Crisis for Labour as Hammersfield admits delays until 2019

Croydon’s new council’s hopes of the £1 billion Hammersfield shopping mall development being built and on-stream speedily took another blow last night when an invited audience of local businesses was told that the scheme would not start construction until 2016 – a year later than planned – and will not be completed now until 2019 at the earliest.

One of Westfield's imagined views of how the new mall might look: much of this area will be closed off for building works for three years - beginning now in 2016

One of Westfield’s imagined views of how the new mall might look: much of this area will be closed off for building works for three years – beginning now in 2016

That means that the Labour group, which won control of the Town Hall in May and pinned their hopes on the Westfield and Hammerson redevelopment of the Whitgift and Centrale shopping centres to regenerate the borough’s fortunes, will now have to endure the town centre as a building site throughout their four-year term.

This ought not come as any surprise. In April this year, Inside Croydon accurately predicted: “It is the nature of these large-scale projects that they over-run, in terms of time as well as costs”. Last night’s down-played announcement simply confirmed what had been suspected by realists and pragmatists for some time.

Nonetheless, it will be doom-ladened news for Croydon’s ruling Labour group. Continue reading

Posted in "Hammersfield", Allders, Business, Centrale, Croydon Council, Gavin Barwell MP, Housing, Parking, Planning, Property, Robert Canning, Toni Letts, Whitgift Centre | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Town centre is a monument to municipal mismanagement

CROYDON COMMENTARY: The honeymoon is over for Tony Newman’s Labour council which was elected in May, says DAVID CALLAM

Labour has settled back into power in Croydon Town Hall and many of the same old problems are as intractable as ever.

What hope is there for Croydon's town centre?

What hope is there for Croydon’s town centre?

There’s a housing crisis across the borough. Labour, like its Tory predecessors, keeps repeating the mantra of “affordable homes” for “hard-working people”. No doubt, it is part of some “long-term economic plan”. There is no mention of social housing.

The town centre remains substantially empty: nobody wants the stock of ageing office blocks that remain unsuitable for modern commerce.

The council’s planning chief has a stratagem. Building homes and offices is easy, she says, and they could all come with large amounts of extra income for the council in the form of property sales tax (stamp duty) retained locally. If the council can persuade a similarly cash-strapped Treasury to play ball, this extra money, which central government presently pockets, would be available to offset the next round of local government budget cuts that are likely to follow next year’s General Election.

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Posted in "Hammersfield", Allders, Boris Johnson, Business, Centrale, Council Tax, Croydon Council, David Callam, Housing, Jo Negrini, London Assembly, Mayor of London, Planning, RIF, Tony Newman, URV, Whitgift Centre, Whitgift Foundation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

World War I Centenary Concert, Ruskin House, Nov 2

WWI concert poster

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Is it time to park ill-considered plans for the Arena Academy?

Councillor ANDREW PELLING suggests that the mounting case against building a secondary academy at the Croydon Arena will get a thorough hearing at tonight’s planning committee

My colleagues on the council’s planning committee will want to ask some pertinent questions this evening when they get a first look at plans to try to fit  a 915-pupil and 120-teacher secondary academy on a restricted primary school site near the South Norwood Country Park.

The Arena secondary school proposals present massive problems for local roads and transport

The Arena secondary school proposals present massive problems for local roads and transport

Although well-served by the Arena tram stop, any large development at this location has always been seen as a great challenge because of the ladders of heavily parked narrow streets that run to the site.

As a London Assembly Member, I had a previous involvement for the area when there were proposals for a leisure centre at the Arena. I felt then, and the council eventually concluded, that the local roads just could not cope with the volumes of traffic that a leisure centre would have created. Those plans were dropped.

A report from the council’s planners ahead of tonight’s meeting sets out in delightfully understated terms just how challenging a development of any significant size could be for traffic management in this part of South Norwood.

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Posted in Andrew Pelling, Athletics, Croydon College, Croydon FC, Croydon Harriers, Education, Environment, Oasis Academy, Parking, Planning, Ryelands Primary and Nursery, Schools, South Norwood, Sport, St Andrew's | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Trades Union candidate wants to put questions to Miliband

Ed Miliband visits Croydon on Thursday afternoon to speak to the borough’s Black and Minority Ethnic Forum.

Glen Hart: TUSC candidate with questions for Ed Miliband

Glen Hart: TUSC candidate with questions for Ed Miliband

“I wonder, during his flying visit, whether Mr Miliband and his ‘One Nation Labour’ party can re-assure attendees about some crucial issues affecting the lives of the people of Croydon,” Glen Hart said.

“Or will he waffle with weasel words?”

Hart was recently selected as the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, or TUSC, parliamentary candidate for Croydon North.

He has the formidable task of taking on one of Miliband’s newest Labour MPs, Steve Reed OBE, and his 12,000-vote majority at the General Election next May.

Hart is a 43-year-old father of three who stood as a TUSC candidate in the local elections last May. A member of the RMT transport union, Hart believes that cuts in public services and austerity policies are causing living standards to plummet, whilst boosting the material wealth of the richest.

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Posted in 2015 General Election, Croydon North, Steve Reed MP | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Labour cuts and pastes Tory plans for a very bleak midwinter

Tough luck. That’s the message from Croydon Council if we have a bad winter.

As commuters battle their way home through what’s left of Hurricane Gonzalo, winter seems to be with us already. Snow and ice cannot be too far away…

Commuters risk serious injury on ice outside East Croydon Station during the winter of 2009-2010. Might something similar be in store this winter?

Commuters were at risk of serious injury on the thick ice outside East Croydon Station during the winter of 2009-2010. Might something similar be in store this winter?

However, if you live on a suburban road in the south of the borough or you are a pensioner prone to be unsteady on your pins on an icy pavement, don’t expect much help from your friendly council.

Under Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980, as amended in 2003, councils should ensure as far as is reasonably practicable that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice. A Code of Practice urges local highway authorities to produce, and formally approve and adopt, policies and priorities for winter service.

On Monday night, the council’s cabinet meeting, without much of a discussion or debate, nodded through a winter maintenance operation plan in which, even before the clocks go back, they pretty much said that Croydon won’t be able to cope with icy conditions this winter.

In the winter “service” plan, the council states, “The policy recognises that given the scale of financial and other resources involved in delivering the Winter Service, it is not practically possible to provide the service on all parts of the highway network, neither is it possible to satisfy the requirements of all those wishing to use the highway.”

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Posted in Community associations, Commuting, Croydon Council, East Croydon, Environment, Health, Kathy Bee, Mayday Hospital, Purley Way, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dekker features in Norwood and Thornton Heath film festival

JANET SMITH, from the Save the David Lean Cinema Campaign, is looking forward to next week’s South Norwood and Thornton Heath Free Film Festival

The inaugural South Norwood and Thornton Heath Free Film Festival begins on Saturday.

This is part of the Free Film Festivals group which started in 2010 with the Peckham and Nunhead Free Film Festival and has expanded across south London, enabling community groups to stage their own festivals.

Thornton Heath's Desmond Dekker is one of the artists featured at the opening of the SNATH festival

Thornton Heath’s Desmond Dekker is one of the artists featured at the opening of the SNATH festival

The nattily titled SNATH group has assembled a great selection of movies and are showing them in special local spaces.

They start on Saturday October 25 at Stanley Halls with a night of music and film with a preview screening of the forthcoming UK Rap Battle documentary (Cert 15, 45min), followed by Bassweight (Dir Suridh Hassan, 2008, UK, Cert 15, 58min) a documentary looking at the early Dubstep scene charting the genre’s growth from obscure origins in south London, where Croydon has claims to be the spiritual home of Dub Step, to global recognition today.

Live performances from Hip Hop collective ODF and singer songwriter Little Liar will also be featured. Finally, to finish the night, excerpts from Desmond Dekker and the Israelites: Live in London (2002, UK, Cert U, 72min) celebrating the talent of the one-time Thornton Heath resident, from a concert recorded at Dingwalls. Continue reading

Posted in Activities, Art, Cinema, Community associations, Croydon Radio, David Lean Cinema Campaign, Music, South Norwood, Stanley People's Initiative, Thornton Heath | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tea and cake on offer for volunteers to Contact the Elderly

Contact the Elderly, a charity dedicated to tackling loneliness and isolation among older people, is urgently appealing for volunteers living in Croydon to spare a few hours each month to help with the running of local tea parties – and enjoy a cuppa and a cake themselves.

Ladies laughingThe charity aims to relieve the acute loneliness of isolated older people, aged 75 and older, by organising monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups within local communities – providing a regular and vital friendship link every month.

Each older guest is collected from their home by a volunteer driver, and is taken to a volunteer host’s home, where they join a small group for tea, chat and companionship. Continue reading

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Coe’s old rival Ovett backs calls to keep Crystal Palace on track

Steve Ovett, the Olympic gold medal-winner and half of one of the biggest rivalries ever seen in international sport, has entered the debate over the future of the Crystal Palace athletics stadium, backing local campaigners, and the athletes and coaches who use the venue by calling for “sympathetic understanding” of any redevelopment scheme.

Track rivals: Steve Ovett (left) and Sebastian Coe when they bestrode the tracks of the world, trading world records

Track rivals: Steve Ovett (left) and Sebastian Coe in 1980, when they bestrode the tracks of the world, trading world records

The middle distance rivalry of Sebastian Coe and Ovett captivated the world of sport  for more than a decade, as the two Britons traded world records and, most notably at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, split the 800 and 1,500 metres gold medals between themselves.

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Posted in 2012 Olympics, Athletics, Boris Johnson, Business, Community associations, Crystal Palace Community Association, Crystal Palace Park, Environment, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Planning, Property, Sport | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Local firm to unveil new job-matching programme at fair

A unique new internet job match-making programme developed by 3D Change, a Croydon regeneration business, makes its debut at the South London Jobs Fair being staged at the Fairfield Halls tomorrow.

Jobs fair logoLaunch for Jobs has been designed and built to match Housing Association tenants with job vacancies and support them with an extensive range of tools including a CV-builder, links to training opportunities, and book interviews. Continue reading

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Labour is getting all spaced out over Croydon’s old offices

Proposals to preserve Croydon’s over-supply of old and unwanted office space go before Croydon Council’s cabinet meeting tonight, and risk jeopardising the town’s tentative recovery, writes WALTER CRONXITE

Criticisms of Croydon Council’s commitment to preserving heritage are misplaced.

Offices to let in CroydonA report to tonight’s council cabinet meeting looks to preserve in aspic 1 million sq ft of unused office space in the town centre.

Despite central Croydon having the equivalent of 150 football pitches in unused office floors, our council is to adopt “an office retention/protection policy”.

Nowhere does the report to council leader Tony Newman and his nine most senior councillors state where the jobs are going to come from to fill these empty offices.

Last week, the council’s “award-winning” planning chief Jo Negrini spoke of how, “We don’t have a development pipeline of office.”

Yet eccentrically, with the town wallowing in a vast excess of empty offices, the council is now seeking to preserve many of the out-dated – and largely undesirable – 1960s and 1970s office blocks, with all the negative impact that this may have on the local economy. Continue reading

Posted in "Hammersfield", Boris Johnson, Business, Croydon Council, East Croydon, Environment, Gavin Barwell MP, Housing, Planning, Property, Ruskin Square, Tony Newman, Tramlink, Transport, Whitgift Centre | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Council sells Addington Palace but fails to say for how much

The Labour Council was elected in May on a platform that promised greater transparency and accountability from our Town Hall.

Addington Palace: Croydon Council has sold this handsome piece of real estate. The matter was never debated, and the council isn't saying what the sale price was

Addington Palace Golf Club: Croydon Council has sold this handsome piece of real estate. The matter was never debated, and the council isn’t saying what the sale price was

Those good intentions didn’t last long. A report to tonight’s council cabinet of 10 leading councillors shows what just one of them, Simon Hall, the cabinet member for finance, is entitled to do on his own on behalf of Croydon’s 340,000 residents.

In what is a very brief report, accompanied by a terse background document, it is announced that Hall has disposed of Addington Palace Golf Club. But the key detail, at what price, is withheld, although we are informed that this prestigious piece of real estate has been leased for 999 years. So Ronnie Corbett and his fellow club members can continue to play golf there at least until the year 3013. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Golf, Nathan Elvery, Property, Simon Hall, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Newman takes his group off to Brighton, paid via the rates

If you live in one of the Labour-held wards in Croydon, you probably didn’t have an opportunity to meet your publicly funded councillor at a residents’ surgery this weekend.

You won't spot Croydon's Labour leadership in any pictures from yesterday's public services march in central London. They were off on an "awayday"

You won’t spot Croydon’s Labour leadership in any pictures from yesterday’s public services march in central London. That is because they were off on an “awayday”

You definitely would not have seen council leader Tony Newman standing shoulder-to-shoulder with tens of thousands from the public services unions on the march for better pay and against NHS cuts, which was staged in central London yesterday.

Oh no: Croydon’s Labour group has different priorities.

Newman and most of his 40 councillors, who now have political control of Croydon Town Hall, all jumped on board the train to Brighton yesterday morning for an “awayday”. An “awayday” that lasted all the weekend. And ultimately, which was paid for by Croydon’s ratepayers.

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Posted in 2015 General Election, Addiscombe, Ashburton, Coulsdon, Croydon Central, Croydon North, Croydon South, Emily Benn, Fairfield, Gavin Barwell MP, Nathan Elvery, Purley, Sarah Jones, Steve Reed MP, Tony Newman, West Thornton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

£756,608 for two-bed flat? Speculators roll the dice again

What will three-quarters of a mil buy you in Croydon these days?

Not a lot, if the latest piece of property speculation, on Edridge Road in South Croydon, is anything to go by.

The Edridge

Yes: £756,608 for a two-bedroom flat. In central Croydon. “Is that even legal?” asked Inside Croydon’s loyal reader, who until very recently was a member of Generation Rent.

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Posted in "Hammersfield", Boris Johnson, Business, Environment, Fairfield, Housing, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Planning, South Croydon Community Association | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

South Norwood Country Park family fun day, Oct 25

Family Fun Day

South Norwood Country Park

Saturday, 25 October 2014, 12 noon – 4pm

den building 2  Water Purification  IMG_20140723_164124 IMG_20140517_130650

Have fun with nature!

Bring a picnic and enjoy an afternoon of activities

bushcraft, den building, water filters, natural navigation, bug hunts, nature walks, games, music making, art and crafts, snail racing!

Flower bashing group    Snail race 2  Nettle making

Discover, explore, observe, feel, connect

Date/time: Saturday 25 October 2014

Cost: £20 per family

Venue: South Norwood Country Park

Booking: Beth, 07906 832 952 /

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Posted in Activities, Community associations, Education, Environment, South Norwood, South Norwood Tourist Board, Wildlife | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment