CROYDON COMMENTARY: Following this week’s appointment of a Whitgift Foundation board-member to chair the Fairness Commission, local activist CHARLOTTE DAVIES says it is long overdue for Croydon to cut some of the public school ties that bind
After the Croydon riots in 2011, the Hon William Barnett QC MA popped up to chair the inquiry into the causes of the disturbances. Now we have The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon, chairing the “Opportunity and Fairness Commission”.
Both of these illustrious men can be found on the Board of Trustees of the Whitgift Foundation.
We have nationally just seen considerable debate over the chairing of the child abuse inquiry appointment, as the victims have rejected and distrusted well-connected Establishment figures. This country is one of the most socially and economically polarised societies in Europe – we have to find ways of moving on from an Establishment that is so narrow that it cannot effectively check and monitor its own behaviour.
The Whitgift Foundation is a significant part of the problem in the London Borough of Croydon. It is the major landowner, yet its portfolio includes tatty, unoccupied properties, many of which have blighted our High Street for years.
It is the richest school group, yet it invests next to nothing in educational research or in real community outreach programmes that are anything other than thinly veiled pieces of marketing, or rugby team empire-building.
Too many of our elected councillors are directly involved in the Board of the Foundation or have close relatives on the Board. The MP for Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell, is also closely connected to the Foundation.
In no way do I doubt the integrity of Bishop Clark, but if he wants to chair the Opportunity and Fairness Commission he needs to step down from the Whitgift Foundation.
When I meet with residents from across Croydon, they all seem to share the same frustrations with planning, with transparency of information, the quality of schools, with waste management, and on and on and on…
There is huge distrust across the borough for the connections between a small group of key stakeholders who all seem to look after each others interests and exclude anyone who attempts to seek transparent, critical assessment and judgement.
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- Cabinet member maintains her seat on Whitgift governors
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- £1bn property schemes, landowners and proper role of MPs
Coming to Croydon
- Ghost Stories for Christmas, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 3
- David Lean Cinema, The Riot Club, Dec 4
- St Andrew’s churchyard gardening session, 10am, Dec 6
- Fog Horn Funnies, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 6
- Croydon Philharmonic Handel’s Messiah, Fairfield Halls, Dec 6
- Coulsdon Yulefest, Dec 6-7
- Heathfield House Christmas charity bazaar, Dec 7
- Oval Tavern Folk Club, Dec 7
- St Andrew’s Church community choir service, Dec 10
- David Lean Cinema, ’71, Dec 11
- Mayor of Croydon’s charity Christmas dinner, Dec 12
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- Concert of Christmas music, St Luke’s, Woodside, Dec 13
- Opera Soiree at Whitgift School, Dec 14
- Friends of the Earth Green Beanfeast, Dec 15 (book by Dec 1)
- Croydon Philharmonic Christmas concert, St Matthew’s, Dec 16
- Norwood Society talk: Penge, the making of a suburb, Jan 15
- David Lean Cinema, Northern Soul, Dec 18
- David Lean Cinema, Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief, Dec 29
- David Lean Cinema, The Beat Beneath My Feet, Dec 30
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
- Norwood Society talk: Crystal Palace and Dulwich, Feb 19
- Norwood Society talk: Charlies Dickens in Norwood, Mar 19
- Norwood Society: Balloons and airships at Crystal Palace, Apr 16
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