoar: Has form when it comes to delivering dodgy leaflets

With voters entirely disenchanted with expenses-grabbing national and local politicians, a new approach is always worth a try.

The first piece of political whimsy during this year’s council elections came when Waddon residents received a Valentine’s card from their Labour candidates. The card, adorned with a broken heart, spoke wistfully of the broken promises of the Conservative councillors who undertook not to support a local incinerator and then went ahead and did the exact opposite. Labour will be far more faithful than the Tories was the clear message.

That was two months ago, but now another piece of political paper has found its way to Inside Croydon Towers, this time with the Waddon Conservatives trying to “think outside the box”.

They probably ought not to have bothered.

Continue reading

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A Viscount, two Lords and a comedian back Labour’s campaign

Eddie Izzard was out campaigning in Croydon town centre this morning with local Labour leader Tony Newman. Cue jokes from all other political parties about there being more than one comedian in Croydon Labour…

Eddie Izzard, centre, off on a shopping trip with Croydon Labour's Tony Newman

Eddie Izzard, centre, off on a shopping trip with Croydon Labour’s Tony Newman

It’s unclear whether many of the shoppers really recognised Izzard – who is an intriguing potential candidate to stand for Labour in six years’ time, possibly against another political joker, Boris Johnson, as Mayor of London.

It also seems doubtful whether the potential voters could get anywhere near Izzard for photographers from the local newspapers and London Labour HQ, or Labour activists, such as Councillor Wayne Lawlor and Catriona Ogilvy, an unsuccessful candidate in Labour’s selection for the Croydon Central parliamentary seat, but who were available for the photo-op at around 11am on a weekday morning.

It all seemed like an object lesson in preaching to the converted. Izzard made a speech so brief that it was shorter even than a Maria Miller apology, and delivered almost exclusively to Labour candidates and activists, who numbered fewer than 20.

But then “getting Labour’s message across” is taking some odd turns this week. Continue reading

Posted in 2014 council elections, Boris Johnson, Catriona Ogilvy, Emily Benn, Heathfield, Louisa Woodley, Mayor of London, New Addington, Oliver Lewis, Steve Reed MP, Tony Newman, Waddon, Wayne Lawlor, West Thornton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Our two-year-olds need a childhood, not lessons in Latin

Susan Oliver Susan DavisSUSAN OLIVER, pictured left, wants the borough’s teaching professionals to come forward and make their voices heard, perhaps even to challenge the controlling orthodoxies of Michael Gove and Ofsted

Children should be taught in schools from the age of two

I thought the headline in the print edition of The Independent was an April Fool’s joke, but then I checked the date.

The story refers to a declaration from Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief schools inspector and head of Ofsted. Whether he has ambitions for total domination of the country’s children is up for you to decide.

I mean, what’s next? “Madam, after you come home from the delivery room, please drop your baby at the nearest academy. It needs an education.”

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Same old same old that adds up to good business for someone

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Industry awards have a reputation for self-congratulatory bun-fights. At £120 a ticket at this year’s Croydon event, DAVID CALLAM’s happy to give it a miss. He’s seen it all before, anyway

It’s that time again. The Croydon Business Awards are back. The finals take place on May 15 at Fairfield Halls.

Fairfield Halls wood for the treesAnd with them, for me, come memories of what degenerated into an annual chore, trying to find a fresh way to present the same old same old.

The awards began as a fishing expedition, trawling for new clients, run jointly by a solicitor and an accountant in the town. The first awards were presented at a reception in the solicitor’s offices.

Then Croydon Council became involved, ever keen to present itself as a friend of the business community, and the reception became a black-tie dinner at Fairfield; the first one generously hosted by borough tax-payers.

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Put in the Groundwork to help reflect the River Wandle on film

An environmental charity is working this summer to produce a film to tell the story of the River Wandle, and they want community groups and locals to help make the film.

Wandle genericGroundwork is a national charity, established over more than 20 years, that works to create better places which work in a greener, more sustainable way and to improve local economic prospects.

In the late 18th and through the 19th century, the River Wandle was an important industrial feature in south London. The source of the River Wandle is widely accepted as being close to the site of the old Swan and Sugarloaf pub in South Croydon, with much of its modern course culverted until it re-emerges in Wandle Park, and flows on towards Beddington, Carshalton and Merton, joining the Thames at Wandsworth.

The Groundwork film is being created as part of the Reflecting the Wandle project which aims to increase awareness of the region, its heritage, environment, and history. Continue reading

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