The following is the Inside Croydon 2012 Hit Parade, and needs to be read in the “voice” of Alan “Fluff” Freeman. For younger readers, think Smashy and Nicey…
It’s the top 20 posts published on this site in the past 12 months. It demonstrates an eclectic mix of news, analysis, sport, politics and culture, with a No1 that’s way out in front.
So here we go, with the 2012 Top of the most Popular Posts, and all of them are new entries this year!
Farewell to the Goodies: Our coverage of Sanderstead residents’ opposition to German supermarket chain Lidl’s purchase of and plans to demolish the Good Companions pub drew more than a thousand views in August. The campaign did not stop the developers pulling down the landmark pub at Hamsey Green, though.
Dependency Vultures?In September, with Allders’ doom now assured, multi-billion Aussie developers Westfield swooped in with a planning application for the Whitgift Centre with the old department store’s corpse still warm. This is certain to be a story which will keep us busy in 2013.
The Bridge to Nowhere: Or how to balls up a planning process by failing to insist that multi-million-pound developers make even a modest contribution to the deal, and then don’t even allow the development which enhances their plans to access their site. The new East Croydon station pedestrian bridge and entrance should be open very soon, but the public still won’t be able to access it via the Mental Tower site, thanks to developers Menta and the planning department’s short-comings.
The impossible job: Thanks to contributions from our friends at Five-Year Plan Fanzine, a profile of one of Croydon’s famous son, Roy Hodgson, after he took on the task as managing the England football team.
Fingers crossed, so far so good…
Another victim of the riots: A year and a day following the 2011 Croydon Riots, and we reported on the closure of the borough’s best restaurant, Le Cassoulet in South End.
Malcolm John, the acclaimed chef-owner, blamed the after-effects of the riots and the council’s subsequent neglect of his neighbourhood for making an already bad situation far, far worse.
Racist incident: Inside Croydon’s network of contributors alerted us to a troubling incident at one of MP Gavin Barwell’s self-promoting “litter picks”, when some of the MP’s “helpers” turned on a local resident with threats and racist abuse. Barwell was forced into making an apology to senior figures at the London Road mosque.
The NHS, safe in their hands? Nearly 1,200 people have viewed our report – again, contributed by one of our regular resident correspondents – on a troubling trend under the government’s latest “reforms”, in which NHS GPs refer patients to private hospitals for treatment, and that the private hospital then seeks to raise a private charge for follow-up, subsequent appointments.
One trend in 2012 has been the increasing range of comments on our coverage. This article drew a response from Shirley Oaks Hospital, which did not deny that the incident had occurred.
Allders’ timeline to oblivion: Contributing editor Andrew Pelling’s historical perspective on the closure of Croydon’s “much-loved” (though evidently not loved enough) department store Allders was widely praised for offering a context on the decades-long decline of the town centre’s shopping area.
The feature continues to offer a strong factual backgrounder on Croydon’s past, and future.
The Stephen Lawrence case and the Croydon connection: Having a former senior police officer now serving as a leading Conservative councillor at the Town Hall drew strong interest from Inside Croydon’s loyal reader.
David Osland’s role in the much-criticised police investigation of the infamous racist murder was highlighted, as was his questionable attitude towards Doreen Lawrence and others who first criticised the Met’s handling of the case. As far as we are aware, to date, Osland has never apologised to the Lawrence family for his hurtful remarks.
Croydon Tory councillor’s husband’s racist website article: Is there a theme about the attitudes of Croydon Conservatives developing here, perhaps?
Steven George-Hilley, husband and political partner in the Tory youth group of Waddon’s Silley councillor, was forced to withdraw his clearly racist website post, published in the days after the London-wide riots in August 2011. Yet as far as we have been able to determine, neither he nor his wife have ever been subject to any disciplinary action over this exceedingly damaging racist attitude.
And now to Inside Croydon’s 2012 Top 10…
Pearson gets off lightly in stewarding incident: Our second Palace-related article in the top 20.
This one involved the ever-amusing New Addington councillor, Tony Pearson, whose less laughable conduct when acting as a Selhurst Park steward drew massive complaints from ordinary fans.
Yet again, it seems, there’s one set of rules for ordinary residents, none of which apply to our elected representatives.
Most expensive bidder handed libraries contract by Croydon: Attracting more than 1,500 visits, our report broke the news that our council – unlike Conservative-run Wandsworth – had ignored a year-long and expensive bidding process, and instead of awarding its libraries privatisation deal – which the public never asked for – to the best bidder, happened to pick John Laing Integrated Services. A subsidiary of the company with which Croydon has a £450 million property speculation deal. Coincidence or stitch-up?
Inside Croydon’s coverage of the neglect and abuse of the public libraries service in the borough has prompted calls for a judicial review of the council’s handling of the libraries privatisation. More is sure to follow in 2013…
Going viral for all the wrong reasons: A picture story this one. No need to elaborate further, is there?
Boris buys trams that are too long for our platforms… Another filed under the “you couldn’t make it up”.
We discovered that the new trams which the Mayor of London managed to get into service around the time he was seeking re-election, also required considerable extra work on the network because they did not fit our existing platforms.
Of course, despite Boris twice making a pledge that they will, none of the trams will be running to Crystal Palace on the promised extension.
Croydon Council paid £20m to interim staff: This from January. Some serious scrutiny of the council’s invoices uncovered massive spending on temporary executive staff – £20 million no less – at the time when less well-paid staff were being laid off with alacrity and services to residents reduced to virtual non-existence.
The council hated this story appearing, and went to considerable trouble to force us to remove the photographs that we had obtained from the public domain on social networking sites, showing some of our £800-a-day executives out in Lloyd Park, playing frisbee. Or throwing your money away.
Olympic Torch route for Croydon confirmed: Despite our council’s somewhat dog-in-the-manger attitude towards the Greatest Show on Earth, as this post from March demonstrated, the public appetite for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics was vast.
More than 2,500 people viewed this post alone, four months before the Games “arrived” in Croydon, albeit all too briefly, with the Olympic Torch Relay in July, carried through Waddon by local resident Sir Patrick Stewart, who was noticeably emotional about the public reception he and the flame received. Make it so, you could say.
Croydon Council grabs at £3m Warehouse grant with low bid for theatre name: After our council hit another low blow against the arts scene in Croydon, pulling a grant from the Warehouse Theatre, one of Inside Croydon’s correspondents uncovered the contract that the Town Hall had drawn up to grab the naming rights, and the studio’s worldwide reputation, to transfer it to a new build it is backing at the Fairfield Halls.
This post alone was seen by nearly 3,000 readers, with many of them also following the links to the associate post with the detail from the council contract. More Warehouse developments are expected early in the new year.
And so to the Top 3…
Discus date with destiny for Olympic opportunist Okoye: The national story of the year was undoubtedly the London Games and the “Olympic effect” it had on the nation, so it is unsurprising that Croydon’s collective imagination was captured in significant amounts.
More than 3,500 people, from around the world, clicked on our story about Waddon’s Lawrence Okoye, an Olympic finalist at his first Games and surely one to watch in Rio in 2016 and beyond…
Palace make late bid to bring Premiership rugby to Selhurst: Inside Croydon’s approach to Palace co-owner Steve Parish about the possibility of offering a south London home to London Welsh for their debut season in the Rugby Premiership drew nearly 5,000 readers.
Delayed preparations for the new season because of the sport’s organisers’ initial decision to ban Welsh from the top tier of English club rugby and contracts signed with the Kassam Stadium in Oxford meant that no deal was possible. But London Welsh have had a better than expected start to their Premiership career and may (famous last words) already have done enough to avoid relegation.
So might this be something that Parish and Palace revisit in 2013?
And finally… It’s No1, it’s top of the Inside Croydon pops:
Wartime Spitfire to pay tribute at Kenley airfield: Do not underestimate the enduring interest of the British public in the Second World War and the iconic (a reasonable use of that clichéd word) Spitfire.
A simple item flagging up a fly past by the Battle of Britain fighter one May weekend has drawn readers throughout the year. By today, more than 11,000 had visited the article.
Thank you to our loyal reader for following Inside Croydon in 2012, for your support, comments, news tips and, in an encouraging number of cases, many fascinating and valued articles.
Here’s to more in 2013.
- Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon
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- Getting trollied: Croydon’s uncharitable councillors (insidecroydon.com)
- Legacy of the riots: Croydon abandoned by middle-class (standard.co.uk)
- £30m libraries privatisation could be sent for judicial review (insidecroydon.com)