Three Prime Ministers and a Funeral… 2022 was busy on the news front, even by recent standards.
Here in deepest south London, the stories just kept coming, some part of a narrative thread which ran throughout the year – such as the saga around an arts centre without an arts gallery or a concert piano. Here’s the first part of our look back over the past 12 months
Little did we know when we ran the extraordinary story of the latest piece of Labour Party self-destruction at the start of the year that it would be one of the themes that we would return to throughout 2022, as a massive leak of documents was to prove that the party had been trying to shut down Inside Croydon since at least 2016.
The human cost of the purge of the left by party General Secretary David Evans and his acolytes was demonstrated with the news that Croydon activist David White was expelled from Labour, of which he’d been a member for 51 years, without even a scintilla of proper process: Labour centrists expel veteran Croydon campaigner White.
“It grieves me that the party I joined so many years ago has moved so far away from basic notions of natural justice, fairness and freedom of speech,” White told Inside Croydon. Before the year was out, White, and Inside Croydon, would discover much more about the dirty tricks conducted by the Labour right.
Let the trains take the strain: Govia now announces train cancellations ‘until further notice’
It’s not just the rail unions that bring the rail network to a halt.
The heavily subsidised private companies who pass themselves off as rail operators have an impressive track record when it comes to providing a piss-poor service for season-ticket holders and regular passengers who just want to get from A-to-B cheaply and reliably.
This time 12 months ago, we were reporting how services into Victoria from stations in Croydon and across southern England had stopped on Christmas Eve, apparently for planned engineering and signalling work.
Services were due to return to a covid-sort-of-normal on the first working day after all the Christmas period bank holidays, at the start of the week when schools are set to re-open.
Then, on New Year’s Eve, Govia issued an update, stating that Victoria would remain closed for a further week, until January 10, with service reductions due to staff either catching covid or having to self-isolate because of the virus… No government spokesperson has decried the damaging impact being inflicted on the railway network by subsidised rail operating businesses.
And then there was this… Negrini and execs ‘failed to ensure council was acting lawfully’.
Auditors Grant Thornton’s second RIPI – Report In The Public Interest – on Croydon in the space of 15 months echoed many of the serious questions which the public, and Inside Croydon, had raised regarding the unfinished and incomplete refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls – which we now had confirmed had cost £67million – more than twice the original budget.
It would be documents obtained by Inside Croydon, which Croydon Council tried to suppress with a High Court injunction – and failed – which would expose quite how serious Negrini’s actions – or inaction – had been.
The following month, Croydon’s Labour councillors, who had presided over and encouraged the omnishambles at the Fairfield Halls – including prime movers Paul Scott and Alison Butler – were doing their darnedest to block any police investigation: £67m fraud at Fairfield: Town Hall row over calling in police. Nuffink to see here, occifer!
But barely had we paused for breath than another example of big-money financial fast practice emerged, with the Labour administration – with Butler implicated once again – caught using ring-fenced housing money for “other purposes”: Council faces new storm over ‘missing’ £73m housing money.
One of the best-read reports of the whole of 2022 was a look at the future, or otherwise, of the Selsdon Park Hotel, written by one of our regular contributors, Ken Towl: Lots of reservations after Selsdon hotel and golf course close.
One year on, and the hotel is still yet to reveal detailed plans for re-opening under new boutique hotel operators Birch.
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When Tim Martin, the obnoxious Brexit apologist behind a cheap beer chain, realises that the costs of exiting the EU are hitting his profits, then it really ought not to take too long for others to realise the immense self-harm he and other Little Englanders have caused to the United Kingdom: Wetherspoons confirm imminent closure of second busy pub.
With Croydon’s and other London boroughs’ local elections by now two months away, candidate selections were being announced by the local parties, and Inside Croydon was doing a better job of due diligence on some of the wannabe councillors than their parties: No apology from candidate for abusive and homophobic tweets.
Elliott-Jay Munroop was the second Labour candidate to stand down when his less-than-impressive past conduct was uncovered.
And meanwhile, local author and all-round good egg, John Grindrod, had his latest book published – including special, not-to-be-missed Inside Croydon-orientated content: From pavement to skyline, Croydon holds a concrete grip.
Croydon really found itself in a hole this month… Traffic chaos in South Croydon after second sinkhole opens up. And no, this wasn’t our April Fool (About turn! Trams’ town centre loop set to go in reverse).
And the Fairfield Halls?
Now re-opened after its covid “hibernation”, research by this website found that less than 1-in-4 of available dates were booked for performances.
It is now an arts centre without an art gallery and without a concert piano of its own: The grand scandal at the centre of Fairfield’s absurd saga.
The consequences of the borough’s bankruptcy continued to mount, with the axing of the council’s Meals on Wheels service: 22 jobs lost as Croydon axes Meals on Wheels ‘by stealth’.
- Part 2 of our Review of 2022 comes tomorrow… with takes from the never-ending election count, Croydon’s first (and only just) elected Mayor, and more signs of doom and decay in the town centre
- And Part 3 of the review of the year – covering September to December – is here, including Inside Croydon’s appearance in the High Court and the first publication of the Penn Report, plus the overwhelming winner of parliamentary brown-noser of 2022
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