Boris, the NFL, libraries and precious crockery: iC’s 2013

As we approach 2014 and all that may have to offer, here’s the 10 most-read iC articles of 2013 – an eclectic mix of politics, exclusive news stories, sport, arts reviews and controversy.

On trial: Lawrence Okoye undergoing physical tests with the NFL

On trial: Lawrence Okoye undergoing physical tests with the NFL

With more than half a million page views in the past 12 months, and our innovative approach to coverage of local selections and elections while holding local authorities to account, it increasingly seems that Inside Croydon – the only independent news source that is based and edited in the borough – is providing something lacking elsewhere.

There will be more to come…

In the meantime, as we reflect on 2013, these are our articles from the past 12 months which were most read:

1, An open letter to Lawrence Okoye: NFL could be a dead-end

The British record-holder for the discus had a multi-million dollar decision to make earlier this year when he took a trial for the NFL. We offered some career advice while considering his options. The talented sports star opted to take the big bucks and join the San Francisco 49ers. So far, Waddon’s gridiron rookie has had a cruciate ligament injury and has had zero minutes of game time. But he is made for life.

One item from the Riesco Collection that Croydon Council flogged off

One item from the Riesco Collection that Croydon Council flogged off

2, Croydon’s secret plan to flog £13m-worth of Riesco Collection

Investigations by Inside Croydon revealed exclusively in May the council’s secretive and duplicitous scheme to sell-off the borough’s heritage, having removed two dozen of the most valuable pieces from the Croydon Museum‘s collections.

It was a story that ran through the rest of the year and saw iC also reveal the advice of the council’s own lawyers that the sale was unlawful.

Ultimately, the Museums Association stripped Croydon of its accreditation over its Arthur Daley-esque auction that may prove to raise less than half its target, as we revealed in…

3, Council’s cultural vandalism leaves borough short-changed

4, Roke Primary to be handed over to a carpet salesman

The theme running through much of our coverage in 2013 has been the transference of public property and services to private interests. And rarely, if ever, with public consent.

So it was in January, when a previously successful state primary in Kenley had its fate sealed, for the advantage of the Harris Federation. Which Croydon schools will be “privatised” in 2014?

john-laing-resized-15, Laings quit £30m Croydon libraries privatisation deal

Inside Croydon’slibraries coverage over the past three years has always attracted high readership.

This report underlined the on-going incompetence of Croydon Council in its efforts to hand over a £30 million contract to their mates at a subsidiary of builders John Laing: when John Laing Integrated Services discovered that the deal included taking on the librarians’ pension liabilities, they walked… until our council crawled back to them and offered them the deal on yet more favourable terms.

It may not seem possible, yet Croydon Council’s shambolic handling of our libraries was to get worse.

County cricket won't be back at South Croydon next summer
County cricket won’t be back at South Croydon next summer

6, Whitgift loses out on staging Surrey cricket in 2013

Another set-back for Croydon, as the county cricket club opted not to return to Whitgift School with a summer festival for the second successive year.

And iC was first to confirm that first-class cricket won’t be back in 2014, either, despite the best efforts of SCCC and the school.

7, Council silent as HR chief Parkes heads for the exit

This was one of the nitty, gritty stories from the council offices in 2013, and one in which may yet have repercussions in 2014. Parkes was one of a number of high-ranking council officials to leave Croydon in something of a hurry…

Croydon's former CEO Jon Rouse

Croydon’s former chief executive Jon Rouse

8, Jon Rouse: an alchemist who turned property into debts

Contributing editor Andrew Pelling’s analysis of the career in Croydon of the council’s £248,000 pa chief executive, Jon Rouse, does not make pretty reading.

Rouse had only recently given a lengthy interview to the Sadvertiser, without them indicating any hint of the imminent departure. Rouse quit at short notice earlier this year to take up a new job paying around £100,000 a year less.

9, Cane Hill plans for 675 family homes but only 222 children

In his infinite wisdom, Boris “The Bodger” Johnson handed over £250 million of public property, the Cane Hill Hospital site outside Coulsdon, to house builders Barratt, who plan a maximum profit scheme with a large but somewhat isolated village that features few “affordable” homes and no social amenities, such as schools or GP surgeries, and poor access routes. By the year’s end, as Inside Croydon was first to report this week, the planning application was being “re-assessed” by Croydon’s Tory council, presumably until May’s local elections.

10, Hammersfield scheme hits a planning road block

And in at No10, one of our reports on the biggest Croydon story of 2013, and of 2014, 2015, 2016… The £1 billion scheme to redevelop the town centre by Westfield and Hammerson is being fast-tracked through planning at council, Mayor and Whitehall level. As ever, though, details on how Croydon’s roads will run smoothly, where our town’s tram routes will operate, what sort of jobs will be delivered, who ends up paying and who stands to profit most, remain scant.

Watch this space…

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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