How my bus ride into Croydon unmasked a growing problem

CROYDON COMMENTARY: It is against the law to take a ride on public transport without wearing a face mask. But as reader LEWIS WHITE discovered last week, despite 30 TfL bus drivers having died from coronavirus, those rules are hardly enforced

It may be the law, but there is little being done to enforce it

I went in to South Croydon by bus the other day.

One mask-less man went upstairs, with his scooter. Over the course of four or so stops, where I was on the lower deck, one maskless woman who I would guess was about 65 to 70 years old, plus two young women got on. All mask-less.

I asked the first, politely, if she had forgotten her mask. “I am exempt,” she snapped back. I wondered if her exemption also meant that she is exempt from passing on the virus. Continue reading

Posted in Commuting, Health, TfL, Tramlink, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Overflowing sorting hall sees Viridor facing health complaints

Pictures taken inside the sorting hall at the Viridor incinerator on Beddington Lane show clinical waste mixed with household rubbish

Shocking photographs taken from inside the sorting hall at the Viridor-operated incinerator at Beddington Lane show overflowing piles of rubbish with clinical waste sacks mixed with general household refuse and strewn across the floor.

The only thing that appears to be recycled successfully at the controversial waste incinerator are the excuses for the plant still not being fully operational. Viridor was contractually obligated to have the plant running properly before the end of 2018 for its clients, the South London Waste Partnership, of which Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston are partner boroughs.

According to Viridor, the “the facility continued in its final stages of the testing and reliabilty phase”, an official line that has been trotted out regularly over the past 12 months. Prior to that, the incinerator was said to be in a “process optimisation” phase. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Environment, Merton, Refuse collection, Sutton Council, Waste incinerator | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What mugs! Photo group keep Macmillan in the picture

Lenses of Croydon, the borough’s largest photography group, have extended their creative talents to raise money for charity once again, this year donating images for use on mugs which are being sold ahead of the staging of a Macmillan Cancer Support (virtual) coffee morning this Sunday.

The group’s founder is photographer Lee Townsend, who began working for Macmillan in March, and has described Lenses of Croydon project as being “a creative response to a national issue of concern”.

“We all know that the charity sector has experienced a significant shortfall in its income this year because of covid-19,” Townsend said.

“We wanted to do our small part as a group to assist in some way. Continue reading

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Tories in call to sack Butler and Scott, and scrap Brick by Brick

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Croydon Labour’s new leader Hamida Ali is facing calls for a complete overhaul of her Town Hall cabinet, from the opposition but also from within her own party, as KEN LEE reports

Jason Perry: open letter is scathing about Butler and Scott

Croydon Tories are demanding the sacking of Alison Butler and Paul Scott from the council cabinet of newly elected Labour leader Hamida Ali.

And ahead of tonight’s scheduled council cabinet meeting, they are also calling for the “travesty” of house-builders Brick by Brick to be shut down and sold off.

Jason Perry, the leader of the Conservatives at Croydon Town Hall, issued the demands in an open letter, published over the weekend as Ali was coming to terms with the task of taking over from Tony Newman at the cash-strapped council.

Perry is scathing in his criticism of married couple Butler and Scott, part of Newman’s inner circle for the past decade. He accuses Scott of having an “aggressive, hectoring approach”, and of treating the public attending planning meeetings with contempt. Continue reading

Posted in Alison Butler, Brick by Brick, Business, Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Housing, Jason Perry, Paul Scott, Tony Newman, Woodside | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reader offer: 10% off tickets for musical Eunice at Stanley Halls

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Sutton Tories unanimous as they elect Drummond as leader

Our Sutton correspondent, BERTIE WORCESTER-PARK, on the new leader of that council’s opposition group

Tom Drummond is the new leader of the Conservative opposition on Sutton Council.

Tom Drummond: rapid promotion

Drummond succeeds Tim Crowley, who stood down on Friday after nearly seven years in the post.

Inside Sutton understands that Councillor Drummond was the only nomination for the role and that he was elected unanimously by his 17 councillor colleagues.

The selection of Drummond could be interpreted as a sign of Sutton Tories’ growing confidence of further electoral success in the Liberal Democrat-dominated borough: he was elected for the first time in 2018 for Worcester Park, a three-councillor ward which also has two LibDem councillors. Their council seats are sure to be targeted in 2022.

In his short time on the council, Drummond has won the gratitude and respect of hundreds of parents for the part he has played in supporting their campaign for better services for children with SEND – special educational needs and disabilities. Continue reading

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Public Health director appeals for help over new covid rules

As Croydon’s coronavirus alert status was raised to “High” yesterday, Rachel Flowers, the council’s director of public health, wrote to the borough’s 70 councillors appealing for their help in getting the correct information to residents.

In common with public health officials at local authorities across England, though, Flowers’ work to try to reduce and contain the spread in the “second spike” of the pandemic has not been helped by bungling central government and its misfiring smartphone app and poorly performing test and trace system.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised six months ago that they would deliver a “world-beating” test and trace system and app. Yet by September, when school pupils began to return to their classrooms after lockdown, the track and trace system was still not operating and the government’s initial app was junked after it failed in development tests. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Croydon NHS Trust, Health, Matthew Kershaw, Rachel Flowers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Covid restrictions force RAC to cancel Veteran Car Run

It is the first time that the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run has been cancelled since 1947

The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run has been cancelled due to coronavirus.

It is the first time that the rally has had to be cancelled since World War II.

The rally, which features around 300 museum-piece vehicles, most of them 120 years old or more, usually runs from Hyde Park through south London to Norbury, Thornton Heath, South Croydon and on to Purley and Coulsdon on its way to the south coast. Continue reading

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Spa Wood volunteers and council work both win ‘Tree Oscars’

Might this oak in Spa Wood be the oldest oak in what remains of the Great North Wood?

Croydon has won two “Tree Oscars” in awards announced this week by the Forestry Commission and the Mayor of London.

The London Tree and Woodland Awards are in their 12th year of celebrating the work of individuals, communities and professionals to protect, improve and expand tree and woodland cover in the capital, what they call “London’s urban forest”. Continue reading

Posted in Community associations, Croydon Council, Croydon parks, Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, Environment, Friends of Spa Wood, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sutton Cancer Hub and south of Croydon to get new bus routes

With no prospect of the long-requested tram extension to the Royal Marsden Hospital, TfL is consulting on new and re-routed bus services around Belmont, Sutton, Purley, Addiscombe and Waddon, as our transport correspondent, JEREMY CLACKSON, reports

Croydon and Sutton are to get three new bus routes, and the public is being consulted on changes to 13 other services, under proposals unveiled by Transport for London.

TfL’s far-ranging consultation on 16 bus routes runs until the end of November

TfL’s proposals affect routes S1, S3, S4, 80, 164, 166, 312, 405, 407, 413, 434, 455 and 470.

New route S2 will run between Belmont, High Down (handy for prison visits) and Downview, St Helier Station via Belmont Station and the western part of the S4.

A single decker 439 new route is to operate between Whyteleafe and Waddon Marsh. It will run through Kenley and Northwood Avenue as the 434 does now.

The new 443 double decker will run from Caterham to West Croydon Bus Station, replacing the 407 between Caterham and South Croydon but would serve Old Town instead of the town centre. Continue reading

Posted in Commuting, East Croydon, Purley, Sutton Council, TfL, Tramlink, Transport, West Croydon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New leader Ali is set to confront ‘shocking’ council finances

CROYDON IN CRISIS: After winning a Labour group selection battle by 22 votes to 19 over Alisa Flemming, Hamida Ali tells her supporters ‘the hardest graft ever is about to start’. By WALTER CRONXITE, political editor

Hamida Ali: told colleagues that what is about to emerge about the council’s finances is ‘shocking’

Hamida Ali has no illusions about the task facing her as the leader of cash-strapped Croydon Council, telling Labour colleagues last night that some of the details yet to emerge about the parlous state of the borough’s finances are “shocking”.

Ali was selected as the leader of the Labour group on Croydon Council after a shambolic virtual meeting last night, winning by the votes of 22 councillors against the 19 who voted for her sole rival, Alisa Flemming. As Labour is the majority group at the Town Hall, Ali therefore becomes the council leader.

Ali takes over the cash-strapped council as it is axing services and making around 400 job losses, as it grapples with a £70million covid-related overspend this year. Tony Newman, who had been leader of the Labour group for 15 years, resigned earlier this week.

Ali is the first councillor of BAME heritage – black, Asian or minority ethnic – to become leader of Croydon Council. She is the third woman to do so. Continue reading

Posted in 2022 council elections, Addiscombe West, Alisa Flemming, Alison Butler, Callton Young, Chris Clark, Chris Philp MP, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, Croydon North, Croydon South, Hamida Ali, Ian Parker, Knife crime, Mayor of London, Paul Scott, Sadiq Khan, Sarah Jones MP, Sean Fitzsimons, Steve Reed MP, Tony Newman, Woodside | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Crowley stands down as Tory opposition leader in Sutton

EXCLUSIVE: Our Sutton reporter CARL SHILTON on the latest leadership change in a south London borough

All change!

Tim Crowley: time to go

Tim Crowley today became the fourth leader of a Town Hall political group in south London in the past few weeks to announce that they are standing down.

Crowley, a councillor for Carshalton South and Clockhouse Ward, has been the leader of the opposition Conservative group on Sutton Council since 2014.

He follows Stephen Alambritis, who retired as leader of Labour-run Merton Council last month, and Croydon counterparts Tim Pollard (Tory) and Tony Newman (Labour) who have both stood down – albeit for very different reasons – in the past few weeks.

A successor to Crowley is expected to be named by Sutton Conservatives tomorrow, with Neil Garratt thought to be among the favourites for the job. Garratt is a councillor in Belmont ward and is the Tory candidate for the Conservative-held Croydon and Sutton seat at the London Assembly elections to be held next May. The timing of Crowley’s resignation may force Garratt to make some difficult choices over the balance of borough responsibilities and election campaigning. Continue reading

Posted in London Assembly, London-wide issues, Neil Garratt, Ruth Dombey, Sutton Council, Tim Crowley | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Last council-appointed director resigns from Brick by Brick

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Council-owned house-builder releases some financial figures that show they have missed their latest annual revenue targets by £113m and have delivered 377 fewer homes than they predicted.

Is Croydon Council preparing to walk away from Brick by Brick?

There is not a single representative of Croydon Council remaining on the board of Brick by Brick, Inside Croydon has discovered.

Julia Pitt, the director of the council’s Gateway Services who was only appointed as a director of the loss-making house-builder on May 1 this year, resigned as a director on October 6, according to Companies House records.

It is an extraordinary position for the corporate governance of a company, which is wholly owned by the council, not to have any representative of the council on its board.

Croydon’s Labour-run council has borrowed at least £260million to lend on to Brick by Brick since the company was formed in 2015.

Brick by Brick’s latest accounts (for 2019-2020) have yet to be published, and the company is subject to a formal review of its activities by PwC, though it is clear from its own business plans and public statements that the company is more than £100million short of its own revenue targets for the last financial year, and it is hundreds of homes short of its target for completions.

Continue reading

Posted in Brick by Brick, Business, Colm Lacey, Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Jo Negrini, Martyn Evans, Shifa Mustafa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sandilands tram crash inquest is postponed due to covid

The long-delayed inquest into the deaths of seven people in the Croydon tram crash in November 2016 has been delayed again – this time because of the change in distancing rules to prevent the spread of covid-19.

The inquest was due to begin at Croydon Town Hall on Monday. The lawyer representing some of the families said they were “very disappointed” at the postponement, but that they “accept the difficult decision”.

The coroner, Sarah Ormond-Walshe, responded to this news by issuing an adjournment direction yesterday, saying that it was impossible for her, or Croydon Council, to be able to stage the inquest in a safely socially distanced manner and still accommodate all the jury, lawyers, witnesses and families. Continue reading

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‘None of the above’: 47% reject puppet leadership candidates

WALTER CRONXITE on an expression of public opinion that should be a cause of grave concern for whoever becomes Croydon Labour’s new Town Hall leader tonight

Alisa Flemming: bidding to become council leader

Nearly half of Inside Croydon readers in an online poll published yesterday preferred “None of the above” ahead of the uninspiring choice of candidates to become the next leader of the Labour group at the Town Hall.

Only two candidates – Alisa Flemming and Hamida Ali – will be standing when the Labour group holds its virtual meeting tonight, after Stuart Collins withdrew his candidacy yesterday. No one else came forward as a candidate before today’s noon deadline.

Whoever wins tonight’s internal Labour group vote will become the leader of the council.

Flemming and Ali are seeking the backing of the majority of the borough’s 41 Labour councillors. The winner will be the borough’s first council leader from a BAME – black, Asian or minority ethnic – background. Continue reading

Posted in Alisa Flemming, Alison Butler, Andrew Pelling, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Jerry Fitzpatrick, Paul Scott, Tony Newman, Woodside | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life expectancy in Fieldway 14 years less than in Sanderstead

Some of the statistics in the Croydon CCG annual report make for horrifying reading

The divergence in the quality of life among some Croydon residents is so great that a woman from Fieldway in New Addington can expect to live 14 years less than her counterpart with a home in the same borough and barely three miles away in Sanderstead.

That is according to NHS Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group, in their annual report on the state of health and health services in the borough. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon CCG, Fieldway, Health, Healthwatch Croydon | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Croydon-based bus driver is 30th to die from coronavirus

A bus driver based in Croydon, Kofi Opoku, is among the latest victims of covid-19.

Kofi Opoku drove a Metrobus out of the Beddington Lane depot

Opoku worked out of Metrobus’s depot on Beddington Lane. He died last week, his trades union has confirmed.

Now Unite is demanding assurances that all screens between drivers and passengers are installed properly and a review of cleaning regimes.

The call comes as London’s status is about to be raised to Tier 2 at midnight on Friday because of a rapid increase in the number of reported covid-19 positive cases. Continue reading

Posted in Health, London-wide issues, TfL, Transport | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Hospitals and boroughs prepare for London’s second lockdown

Croydon NHS chiefs offer assurance that they are more ready to handle a ‘second wave’ of the pandemic

Croydon is to be placed on Tier 2 covid-19 lockdown measures from Saturday, with a ban on households mixing indoors.

The new measures apply across London. Under Tier 2, households are barred from mixing in pubs and restaurants.

The announcement came this morning after a government briefing with London MPs, and is a response to rapidly increasing infection rates in the capital.

Figures for last week showed the infection rate in Croydon had nearly quadrupled when compared to the start of October.

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Posted in Croydon Council, Croydon NHS Trust, Health, Healthwatch Croydon, Matthew Kershaw, Mayday Hospital | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Company’s musical theatre workshop, Oct 26-30

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Croydon’s planners save historic Addiscombe house – twice

Locals have succeeded in their objections so far, but it cannot be long before the property developers return with a new scheme

Addiscombe residents are preparing themselves for a renewed battle to save an historic, landmark house in their neighbourhood after the council’s planning department first refused planning permission to the building’s owners to convert the house into flats, and today refused permission for it to be demolished. Continue reading

Posted in Addiscombe and Shirley Park RA, Addiscombe East, Addiscombe West, Community associations, Croydon Council, Planning, Sean Fitzsimons | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Newman ally Ali tipped as favourite to be council’s new leader

WALTER CRONXITE on the lacklustre contest among Labour councillors to become the Town Hall’s new chief

Favourite: Hamida Ali doesn’t face much in the way of opposition to be elected Labour leader

Croydon Council should have a new leader as soon as tomorrow night.

But the appointment looks as if it could present the borough with a member of the council cabinet team that has brought the council to its knees financially, with the 41 councillors in the Town Hall Labour group only offered “continuity candidates”.

Hamida Ali, a member of Tony Newman’s cabinet for most of her six years on the council, is the favourite to win the ballot to be held among Labour councillors tomorrow night, from a very uninspiring field.

By the time of publication, Ali’s confirmed rivals were Stuart Collins, a loyal deputy leader to Newman since 2014, and Alisa Flemming, who in her time as cabinet member for children, schools and families presided over the borough’s children’s services being rated as “Inadequate” by Ofsted. Continue reading

Posted in Alisa Flemming, Alison Butler, Children's Services, Crime, Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Paul Scott, Stuart Collins, Stuart King, Tony Newman, Woodside | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Half-term musical theatre workshops, CYTO, Oct 26-30

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Environment group urges drivers to turn off idling engines

Croydon Friends of the Earth in South Norwood to raise awareness of their campaign to encourage drivers to switch off their car engines while in traffic. Photo: Picture Partnership

With poor air quality, parts of Croydon are among the worst places in London for cases of asthma, By PAUL LUSHION, environment correspondent

In one of those idle moments, when you are sitting in your car in traffic with the engine running, have you considered the damage you might be doing to the environment, or children’s lungs?

Croydon Friends of the Earth have launched a Clean Air for Kids campaign, aimed at raising awareness of the impact of exhaust emissions on young lungs.

“Air pollution affects us all and is one of the UK’s biggest killers causing up to 36,000 early deaths  every year,” said Leonie Osborne, the chair of Croydon FoE. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Friends of the Earth, Environment | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

5 Croydon arts groups win covid grants, but not Fairfield Halls

The government and Arts Council England yesterday handed out £257million to 1,385 arts and cultural venues and companies around the country. Five of the recipients are based in Croydon.

Because of refurbishment and covid-19, the Fairfield Halls has only been open for six months over the last four years

But not a penny of the Cultural Recovery Fund has been provided for the closed Fairfield Halls or any of the dance, music or theatre groups based there.

The council-owned Fairfield Halls only reopened in September 2019 after a three-year refurbishment programme, but was forced to close again at the end of March due to covid-19.

BHLive, who manage the venues for Croydon Council, say the Halls are in “hibernation” until 2021, though an exact date for covid-safe reopening has not been announced. Continue reading

Posted in Art, Ashcroft Theatre, BH Live, Fairfield Halls, Stanley Halls, Studio Upstairs, Theatre | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Barber signs Chelsea winger Canoville for cancer campaign

Chelsea’s first black player, Paul Canoville, has joined a campaign based in a barbershop in South Norwood to raise cancer awareness among customers.

Fighter and survivor: Paul Canoville is backing the awareness campaign

Yianni Hapeshis, the owner of Barber Jack & Son on Portland Road, hopes that by fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support, it will encourage clients to seek Macmillan’s help should they need it.

“Like many people, I have had loved ones who’ve been impacted by this horrible disease,” Hapeshis said. “The least I can do is help in any way that I can and help get awareness out there. I feel like it’s important in life that we celebrate positivity and help spread love and support.”

Canoville made 79 appearances for Chelsea between 1981 and 1986, and the winger’s goals helped the side win the then Second Division in 1984. Now 58, in 1996, Canoville was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer which attacks the immune system. He underwent a course of chemotherapy for the illness and made a full recovery.

He has been treated for cancer twice more since. Continue reading

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