How do other Londoners see Croydon?
In the latest episode of our Croydon Insider podcast, we branch out a bit, in a quest to discover what people around the capital perceive of Croydon and the financial crisis our politicians and council executives have created for us all.
This edition goes to the north-west and south-east of the capital with Pamela Fitzpatrick, a founder of the Harrow Law Centre, and Darryl Chamberlain, the editor of Greenwich and Woolwich local news site 853.London, as well as inviting back South Norwood community activist Emma Gardiner and town centre business owner Oumesh Sauba.
In a bumper and wide-ranging edition, our panel discuss the big stories of the week as published on Inside Croydon, as well as taking a look at what is happening at Regina Road and the deepening housing crisis, and discover the £1,000 fines and possible criminal record that ordinary residents could face under Mayor Jason Perry’s new PSPO measures.
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- ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine
Croydon could be like the way it used to be . A place one could be proud to bring up your children and invite your grandparents for a weekend without the presence of the fear we live in today . We need an honest police force that’s not to say all police in Croydon are bad there are some very good officers in Croydon and on the other hand there are some that are rotten to the core . The next is Croydon Council complete revamp and someone who can run a council with honesty and listen to the people . We need rid of the back scratchers in both the police and the council .
I am fortunate enough to have had no contact with the police. How many do you think are rotten and how does this show itself?
After the brilliant concert of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra last night, my son and I crossed the road and wandered along the pedestrianised High Street all the way to West Croydon, seeking a restaurant where we could sit down and eat non-junk food.
The pedestrianised area was inhabited mainly by tracksuit wearing and hoodie-wearing young people, and a few drinkers.
I don’t at all mind young people, and – as my son said – they have a right to chill out in the town centre.
It did not really make me feel insecure as I was not walking alone, and have spent most of my working life in places like olden-day Deptford, Peckham, Rotherhithe, Catford etc.
But I would have felt insecure on my own, nonetheless.
What struck me forcibly was thankfully not a fist nor an iron bar, but the absence of people over the age of 20, vehicles, police or council presence and any real activity.
It was weirdly dead, and felt isolated. What would happen if someone threatened or mugged us? What would happen if the young woman who was talking to us and herself, and wasn’t on a head phone, turned out not to be harmless? I did smile and say a few friendly words, it seemed rude not to, but as she walked after us, laughing and muttering, I did wonder what she might do.
My son lives in a large regional German town which has small trams, where various routes meet in the town centre before fanning out to the ends of the lines in the suburbs. In the evenings, and up to pub closing time, the centre of his town has lots of people walking around it. The trams help to “police” it.
We reflected that, at the current time, Croydon has so many vacant big sites, and empty shops, that there just isn’t the population to generate enough activity in the streets of the kind that you get in his town, or central London.
I wondered if the High Street should be reopened to buses- electic or hydrogen only, to get people and activity back into the middle.
This would mean that the pleasant trees would need mainly to go, but it would bring back movement and natural policing.
Sadly, the delay in filling the big hole in the middle of Croydon (aka the demolished St George’s Walk area) with new residential and other uses, plus the delay on redeveloping the Whitgift, means that the town centre will remain in limbo for years more.
It was with some relief that we emerged into the busy West Croydon London Road, as I felt sure that we should find a fine traditional barbeque pit Turkish restaurant, one that once opened until 6am.
It now closes at 11pm. Good for us – we had a very good meal of stewed lamb/rice/ beans and salad – and good for the staff, they get to go home well before midnight.
The amazing thing was that we didn’t stick to the exceptionally dirty, sticky pavements of London Road, which were renewed some years ago. If this was Spain, the Council would wash down and steam jet the pavements, every week.
If non-Croydonians looked at this area outside the Station, they would be disgusted, with its overflowing bins and rubbish, and the general air of cleansing abandonment.
I was glad to get round the corner to the nicely-designed Bus station, which felt bright and safe, and get the 166 back to the fresher and far less sticky town centre of Coulsdon.
If it was people you were looking for Lewis, then you should have walked through what remains of Queen’s Gardens, towards the Town Hall, where the queue for the Nightwatch soup kitchen, for the homeless and the working poor, was longer than I have ever seen it.
Thank goodness for Nightwatch’s volunteers and organisation.