Greens’ Berry slams council: ‘This shouldn’t have happened’

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Tenants of flooded and mouldy council flats fell through the gaps of a broken system, according to the Green Party’s candidate for London Mayor, Sian Berry. EXCLUSIVE by CLARA MURRAY

Sian Berry: wants to hand more control into the hands of London’s renters

Sian Berry has slammed the conditions in council flats at Regina Road, saying that the scandal shows why London’s housing system needs sweeping changes.

The Green Party’s candidate for London Mayor visited the South Norwood council blocks last week, after an ITV News report revealed appalling living conditions with mould, damp and flooding, after tenants’ complaints had been ignored for years. Croydon Council is now being investigated by the Housing Ombudsman over its mismanagement of the homes.

Berry remains the only London Mayor candidate to have personally visited Regina Road, a month since the television news coverage shocked the nation. After speaking with some of the residents, Berry said, “It was really awful to hear. Continue reading

Posted in 2021 London elections, Croydon Council, Croydon Greens, Environment, London Assembly, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Sian Berry, South Norwood | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MyT: Easy Accounting software from Croydon-based firm

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Business body asks town centre traders: do we have a future?

Croydon BID, the town centre’s Business Improvement District, is conducting a survey of companies and traders in the area in preparation for next year, when it is required to submit a renewal plan for its next five years.

Croydon BID say that they try to enhance ‘people’s perception’ of the town centre and create ‘a great impression’

“Help us to shape our priorities, services and initiatives, creating a new business plan for 2022-2027 that meets your needs as a business,” they say.

Croydon BID is undertaking to donate £5 to the NHS for every completed survey.

Croydon BID’s activities have included funding an additional police presence on North End, high-powered cleaning and anti-graffiti teams, “ambassadors” strolling around the town centre offering advice and directions, and funding some street art of debatable quality. Continue reading

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Police break up illegal high-speed ‘cruise’ in retail park

Police officers were out in force last night to act against the weekly Valley Park ‘race meeting’

The Metropolitan Police were out in force last night at Croydon’s Valley Park to take action in dealing with what has become a weekly “cruise” meeting.

The gathering of often high-powered cars and motorbikes, attracting crowds of spectators, has been growing in size, noise and duration over the past few months, despite the covid-19 lockdown prohibiting mass gatherings. The regular late-night disturbances have caused nearby residents considerable distress. Continue reading

Posted in Broad Green, Business, Crime, Ikea, Policing, Valley Park | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Conservatives recruit social media expert for local elections

Our south of the borough reporter, PEARL LEE, on the latest efforts to win political control of the Town Hall

Croydon Tories are gearing up for a battle to win back control of Croydon Town Hall – just in time for all councillors to hand over power to a directly-elected Mayor.

The Croydon Tories’ recruitment ad, which appeared in the past week

Jason Perry, the leader of the council’s opposition Conservative group, has placed an advertisement on the parliamentary and political jobs recruitment site, w4mpjobs.org, seeking a “group political assistant”, offering up to £30,000 per year “depending on experience”.

The appointment is on a one-year contract, to the end of May 2022. The next local elections are due to be held in Croydon on May 5, 2022.

The Conservatives last held control in Croydon in 2014; after the 2018 local elections Labour had a 41-29 majority in the Town Hall chamber. Continue reading

Posted in Addiscombe East, Croydon Council, Ian Parker, Jason Perry, New Addington, New Addington North, Tim Pollard | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Covid scientists seek Croydon volunteers for blood tests

People who have tested positive for covid-19 are being asked to take part in a scientific study that hopes to unravel one of the most crucial questions posed by the virus.

Genomics England is running the study, which aims to discover why some people suffer serious symptoms of coronavirus while others only experience light symptoms or even none at all.

From Saturday, the project will open centres in five London boroughs, including Croydon, where volunteers who experienced mild or no covid symptoms will provide blood samples. Continue reading

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Regina Road families left waiting for council leader meeting

CROYDON IN CRISIS: ‘Do not insult us any longer’ say residents after Hamida Ali breaks her promises to hold an ‘urgent’ meeting and to publish a report from investigation into the ‘appalling’ disrepair of South Norwood flats. EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES

A whole month since ITV News reported on the appalling state of some council flats in Croydon, and Hamida Ali, the leader of the Labour-controlled council, has still not had the meeting she promised with the South Norwood residents forced to live in such squalid conditions.

Dozens of flats in council blocks in South Norwood have been affected by the leaks

Described as “the worst housing conditions ever seen” by a senior official of a housing charity, the leaks, damp and mould affect dozens of council flats in three separate blocks on Regina Road. Residents say that they had submitted countless requests, going back months, even years, to the council and its contractors for repairs – to no useful effect.

Yet in an email sent by Councillor Ali, and seen by Inside Croydon, the council leader has now asked the residents for a list of the affected flats – despite Croydon Council having spent at least £16,000 on two expert consultants to conduct an “urgent” investigation into how the borough-owned properties had managed to deteriorate into such a bad state. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Housing, South Norwood | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tory Assembly candidate in racism row over stop and search

Election candidates have not been subject to the kind of public scrutiny they might have expected pre-covid, and online hustings last week demonstrated why such questioning is so necessary. By STEVEN DOWNES

Neil ‘Father Jack’ Garratt: spouting racist tropes

Neil “Father Jack” Garratt, the Conservative candidate for the Croydon and Sutton seat in next month’s London Assembly elections, has been accused by his political rivals of “perpetuating racist feelings”, “gas-lighting” and speaking “racist nonsense”.

Garratt, a Tory councillor in Sutton, was speaking at a virtual hustings organised by Purley Masjid last week, when he was answering a question about the accountability of the Metropolitan Police, and the use of stop and search. Continue reading

Posted in 2021 London elections, Crime, Knife crime, London Assembly, London-wide issues, Neil Garratt, Patsy Cummings, Peter Underwood, Policing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tory needed Fraud Office permission to stand in election

Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, on the real agenda behind one of the council by-elections next month

Sonia Marinello: the Tory candidate photographed on her visit to South Norwood

Croydon Conservatives are so confident of losing the South Norwood council by-election next month that they have fielded a candidate whose job might prevent her from becoming a local councillor.

It is being seen as a cynical ploy by the local Tories, which one South Norwood resident told Inside Croydon, “treats residents, even Conservative Party members and their activists, with utter contempt”.

The resident added, “It also shows what the Conservatives really think of the democratic process.” Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Jane Avis, South Norwood | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Schools start summer term still struggling after cyber attack

Our education correspondent, GENE BRODIE, on the lingering difficulties facing teachers and parents

Staff at this South Croydon primary have started the summer term without access to the IT system

Some pupils returned to their schools this week after the Easter holidays with their teachers still unable to access IT systems or use their usual telephone networks.

As Inside Croydon reported last month, the Harris Federation, one of the country’s biggest academy chains, and which has its head office on Wellesley Road in Croydon, confirmed that their IT systems were subject to “a particularly vicious ransomware attack”.

At least nine Croydon schools, including four large secondaries, were affected by the cyberattack, forcing them to shut down IT systems, email servers and even switch off their landline phone networks.

In the past week, Harris has put out a message to staff and parents that says “there is still some work to do” to have everything back up and running, and warning that “there will be bumps along the road”.

Harris academies began the important summer term, with public exams looming, with the schools’ telephone networks still not working, according to the message.

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Posted in Crime, Harris Academy Crystal Palace, Harris Academy South Norwood, Harris Academy Upper Norwood, Harris Primary Purley Way, Schools | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Town Hall meeting brought forward to dodge roadmap changes

KEN LEE reports on a very slow return to ‘normality’ over council business

It’s that time of year again…

The council has brought forward its 2021 annual meeting by a fortnight – so that the borough’s councillors can avoid having a potential covid super-spreader event at the Town Hall.

The council’s annual meeting is usually the Trumptonesque gathering when the new, ceremonial mayor is formally appointed and various baubles and certificates are handed out, like a prize day at a very minor public school, while appointments to the council cabinet and committees are confirmed.

Most of these details are already known, with the 2020-2021 deputy mayor, Sherwan Chowdhury, a councillor for Norbury Park, getting his turn with the dodgy furs and tri-corn hat for the forthcoming 12 months. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Maddie Henson, Norbury Park, Sherwan Chowdhury | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with some free lessons

Shakespeare: we use his works more often than we realise

Parents and teachers looking for teaching resources and inspiration would do worse this week than look to the life and work of the Bard. LAURA STEELE, from education resource experts PlanBee, offers some tips

Many consider Shakespeare to be the greatest writer of the English language. His work is studied in schools and universities, and his plays are still performed in theatres across the world – many of them have been made into television programmes or films.

Date of birth a mystery
We know that Shakespeare was baptised on April 26, 1564, but his exact birth date is not known. Since the 18th century, his birth date has been attributed to April 23, which has become widely accepted, largely because as well as being St George’s Day, it was also the date on which Shakespeare would die, in 1616.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon to John Shakespeare, a successful glove-maker, and Mary Arden, a wealthy heiress. William was the third of eight children. It is thought that he was fortunate to be educated at the King’s New School in Stratford, a free school chartered in 1553. Continue reading

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Car pollution near schools big worry for children, survey finds

Almost two-thirds of London schoolchildren are worried about air pollution near their school – an increase of 11 per cent since a similar survey was conducted in 2018.

YouGov’s survey found ¾ of children are worried about climate change and pollution

A YouGov poll, commissioned by the walking and cycling charity, Sustrans, surveyed 1,305 pupils aged from 6 to 15 years old across the UK, of which 180 were in London. They were asked about their attitudes towards air pollution and the climate crisis. They were also asked about and the actions they think should be taken to help reduce the impact of poor air quality and climate change.

Of those surveyed in London, 63 per cent said adults are not doing enough to tackle climate change. This is in line with the national findings.

More than three-quarters – 76 per cent – of the children admitted to feeling worried about climate change, and 61 per cent thought that adults don’t listen to children’s concerns about the topic. Continue reading

Posted in Charity, Environment, Schools | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

‘It’s now or never’ for Croydon to start its Green New Deal

More than 10,000 green jobs could be created across infrastructure and care work in Croydon over the next decade, according to research published today.

Green shoots: jobs in renewable energy could help power an economic revival

The data, compiled by Green New Deal UK, shows that Croydon is likely to suffer more than 3,600 permanent job losses due to the covid-19 pandemic. But those lost jobs could be replaced entirely with jobs in new and existing industries.

“The research shows that you can tackle unemployment and create jobs whilst tackling climate change at the same time,” Connie Muir, a local organiser at Croydon Climate Action, said.

“Especially after the awful impacts of covid-19, it’s now or never. Continue reading

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Croydon Eats – supporting Croydon’s independents

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BxB’s collapse was predictable. Why did no one else notice?

CROYDON IN CRISIS: It did not take a couple of £800-a-day consultants to spot that Brick by Brick was dragging the council into financial ruin.
Reader NICHOLAS PANES’s first piece for this website, the presciently headlined “Building towards the council’s financial ruin, Brick by Brick”, was published three years ago. Here, he pores over the failed company’s latest financial accounts and asks: What else are they hiding now?

My first Freedom of Information request about Brick by Brick’s finances went in early in March 2018, and the answers were not very satisfactory. I analysed the slippage in the construction over three years; the low point was probably finding out with another FoI that Croydon did not even have the information to tell them how many homes Brick by Brick had built.

Simon Hall: reported a £63m ‘slippage’ largely due to BxB, in 2018

Even in July 2018, a council meeting was told, by the then cabinet member for finance, Simon Hall, that the “slippage” (such a gentle word for such an alarming event) amounted to £63million that should have been in the council’s coffers, but wasn’t, largely because of the failures of Brick by Brick to build houses on time and to budget. Tony Newman, the then leader of the council who was chairing the meeting, blocked any further questions.

Inside Croydon reported at that time, “The harsh reality is that Brick by Brick’s failure to deliver even a single new home in the three years since the company was established could mean that Croydon’s Labour-run council will be forced to make more, and deeper, cuts in other council services over the next two years.”

Fast-forward a couple of years, to covid-hit 2020, and the failure of Brick by Brick to re-pay to the council a penny of the £200million-plus loans they had received, or interest on those loans, or any profits on their business over the course of five years, had finally broken the back of the council’s finances, and officials were forced to issue a Section 114 notice last November. Continue reading

Posted in Brick by Brick, Colm Lacey, Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Housing, Martyn Evans, Paul Scott, Planning, Simon Hall, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Tribunal ruling gives green light for council’s road fines policy

The decision of a traffic adjudicator last week, upholding fines against a motorist for driving into a Low Traffic Neighbourhood, could clear the way for cameras that might generate £3m per year for the cash-strapped council.
STEVEN DOWNES reports

The road signs on Parsons Mead are so clear, they can even be seen on Google Street View

A motorist who was fined hundreds of pounds for repeatedly driving past road signs into a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in West Croydon has had his appeal turned down by London’s traffic penalties tribunal.

But Shakeel Yousaf only has to pay £130, the cost of a single fine, well down on the £845 he managed to accrue after driving past no entry signs 13 times. That’s because Croydon Council decided to drop 12 of the charges against him, something that the adjudicator has ruled they did not need to do. Continue reading

Posted in Broad Green, Chris Buss, Croydon Council, West Croydon | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Schooners and horizontal tanks offer lager on industrial scale

POST-LOCKDOWN (NOT QUITE) LOCK-INS: In his never-ending quest for the perfect outdoor pint, or even two-thirds of a pint, KEN TOWL hopped on the tram to prove it is possible to organise a piss-up at two breweries

The beers come in four sizes at the Anspach and Hobday brewery tap

Someone at Anspach and Hobday – it may have been Mr Anspach, it may have been Mr Hobday – let Inside Croydon know that they would be opening their Taproom , or at least the forecourt in front of it, to sophisticated and urbane drinkers from 1pm to 7pm every Saturday afternoon for the foreseeable future.

They made a point of mentioning their latest wheeze, fresh lager (“direct from our horizontal lagering tank. Tank fresh lager!“), and also let slip that their neighbours, the Signal Brewery, might be doing something similar.

I recruited three friends to help me fill up a table (you can book for between two and six people) and after getting off the tram at Therapia Lane, we entered Stirling Way from Beddington Farm Road. As soon as you turn into Stirling Way you see what looks like a mini-Oktoberfest going on in the suntrap that is the A&H forecourt at Unit 11 of the Valley Point light industrial estate. Continue reading

Posted in Anspach and Hobday, Business, Ken Towl, Pubs | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

South Croydon Street Sale, free community event, Apr 25

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Reader offer: Signed* copy of Bolt book for annual subscribers

Here’s the latest special offer for our loyal supporters – a free, signed copy of a book written by the editor of Inside Croydon!

For a limited period, while (very limited) stocks last, any reader who takes makes an annual subscription payment to Inside Croydon can claim a free copy of Usain Bolt: The story of the world’s fastest man, written by Steven Downes. Continue reading

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Seconds out: Round 3! Boxing club gets temporary reprieve

New Addington Amateur Boxing Club, which faced immediate closure at the end of March, has been given a temporary reprieve. Another one.

New Addington boxing club is not ready to throw in the towel just yet

As with most things involving Croydon Council, the outcome is less than satisfactory.

One source said today, “If this was a boxing bout, the club has just taken an 8 count…,” before adding with a sense of menace, “But now they are coming out swinging.”

At the start of March, the club was served with less than one month’s notice on its tenure at the council-owned local community centre, with nowhere else to go.

Council officials have now told the club it can continue to use the community centre until the end of this year. Continue reading

Posted in Boxing, Community associations, Duke McKenzie, Felicity Flynn, Louisa Woodley, New Addington, New Addington ABC, New Addington North, Oliver Lewis, Simon Hall, Sport | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

South Croydon teen wins census photo memory competition

Yoana Yakimova, a 14-year-old pupil at Quest Academy, South Croydon, has won £100 in Amazon vouchers for her winning photograph in a Census 2021 Time Capsule competition, devised to remind the public to complete this year’s census.

The organisers asked residents from across London to share images of items that summed up their year, for a digital time capsule. The photos will be collected and released in 10 years as a digital time capsule in advance of the next census in 2031. Continue reading

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Kerswell set to depart after completing cull of Negrini execs

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Having overseen the removal of almost all of Jo Negrini’s ‘executive leadership team’, it seems that the interim chief exec wants to move on to better things. EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES

Katherine Kerswell: ready to move on

Croydon Council is to begin the hunt for a new chief executive, with advertisements expected to appear in a fortnight’s time, according to sources at Fisher’s Folly.

Council insiders are interpreting this move as indicating that Katherine Kerswell has no desire to extend her stay in Croydon much beyond the first anniversary of her arrival as the borough’s £192,474 pa interim chief executive officer in September.

With the record £120million government bail-out secured for Croydon’s bankrupt council, there is now loadsamoney to pay for a permanent CEO, and to fund the fancy fees demanded by whatever firm of executive headhunters the authority’s execs decided to use.

As well as the financial rescue package, the other “achievement” of Kerswell’s time in Croydon may be seen as a thorough clear out of the pompously titled “executive leadership team”, which she inherited from her predecessor, Jo Negrini.

That came one step closer to being completed today with the resignation of Jacqueline Harris-Baker, the borough solicitor. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Elaine Jackson, Guy van Dichele, Hazel Simmonds, Heather Cheesbrough, Jacqueline Harris-Baker, Jo Negrini, Katherine Kerswell, Lisa Taylor, Robert Henderson, Sarah Hayward, Section 114 notice, Shifa Mustafa | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Sutton accused of ‘misleading’ over SDEN and the Heat Trust

SDEN, the misfiring heating network business run by Sutton Council, has been accused of passing themselves off falsely as a member of government-backed quango, the Heat Trust. The very damaging allegation of serious misrepresentation has been made by… the Heat Trust.

New Mill Quarter residents are being forced to pay more than double to going rate for heating, from an unreliable system

The Heat Trust logo (tag line “Heat supply you can trust”) was even used in the SDEN business plan for 2019, which required official sign-off by Sutton Council officials Amanda “Mandy” Cherrington and Mary Morrissey.

The actions of SDEN and Sutton Council have been described as “unbelievable”, with misled residents accusing them of fraud. Continue reading

Posted in Business, Jayne McCoy, Sutton Council, Waste incinerator | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Under-fire council recruiting for £88,000 pa head of repairs

Are you seeking a “new challenge”? Fancy a job that pays as much as £88,000 a year?

Fancy a £88,000 a year job in the hot seat at Fisher’s Folly? Apply here…

Want to work for somewhere that describes itself as “a place on the up, experiencing the largest growth of any London borough?”

A job where you would be taking charge of a department within a local authority whose staff have been accused of making council tenants “feel less than human”?

And fancy a job which is likely to see your work featured, or at least mentioned, on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future on ITV News?

Cash-strapped Croydon Council, its recruitment freeze set aside, is looking for a “Head of Repairs and Maintenance”.

And they are offering between £82,703 and £87,968 a year for the right person to take up the hot seat.

Sources in Fisher’s Folly maintain that the timing of this announcement has nothing, absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the national scandal caused by the appalling state of unrepaired and neglected council flats on Regina Road, South Norwood, as was exposed on ITV’s News At Ten last month. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon Council, Housing, South Norwood | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments