Beavers on the Wandle: Newman dives in for greener Croydon

There could be beavers lurking beneath the surface of Croydon’s rivers and ponds by the end of this year under the council’s Operation Flair Pool

EXCLUSIVE: Operation Flair Pool could see the introduction of a shy and industrious mammal to Wandle Park as soon as this autumn, in what the council leader has described as ‘an exciting high-water mark for Croydon’s  Green New Deal’.
Our environment correspondent, PAUL LUSHION, reports on what were, until now, the council’s secret plans

Senior Town Hall figures are close to completing a secret study which could see the introduction of beavers on a stretch of the River Wandle from as early as this autumn, confidential papers obtained by Inside Croydon suggest.

The top-secret council file, titled “Operation Flair Pool”, could see the introduction of the shy but industrious mammal in Wandle Park and possibly also Waddon Ponds, as part of what one council figure has described as “an ambitious re-wilding project that is entirely in keeping with Tony Newman’s vision for a greener Croydon… that, and the use of solar-powered passenger aircraft from Gatwick“.

Newman, the council leader who has allowed the borough to use the vast waste incinerator at Beddington and who signed off on a 3,000-space car park under the original plans for a Westfield in the town centre while allowing the concreting over of kids’ playgrounds and green spaces throughout the borough, has been keen to reclaim some green credentials after agreeing last year to declare a climate emergency in the borough.

“Tony’s very keen on the beavers,” said the source. They even claimed that Newman described the project as “an exciting high-water mark for Croydon’s new Green Deal”. Continue reading

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Ikea re-opens food store to help hospital workers and elderly

Croydon’s Ikea, on Valley Retail Park, is opening its food market from today to help feed vulnerable customers and key workers.

Ikea has re-configured its food area to provide another supply outlet exclusively for key workers, the old and vulnerable

The Swedish Food Market – typically selling Swedish favourites and found after the tills in every Ikea – is opening to NHS workers and police, the elderly, the most vulnerable and their carers and to Ikea co-workers.

In addition to its normal range including meatballs, salmon balls and vegetable balls, the store will stock more regular staple items including bread, milk, butter and canned tomatoes. Members of the public who do not fit the criteria laid down by the store will not be admitted. The rest of the store remains closed during the covid-19 lockdown on non-essential business. Continue reading

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Council promises to pay business virus grants in seven days

Stung into action following Inside Croydon’s report on its detail-lite, vacuous announcement intended to “help” the borough’s businesses, the council last night issued a new press statement about the business aid available in the coronavirus emergency.

The hoardings have gone up on many bars and shops, as they face an uncertain future

And this time they did manage to include details of grants potentially worth tens of thousands of pounds to the owners of Croydon’s hard-pressed small and medium-sized enterprises.

The grant announcements had been made during the previous week across different government departments, though the council’s propaganda department and the cabinet member for business, Manju Shahul-Hameed, didn’t bother to include any reference to them in their previous press release, issued last Friday. That stated only that a “taskforce” had been formed, and that “newsletters” would be issued.

Last night, more than 36 hours after the council’s business announcement had been castigated as “a high water-mark for platitudinous piffle”, a second press release appeared, this time including much more useful information. Continue reading

Posted in Business, Croydon BID, Croydon FSB, Manju Shahul Hameed, Pubs, Purley BID, Restaurants | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Building societies decide to stop loans to first-time buyers

The mounting desperation sensed around Brick by Brick, the loss-making council-owned house-builder, could yet get even worse, after major mortgage lenders today announced that they would not be providing new loans for prospective house-buyers because of the economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nationwide is among several mortgage lenders who have effectively stopped lending

Brick by Brick has borrowed at least £260million of public money from Labour-run Croydon Council, but last month Colm Lacey, the former council employee who now styles himself as chief executive of the struggling house-builder, revealed that the company had sold only five, or six, homes.

Yesterday, despite the government, health chiefs and the Mayor of London calling for a complete lockdown of non-essential work during the covid-19 emergency, Brick by Brick announced that it is pressing on with construction work on “a handful of sites” because “it would be at a significant business risk to close them”.

Now, even as Brick by Brick puts the public’s health at risk by rushing to finish its construction work, mortgage lenders have effectively put the handbrake on any further sales by announcing a halt on new lending. Continue reading

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Brick by Brick ignores covid-19 to continue work on four sites

Brick by Brick, the loss-making council-owned house-builder, has announced that it intends to continue work on at least four of its building sites – despite pleas from the government, the Mayor of London and NHS chiefs to halt all non-essential work for the duration of the coronavirus emergency to avoid spreading the deadly disease.

In a statement released last night, the company admitted that it has been working on at least 15 sites around Croydon for the past week, despite the government-ordered covid-19 lockdown. It claimed that it would continue working at “a handful of sites”, identifying four. It gave as its reason: “it would be at a significant business risk to close them”.

Most of the country was placed on lockdown more than a week ago, with only those providing essential services having permission to continue using public transport to travel to work, and provided that they comply with strict social distancing rules. Continue reading

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Cinema campaigners’ inspired guide for lockdown viewing

NTLive offers a chance to see James Corden ‘on stage’ from the comfort of your own lockdown home this Thursday

Two weeks after cancelling their programme of films for the duration of the coronavirus lockdown, the good people at the Save the David Lean Cinema Campaign have come up with an ingenious way to help their movie-watching friends get a daily dose of the best of the big screen, plus some top-class theatre and ballet, too.

Self-isolating, the campaigners say, “will very likely be inducing a feeling of cabin fever”.

And they add, “For those who wish to keep their film-viewing habit going, we have provided some ‘alternative viewing’ on the home page of our website which we hope will be of help. This is a collection of classic films, and theatre and opera screenings available over the next five weeks.” Continue reading

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Corbyn leads tributes to Ted Knight, a champion for the people

Ted Knight in his element – addressing a political meeting at Croydon’s Ruskin House

Tributes have poured in for ‘Red’ Ted Knight, the south London council leader who defied Thatcher and was the scourge of the tabloids but a tireless campaigner for the downtrodden and under-represented

Following the news yesterday that Ted Knight had died, John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, described his old friend as “one of the finest and most courageous socialists I have known”. Knight was 86.

Knight was the former leader of Lambeth Council who was surcharged and removed from office for defying the Thatcher government’s spending cuts.

Norwood resident Knight had been politically active from his childhood through to the end – having been the co-founder and chair of the Croydon Assembly organisation, which staged regular meetings and rallies at Ruskin House over the past decade. Continue reading

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