When the local MP tells Parliament that Croydon has an image problem, then you know there must be something to it.
The launch of this Inside Croydon blog coincides with Gavin Barwell, the newly elected Member of Parliament for Croydon Central, making his maiden speech at the House of Commons on Wednesday evening, June 2.
In his (it has to be said, somewhat dull) eight-minute address, full of platitudes about Croydon geography and history, apparently copied straight from Wikipedia, Barwell, the chairman of governors at Trinity School, assiduously toed his Conservative party line on education. No surprise there.
But there was one line from this professional Tory party politician’s speech which was certain to make headlines, and which is sure to be re-used forever in future, dragged up from the cuttings every time a hack newspaper columnist wants to make a point about chav culture, the Croydon facelift or life in the suburbs.
“There is no getting away from the fact,” Barwell told Parliament, “that Croydon has an image problem – a reputation for rather unwelcoming 1960s architecture, and for crime and antisocial behaviour.”
Apart from the rather ham-fisted manner he managed to take a widespread opinion and pass it off as a “fact”, at least Barwell unwittingly did this blog a favour, by summing up why we are here.
The 2010 election was keenly fought and historic in many ways, especially so in Croydon’s three parliamentary constituencies and local council elections. Though not that you will have noticed if you relied on local ITV or BBC broadcasts, or even on the tired and dull Croydon Advertiser.
And if you turned to the blogosphere for your local news you would have got, well…. the Croydon Advertiser website or its freebie rival, the Croydon Guardian, offering coverage of the news and resulting issues which, frankly, is often puerile or patronising.
While other boroughs and towns have keen and active hyper-local news sites, Croydon did not.
This is not a mission statement for Inside Croydon, because we are not on a mission. This is not “top-down” journalism or politics, but “bottom-up” life, as it is lived, in and around Croydon, by and from the people who are living it.
This site will become, we hope, an evolving mass of news and views, information about where you live and work that is interesting, stimulating, and which ultimately offers you a voice in your community which is often missing from the formal way in which Croydon is run.
Inside Croydon is interested in everything related to life Inside Croydon: music, theatre, education, football, crime and policing, traffic, housing and planning, cricket … The list is endless.
- Consider Inside Croydon a wayfinder towards some activity you might want to become involved with this weekend.
- Consider Inside Croydon as a lightning rod for the issues that affect you, your family and your colleagues.
- Consider Inside Croydon to be an ever-watchful observer of life in and around Croydon, keeping tabs on our local political servants, their actions and their expenses.
Make sure you comment on what is posted here, and please do send to us the news from your neighbourhood, your street, your school, your choir or drama group, your sports club or your evening class.
Let Croydon know what matters to you, Inside Croydon.
You can comment on any of the stories already posted on the blog, or you can write your own article, or suggest a subject for an article, by emailing: email@example.com
Welcome – laudable aims, and something that – as you say – is much needed in Croydon. I’m looking forward to seeing the blog develop, and hope in time you might decide to unmask yourself too 🙂
Thanks for the kind words, Neil.
We will appreciate your support, advice and steers – plus any contributions! – in the coming weeks as we find our feet with this blog.
In the meantime, we’ll bask in the warm glow of anonymity. Or at least until someone works out where this is coming from!
I’d like to echo Neil’s words of welcome – it’s great to see a hyperlocal blog for Croydon.
My interest isn’t as a resident – until last year, I lived on the outskirts of Norbury, but I’m now in Brighton. However, I did used to be the news editor at the Croydon Advertiser, and still keep in touch both with the team there, and occasionally with our arch-rivals, the Croydon Guardian.
I’m also a big believer in hyperlocal blogs – at their best (and you’ve got off to a great start) they’re fantastic at shining light into corners of their subject which mainstream media either can’t or won’t cover.
One small plea – try not to sneer too much at my former colleagues – the reporters do a very good job with the resources they have, and it’s not their fault the local and regional press is in a right old mess. I think David Higgerson of Trinity Media and Philip John of the Lichfield Blog’s idea of hyperlocal blogs and local newspapers working together is pretty inspirational: