£83m: Council counts the cost of coronavirus emergency

The Town Hall borrowing millions of pounds more, only 1 in 5 council staff able to work in Fisher’s Folly, local businesses ‘on their knees’, and a ‘tsunami’ of mental health cases presenting at GP surgeries are just some of the drastic changes facing Croydon, as KEN LEE reports

There will be many changes to how the Town Hall operates after covid-19

Croydon will emerge into a changed world as the covid-19 lockdown eases.

The council’s finances were already known to be fragile and are now undergoing an urgent review of what cuts are needed.

The parlous extent of the situation was explained to a scrutiny committee of back-bench councillors this week, when they were told that the government is covering only £19.9million of the £82.6million that Croydon Council has either spent to deal with covid-19 or has lost from reduced income. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Jo Negrini, Libraries, Lisa Taylor, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

June 1 is too soon to go back to school, say teachers’ union

Education correspondent GENE BRODIE on the potentially deadly dilemma facing the borough’s headteachers, parents and youngest pupils

It would be wrong for pupils to race back to schools on June 1, say the teachers’ unions

There’s growing doubts – and much scientific evidence – that next Monday is too soon for young children to be expected to go back to school safe from the risk of catching covid-19.

Many schools in Croydon continued to be open through the coronavirus lockdown for the children of key workers, so that their parents could continue to carry out their duties. Now the government is urging schools to reopen on June 1 for some of the youngest pupils, in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. Continue reading

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Eight weeks on, businesses left still waiting for covid grants

Two months on and 18 mostly unanswered emails later and, as first highlighted by Inside Croydon, Coughlans the bakers are still waiting for thousands of pounds of government grants which Croydon Council promised back in March would be in their bank account within days.

The Whitgift Sports Club in South Croydon was promised its grant seven weeks ago

Coughlans is just one of a host of small and medium-sized businesses in the borough who have been left seriously out of pocket during the coronavirus lockdown. Government grants of £10,000 or £25,000 were supposed to help alleviate some of the worst cashflow problems suffered by SMEs who were forced to close down during the emergency.

Croydon Council was given more than £60million to distribute to the borough’s businesses, with a deadline of April 30 to hand over all of the cash.

Yet as the nation starts to get back to work in June, Croydon Council is still sitting on more than £15million-worth of grants intended for businesses. It is among the worst-performing councils in the country in terms of efficient and timely distribution of the money.

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The Ashburton chainsaw massacre as park’s trees are felled

One of the casualties of Croydon Council’s over-eager tree maintenance

Croydon Council, which has declared a climate emergency and claims it wants to be a green borough, is chopping down and pollarding trees in one of its parks.

In the middle of the bird-nesting season.

Members of the Friends of Ashburton Park have expressed their dismay and disquiet over the work being undertaken by contractors to fell several apparently healthy, mature trees for “health and safety reasons”. Continue reading

Posted in Addiscombe East, Ashburton, Climate Crisis Commission, Croydon Friends of the Earth, Croydon parks, Environment, Wildlife | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Shopping centres will put limit on visitors when they reopen

Centrale and Whitgift will reopen on June 15

Croydon town centre’s two major shopping malls will reopen for business after the coronavirus lockdown in two weeks’ time, it was confirmed today. But it will not be “business as usual” for a while, as pandemic measures will include controlling the number of visitors entering the shopping centres.

Centrale and the Whitgift Centre will reopen on June 15, “in line with the latest guidance from the government”, a statement issued this morning said.

During lockdown, the centres’ essential stores remained open, but now shoppers are encouraged to check the centres’ website for information on specific opening times before they visit. Some restaurants will be available for takeaway and delivery services, with further guidance expected from the government in the coming weeks on when these venues can reopen for dine-in customers. Continue reading

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Newman tells Labour to prepare for Mayor vote next May

KEN LEE, our Town Hall reporter, on how voters in Croydon seem likely to have another ballot paper when they go to the polls in 2021

Tony Newman: preparing to use party staff and funds to save his own arse

Tony Newman, the council leader, made it clear to a meeting of Labour Party Town Hall colleagues last night that he expects there to be a borough-wide referendum on May 6 next year to determine whether the people of Croydon want a democratically-elected Mayor.

Newman has been leader of the Labour group at Croydon Town Hall for 15 years, and therefore leader of the council since the party took back control of the council in 2014. He owes his position entirely to a behind-the-scenes annual vote of his fellow Labour councillors, the majority of whom receive generous, public-funded allowances awarded to them by … Newman.

At last night’s monthly Labour group meeting, staged remotely because of the coronavirus lockdown, Newman grudgingly conceded a first-phase defeat over moves for  Croydon having a directly elected mayor. Continue reading

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£1.4bn scheme loses supporter as Hammerson chief quits

Our closed-down-shops-and-malls correspondent, MT WALLETTE, on another potentially damaging turn of events for those who still hold out hope that the town centre might be ‘regenerated’ with a new shopping centre

Over and out: Hammerson’s David Atkins

While council leader Tony Newman was gilding the lily somewhat about a “very positive letter” he’d received from billionaire developers Westfield (a letter the contents of which Newman has failed to share publicly), it was being announced yesterday that David Atkins was to leave his job as chief exec of Hammerson.

Since “The Croydon Partnership” was established in 2012 to redevelop the town centre’s Whitgift and Centrale shopping centres, Hammerson, the owners of Centrale, have been less the sleeping partners, more the comatose ones.

But their grudging support for the partnership – the entire project was snatched away from them by the Whitgift Foundation and ex-MP Gavin Barwell, in order to bring in Westfield – has remained a crucial element in maintaining a vestige of credibility that it might ever proceed. When Atkins steps down, sometime between now and spring 2021, the £1.4billion Croydon scheme will have lost another influential supporter.

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