Newman supporters stage takeover of local Labour party

The ‘Starmerisation’ of the Labour Party last week saw supporters of Croydon’s disgraced former council leader rally to his cause.
By WALTER CRONXITE, political editor

Blind spot: right-wingers rallied to aid Tony Newman at his CLP last week

Friends and supporters of Tony Newman staged a takeover of his local Labour Party last week.

The carefully co-ordinated move is a clear signal that, despite all the public claims of reform and change at the council that their former leader helped to bankrupt, Newman’s fellow Blairites are determined to cling on to what power they can.

In the latest episode in the Starmarisation of the Labour Party, members of Momentum, the group set up in 2017 to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and who helped to win the parliamentary seat for Sarah Jones, were roundly defeated within the Croydon Central Constituency Labour Party.

Newman and his former cabinet member for finance, Simon Hall, were banned from taking part in the annual meeting of the CLP last Thursday, after they were suspended by the national Labour Party, pending an investigation into their conduct during the period that led to the council’s financial collapse.

But their influence was there for all to see throughout the evening’s procedures, including the important election of the CLP’s officials for the coming year. Continue reading

Posted in Carole Bonner, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, David Evans, David White, Fairfield, Hamida Ali, Jose Joseph, Paul Scott, Sarah Jones MP, Simon Hall, Tony Newman, Woodside | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Greens’ Berry wants to end TfL’s unfair fares for outer London

Sian Berry, the Green Party candidate for Mayor of London, wants to change the unfair fare zones in the capital which have seen bus, tram and Tube fares rise for Croydon commuters from Zones 5 and 6 by nearly £400 in five years – almost double the increase in fares for those living in Zone 1.

Sian Berry: appealling for outer Londoners’ votes

Berry says that today’s Transport for London fare rises are costing Londoners in outer boroughs like Croydon, Sutton and Bromley much more in travel costs.

The government forced TfL to have its first fare rise since 2016 as part of the funding deal agreed last October after covid-19 lockdowns had choked off the London transport system’s income stream. Fares have gone up today by an average of 2.6 per cent – reckoned to be worth £60million in added income for TfL over the course of the year.

A single journey on the Croydon trams and buses has gone up from £1.50 to £1.55. Continue reading

Posted in 2021 London elections, Commuting, Croydon Greens, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, Sian Berry, TfL, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Care home visit restrictions must be lifted say dementia groups

A staggering 4,800 people with dementia are estimated to have died from coronavirus in London since the coronavirus pandemic hit Britain in full force last year.

They are among more than 34,000 with the condition to have died in England and Wales from covid-19, making people with dementia the worst hit by coronavirus.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that deaths of care home residents, where at least 70 per cent of people have dementia, are nearly one-third higher than previously thought. Since January 2021, there have been 11,624 deaths, including care home residents who have died in hospitals or elsewhere.

A coalition of dementia organisations including Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, John’s Campaign and TIDE (together in dementia everyday), have come together to say never again will those affected face such hardship and loss.

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28% – Newman leaves his Council Tax legacy to Croydon

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Town Hall reporter KEN LEE reports on how the £104 per year increase in residents’ bills adds up to a whole lot more over the course of the council’s Labour administration

“This budget is an essential part of putting things right,” said Hamida Ali, the old-new leader of Croydon’s bankrupt council when revealing the inevitable maximum 4.99 per cent increase in Council Tax she proposes for 2021-2022.

The Council Tax rise is among the council budget proposals to go before a meeting of Ali’s old-new cabinet tomorrow night. It will be the first budget-setting meeting of its type that Tony Newman, Ali’s mentor and predecessor as council leader, has not been a leading player in since 2005.

But it will offer a summary of Newman’s abject failures as council leader for the past six years. Continue reading

Posted in Adult Social Care, Council Tax, Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Section 114 notice, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Council Tax-payers pay for politicians’ game of cat-and-mouse

CROYDON IN CRISIS: The bankrupt borough is kept waiting for its bail-out, as cabinet reports reveal that council overspending has continued to soar. By WALTER CRONXITE, political editor

Just when you thought things could not get any worse, Croydon Council’s old-new regime’s financial crisis is getting ever deeper.

The end of February was the latest date suggested by the bankrupt borough for it to receive news of its £150million bail-out from the government, which was requested to plug the £65million covid-shaped hole in this year’s budgets. At least, that was the view put forward by Lisa Taylor, the council’s finance director. And since then, she has quit.

Whichever way you cut it, with just days left before the Labour-run council is required by law to set its budget for 2021-2022, there’s been no news from the Conservative-run government. And there’s more than a suspicion that the Tories are dangling Croydon Labour by the tail, like a hungry cat might toy with a mouse.

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Posted in Adult Social Care, Children's Services, Chris Buss, Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Improvement Board, Katherine Kerswell, Patsy Cummings, Paul Scott, Section 114 notice, TfL, Tony McArdle, Tony Newman, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

We shouldn’t take mental health for granted in the ‘new normal’

Earlier this week, RICHARD PACITTI, right, who spent much of his career working for a charity specialising in dealing with the issues raised around mental health, outlined how people have used well-established techniques to help them cope with the past year’s covid lockdowns.
Here, he looks at what could become the ‘new normal’

Prior to covid, counsellors and therapists spent a lot of time with people who presented with high levels of anxiety and concerns about contamination and the fear of harm.

The therapists’ role was to help people put those fears and anxieties into perspective.

In other words, helping clients to weigh up rationally, risks and their (disproportionate) response to those risks. Some, for example Lord Sumption, have argued that the response to covid-19 is not in proportion to the risk. They might argue the risks to civil liberties and freedoms, let alone damage to the economy and the impact on the nation’s mental health have not been properly weighed in the balance. Continue reading

Posted in Health, Mind in Croydon | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Stanley Halls has taken arts and crafts online during pandemic

MARY LITCHFIELD reports on how a South Norwood arts venue has managed to extend its reach of workshops over the past year

The Connecting Communities project is bringing together young and old

At the Stanley Halls, the “new normal” has seen the South Norwood arts venue have to make significant adaptations to the way that it operates since the coronavirus pandemic.

Unable to have real, live audiences for its mix of music, comedy and theatre performances or crafts and other workshops in the past year, the re-branded Stanley Arts has taken many of its shows online, while their Croydon Young Creatives project is hosting a number of sessions for young people to make packages for local care homes. Continue reading

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Singapore-based firm buys up Whyteleafe’s football ground

Whyteleafe Football Club’s ground has been bought by a Singapore-based company in a half-million-pound deal which could see the Isthmian League side have to leave their Church Road home.

‘The pride of East Surrey’: Whyteleafe have given notice to quit Church Road

“This could end up finishing the club,” a sports website has reported Whyteleafe’s chairman as saying.

The Athletic has reported that the ground’s purchasers, Irama Sport, have “close links” to former Liverpool and Wales player Ian Rush.

Whyteleafe is one of three non-league football grounds around the country that has been bought by Irama, and that they have expressed interest to buy at least eight more. Continue reading

Posted in Property, Sport, Surrey, Tandridge District Council, Whyteleafe FC | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Croydon’s ‘crime capital’ to get share of Mayor’s £6m fund

London Road, which one council-appointed official described today as “Croydon’s crime capital”, is one of eight areas in the capital to receive a share of £6million-worth of new funding from the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit.

A typical Saturday on London Road, West Croydon… police tape off a stretch of the main road after the latest Croydon stabbing

The Violence Reduction Unit’s MyEnds programme has “been developed to put communities at the forefront of tackling violence by giving them the support they need to deliver locally designed interventions in areas of the capital that are affected by high and sustained levels of violence”, a statement from City Hall said.

As well as London Road, among the areas to receive funding are the Angell Town, Loughborough and Moorlands estates in Brixton, and Southwark’s North Peckham, Rockingham, Brandon and Aylesbury estates.

Each community network will receive up to £750,000 funding to April 2023, as well as ongoing support from London’s VRU.

“In some parts of London, violence is often concentrated in small areas, such as an estate, a cluster of streets, or a main road,” the statement said. “The MyEnds programme will give communities the backing they need to develop their own initiatives to bring about change in their neighbourhoods, and to provide positive opportunities for young people living in the area. Continue reading

Posted in Broad Green, Crime, CVA, Knife crime, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Policing, Sadiq Khan, Steve Phaure, West Croydon | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lip-service webinars fail to consider libraries’ community future

CROYDON COMMENTARY: As the council pays lip-service to a legally required consultation process, there’s a sense of inevitability about proposed closures for up to five of the borough’s public libraries. After sitting in on one of the council’s virtual Q&A sessions, LUCIA BRIAULT was unimpressed

Yeah, look: Oliver ‘Ollie’ Lewis now wants the borough to live within its means

So I’m tuned-in to one of the library webinars with our esteemed cabinet member for culture and regeneration, Oliver Lewis, the councillor who spent tens of thousands of pounds of public cash on art performances in the Town Hall that featured shit and butt plugs.

Ollie’s theme today is that we have to live within our means. 

Yeah, look: this time, Ollie managed to keep it clean. Despite starting every sentence with “Yeah, look”.

Overall, the council came across as very cognisant of the importance of libraries to the community and very keen to keep them open. As long as the community steps in to run them and pay for them. Simples.

Yeah, look: we have to live within our means.

We couldn’t see the other webinar participants, or even how many there were. They disabled the chat and added their own Q&A section. Very clandestine.
Continue reading

Posted in Brick by Brick, Broad Green, Coulsdon, Croydon Council, Education, Libraries, Old Coulsdon, Oliver Lewis, Sarah Hayward, Section 114 notice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tenants of 44-storey tower told they might move in in April

Croydon’s latest tallest building at 101 George Street dominates the town centre’s skyline

After taking just 35 weeks from the first module being installed to complete “the world’s tallest prefab”, it now seems likely that it will be at least 36 weeks since completion before the first tenants will move in.

Greystar, the US-based owners of the £180million dark twin towers that overshadow central Croydon have today written to “future residents” telling them that they might be able finally to move into their new homes in April – a full nine months after the first tenants had expected to collect the keys to their new homes.

All 546 sky-high apartments at 101 George Street, which the owners have branded “Ten Degrees”, have been empty since July, when building work was thought to have been completed and the first deposits from prospective tenants were accepted. Continue reading

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We can all deal with lockdown if we put our minds to it

CROYDON COMMENTARY: It has still been possible to lead a ‘mentally healthy lifestyle’, even under pandemic conditions. RICHARD PACITTI offers some helpful advice

Like so much else concerned with covid-19, we are “learning as we go” as far as the effects on people’s mental health is concerned.

So perhaps it’s worth considering what we know about good mental health, and how this might be applied to help those affected and lives changed by covid lockdowns and restrictions.

Good mental health is a lot more than the absence of mental health problems.

The World Health Organization’s definition is: “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community…

“Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life.”

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‘It was extremely scary. I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights’

The particular business model of board game cafe Ludoquist, on Croydon High Street, has faced special challenges during the pandemic

Croydon businesses tell MARY LITCHFIELD how they have struggled to survive through lockdown with their government-funded grant aid

Croydon firms looking to get back to business after lockdown could apply to the council for grants of up to £10,000 under the Additional Restrictions Grant announced last week. But  they had better hurry – the council says the grants are “first-come, first-served”.

Coco & Nut Coffee Co opened on Station Parade in Sanderstead at the start of 2020. When the first lockdown came just three months later, owner Marina Walker didn’t know whether the business would survive. Continue reading

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Non-league clubs left to count costs of season-that-never-was

Despite their best efforts in difficult circumstances, Croydon’s non-league football clubs have had a second season abandoned because of coronavirus

The borough’s grassroots football clubs have had a second season abandoned because of coronavirus, reports ANDREW SINCLAIR

It was seemingly inevitable, but last night the Football Association declared the non-league season below the National League null and void.

It is the second successive season for the likes of Croydon FC, Croydon Athletic and Whyteleafe that has been hit by coronavirus.

New covid-19 guidelines released this week state that sporting events will not have spectators attend before May, and the clubs voted last month by an overwhelming majority to end this season if they could not have some gate money coming in by April. Continue reading

Posted in AFC Croydon Athletic, Balham FC, Croydon FC, Football, Paul Smith, Sport, Whyteleafe FC | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Council rebrands low traffic streets scheme in latest U-turn

The disliked bus gate on Auckland Road will continue, but will be repositioned

As traffic U-turns goes, Croydon’s latest has the look of a screeching handbrake turn.

The Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Crystal Palace and South Norwood are no more. In their place is a not-too-subtly rebranded “healthy streets scheme”.

Gone are the wooden planters which caused the gammons of Bromley to go even more red in the face than usual, to be replaced with CCTV cameras to monitor the comings and goings on five residential streets. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, Muhammad Ali, South Norwood, Stephen Mann, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Calls for Beddington incinerator to be shut down over CO2

Viridor’s figures show that their south London plant is pumping out three times as much CO2 as other, similar facilities. By PAUL LUSHION, environment correspondent

Beddington incinerator: Viridor’s own figures are ‘outrageous’

The Viridor incinerator at Beddington Lane, operated on behalf of Croydon and three other south London boroughs, is releasing as much CO2 into the atmosphere as the emissions from 200,000 family cars in a year.

That’s the shock finding from a report from the Environment Agency – who have nonetheless just given operators Viridor permission to burn even more polluting rubbish every year.

The figures suggest that the Beddington incinerator is three times more polluting than similar plants operated by Viridor. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Environment, Kingston, London-wide issues, Merton, Peter Underwood, Refuse collection, Sutton Council, Waste incinerator | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

London resilience funds look for capital recovery by design

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wants the capital’s economic and social recovery from the covid-19 pandemic to be led by design and innovation.

Sadiq Khan: wants recovery to be innovation-led

His £1million Resilience Fund, announced last year and with grants of up to £50,000 each, will support innovative businesses in tech and other sectors to respond to some of the key recovery challenges facing the capital. It is now open to applications.

Mayor Khan’s partners with the fund, who will work with applicants to develop their ideas include Better Bankside and Kings College London, Groundwork London, Lambeth Council and the Living Wage Foundation.

Each partner – along with the Greater London Authority – is in charge of one of 10 challenges, which include diverting surplus food to community organisations helping those most in need, supporting high streets, integrating the latest covid-19 data and travel information for Londoners, and making workspaces more flexible, affordable and responsive to the changing needs of businesses as a result of the pandemic. Continue reading

Posted in Business, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mayor Khan asks ‘heroic’ Londoners to stick to the covid rules

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, today urged all Londoners to continue to follow the lockdown rules in order to ensure that all restrictions in the capital can be lifted by June 21, as outlined last night by the Prime Minister.

Surge testing teams were out in New Addington today, after the South African covid variant had been detected

“The recent reduction in case numbers in our city is thanks to the heroic efforts of Londoners staying at home and following the rules,” Mayor Khan said.

“But even with the roll-out of the vaccine, we’re not out of the woods yet. For now, the rules stay the same.

“We must continue to stay at home, stop the spread of this virus and help ease the pressure on our NHS. Our lives and livelihoods depend on it.”

The Mayor was speaking on the day that “surge testing” began in New Addington to deal with possible cases of the South African variant of covid-19, and when Croydon police released footage of arrests being made at a barbers’ shop in West Croydon, where a party involving dozens of people was held in the early hours of Saturday morning.

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Posted in Boris Johnson, Business, Fieldway, Health, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, New Addington, Sadiq Khan, Schools | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coulsdon ready to ‘fight tooth and nail’ for community centre

A charity is threatening legal action against the council if they try to sell-off their ‘village hall’ without providing replacement facilities. Our south of the borough correspondent, PEARL LEE, reports

Redeveloping the Coulsdon Community Centre was a key part of Brick by Brick’s proposals

As Croydon Council tries to crawl from the wreckage created when Brick by Brick crashed the Town Hall’s finances, they are quickly discovering that implementing their recovery plan will be far from straightforward, if the situation in Coulsdon is anything to go by.

A community leader has this week suggested that it is “unlikely those responsible have thought through properly” plans to flog off council-owned sites in Coulsdon.

Three council-owned sites around Coulsdon town centre – the Lion Green Road car park, the CALAT Centre on Malcolm Road and the community centre on Barrie Close – have been subject to five years of dither and uncertainty. Their redevelopment by Brick by Brick was supposed to be interdependent.

But the entanglement of the sites proved to be well beyond those in charge of the bungling loss-making developers. Continue reading

Posted in Brick by Brick, Community associations, Coulsdon, Coulsdon West, Croydon Council, Planning, Theatre, Theatre Workshop Coulsdon | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Relic of Newman regime to face Labour confidence vote

Pat Ryan, the veteran councillor for Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, tonight faces a confidence motion at a meeting of his Labour Party branch.

Pat Ryan: a relic of the Newman regime

Ryan is a relic of the Labour regime under Tony Newman which bankrupted the borough. He is going into tonight’s meeting apparently with the backing of “a significant number of members” of the Open Our Rat Runs group, who campaigned against the council’s introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in the area.

Last month, Ryan voted with the Conservatives at a meeting to determine the future of the LTNs. He was subsequently removed from the Traffic Management Advisory Committee, but he has avoided taking part in a meeting with the Labour chief whip at the Town Hall,  on grounds of ill health.

Ryan had previously shown support for acts of vandalism against the council CCTV cameras installed at a bus gate on Auckland Road. Continue reading

Posted in Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, Pat Ryan, Steve Reed MP, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Easy Accounting with software from Croydon-based firm MyT

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

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Listed Sandrock pub under threat again from ‘hideous’ scheme

The council’s planners believe that this is an acceptable redevelopment of a listed Victorian pub. And they are doing their best to assist the developers by stopping residents for commenting on the overdevelopment

A “hideous” development proposal for the site of a locally listed Victorian pub in Shirley which has already been rejected twice is being brought forward to the council’s planning committee again this week, with the planning department recommending that the scheme should be approved.

The council’s planners have also helped the developers by effectively blocking residents from commenting on the proposals to redevelop the Sandrock pub – by accepting an alteration to last year’s rejected scheme.

“The new plans have not resulted in a new application, so there is no new opportunity to submit comments to the council,” one concerned councillor said. Continue reading

Posted in Housing, Planning, Pubs, Shirley | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Gate Expectations: park swiftly reopened for Selhurst families

Less than 48 hours after Inside Croydon reported on the concern of Selhurst families over the closure of a local open space, today the gates of Boulogne Road Recreation Ground had been reopened, the padlocks removed.

Open and shut case: parents and children in Selhurst have access to their rec once more

A community group had expressed well-founded worries that the cash-strapped council might try to flog off their children’s playground to help pay-off its debts.

CASSA – Community Action for Selhurst and Surrounding Areas – described Croydon Council as “being very questionable right now” when they locked the park gates on Friday without any advance notice.

A council official from the “parks liaison team” had sent an email to the residents’ group which referred to “the many problems at Bolougne [sic] road”. The email claimed that children’s safety was at risk, and blamed a “lack of cooperation” for the enforced closure. Continue reading

Posted in Bolougne Road Recreation Ground, CASSA - Community Action for Selhurst and Surrounding Areas, Community associations, Croydon Council, Croydon parks, Selhurst | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

South African variant of covid-19 identified in New Addington

Additional covid-19 “surge testing” is being launched in New Addington and Fieldway from tomorrow, after Public Health England found evidence of a covid-19 case with the South African variant that cannot be linked back to international travel.

The need for the additional testing follows similar public health campaigns nearby in Pollards Hill and Streatham earlier this month.

From tomorrow, Mobile Testing Units will be located at car parks at Timebridge Centre, Fieldway and Queen Elizabeth Drive, New Addington. This additional testing programme is planned to last for two weeks and will be kept under review. Residents will be asked to take one test during this time.

All viruses, including the one that causes covid-19, constantly mutate into new versions or variants. These tiny genetic changes happen as the virus makes new copies of itself to spread and thrive.

Some variants can make the virus more infectious or threatening to the host – humans.

There are now many thousands of variants of the pandemic virus circulating. But experts are concerned about the South African variant, also known as 501.V2 or B.1.351.

There is no evidence that the South Africa variant causes more serious illness for the vast majority of people who become infected. As with the original version, the risk is highest for people who are elderly or have significant underlying health conditions. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Fieldway, Health, New Addington, Rachel Flowers | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Leader says she has no idea who approved BxB loans

Thursday’s cabinet meeting provided more questions than answers over unlawful subsidies to BxB. Tory councillor Robert Ward (bottom right) put the question to Hamida Ali (centre, bottom row), twice. He never got an answer

CROYDON IN CRISIS: The £224m in loans and unpaid interest owed to the council by Brick by Brick may have broken EU and British state aid and competition laws. But after nearly six months in her job, Hamida Ali claims she has no idea who authorised the payments.
By WALTER CRONXITE, political editor

Despite being a trusted member of Tony Newman’s cabinet for nearly five years, Hamida Ali, the new leader of Croydon Council, claims she has no idea who authorised making massive loans to the failed house-builder, Brick by Brick.

“If anyone wanted an example of the ‘corporate blindness’ the council was accused of having by its auditors, then this was it,” a Katharine Street source said after seeing Ali’s non-answer answer at Thursday’s cabinet meeting.

“The leader of the council can’t seriously expect people to believe she doesn’t know. Because if that is true, then she’s not fit to be in that position.”

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Posted in Brick by Brick, Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Report in the Public Interest, Robert Ward, Section 114 notice, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments