Don’t sacrifice Coulsdon to pay off Brick by Brick’s debt

CROYDON COMMENTARY: The unravelling of inter-connected land deals following the collapse of Brick by Brick’s failed house-building business, as exclusively revealed by Inside Croydon, could have long-term damaging consequences for Coulsdon, says local resident LEWIS WHITE (right)

I was unaware of this appalling proposed sale by the council of the CALAT Centre at Coulsdon to the NHS for a dialysis centre.

The action, if it goes ahead, is a disgraceful negation of a long-held commitment. Coulsdon needs a new community centre.

It is also appallingly wasteful in terms of finding the best use for a focal, town centre site.
In pure financial terms alone, the £1million valuation seems to be far too low for such a development site in such a prime location.

Brick by Brick failed to deliver the housing, community centre and health facilities promised for Coulsdon

The plan was to redevelop the existing community centre at Barrie Close as housing and provide the community with a new building on part of the site of the disused CALAT centre – what had long ago been the old Smitham Primary school.

The plan for the CALAT centre building and site made good sense in terms of heritage: it is a very attractive, multi-gabled building with a distinctive cupola with weather vane. A local landmark. It was all re-roofed around 18 years ago, and is a solid, brick-built building, in basically good repair.

However, the site is surrounded by ugly tarmac playground areas, and has been languishing, waiting for renewal and a fitting new use. This is exactly what the Brick by Brick proposal was. Continue reading

Posted in Brick by Brick, Coulsdon, Coulsdon West, Croydon Council | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

One-third of Tory councillors to quit at 2022 local elections

WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, on wholesale changes among the borough’s opposition party

One-third of Croydon’s Conservative councillors will be standing down at the next local elections, in May 2022.

Tim Pollard: former Tory leader one of nine councillors standing down

The collapse of the borough’s finances under Labour, who have controlled Croydon Town Hall since 2014, had already ensured that there will be a much-changed council chamber in nine months’ time, a process which began last May with five local by-elections following the resignation of the discredited council leader, Tony Newman, and a couple of his erstwhile cabinet members, plus the exits of two veteran Tory front-benchers, “Silent” Steve O’Connell and Vidhi Mohan.

Now, Croydon Tories have confirmed that another nine of the 29 councillors who were elected in 2018 will not be seeking re-election. Continue reading

Posted in 2022 council elections, Coulsdon, Croydon Council, Gareth Streeter, Helen Pollard, Jan Buttinger, Kenley, Luke Clancy, Old Coulsdon, Oni Oviri, Purley, Sanderstead, Selsdon Vale and Forestdale, Simon Hoar, Steve Hollands, Steve O'Connell, Tim Pollard, Vidhi Mohan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Closure of 68 London ambulance stations ‘will put lives at risk’

Cost-cutting plans to close every local ambulance station in the capital will put lives at risk, according to one leading London MP.

Hubbed: the LAS wants to close 68 ambulance stations across London

The London Ambulance Service’s plan has been reported today by The Guardian.

They report, “The London Ambulance Service has started a controversial programme to close all 68 ambulance stations and replace them with 18 new ‘ambulance deployment centres’ or ‘hubs’.

“A patient group has criticised the plan as ‘dangerous’ and MPs are worried that having fewer ambulance stations around the capital could mean patients wait longer to get to hospital.” Continue reading

Posted in Health, London Ambulance Service | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Employment lawyers offer advice on disability discrimination

An East Croydon-based firm of employment law specialists is launching a campaign to stamp out disability discrimination in the workplace.

Martin Searle Solicitors have found that the pandemic and numerous lockdowns have resulted in a notable increase in people seeking advice about disability discrimination at work. This increase has been widespread among workers struggling with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

Their Disability Matters campaign is being launched to coincide with World Mental Health Day on October 10. Continue reading

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‘Beyond farce’ as Labour purges veteran Croydon official

STEVEN DOWNES reports on the latest,  and predictable, move by the Labour leadership in what is being called ‘a witch hunt’ against the left

David White, one of the longest-serving Labour officials in Croydon, has been “administratively suspended” by the party on the eve of the annual conference in Brighton.

The suspension specifically bars White from attending any Labour Party meetings, including the policy-setting conference.

White is thought to be one of hundreds of delegates from the left of the party who have been subject to an eve-of-conference purge, thought to have been engineered by David Evans, the party’s controversial General Secretary whose appointment was due to be subject to a confirmation ballot at Brighton. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Central, David Evans, David White | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

MP Reed admits live on air: ‘I’m not anti mayoral system’

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Ten minutes of radio featuring a live spat between two very well-paid politicians over why we do, or don’t, need another politician provided a splendid example of the self-serving futility of the borough’s political duopoly. By WALTER CRONXITE, Political Editor

BBC London staged a debate live on air yesterday which was the radio equivalent of two bald blokes fighting over a comb.

Vanessa Feltz: BBC London’s star presenter failed to get much from her discussion between Reed and Philp

In the red corner was Steve Reed OBE, the MP for Croydon North/Lambeth South. In the blue corner was Croydon South MP Chris Philp.

The discussion was over whether Croydon should stick with the “strong leader” model of Town Hall patronage or have a directly elected mayor, an alternative system that we, here at Inside Croydon Towers, have long ago characterised as #ABitLessShit.

Croydon is staging a borough-wide referendum on October 7 to determine whether to make the switch from one flawed system to another.

The only real shock to emerge from the broadcast, compered by BBC Radio London’s star presenter Vanessa Feltz, was that Blairite Reed made a declaration at the beginning, apparently for those from outside the fetid bubble of Croydon’s politics, to try to extricate himself from a hole of his own making: his opposition to the Blairite policy of directly elected mayors. Continue reading

Posted in 2021 Mayor Referendum, Chris Philp MP, Croydon Council, Croydon North, Croydon South, Steve Reed MP, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oysters to get a weekly cap for rail and Tube from Monday

Millions of Londoners will never need to buy a weekly Travelcard again, after Transport for London announced this morning that it will be introducing weekly capping on Oysters for adult pay as you go Tube and rail passengers from Monday, September 27.

The move could help to save some regular passengers more than £20 per week.

Capped: TfL is introducing weekly limits on Oysters from Monday

Oyster pay-as-you-go users already benefit from a daily cap, which means they can make multiple journeys but pay no more than the equivalent daily travelcard. Weekly capping is already available for those using pay as you go with contactless, and Oyster customers who only travel on bus and tram services.

In a statement this morning, TfL said, “The upgrade, which follows significant technical development and successful discussions with the train operating companies, means that those who regularly use the iconic smartcard to travel around London will no longer need to plan how to pay for travel throughout the week, as the system will give them the best possible fares for all their journeys made between Monday and Sunday.” Continue reading

Posted in Commuting, East Croydon, Norwood Junction, TfL, Tramlink, Transport, West Croydon | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Hong Kong finance crisis could hit £500m Nestlé Tower scheme

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Work on an ‘iconic’ town centre tower block seems to have been halted, as reports from China suggest the company behind the project may be struggling. By STEVEN DOWNES

Towering problem: there has been little  sign of work on the £500m project for more than a year

There are growing fears that another multi-million-pound town centre development in Croydon may have hit the buffers.

A series of reports in the Chinese press this month suggest that R&F Properties is struggling to meet the Beijing government’s new rules to reduce developers’ debt. R&F owns the Nestlé Tower, St George’s Walk beneath it and the neighbouring Grade II-listed Segas House in the town centre, all just across Katharine Street from Croydon Town Hall and over the road from the Fairfield Halls.

R&F, based in Guangzhou, near Hong Kong, acquired the Croydon properties in a £60million deal in March 2017.

Work on R&F’s £500million Queen’s Square project got underway in 2019, with the beginning of the repurposing of the 22-storey Nestlé Tower office block into 288 private flats. Continue reading

Posted in Business, Croydon Council, Growth Zone, Housing, Nestle Tower, Property, Segas House, St George's Walk | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

TfL confirms changes to 13 routes across Croydon and Sutton

Transport for London is going ahead with three new bus routes to serve Croydon and Sutton, with significant changes lined up for 13 existing south London routes.

All change: TfL’s re-routeing will affect 13 existing routes, see others axed and bring in three new routes

With no prospect of the long-requested tram extension to the Royal Marsden Hospital at Belmont, TfL is seeking to deliver public transport for the “Cancer Hub” with new and re-routed bus services around Belmont, Sutton, Purley, Addiscombe and Waddon.

TfL consulted on the changes last year, as they seek to rationalise and reduce some services due to the reduced fares income they have suffered since the first covid lockdown. Continue reading

Posted in Commuting, Sutton Link, TfL, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Champions! Schoolboy footballers lift the cup after final thriller

Goal!: the Croydon under-15s team became the first from the district to win an English Schools’ cup final in Sunday’s final played at Worcester

Croydon Schools’ under-15s have been crowned national champions, after winning a tense English Schools Inter District Cup final against Chester-le-Street 3-1 on Sunday.

The game, played at Worcester’s rugby stadium, Sixways, was evenly matched from the start, with Chester-le-Street’s strong and skilful centre forward posing a constant threat to the Croydon defence. Continue reading

Posted in Football, Schools, Sport | Tagged | 1 Comment

Croydon’s jazz fans are feeling at home in The Front Room

Jazz has returned to central Croydon, with regular lunchtime concerts finding a new venue, as JOHN CHAMBERS explains

Having a blast: saxophonist Vasilis Xenopoulos at the Front Room

For more than 20 years, a hard core of around 30 jazz fans used to meet at the Clocktower Café every Thursday lunchtime.

But then lockdown closed us down in March last year.

In its wisdom, the council decided that when things began to open up in May and June this year, live music in the café was just too complicated to allow – problems with a music licence was one of the reasons given.

But in the end, nobody in charge wanted to take the decision to allow us to bring jazz back to the café.

So a small group of us looked around for a new venue, and made a wonderful discovery – The Front Room, a live music venue in St George’s Walk that none of us even knew existed. Continue reading

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13 MPs criticise move of maternity services from St Helier

Deserves better: maternity outcomes for black women are ‘unacceptable’ according to the government

MPs from across south London have written to Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, with a letter critical of plans for St Helier Hospital’s maternity services to be downgraded and moved to a new site in Belmont.

Sarah Jones, MP for Croydon Central, is among the signatories.

The letter follows Black Maternal Health Awareness Week – a week-long campaign highlighting what the government itself has described as “unacceptable” disparities in maternal outcomes for black women.

Epsom and St Helier Hospitals are set to be downgraded with all acute services moving to Belmont. St Helier would lose its A&E, maternity services, children’s beds, critical care and 62 per cent of beds. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Central, Health, London-wide issues, Sarah Jones MP, Siobhain McDonagh MP, St Helier Hospital | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Rotary and Soroptimists club together to reduce waste

Grace Onions, from the Croydon Soroptimists, and Patricia Painting, from the Rotary Club of Croydon, have been collecting used blister packs for recycling by the specialist company TerraCycle.

Blistering success: Onions (left) and Painting have found a way to deal with their packaging

Blister packets are made from rigid plastic sides with an aluminium foil. They are among the more difficult pieces of daily waste to recycle. But Onions and Painting have found an operator who can do just that.

First, the blister packets are shredded down into to flakes or powder.

The aluminium is then separated out from the plastic, sent for smelting, then typically used as the base material for products such as washers, rings, nut and bolts.

The plastics go through a melting process where they become a usable raw material for new products. Depending on the material composition of the plastic, these recycled blister packets can live again as new products, ranging from waste bins, UPVC window frames, outdoor furniture or plastic lumber. Continue reading

Posted in Community associations, Croydon Soroptimists, Environment | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Tram crash coroner recommendations welcomed by families

Nearly five years since the fatal tram crash at Sandilands, and the coroner who presided over the inquest this summer has delivered a set of recommendations for safety measures, some of which were made in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.

Sandilands, Nov 2016: recommendations that were made in the crash aftermath have still not been acted upon

Senior Coroner Sarah Ormonde-Walsh, who presided over the inquest at Croydon Town Hall into the seven people who died when a tram overturned on November 9, 2016, has recommended four actions in her prevention of future deaths reports: automatic braking systems to prevent speeding; strengthened doors on existing and new trams; operators should have to sign up for an anonymised whistleblowing system; and there should be a government-funded, national tram watchdog.

The families of victims killed in the crash today welcomed the coroner’s recommendations. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Central, Sandilands derailment, Sarah Jones MP, TfL, Tramlink, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Town Hall leadership hatched plan to break election budget

EXCLUSIVE: Labour councillors who crashed the borough’s finances decided to ignore the Election Commission’s strict rules on spending for their anti-mayor referendum campaign. By STEVEN DOWNES

Hamida Ali: laid out plans to break election spending limits

Hamida Ali, the leader of the Labour group at the council, wanted to break the strict laws on election spending ahead of October 7’s borough-wide referendum over a directly elected mayor,  Inside Croydon can reveal.

Perhaps even more concerning, Ali appeared to have the unquestioning support of the local party’s leadership over this plan to break the law.

“Apologetic” Ali took charge of the council 12 months ago, after her mentor and ward colleague, Tony Newman, had crashed the borough’s finances.

Inspired by “strong leader” Newman’s performance at wrecking the Labour Party’s reputation in the borough so thoroughly, Ali (council allowances: £47,664 per year) and her mates have decided to oppose the proposal to switch to a directly elected mayor, largely on the grounds that they claim it would cost too much.

The Labour group has enthusiastic support opposing a directly elected mayor from Croydon North MP Steve Reed OBE, someone who it has emerged, when a director of a Blairite group, somehow overlooked £800,000-worth of donations from wealthy backers for five years.

The Electoral Commission announced yesterday that it has fined Reed’s “Labour Together” £14,250 for its failure to make timely declarations of donations. Continue reading

Posted in 2021 Mayor Referendum, Croydon North, Hamida Ali, Steve Reed MP, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Take a 5k hike, or bike, and raise funds for better mental health

The Maudsley mental health charity is encouraging south Londoners to get a little fitter next month and give the state of their own mental health a gentle boost, while raising money to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

Born to run: a 5km run, walk or cycle on Oct 10 can help raise funds for mental health

They are organising “5k in a Day” – a five-kilometre sponsored walk, run or wheel on or around World Mental Health Day, which this year is on Sunday October 10.

This year’s theme is “Mental health in an unequal world”. The fundraiser is designed to be community-based with people taking part in an activity on their own, as a family or joining up with friends, neighbours and colleagues to walk and talk.

Walking and other exercise is beneficial not just to physical, but mental health as well. Continue reading

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Downsview Players’ Game Show, Upper Norwood, Oct 8-9

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Big Local Broad Green Friends’ Food Club, £3 per week

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Posted in Asian Resource Centre of Croydon, Broad Green, Broad Green Residents' Association, Charity, Community associations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Reed group fined for slow declaration of £800,000 donations

Pro-Starmer ‘party within a party’ which has Croydon North MP on its board and links to ‘campaign guru’ David Evans somehow overlooked huge payments from a businessman and a Mayfair hedge fund manager

An influential Labour Party group which has Croydon North MP Steve Reed OBE as a director has been hit with a £14,250 fine by the Electoral Commission after failing to declare more than £800,000 in donations within the required period.

Laboured together: the Electoral Commission ruling will embarrass Keir Starmer and his chum, Steve Reed

The unironically-titled Labour Together has strong links to party leader, Sir Keir Starmer. So the Commission’s findings will make uncomfortable reading for the former Director of Public Prosecutions, after Labour Together was said to have committed “multiple breaches of electoral law” over a five-year period.

Labour Together has been notified of the fine just days before what seems likely to be an even more controversial than usual party annual conference, where Starmer is expected to try to push through a move away from One-Member-One-Vote over future leadership selections.

Also likely to be on the agenda is David Evans, Starmer’s controversial choice as General Secretary, who could have his appointment challenged by the trades unions.

Continue reading

Posted in Business, Croydon North, David Evans, Steve Reed MP | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Kenley developer seeking an up-lift, but not in accessibility

EXCLUSIVE: Our Town Hall correspondent, KEN LEE,  has discovered a not-for-profit developer whose only aim, it appears from documents submitted to the planning department, is to benefit society – thought to be the first such case in Croydon since records began

Steps this way: developers have had a quick change of mind about the provision of a lift in their Kenley flats

Croydon Council’s planning department received a planning application in May 2020 from a company called Trinity Square Developments, seeking permission to demolish a bungalow at the bottom of Kenley Lane and replace it with a four-storey block of flats. Nine flats, as usual, to get around the rules about new developments of 10 or more units having to include affordable housing.

The original planning application offered no lift in the block for future residents, making flats on three of its floors inaccessible to potential residents who might be older, infirm or disabled.

Then, in January this year, Trinity Square had a change of mind and they amended their planning application and its accompanying drawings to include a lift, making all four storeys – including their three-bedroom flat on the top floor – fully accessible to future residents. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Housing, Kenley, Nicola Townsend, Planning | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Free First Aid course, Harlow Hall, Norbury, Sep 23

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Posted in Charity, Community associations, Education, Health | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Groups set off for autumn walks to stride on from covid

Lloyd Park: where ramblers will be setting off for a new series of autumn evening walks

The nights might be closing in as we head into autumn, but that doesn’t seem to have deterred the organisers of some group walks being held around the borough, with one set even encouraging participants to bring a head torch to ramble around in the dark.

The Evening Walks Club is a new group meeting every Tuesday from 7pm outside the Lounge Café in Lloyd Park.

Starting from next Tuesday, September 28, the organisers make no bones about the timing: “Meet people for a group walk around the park in the dark. Headtorch recommended. Bring comfortable footwear and dress for the weather.”

Children and dogs are welcome, too. “If you’re looking to get out on the dark autumn and winter evenings, come and join us,” they say. And the activity is free. For more details, click here. Continue reading

Posted in Activities, Community associations, Croydon BME Forum, Croydon parks, Lloyd Park, Walks, Wildlife | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cityscape painting workshop, Broad Green, from Sep 23

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Labour break Coulsdon promises because ‘We need the money’

Our south of the borough correspondent, PEARL LEE, reports on how the council’s  planning department has broken the land speed record to push through the £1m sale of a site that was earmarked for a community centre

Broken promise: this site was supposed to deliver a community centre, but the council has rushed through planning permission to secure a £1m sale

The consequences of the multi-million failure of Brick by Brick seem certain to be suffered by residents of the borough for years to come, and a meeting tonight of the council’s scrutiny committee is likely to underline just that.

Five years ago, when Alison Butler, then the council’s deputy leader, and Jo “Negreedy” Negrini, the chief exec, were promising to turn Croydon into a land of milk and honey, the people of Coulsdon were asked to give up their town centre car park, a disused adult education centre and their much-loved community centre, all on the solemn promise that in return they’d get nearly 200 new homes, a shiny new NHS medical building and a purpose-built community centre actually in the centre of the community.

It is increasingly looking as if the only thing Coulsdon is going to get is… shafted. Continue reading

Posted in Alison Butler, Brick by Brick, CALAT, Callton Young, Colm Lacey, Community associations, Coulsdon, Coulsdon East, Croydon Council, Croydon South, East Coulsdon Residents' Association, Hamida Ali, Health, Jo Negrini, Parking, Paul Scott, Planning, Property, Purley Hospital, St Helier Hospital, Stuart King | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Artists’ Open Studios, Oaks Park, Carshalton, Sep 25-26

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