‘No one wants strikes. But I’m happy to stand on the picket line’

‘Travel misery’ won’t be over in south London any time soon. After a week of disruption on rail and the Tube, with airline strikes still to come, ANDREW FISHER, pictured left, appraises next week’s industrial action on Croydon’s Trams

After a week of disruptive rail strikes, Croydon’s tram services will shut down next week as drivers walk out on strike on Tuesday and Wednesday in a dispute over pay.


No go: the tram network faces shut-down by strikes next Tuesday and Wednesday

Last month, tram drivers voted 99.2per cent to strike, on a ballot turnout of 86per cent.

The workers are represented by the ASLEF trade union, which represents drivers on the tram network, railways and London Underground.

ASLEF organiser Finn Brennan said after the ballot result, “The ball is now in management’s court. They can either make a fair offer or face the prospect of hard-hitting and drawn-out strike action.”

Tram drivers had not received an offer by the time of the ballot, and even now have only been offered a measly 3per cent – less than one-third of the current rate of inflation. Continue reading

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Tiverton. Wakefield. Can South Croydon be an election shock?

CROYDON IN CRISIS: With the two major parties in turmoil in Croydon, alternative candidates, seeking the ‘none of the above’ vote, are hopeful ahead of next week’s council by-election, reports WALTER CRONXITE, political editor

Having broken the borough’s political duopoly by winning council seats at the Town Hall elections last month, the Liberal Democrats and Greens will have both taken great encouragement from the results of yesterday’s two parliamentary by-elections, where the Tories lost seats in Tiverton and Honiton in Devon and in Wakefield, Yorkshire.

Croydon has its own little bit of by-election action next Thursday, in the South Croydon council ward where Jason Perry, Croydon’s part-time Mayor, used to be a councillor.

Needless expense: Jason Perry, a Boris Johnson supporter

Perry has offered to pay the (unnecessary) costs of the by-election out of his very generous £81,000 mayoral salary, a gesture caused by his embarrassment at having created the vacancy after he decided to run for both Mayor and ward councillor. Perry and the Tories presumably knew the rules before the May 5 election day – you can’t be both Mayor and a councillor – so they probably shared the view that Perry wouldn’t win both…

That Perry won the Mayoralty by fewer that 600 votes suggests he was right to take out that insurance. Paying for the South Croydon by-election is like paying the insurance premium after submitting the claim.

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Posted in 2022 council elections, Andrew Pelling, Claire Bonham, Coulsdon, Croydon Council, Croydon South, Mayor Jason Perry, Michael Neal, Peter Underwood, Richard Howard, South Croydon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Therapy and counselling service opens on the High Street

An affordable and accessible counselling service, Supporting Minds Croydon, opened its doors this week.

With nearly two-thirds of people in Croydon reporting that their mental health and wellbeing was affected by the covid pandemic, the counselling service located on the High Street in South Croydon, at Christopher Wren Yard Freedman House, could prove to be a welcome additional community service. Continue reading

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Ombudsman orders review of Croydon’s temporary housing

A cancer patient and her four children were ‘cooped up’ in a single room throughout the covid pandemic because council officials failed to check their own temporary accommodation policy

Housing crisis: Croydon Council has made no mention of the latest Ombudsman findings on its own website

Croydon Council has been forced to pay nearly £5,000 in compensation and to apologise to a mother recovering from cancer who was left “cooped up” throughout the covid lockdown in a single room with her four children in temporary accommodation.

The council has been forced into making compensation following the latest adverse ruling from the Local Government Ombudsman.

The matter must now also be considered at a full council or cabinet meeting at the Town Hall, and the Ombudsman has also ordered Croydon Council to check its procedures for keeping the suitability of temporary accommodation under review, as well as reviewing its policy for referrals between its housing, children’s services and environmental health teams to ensure that it makes appropriate referrals where families with children may need support or are living in overcrowded accommodation. Continue reading

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Brick by Brick’s South Norwood library on the market for retail

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Fancy renting a public building? One less-than-careful owner. Going cheap-ish. Only a slight pong from leaking sewage and a risk of falling bricks… EXCLUSIVE by BARRATT HOLMES, housing correspondent

All pimped out: South Norwood’s long-delayed library building represents another Brick by Brick fail

Croydon Council has placed its new-ish, Brick by Brick-built library building opposite Norwood Junction station on the market to be rented out as a commercial space.

The building – Pimp House – is currently under a safety notice from the council, having been declared a “dangerous structure” after brickwork fell from the upper floors during storms earlier this year, causing considerable damage to a car parked on the road below.

Stiles Harold Williams, one of Croydon’s biggest estate agents, is now marketing Pimp House’s ground floor space as “prime retail unit to let”.

The move represents something of a reprieve for the existing, “brutalist” South Norwood Library building, which the council’s previous Labour administration had intended to vacate and re-purpose. Continue reading

Posted in Alison Butler, Brick by Brick, Business, Croydon Council, Libraries, Paul Scott, Property, South Norwood, Stiles Harold Williams | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Grandson of Thornton Heath murder victim appears in court

Murder charges: Verushan Manoharan is due to appear before Croydon Magistrates today

The Metropolitan Police last night charged Verushan Manoharan, 31, with the murder of his own grandmother.

The victim has been named as 89-year-old Sakunthala Francis, who was found with fatal stab wounds at home on Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath, at about 9.20pm on Tuesday.

Manoharan is due to appear in custody at Croydon Magistrates’ Court today. Continue reading

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Charity warns of street collecting scam abusing their name

Lives Not Knives has received complaints of harassment and aggressive fund-raisers passing themselves off as volunteers for the charity in Bristol, Nottingham, Brixton, St Albans and Kings Cross

A Croydon-based charity that works to reduce youth knife crime has been forced to issue a public statement to distance itself from aggressive fund-raisers who are accused of harassing shoppers and passers-by on high streets across the country – though not in Croydon.

Eliza Ribeiro founded Lives Not Knives with her mother, Monique, 15 years ago after one of her friends was killed in a knife attack. Today, the charity operates in Croydon and across the capital with a series of in-school sessions, mentoring and outreach programmes.

But there’s a serious and genuine concern that the charity’s good name and reputation could be damaged by the conduct of individuals, possibly an organised group, who appear to be passing themselves off as fund-raisers for Lives Not Knives, when they are not. Charity experts spoken to by Inside Croydon suggest that what is happening is most likely a scam, and potentially a form of fraud, abusing the name and reputation of a blame-free charity.

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89-year-old murdered in Brigstock Road and three stabbings

A murder investigation is underway following the death of a 89-year-old woman at Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath, on Tuesday.

The incident was one of at least four stabbings in Croydon on Tuesday.

According to Scotland Yard, the police were called by London Ambulance at around 9.20pm “to a woman suffering stab injuries at a residential address”.

Despite the attendance of additional medical units, including the air ambulance, the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Continue reading

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Planning chief’s position untenable as developers’ charter axed

Town Hall correspondent PEARL LEE on the seismic shift going on in the council’s planning department

Cabinet polish: Mayor Jason Perry will have tonight get his planning plan rubber-stamped by his Tory colleagues

Croydon’s part-time Mayor, Jason Perry, will deliver on one of his key promises tonight when, at his first council cabinet meeting since his election last month, he will bin SPD2, dubbed by Inside Croydon as the “developers’ charter”.

The notorious “suburban design guide supplementary planning document”, or SPD2 for short, ha been blamed by thousands of residents for the destruction of dozens of family houses and the concreting over of their neighbourhoods with hundreds of often ugly and usually over-priced flats. The antipathy towards SPD2 is, perhaps more than any other single factor, the reason that Croydon now has a directly-elected Mayor.

The proposal to revoke SPD2 is contained in a report that has been drafted by three senior council officials, including the council’s director of planning, Heather Cheesbrough – who was one of the main forces behind the implementation of SPD2 in the first place, and whose position at the council becomes more untenable by the day. Continue reading

Posted in Business, Chris Philp MP, Coulsdon, Croydon Council, Croydon South, Heather Cheesbrough, Housing, Kenley, Mayor Jason Perry, Michael Neal, Paul Scott, Planning, Property, Sanderstead, Shifa Mustafa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Research finds increasing amount of available brownfield sites

The number of brownfield sites available for development around the country increased by 10per cent in the last year, research shows, with the amount of brownfield land available in London providing enough space for 355,000 new homes.

Brownfield turned into homes: under-used land, such as with the Morello development at East Croydon, is waiting to be used

Using brownfield – land and property that has been built on previously – is claimed by the Conservative government, and Croydon South’s Tory MP Chris Philp, to be the preferred option, instead of building on previously undeveloped, greenfield sites.

Yet the research conducted on behalf new-build platform on behalf of new-build platform  Unlatch shows that there is sufficient brownfield land to create £463billion-worth of homes.

Lying Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Levelling Up secretary, Michael Gove, have spoken about plans to use more of the country’s brownfield land. Johnson said, “We are going to put more publicly owned brownfield land to use and seek to unlock small sites that are ideal for the kind of unobtrusive development that communities welcome.” Continue reading

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Alliance campaigns for better treatment for the 1-in-6

A teaching assistant from Croydon who is living with relapsing multiple sclerosis has visited Parliament to call on all health ministers for the radical transformation of neurological services.

Taking campaign to parliament: Croydon teaching assistant Rebbecca Robinson at the Neurological Alliance event earlier this month

Rebbecca Robinson, 36, lives with a range of MS symptoms including brain fog, vertigo, spasms, cognitive overload, heat sensitivity, memory loss and fatigue.

She attended the parliamentary event hosted by the Neurological Alliance – a coalition of organisations, such as the MS Society, supporting people with neurological conditions – to support the #BackThe1in6 campaign.

There, she spoke to MPs and peers about the findings from My Neuro Survey – which asked 8,500 people living with neurological conditions about their experiences accessing treatment, care and support – that revealed the vast majority (81per cent of adults and 89per cent of children and young people) said their condition had made their mental wellbeing worse.

The lack of mental health support can make a neurological condition significantly worse, and leave people feeling isolated and withdrawn from social relationships and work.

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Sutton Ecology Centre summer activities, from Jul 25

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Croydon South’s Tory MP called a ‘liar’ 16 times on national TV

Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, wonders when Chris Philp is going to deny that he was lying on behalf of Boris Johnson’s government

Chris Philp, a junior minister in lying Boris Johnson’s Tory government and the occasional MP for Croydon South, was given a hosing by union leader Mick Lynch on national television last night.

On the eve of the biggest national rail strike for 30 years, Philp was wheeled out once again to try to push the Conservatives’ line.

Within a few months of his arriving in parliament, Philp was quick to acquire an entirely justified reputation as being an ever-willing brown noser for his party leader.

For months now, Philp has played the ever-eager government stooge, appearing on radio or TV to defend the indefensible over Partygate and the Prime Minister’s lies. Most of the time this year, Philp has managed to peddle Downing Street’s booze-addled version of reality without any real challenge.

Not on this occasion. Continue reading

Posted in Boris Johnson, Chris Philp MP, Commuting, Croydon South, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Council releases £3m of extra funds for cost of living crisis

Croydon Council, the local authority that just a few weeks ago put up its council rents by 4.1per cent and took away Council Tax Support from 20,000 of the borough’s poorest households, has today announced that it is to hand out £3million to support “residents in greatest need”.

The extra funding is from central government, intended to assist with some of the financial pressures caused by rising fuel bills and the cost of living crisis.

Jason Perry, the borough’s £81,000 per year part-time Mayor, said, “I would encourage anyone who is struggling financially to get in touch via the details on our website so we can support them where possible.” Mayor Perry has said nothing since his election about reversing the council rent rise or reintroducing Council Tax benefits, which in some cases have taken £100 or more from some of the poorest households’ monthly budgets.

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Posted in Community associations, Council Tax, Croydon Council, Mayor Jason Perry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Church in Croydon after covid: new bishop outlines her vision

Dr Rosemarie Mallett was recently named as the next Bishop of Croydon.

Ahead of her consecration service this month, for our latest episode of our Under The Flyover podcast, iC editor Steven Downes conducted a wide-ranging interview in which the soon-to-be Bishop tells us how for her, Croydon is a place with “real heart”.

Dr Mallett also provides her thought-provoking ideas about what she and the church need to do to tackle the links between school exclusions and knife crime, talks about her lifelong battles for equality and against racism, and outlines the challenges for the church in her diocese following covid. Continue reading

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Schools given free copies of Amnesty’s child rights book

Jolie good read: Hollywood star Angelina Jolie and the youth rights book she co-authored, coming to a school near you

More than 250 secondary schools across the capital are to be given a free copy of Know Your Rights and Claim Them: A Guide for Youth, published by Amnesty International and written by Angelina Jolie and Professor Geraldine Van Bueren QC, one of the original drafters of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Amnesty says that Know Your Rights and Claim Them is the first book for young people that clearly explains child rights and what they mean.

This book, aimed at teenagers, explains children’s rights, “empowering them with the confidence and knowledge they need to help to make a fairer, happier world”, Amnesty says.

The initiative, funded by the Lightbulb Trust, is a collaboration between Amnesty International UK and the School Library Association. Free copies of the book and teaching resources will be sent to more than 250 SLA member schools in London to “help children to develop the knowledge and confidence they need to stand up for themselves and others, as well as support school staff to have crucial conversations about rights and what they mean”. Continue reading

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Perry opts to keep poor performing Axis for another year

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Despite reports of ‘shocking rudeness and inhumanity’, repairs contractors implicated in a national housing scandal have been given £20m worth of work by the borough’s part-time Mayor.

Jason Perry, the £81,000 per year part-time Mayor of Croydon, is giving Axis – the repairs contractors at the centre of the Regina Road council flats scandal – an additional year of work from the council, likely to cost the borough’s tax-payers at least £20million.

The decision to keep Axis on until July 2023 was confirmed as part of last week’s scrutiny committee process – where the Tory Mayor was absent and so not available to be quizzed on any of his decisions.

Retaining Axis for a further 12 months is to be among the first measures pushed through by the borough’s newly elected Mayor at this Wednesday’s council cabinet meeting, the first of Perry’s administration. Continue reading

Posted in Business, Croydon Council, Housing, Mayor Jason Perry, Property, Regina Road Residents' Support Group, South Norwood | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Residents’ Charter sets standards for council’s housing

This Wednesday, the council cabinet will be asked to rubber-stamp a proposal that the Town Hall adopts the Croydon Residents’ Charter, drawn up by Yaw John Boateng, Les Parry and Kim Wakeley of the Croydon Council tenants and leaseholders panel.

Here is the charter…
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Posted in Croydon Council, Housing, Mayor Jason Perry | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Refugee Week 2022 – Croydon Voluntary Action calendar

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Plan for 5G mast next to primary school causes locals concern

There’s a degree of trepidation in New Addington over proposals to erect a 5G telecoms mast next to a local primary school.

Preliminary surveying work has been carried out, and a pre-application process undergone on behalf of CK Hutchinson Networks, operators of the Three mobile phone network, for the erection of a 15-metre tall mast sited alongside Castle Hill Academy on Dunley Drive.

A planning application is expected in due course – permission from the council is required for masts taller than 15 metres – and some letters have been sent to close neighbours, although no formal consultation process appears yet to have taken place. There was no mention of the 5G mast proposal in the latest Castle Hill Academy newsletter distributed to parents and guardians of children at the school.

Inevitably, 5G being relatively new technology, there have been some fears and concerns expressed about the possible implications of the locating of a mast so close to a primary school. Some New Addington residents are sceptical about the choice of site for the mast, after Dot Surveying, the company conducting the survey for Hutchinson, discounted other nearby sites because they were either in a residential area, were close to overhead powerlines, or next to a railway line. Continue reading

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The long lost work of a master craftsman with the Nelson touch

SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: Fine stone memorials, of the calibre of those that take pride of place in St Paul’s, were among the losses of Croydon Minster’s great fire. DAVID MORGAN has tracked down the history of one such destroyed monument

National treasure: the Nelson memorial in St Paul’s

The televising of the Platinum Jubilee service from St Paul’s will have reminded everyone just what a glorious building the cathedral is.

The sheer size and scale of it is immense. The decorative carvings are exquisite. The sculptures and memorials there remind us of figures both historic and more recent, who have made such a contribution to national life.

One of the most striking of them is the statue of Horatio Nelson, the hero of Trafalgar.

During his lifetime, Nelson met with a well-known artist and sculptor of the late 18th Century, John Flaxman. Nelson commissioned a bust of himself and was so impressed by the (no doubt flattering) representation that he told a member of his family that after his death, if any sculpture was to be created of him, then he would like Flaxman to do it.

And so it was that after the Battle of Trafalgar, when the admiral’s body was brought back to England, in January 1806, he was given a state funeral, his coffin conveyed up the Thames to be buried in St Paul’s. Two years later, Flaxman’s memorial to Nelson was given pride of place in the cathedral. The admiral, decorated in full naval honours was sculptured standing heroically on a round pedestal with sea gods and lions in attendance. Continue reading

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Old Coulsdon Village Fair, Grange Park, Jul 2

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Right Royal Summer Treat concert, Old Coulsdon, Jul 9

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Happy Valley Wild Flower Walk, Farthing Downs, Jun 26

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Cult Church of Bling wound-up over ‘suspicious’ operations

A Croydon-based church which worked closely with local Tories – and even got close to Boris Johnson – has been shut down after Charity Commission and Insolvency Service investigations found ‘suspicious or incorrect accounts’. By STEVEN DOWNES

SPAC Nation has been wound up after failing to account for more than £1.87million of outgoings and “operating with a lack of transparency”, the Insolvency Service announced this morning.

SPAC busted: Mario Creatura (right), and London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey (left), were prominent in supporting SPAC Nation’s Jayde Edwards (front, centre), when she was a candidate in Fairfield in 2019

SPAC Nation was the cult-like church based in Croydon which was accused of exploiting its young worshippers, as well as facing allegations of multiple business frauds.

They were also, until caught out, enthusiastic backers of leading Croydon Tory Mario Creatura when he was a candidate in the 2019 General Election campaign, after he had nurtured their support with visits to that year’s Conservative Party Conference, appearing alongside Boris Johnson.

Such was the seriousness of safeguarding issues that were raised over the way senior figures in SPAC Nation exploited vulnerable young Londoners that there were even questions asked in the House of Commons in early 2020.

Reports first published by Inside Croydon had raised serious concerns about the conduct of senior ministers in SPAC Nation, as well as its members’ involvement in the November 2019 Fairfield council by-election, where one of SPAC’s “pastors” was the Croydon Conservatives’ candidate.

The petition to wind-up the company was presented in the High Court on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in January this year under the provisions of section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986, following confidential enquiries by a branch of the Insolvency Service under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985.

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Posted in Church and religions, Crime, Fairfield, Mario Creatura | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments