Lawyer’s plea: ‘Save tram victims’ families further heartache’

Lawyers representing families of victims of the 2016 Croydon tram crash have today written to the Attorney General asking for a new inquest.

Still seeking answers: after nearly five years,  tram crash victims’  families are still seeking justice

Last month, after an inquest held at Croydon Town Hall, the jury concluded that the seven people who died in the derailment at the Sandilands did so as a result of an accident.

But lawyers from Osbornes Law have written to Attorney General Michael Ellis, citing multiple irregularities with the conduct of the inquest.

They state that Sarah Ormond-Walshe, Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for South London, interpreted the law incorrectly, resulting in the inquest not hearing crucial evidence. Continue reading

Posted in Sandilands derailment, TfL, Tramlink, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer camps and finance courses all found in one place

Schools’ long summer break may have only just begun, but there will be many parents around the borough on the lookout for decent, and low-cost, activities to keep their children engaged over the holidays.

And Croydon Voluntary Action, the council-funded organisation, has pulled together a range of potential activities for youngsters, and adults. Continue reading

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Brick by Brick failed to replace Fairfield’s 60-year-old windows

CROYDON IN CRISIS: The ‘fiasco’ of Brick by Brick’s bungled £70m refurbishment of the arts venue gets worse, with the latest admission of failures from a cabinet member. EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES

£70m smash and grab: replacement windows are another aspect of the brief to refurbish the Fairfield Halls that was never done

Ollie “Shit Show” Lewis, the council cabinet member responsible for the Fairfield Halls, has admitted that in the course of the three-year and vastly over-budget refurbishment of the arts venue, Brick by Brick didn’t even manage to replace the 60-year-old centre’s windows.

The replacement of the building’s original windows – with modern double-glazing to help with the heating bills – was a key component of the planned works back in those cheerily optimistic days of 2015, when the council was told that the whole project would take just two years and cost a “mere” £30million.

Six years and another £40million (at least) later, and replacement windows are now admitted to be among the litany of upgrades and improvements that were promised would be delivered during the works, but never were. Continue reading

Posted in Alison Butler, Art, Ashcroft Theatre, Brick by Brick, Croydon Council, Fairfield Halls, Jo Negrini, Mayor of London, Oliver Lewis, Timothy Godfrey, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Council forced to pay (Sandwell) blogger’s £50,000 legal costs

By STEVEN DOWNES

“Dr” Alison Knight: mentioned in High Court case

“Dr” Alison Knight, the council’s £800 per day interim director of housing, who was recruited in a rush by CEO Katherine Kerswell to deal with the Regina Road council flats scandal, might want to have a quiet word in her colleagues’ shell-likes about any misconceived attempts to use the courts to try to gag the media.

Knight recently got a not very favourable mention in a landmark High Court ruling that found in favour of a “frequently puerile” blogger in the Midlands.

And now Knight’s former employers at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council have been forced to cough up at least £50,000 in legal costs to Jules Saunders, the retired solicitor who runs the Sandwell Skidder website. Continue reading

Posted in Alison Knight, Croydon Council | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Croydon wages are shrinking as borough’s economy grows

By SANJANA IDNANI

Croydon is feeling the impact of the gig economy, as research found that the borough had the second slowest wage growth in London over the last seven years despite experiencing strong economic growth. Some figures suggest that wages in Croydon shrank in the year before covid-19 hit.

Frying tonight: Croydon’s economic growth has not been matched by wages

In 2019, Croydon had the fastest growing economy in the UK, with an annual growth rate of 9.3 per cent. Yet Croydon workers have seen wage growth of just 25 per cent over the last seven years, significantly below the London average of 32per cent.

The study was conducted on behalf of money transfer company, Xendpay, and used Office of National Statistics data to compare mean monthly wages from July 2014 to May 2021 across the country. Continue reading

Posted in Business | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Farleigh’s volunteers and course praised after pro tournament

A sports venue in Selsdon has been praised for the way it has been maintained to the highest competition standard, after Farleigh Golf Club staged the PGA Assistants’ Championship over the weekend.

Champion: Michael Farrier-Twist after winning the PGA Assistants’ tournament at Farleigh

Michael Farrier-Twist, from Sussex, with a final round of 64, overturned a five-shot deficit to force a play-off against Kenny Ferrie.

Ferrie, the three-time European Tour winner, had led the tournament throughout after breaking the course record with a nine-under-par 63 on day one.

But Farrier-Twist hit a birdie on the second play-off hole to take the title and £5,000 prize. Continue reading

Posted in Golf, Selsdon & Ballards, Selsdon and Addington Village, Sport | Tagged | Leave a comment

#Binmageddon: 1,000 street bins have vanished from borough

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Council agreed to pay its rubbish contractor an extra £20.7m while it reduced the services they are expected to deliver, leaving the borough’s streets ever dirtier.
EXCLUSIVE by SANJANA IDNANI

Rare sighting: around 1,000 bins have vanished from Croydon’s streets in less than three years

Around 1,000 bins have been vanished from Croydon’s streets since 2018, according to official council figures provided through a Freedom of Information request.

Fewer bins on our streets mean that there’s fewer stops on the contractors’ rounds to empty them, and therefore much less work for the council’s rubbish contractors, Veolia.

Of course, it also leads to increasingly rubbish-strewn streets.

Yet at the same time that two-thirds of the borough’s streets bins have mysteriously “disappeared” and the level of service provided by Veolia reduced, Croydon Council has nonetheless increased the amount that it pays Veolia by £20.7million. Continue reading

Posted in Business, Croydon Council, Environment, Leila Ben-Hassel, Norbury, Refuse collection, Shafi Khan, Stuart Collins, Veolia | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Urgent security review under way after ‘assault’ at Town Hall

EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES

Targets: the old-style seating in the Town Hall chamber, with councillors seen from the public gallery

Senior council officials are conducting an urgent review of security measures at Croydon Town Hall after members of the planning committee were sprayed with fluid from the public gallery at their meeting on Thursday night.

No one was hurt in the incident, but veteran Labour councillors Clive Fraser and Joy Prince were both squirted from above with what is understood to have been nothing more dangerous than water.

The meeting was adjourned for several minutes following the incident, and the public gallery cleared. The webcast of the meeting, which is usually made available on the day following, has so far been withheld by the council. Continue reading

Posted in Clive Fraser, Croydon Council, Joy Prince, Planning | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Government threat to withdraw low-traffic scheme grants

Croydon Council wants to replace the planters on Albert Road with CCTV cameras

Croydon Council has started a consultation – another one – over its the filtered traffic “healthy neighbourhoods” schemes in on Holmesdale Road and Albert Road in South Norwood, in the knowledge that if they were to bow to pressure of a vocal minority they could be forced to return hundreds of thousands of pounds in funding to the government.

Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes – LTNs – were rolled out across the country over the last 18 months, backed with more than £250million in funding from the Tory government to encourage socially distanced walking and cycling, and in efforts to discourage car use for shorter journeys and to eliminate residential streets being used as rat runs. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Cycling, South Norwood, TfL, Transport, Woodside | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judge Bean orders retrial over notorious Grenfell video

Paul Bussetti, a regular at the South Norwood Conservative Club who became nationally notorious after filming a video of a cardboard model of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire, must face a re-trial, a High Court judge has ruled.

Paul Bussetti: faces a retrial

Bussetti also has four weeks in which to pay a £6,000 legal bill.

He was accused of posting a “grossly offensive” video on WhatsApp in November 2018, prompting widespread outrage. South Norwood neighbours who know Bussetti and his small group of mates were moved to stage an anti-racism march through South Norwood to express solidarity with the Grenfell victims.

Bussetti was found not guilty after a two-day trial at Westminster Magistrates Court in August 2019. Continue reading

Posted in South Norwood | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Three lions in a church, Easttys’ brass plaque’s still gleaming

MARVELS OF THE MINSTER: Tours and talks are resuming next month. Here, DAVID MORGAN sheds some light on church windows that celebrate the lives of one of Croydon’s most prominent Victorian families

Daniel’s den: the stained glass window in Croydon Minster carries much history

Three Lions might not have been heard so much in the past couple of weeks, now that the European football championship is over. But there remains a thriving pride inside Croydon Minster.

The three lions of the Minster are part of the stained glass window behind the large memorial tomb of Gilbert Sheldon.

The lions can be found on the right-hand panel of that window. They look like cartoon lions, with their human-like faces.

The King of Beasts are painted beside Daniel, the Old Testament character, who has been flung into their midst. Far from being ferocious animals ready to tear their prey limb from limb, they look contented, subdued and ready to protect Daniel rather than harm him. Continue reading

Posted in Church and religions, Croydon Minster, David Morgan, History | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

This latest sports bar hits it out of the park for a night out

Baseball provides the latest sporting theme for a bar at Boxpark. Going in to bat for Inside Croydon was SANJANA IDNANI, who weighs up whether the concept is three strikes and out, or a home run

First base: baseball is the latest sports-themed bar at Boxpark

Sluggers is an exhilarating baseball batting experience, laced with cocktails and Latin fusion street food.

This is not an American bar, like something out of Cheers. The bar’s décor is inspired by the other countries where baseball is most popular. It combines the cool minimalism of Japan with the vibrance of Cuba and Mexico. The upbeat Latin music, accompanied by a bongo drum player on the night we visited, will transport you to the hot streets of Havana and get you energised for your turn at the plate.

My friend and I ditched the old-fashioned approach of having any sort of warm-up – after 18 months of no nights out, stretching and jogging didn’t seem right before a rare midweek evening’s socialising – so we opted to prepare ourselves by sampling the cocktail menu. Continue reading

Posted in Boxpark, Business, Pubs, Restaurants | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Murdoch the shire horse pulls his weight to help butterflies

A bit of a drag: the Operation Centaur shire horse was put to work clearing dumped vehicles from the nature reserve yesterday

Shire horse photographs by ANDREW SMITH

A nose for work: Murdoch is helping to keep the tradition of working horses alive

Nature conservators were making hay while the sun shined yesterday, with Murdoch the shire horse returning for his now annual visit to Hutchinson’s Bank nature reserve just outside New Addington.

As well as providing a relatively low-impact means of cutting the thick, tall grasses which have grown so strongly during the hot and wet summer, Murdoch and the team of expert handlers from Operation Centaur, a working horse project based at Richmond Park, also managed to clear an abandoned motorbike and a discarded golf cart from the world-renowned butterfly sanctuary. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon parks, Environment, Hutchinson's Bank, Nature Notes, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stormzy backs £2m fund to help black university students

Stormzy, the grime artist from South Norwood, has pledged to support a further 30 black students studying at Cambridge University in scholarships amounting to almost £2million.

Scholar and a gentleman: Stormzy’s foundation will help 30 black teens go to university over the next three years

“I hope this scholarship continues to serve as a small reminder to young black students that the opportunity to study at one of the best universities in the world is theirs for the taking,” Stormzy said yesterday as the latest funding was announced.

The Stormzy Scholarship programme was launched in 2018, and so far has supported six black students. The first two Stormzy Scholars graduated this summer. An increase in the number of black teenagers applying, and being accepted, for places at Cambridge has been called “the Stormzy Effect”. Continue reading

Posted in Education, South Norwood | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Football’s coming home for Croydon’s non-league sides

Pitch perfect: council-owned Croydon Arena looks ready for the new football season

Local non-league sides kick-off the new season on Saturday with a home-coming and hopes that, at the very least, they will be able to complete their fixtures this time round, as ANDREW SINCLAIR reports

Having been left to count the cost of two abandoned seasons, Croydon’s non-league clubs are looking to channel that frustration for the new campaign, in different leagues, against different opponents and, at last, back in their own home grounds and in front of their fans once more.

For Croydon FC, they’re hoping that it’ll be third time lucky for their “project” – getting out of Southern Counties East Football League Division One – and boss Liam Giles believes they’ve found “the right formula” to make those promotion dreams a reality. Continue reading

Posted in AFC Croydon Athletic, Balham FC, Croydon FC, Football, Sport, Whyteleafe FC | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Regina Road fire alarms failed to sound, council confirms

EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES

Emergency call: five fire engines attended a fire at Regina Road on Sunday

A senior Croydon Council official has admitted that no alarms sounded and sprinklers failed to work when a fire broke out in one of the residential tower blocks on Regina Road, South Norwood, on Sunday.

More than 50 residents needed to be evacuated, and the incident, which began just before 3am, was attended by five LFB fire engines. No one was hurt.

In a letter stuffed through residents’ letterboxes on Tuesday, the council says that the lack of any fire alarm was deliberate, because it is following the “stay put” fire policy – the same policy which was used at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, when 72 people were killed. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Housing, London Fire Brigade, Regina Road Residents' Support Group, South Norwood | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Millions of questions for BHLive over Fairfield grant aid

CROYDON IN CRISIS: It’s like nothing has ever changed at the borough’s prestigious arts centre, where tribute acts still dominate its sparse programme, while the venue operators are staying schtum about how they’re spending public money.
By our arts correspondent, BELLA BARTOCK

Questions continue to asked around when and how the Fairfield Halls will be fully reopened following the lifting of covid-19 precautions. Answers are also being sought from the venue operators, BHLive, over the millions of pounds they have received in grants and payments in the last two years, from both Croydon Council and the Arts Council.

Radio Ga-Ga: this is all the Fairfield Halls has to offer for a month

The council-owned arts venue is already at the centre of a financial scandal, with a long-overdue “value for money review” by auditors Grant Thornton expected to deliver some uncomfortable findings to the Town Hall leadership, after what has been described as a “£70million fiasco” over the Fairfield’s refurbishment.

Since they closed their doors in June 2016 for what was supposed to be a two-year refurb, the Halls have been open for barely six months.

Ticket sales following a gala reopening in September 2019 were dire. The artistic director quit. And according to BHLive, the Fairfield has been “in hibernation” since March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

BHLive has so far refused to respond to questions from Inside Croydon and the theatre trade paper, The Stage, about how they intend to use the millions of pounds they have received in covid aid grants from the Arts Council. Continue reading

Posted in Art, Ashcroft Theatre, BH Live, Borough of Culture 2023, Brick by Brick, Business, Croydon Council, Fairfield Halls, London Mozart Players, Neil Chandler, The Wreck | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Four more public libraries set to reopen after covid lockdown

At least a month later than most local authorities managed, Croydon is to begin “a phased reopening for all library buildings”, after the easing of covid-19 precautions.

Back in business: Sanderstead Library

Four of the borough’s 13 public libraries – at Broad Green, Sanderstead, Shirley and Bradmore Green in Old Coulsdon – remain closed, while seven others have been open for just three days a week, or less.

All of Croydon’s open libraries are operating much-reduced services and hours.

According to an announcement from the council’s propaganda bunker issued last night (and way too late to make the deadlines for any local newspapers for at least a week), from next Monday, “Bradmore Green, Sanderstead and Shirley libraries will be opening their doors to allow browsing, computer access and study spaces two days a week.” Broad Green Library remains unavailable for its intended purpose while it continues to operate a lateral flow test centre, which the council says will be until the end of August. Continue reading

Posted in Activities, Broad Green, Croydon Council, Education, Libraries, Sanderstead, Shirley, Upper Norwood Library Trust | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flemming forced to drop plan to close two children’s centres

The council has been forced to back down from cost-cutting proposals, including closures, that will have impacted thousands of the borough’s children and the families.

Reprieved, for now: the children’s centre at Purley Oaks Primary School

The council wanted to reduce its spend on its Best Start Children’s Centres by £1million per year and close two of its 11 centres, at Shirley and Purley Oaks, to help balance the Town Hall books after the calamitous mismanagement under discredited council leader Tony Newman and CEO Jo “Negreedy” Negrini.

But a hostile reaction to a public consultation has forced the current leadership at the cash-strapped council to abandon its proposals.

“Croydon Council will continue to provide much-valued help and support for families at all children’s centre locations – including Shirley and Purley Oaks,” read a statement issued by the propaganda department in Fisher’s Folly last night. Continue reading

Posted in Alisa Flemming, Children's Services, Croydon Council, Education, Health, Purley Oaks, Schools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bankrupt borough could overspend by millions again this year

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Cash-strapped council is facing another busted budget, according to latest estimates. By STEVEN DOWNES

Bankrupt borough: estimates suggest the council’s budgets are still not under control

Less than six months since Croydon was handed the biggest bail-out in history, following the authority declaring itself effectively bankrupt, and the council is already heading for another budget deficit, possibly by as much as nearly £4million.

According to latest estimates, the council is forecast to overspend its budget by the end of the 2021-2022 financial year by £590,000, even after taking into account use of the covid-19 grant from the government. Continue reading

Posted in Chris Buss, Croydon Council, Improvement Board, Katherine Kerswell, Section 114 notice, Tony McArdle | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Council chiefs accused by MP of being on side of developers

As concerns mount about the local authority’s failure to exercise any development controls or planning enforcement over rapacious private developers operating in the borough, a local MP has accused Croydon Council of not caring about residents and being “content to ignore them and let developers just carry on regardless”.

Chris Philp MP: ‘sizeable developments… causing great distress’

Chris Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South, and someone with a business history in the development sector, wrote to council chief executive Katherine Kerswell nearly a week ago to outline the complaints he has been receiving from constituents.

Philp wrote, “I am very concerned about the volume of correspondence currently being received from constituents who are raising serious issues around planning enforcement issues. I know that you will have also received a significant number yourself. Continue reading

Posted in Chris Philp MP, Croydon Council, Croydon South, Heather Cheesbrough, Katherine Kerswell, Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Council planners’ 3-month delay over Sanderstead complaint

Long-term damage: the unlawful demolition of 89 Hyde Road could lead to the unironically named Quantum Homes to build a block of nine flats on this junction

When senior officials in Croydon’s planning department refuse to acknowledge their own serious errors, can residents rely on the council’s complaints system? Not if the latest development fiasco in Riddlesdown is anything to go by, says STEVE WHITESIDE

Deliberate delays by council officials in the processing of a formal complaint from a couple in their 90s has helped allow the unlawful demolition of a family home in Sanderstead and the start of development of a block of flats, in breach of planning permission.

Since early 2018 I have tried, along with the Riddlesdown Residents’ Association and other neighbours, to help Mr and Mrs Newlands, the elderly couple who have lived at 96 Hyde Rd for more than 50 years, to defend themselves from the unsustainable intensification that threatens to swallow up their family home. Continue reading

Posted in Business, Community associations, Croydon Council, Environment, Heather Cheesbrough, Lynne Hale, Nicola Townsend, Planning, Sanderstead | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Ofsted discover ‘worrying signs’ of cuts on children’s services

Inspectors from Ofsted have warned that some of the borough’s most vulnerable children may be put at greater risk as a consequence of cuts and redundancies caused by the council’s financial collapse.

Ofsted inspectors last month carried out their latest “focused visit” to Croydon’s children’s services department and said that there are “worrying signs” that the council crisis is already having an impact on the department.

Croydon’s children’s services’ whose responsibilities include children in care, fostering and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Following an Ofsted inspection in 2017, Croydon’s children’s services was declared “inadequate”. Such was the real risk then to the well-being of children, teens and young people that officials from outside Croydon were brought in to remedy the dire situation.

The department was given a revised Ofsted rating of “Good” in March 2020, but only after the council had spent an additional £30million in efforts to recruit more and better-experienced staff. Continue reading

Posted in Alisa Flemming, Children's Services, Croydon Council, Debbie Jones | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Volunteer self-funds kids’ summer club after council delays

EXCLUSIVE by SANJANA IDNANI

Undaunted: despite the council’s delays in providing funding for a children’s activities club in West Croydon, Dexter Simms made sure there was food on the table

A community volunteer in West Croydon has been left thousands of pounds out of pocket because of delays by the council in handing over a promised government grant towards the costs of running a children’s summer activities club.

Dexter Simms is the founder of the Mula Cake Kids Club, which operates out of the Cherry Orchard Centre on St James’s Road.

Simms applied to the council under the holiday activities and food programme for his club to be one of the providers of decent meals and fun activities, from Monday to Friday through the next five weeks. The council accepted the application.

But with the school summer holidays having just begun, come last Sunday night, expecting to provide breakfast and lunch for local youngsters, aged from eight to 13, starting from the following morning, and Simms had not received a penny of the £17,457 agreed by the council. Continue reading

Posted in Alisa Flemming, Charity, Children's Services, Community associations, Croydon Council, Schools | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New format that offers a way in to cricket for our youngsters

Roy of the Invincibles: Surrey and England’s star batsman clubbed 20 runs off 12 balls in the first match of The Hundred at The Oval

For DAVID MORGAN, his first Hundred cricket match struck a chord

I went to a cricket match at The Oval on Thursday. It wasn’t the first time I had been to a game there, but it was the first time I had seen the new competition, The Hundred: Oval Invincibles against the Manchester Originals.

I arrived early so I could see the warm-ups. I didn’t spot anything new there.

Since there have been a few number of injuries among cricketers just before matches when they have used a small game of football in the warm-up, such activity has been banned by the coaches. Still, the Originals slipped a football into their new kitbag and tested both the grassy outfield and their hamstrings with a little pass and move drill. Continue reading

Posted in Cricket, David Morgan, Jason Roy, Sport, Surrey CCC | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment