Croydon in crisis: Minister’s approval required for cuts plan

The council’s £220,000 per year chief executive has ‘Whitehall looking over her shoulder’, reports KEN LEE

Jo Negrini: Hundreds of job cuts. But not her own

The grumblings of discontent around Fisher’s Folly among the hundreds of council staff who face redundancy have been partially relieved with the discovery that chief executive Jo Negrini’s cost-cutting “reorganisation” plan still needs to go to meet with the approval of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

“We are in special measures, and Whitehall is looking over Jo Negrini’s shoulder,” was how one disenchanted staffer put it this week.

“It just shows that we’re under a Section 114 notice in all but name.” Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Jacqueline Harris-Baker, Jo Negrini, Tony Newman, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rams’ boss Rayner ready with a few surprises for new season

Six months after the previous season was halted, unfinished, by the coronavirus lockdown, and football will soon be back at Mayfield Road

A seat in the boardroom and a new assistant means that the Croydon Athletic manager is working with more than the challenges presented by covid-19 ahead of the new season.
Exclusive interview by ANDREW SINCLAIR

From dug-out to boardroom: Croydon Athletic boss Kevin Rayner

Croydon Athletic are less than a month away from the start of the new non-league football season, six months after the previous season was brought to an abrupt halt by coronavirus, and manager Kevin Rayner is keen to get back to something like normal, working alongside a new assistant, Barry Boxall, and promising to surprise rivals in the Southern Counties East League’s newly expanded Premier Division.

Boxall arrived in Thornton Heath with an impressive CV and a UEFA A coaching badge, after having worked at Premier League academies at Arsenal and Southampton, as well as Fulham and, most recently, Charlton.

“Barry’s an experienced lad and he’s another voice to the team,” Rayner said when we spoke last week. Continue reading

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

Conservatives’ anti-London policies have put Bailey in the dock

Covid-19 forced the postponement of the London elections in May. Now, as our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, reports, with candidates dropping out and the dire performance of the Tory candidate, the capital is destined to endure the ‘forgotten election’

Low impact: Tory Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey

So low are the expectations among Tory Party colleagues of Shaun Bailey’s bid to become the next Mayor of London that even senior Conservative figures have taken to calling the delayed ballot in the capital “the Sadiq Khan election”.

The last time an opinion poll was held, asking Londoners who they might vote for, Bailey polled just 24 per cent to Labour Khan’s 49per cent. And that was in March this year, before lockdown and when there were two other candidates in the running. Continue reading

Posted in 2020 London elections, Boris Johnson, London Assembly, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Policing, Rory Stewart, Sadiq Khan, Shaun Bailey | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BHLive starts redundancy process for staff at Fairfield Halls

There have been unconfirmed reports that BHLive, the Bournemouth-based operators in charge of running the council-owned Fairfield Halls, have this week begun making their full-time employees in Croydon redundant.

The Fairfield Halls look likely to remain empty for some time to come, as the operators lay-off staff

According to BHLive insiders, the move could see the Fairfield Halls handed back to Croydon Council control, as the operators look to cut their losses on an arrangement which has proved to be very costly for them. It is widely understood that BHLive never signed their operating lease with Croydon Council.

The Fairfield Halls only reopened last September after more than three years’ closure for a £43million-plus refurbishment. In June, Inside Croydon reported how around 80 part-time casual workers – among them the venue’s ushers, cloakroom staff, bar workers – were told they were being let go because the management was being forced to go into what it called “hibernation” until 2021 because of coronavirus.

Now, it is understood that the venue’s 30 or so full-time staff are beginning the redundancy consultation. Continue reading

Posted in Art, Ashcroft Theatre, BH Live, Croydon Council, Fairfield Halls, Oliver Lewis | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Charity launches helpline for those affected by hate crime

National charity Stop Hate UK has introduced a 24-hour helpline dedicated to supporting residents affected by hate crime.

Victims of hate crime now have somewhere to call for help

Hate crimes are when people are targeted because of their disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion or any other form of their personal identity. Last year 24,000 Croydon residents signed Say No To Hate pledges as part of the council’s zero tolerance campaign.

The new service will give victims and witnesses a safe and confidential space to talk about their experiences with trained staff and volunteers, as well as advice on appropriate action and accessing further help. The helpline will support those affected by both hate crimes and hate incidents.

The Stop Hate helpline is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year on 0800 138 1625. The helpline is also available by text message on 07717 989 025 and by email to talk@stophateuk.org.

Continue reading

Posted in Crime, Croydon Council | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bank robbers and Beethoven: life on the buses has changed

Ken Towl thinks that the bank robber look might be a new fashion trend

Our roving reporter, KEN TOWL, after months of observing lockdown, has been roving a little more than usual this past week, checking how Croydon’s public transport is coping with the new normal

Friday, and I can’t help but think that I look like a bank robber or, more to the point, a tram robber, as I stand at Addiscombe tram stop in a hat, sunglasses and, the latest fashion trend, a mask.

I do not mean to be flippant. I wear a mask because my instinct is to obey the law and because I rely on public transport to get around. I wear a mask, too, because the best scientific advice is that it reduces my risk of passing on the virus if I have it. Also, I am convinced that without a single exception, the anti-mask lobby is made up of idiots.

All of the above being true, to wear a mask – or to not wear one – is to make a statement in the same way we make statements through our choices of brands, colours and styles of clothing.

The young guy facing me as I get on the tram is not wearing a mask. Continue reading

Posted in Ken Towl, TfL, Tramlink, Transport, West Croydon | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cassandra Centre Art in the Park, Rookery Gardens, Aug 21

Continue reading

Posted in Activities, Charity, Community associations, Norbury | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

No Cup dreams as Croydon knocked out before a ball is kicked

NON-LEAGUE NEWS: Any dreams that Croydon FC might have had of an FA Cup run taking them all the way to Wembley next May, however fanciful, have been cruelly snuffed out before a ball is even kicked in the new non-league season.

There will be no FA Cup glory for this Trams fan this coming season

It is the second cruel blow that the borough’s oldest non-league club has suffered in a week, on top of the realisation that they won’t be able to play any fixtures at their home ground at least until October, because of uncertainty from Croydon Council over when – if ever – Croydon Arena will reopen after the coronavirus lockdown.

The Trams’ fans got the bad news about the FA Cup on Monday, as they have effectively been squeezed out of the world’s oldest knock-out cup competition by rising demand. Continue reading

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

Staff accuse Negrini of ‘cowardice’ ahead of showdown meet

The council chief exec is presiding over mounting anger over her handling of the borough finances and management of hundreds of job cuts.
STEVEN DOWNES reports

Staff at Fisher’s Folly are becoming increasingly angry at their bosses’ leadership, or lack of it

Dozens of council staff, many of them facing the prospect of redundancy as part of swingeing cost-cutting, have been circulating protest letters in which their Town Hall bosses are accused of “cowardice” and “double standards”.

Angry staff say that they are fighting “an injustice and hypocrisy that is unfolding within our council”, and they say that the council leadership has “forsaken those who risked their lives” during the darkest days of the covid-19 pandemic.

Protest letters have been sent directly to council chief executive Jo Negrini and members of her pompously titled “Executive Leadership Team”.

The gathering unrest comes about a week before the latest showdown meeting between the £220,000 per year chief exec and the staff, and more than a month after it was announced that 15 per cent budget cuts are being made at Fisher’s Folly because of a cashflow crisis at the council which has been exacerbated by additional spending on coronavirus measures.

Hundreds of jobs are under threat in a programme of cuts that Negrini and her close colleagues started in January – months before the covid-19 lockdown. Croydon Council had accumulated £1.5billion debt by March this year, while its reserves had been reduced to just £10million. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Guy van Dichele, Hazel Simmonds, Jacqueline Harris-Baker, Jo Negrini, Robert Henderson, Shifa Mustafa | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Let’s give Crystal Palace’s streets a chance to breathe again

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Even ward councillors need to check what petitions they are signing, and what their party policies are.
AUSTEN COOPER sifts through some of the contradictory opposition to road closures in Upper Norwood

Church Road, yesterday, after the side roads had been blocked off to rat-runners. Hardly the chaos predicted

Let’s get one thing straight. The measures introduced in Upper Norwood on Monday are not road closures. The roads are open to residents and service providers. They are just “closed” to rat runners.

Comments such as those made last week by councillor Pat Ryan go against his own council’s policies, and ignore the evidence available in his Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood ward.

Councillor Ryan is a member of the council’s Traffic Management Advisory Committee. So you’d expect him to be aware of and supportive of his own council’s transport policies. Such as A Transport Vision for Croydon. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Croydon Cycling Campaign, Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, Cycling, Pat Ryan, Stephen Mann, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments