David Lean Cinema April screenings, Clocktower, from Apr 4

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Parish’s dynasty of vergers caring for Croydon for 100 years

Family service: two generations of the Butler family helped run Croydon Parish Church, now Croydon Minster, for most of the 20th Century

SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: In another discovery from the Croydon Minster archive, DAVID MORGAN has found the first-hand account of one of the church’s most senior lay officials which covers much of the history of the 20th Century

When Frank Butler retired from his post as verger and parish clerk at Croydon Parish Church in 1969, it really was the end of an era. His father, also named Frank William Butler, had held the same post for 26 years, until his death in December 1935.

Frank junior had been assistant to his father from 1925. On his retirement, he jotted down some of his memories of church life in Croydon covering much of the tumultuous 20th Century. This was real social history, as lived and experienced by local people.

Between them, the Butlers created almost a dynasty of public service.

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The History of My House illustrated talk, Carshalton, Oct 26

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Barrister Forde: Labour Party has ignored my report on racism

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Inside Croydon in ‘watershed’ news sites deal with Google

Google has announced what has been described as “a watershed moment for the industry” with a partnership with the Independent Community News Network, including founder member Inside Croydon.

First with our news: Google has teamed up with Inside Croydon to deliver local news to more readers

Under the deal, Inside Croydon and another 44 hyperlocal publications will be showcased on the tech giant’s news aggregator – and Google will be paying for the content provided.

The Google News Showcase has so far mainly benefited bigger publishers. Google already features Inside Croydon on its aggregator page, but without paying for the use of the content. Inside Croydon did receive a generous and vital grant from Google in 2020, to assist with our coverage of the covid pandemic.

However, now ICNN has negotiated a deal with Google which provides 45 independent titles, including iC, with a new source of income. Continue reading

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Community campaigning raises £12,000 to green Portland Road

In our bankrupt borough, money doesn’t grow on trees… but it can certainly help buy some, as a community initiative by residents in Woodside has amply demonstrated, culminating with a celebratory planting day this month

Dig that: a contractor places a Portland Road maple in its new home

“What are you doing to my tree?” Chris Peskett shouted down the street.

It was March last year, and volunteers from Trees for Streets were out and about in South Norwood, putting “I’m a sponsored tree” labels on a tree that Peskett had donated.

Twelve months later, and Peskett and Trees for Streets were popping champagne corks on Portland Road after a day in which a community-run campaign had raised nearly £12,000, crowdfunded from local businesses and residents, resulting in the planting of 18 trees along one of the busier suburban streets in the borough.

Peskett is a retired teacher and community volunteer. “A formidable character,” is how one of the Trees for Streets people described her. Continue reading

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Bookings are open for 70 children’s Easter activity centres

The Easter holidays will see more than 70 activity clubs operate across the borough, offering free places for children and young people in receipt of free school meals.

Activity centre: voluntary and charity groups are hosting 70 clubs over the Easter holidays

Backed with a £350,000 grant from Government, the clubs are being run by 60 voluntary and charity organisations as part of the Holiday Activity and Food programme.

Croydon is in the country’s top 25per cent of children who are eligible for free school meals; 24per cent of Croydon residents are in low-paid employment – above the London average of 21per cent.

The activity club sessions are free for children and young people aged four to 16 who attend a Croydon school and are claiming free school meals. The days’ activities also include a nutritious meal, helping to ensure that families most in need can access food and fun during the school holidays. Continue reading

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Life and works of Inigo Jones, Honeywood Museum, Jul 27

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Call for Tory Mayor to resign after Government’s takeover

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Reaction to yesterday’s Government announcement that the Whitehall-appointed improvement panel will effectively take over the running of the cash-strapped council has met with near-universal criticism

Can’t be trusted: Tory Mayor Jason Perry

There have been calls for Jason Perry to resign as Mayor after yesterday’s announcement that the council is to be effectively run by unaccountable Whitehall bureaucrats.

Perry, the borough’s first elected Mayor, has been in office since May last year. Yesterday’s move by the Department for Levelling Up renders him pretty impotent for the next two years. Perry is paid £82,000 per year as Croydon Mayor.

Staff working at Fisher’s Folly, residents who have just received their Council Tax bills for 2023-2024 with Mayor Jason Perry’s 15per cent hike, and Town Hall politicians have almost all condemned yesterday’s announcement of a Government-backed takeover in Croydon.

One Katharine Street source, seething that the Tory Mayor had stitched up a deal with his party colleagues in Westminster to deliver the biggest Council Tax rise in the country and then effectively hand over control to unaccountable Whitehall mandarins, told Inside Croydon, “Perry has certainly put the ‘Con’ into Conservative.”

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Posted in Claire Bonham, Council Tax, Croydon Council, Esther Sutton, Improvement Board, Katherine Kerswell, Mayor Jason Perry, Ria Patel, Tony McArdle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Slough, Thurrock, Sandwell, Liverpool: Croydon’s not alone

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Government announcements of special measures yesterday covered four other local authorities, as councils across the country struggle with under-funding and massive debts built up over the last decade

State control: officials in Marsham Street are increasingly busy overseeing failing councils like Croydon

The party line, trotted out in the Town Hall Council debates earlier this month by senior Croydon Conservatives Jason Perry and Jason Cummings, that the dire financial situation in the south London borough was somehow unique, was untrue.

And yesterday’s announcements of “interventions” from the Department for Levelling Up underlined that, as four other councils in addition to Croydon were also mentioned: Liverpool City Council, Sandwell in the Midlands, Thurrock in Essex and Slough, Berkshire.

Like Croydon, Thurrock and Slough have been given special permission to hike their Council Tax above the national 5per cent cap. But unlike Croydon’s Mayor, Jason Perry, the people running Slough and Thurrock did not ask for government permission to increase Council Tax by 15per cent. Residents in Slough and Tory-run Thurrock, which is just as much of a basket-case as Croydon, will be getting a 10per cent Council Tax increase. Continue reading

Posted in Council Tax, Croydon Council, Improvement Board, Katherine Kerswell, Section 114 notice, Tony McArdle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

‘Precarious’ Palace sack boss Vieira after no wins in 11 games

Eagles were ‘sleepwalking to relegation’ under the former France and Arsenal star, as some suggest veteran ex-manager Hodgson might return in a caretaker role

Crystal Palace have sacked manager Patrick Vieira.

Struggling: under Patrick Vieira, Palace have not won a league game this year

The move comes less than 48 hours after Vieira saw his struggling side lose 1-0 at arch-rivals Brighton on Wednesday night, putting the Eagles just three points above the relegation zone.

Palace are 12th in the table but are only three points above 18th-placed Bournemouth, who have a game in hand.

“It is with enormous regret that this difficult decision has been made,” said Palace chairman Steve Parish.

“Ultimately, results in recent months have placed us in a precarious league position and we felt a change is necessary to give us the best chance of retaining Premier League status.”

Palace travel to Premier League leaders Arsenal on Sunday, their last game before an international break. They face 16th-placed Leicester City at home on April 1, followed by games against Leeds United and Southampton – both in the drop zone currently – and 15th-placed Everton. Continue reading

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London Repair Week activities, Whitgift Centre, Mar 20-26

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Croydon put in special measures: ‘Worst of all possible worlds’

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Announcements from Westminster and Whitehall today put the borough under the control of unelected bureaucrats who are answerable only to a Tory Government minister – in a scheme that the Mayor has helped plot for months. By STEVEN DOWNES

‘Minded’: Michael Gove has ordered the intervention into Croydon’s failed council

Jason Perry, Croydon’s first elected Mayor, is in office but he is not in power.

Just a week since Tory Perry bandied around dire legal threats of Commissioners being sent in – a central Government takeover of the running of the authority – if councillors did not pass his 15per Council Tax hike, today Michael Gove authorised the Government to take control out of the hands of Perry and the council’s chief executive, Katherine Kerswell, by announcing an “intervention” and assigning greater powers to its improvement and assurance panel.

The move clears the way for the Government possibly to agree to writing off hundreds of millions of pounds of loans, making Croydon the first council in the country to be allowed to default on its debt.

“It is understandable that Government wants to formalise our current improvement arrangements as a precautionary measure in light of the additional historic issues which have been uncovered,” pusillanimous Perry simpered in a brief post on the council’s website. Continue reading

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‘Precautionary measure given the historic issues uncovered’

Borrowed time: Mayor Jason Perry and council CEO Katherine Kerswell

CROYDON IN CRISIS: At 12.15pm this afternoon, the council’s internal communications department issued the following statement to all staff, under the title, “Message from Executive Mayor Jason Perry and Chief Executive, Katherine Kerswell”.

This is that statement in full:

Dear all,

Today the government will be publishing the latest report from Croydon’s Improvement and Assurance Panel. The report highlights significant progress in our improvement journey and recognises the work staff across the organisation are taking to transform the council.

The Minister for Local Government, Lee Rowley, and his officials have written to us setting out that he is ‘grateful for all of the work that you and other colleagues in Croydon have done in recent months to begin the long journey back from unprecedented challenges that the council has faced. I would like to formally acknowledge the good progress made by the council, under your leadership and with close support from the Panel, to address the difficult challenges it faces.’ Continue reading

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Two years too late, Tory Government intervenes over council

CROYDON IN CRISIS: A Parliamentary written statement today effectively admitted defeat over the council’s bail-outs and ordered a Whitehall takeover of the council ahead of a possible £540m debt write-off

Government intervention: Croydon needs exceptional measures to fix its mess

Lee Rowley, the Tories’ local government minister, announced today an exceptional intervention in Croydon – an admission that after two years of service cuts, asset sales and hundreds of staff redundancies, the council that has accumulated £1.6billion of debts cannot fix itself. 

Rowley’s written statement to the House of Commons ought to clear the way for another £224million government loan to Croydon, and brings closer the possibility that more than half-a-billion pounds of loans can be written off – making Croydon the first local authority in the country to be allowed to default on its debt.

Rowley’s statement came amid a flurry of announcements on behalf of Michael Gove, the Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which also covered two other bankrupted councils: Thurrock and Slough.

After a 15-month hiatus, the Whitehall-appointed improvement and assurance panel for Croydon finally got to see two of their long-delayed reports published. Gove, Rowley and their department, together with Croydon’s Conservative Mayor, Jason Perry, and the council chief exec, Katherine Kerswell, had kept these critical reports under wraps until after they pushed through a 15per cent Council Tax hike last week. Continue reading

Posted in Council Tax, Croydon Council, Katherine Kerswell, Mayor Jason Perry, Report in the Public Interest, RIPI II: Fairfield Halls, Section 114 notice, The Penn Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thornton Heath blaze was sparked by water says Brigade

Roof-top wreckage: most of the roof of the terraced house in Thornton Heath was destroyed

Four fire engines and around 25 firefighters tackled a house fire on St Stephens Crescent in Thornton Heath on Tuesday.

Most of the roof and half of the first floor of an end-of-terrace house was damaged by fire.

There were no reports of any injuries.

The London Fire Brigade was called at 4.42pm and the fire was under control by 6.20pm. Continue reading

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A Budget that subsidises profiteers and bungs £1bn to wealthy

ANDREW FISHER looks at what Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Statement means for the long-suffering people of Croydon. Plus: how to call-out a Tory MP’s lies, live on BBC television

Wrong priorities: the Chancellor has given the wealthiest few a £1bn bonus

There is an old saying in the House of Commons. It’s known as the souffle theory of Budgets: “The louder the cheers on Budget day, the sooner it falls apart”.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Budget yesterday was a combination of wrong priorities and misguided policy choices, but with a few sprinkles on top to try to disguise it.

On energy, the Chancellor maintained the energy price guarantee at £2,500. Hunt insisted that, “This measure will save the average family a further £160.” Which is not really true. It won’t save anyone anything because we are still paying nearly double what we were paying just over a year ago (when the price cap was £1,277). Continue reading

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Croydon Assembly presents The Big Lie, Ruskin House, Mar 31

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‘Restructuring’ has housing workers facing £3,000 pay cut

Our Town Hall reporter, KEN LEE, on the latest shocking cost-cutting measures being imposed on council staff

No Access Croydon: staff working at Fisher’s Folly and around the borough face wage cuts of at least £3,600

Croydon Council could be heading for a series of strikes later this year, after senior managers at Fisher’s Folly moved to cut some workers’ pay by at least £250 per month.

The latest cost-cutting measure at the cash-strapped council emerged in a series of internal staff briefings conducted soon after Mayor Jason Perry bullied through his 15per cent Council Tax hike last week – costing typical households an extra £230 per year and giving residents the second-highest Council Tax bills in the whole of London.

But Croydon’s long-suffering residents will be paying more for less, as Mayor Perry and his accomplice, council CEO Katherine Kerswell, push through another round of cuts.

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Posted in Council Tax, Croydon Council, Fly tipping, Housing, Katherine Kerswell, Mayor Jason Perry, Susmita Sen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Mind the digital gap: survey finds 1.5m Londoners ‘left behind’

Tube strikes notwithstanding, transport watchdog London TravelWatch has today published a report that shows 1.5million people in the capital are unable to buy a bus, Tube or tram ticket because they can’t use or don’t have access to a smartphone or internet connection.

Tapped out: 1-in-5 Londoners do not have digital access to be able to use discount fares and payment systems

And 20per cent of Londoners say that they have paid more for their travel because they are not able to buy tickets online or by using mobile apps.

“These ‘left-behind Londoners’ feel cut off from using public transport because they are digitally excluded or disadvantaged,” London TravelWatch said today. Continue reading

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Trinity roar their way into second Twickenham cup final

Raw talent: Trinity forward Kane Fleary roars in delight as his side breaks the deadlock on their way to winning the RFU Schools Cup semi-final against Blundell’s last week

A Croydon school features in the showpiece finale to the rugby season for the fourth time in succession, with their three England call-ups bidding to retain the RFU Schools Cup. Semi-final photos by LEO WILKINSON

Trinity are back in Twickenham final action tomorrow, after a 21-10 semi-final win over Blundell’s.

Trinity play Midlands rugby powerhouse Oakham in the RFU National Schools Under-18 final.

It is the second year in succession that Trinity have reached the showpiece of the season, having won the trophy for the first time in the school’s history 12 months ago. Continue reading

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Occasional Voices concert, Christ Church Addiscombe, Mar 18

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Machinal by Theatre Workshop Coulsdon, Mar 25-Apr 1

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Permit problems see Crystal Palace school street dropped

The council has been forced to abandon one of the school street traffic restrictions which were due to come into force yesterday, following complaints from residents in Crystal Palace that Croydon’s online permit applications system contains significant flaws.

Left out: the Harris school on Maberley Road has been dropped from the council’s school streets porgramme

It was just before 6pm last night that the council issued a grovelling press release that admitted that all was far from well with the school street scheme at Harris City Academy Crystal Palace, a combined primary and secondary school off Maberley Road.

The scheme had been proposed and approved by Conservative Mayor Jason Perry back in December, together with nine other new “Healthy School Streets” around the borough.

There are now 42 school streets in Croydon, where access for vehicular traffic is restricted during term time in the mornings and afternoons, when pupils are arriving for school or leaving at the end of the day.

Motorists who drive into school streets at these times without a residents’ permit are subject to fines of up to £130 per offence. Continue reading

Posted in Claire Bonham, Croydon Council, Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, Harris Academy Crystal Palace, Schools, Steve Iles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sampling some good Vybz from Selsdon’s Jamaican restaurant

A start-up business was recommended by their local councillor to seek some promotional publicity from Inside Croydon. KEN TOWL tried the food at Yaad Vybz and got a 5% off offer for this website’s readers

Councillor Joseph Lee may have voted three times for a 15per cent increase in our Council Tax but, then, no one’s totally useless.

Lunch very special: Yaad Vybz offers delicious Jamaican-inspired food at very reasonable prices

The silver lining around the Joseph Lee cloud is his good taste when it comes to fast food. It is thanks to Joseph Lee that together with a guest, I got to try some of the best Jamaican-inspired food we can remember eating.

So thank you, Joseph Lee, Conservative Council Tax-hiker, for that.

Kemmar Hayles, the affable and hard-working owner of Yaad Vybes in Selsdon contacted Inside Croydon last week, on the recommendation of Mr Lee. They asked if we could pop down and see how what they had to offer. Continue reading

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