Brick by Brick set to break the covid-19 lockdown next week

Residents are accusing the council’s house-building company of underhand tactics and of breaking the covid-19 lockdown, writes our overdevelopment correspondent, writes BARRATT HOLMES, in the first of a two-part report

Residents captured pictures of workers on the site at Montpelier Road last week – after BxB said that all work would stop

Much of the rest of the country might be on lockdown for coronavirus, but there’s no stopping the stubborn persistence – or is it financial desperation? – of Brick by Brick, the council-owned, loss-making house-builders (total purpose-built council homes built since 2015: three).

For them, building continues uninterrupted, particularly if it happens to be needed to finish work on some of their long-delayed sites under the excuse “it would be at a significant business risk to close them”.

Even where Brick by Brick said last week that they would, belatedly, observe the covid-19 lockdown, workers have been observed on-site and the company’s representatives say that they could break the embargo against all but essential work as early as next week. Continue reading

Posted in Brick by Brick, Community associations, Purley, Purley Oaks and Riddlesdown | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Covid-19 lockdown could cost Palace £37m in lost revenues

The covid-19 lockdown of top-tier football may end up costing Crystal Palace more than £37million.

Feeling the squeeze: has someone just shown Palace boss the club’s financial figures for the pandemic lockdown?

That’s the latest estimate by a leading football finance analyst, on the day after the chairman of the FA, Greg Clarke warned a council meeting that the game in England was in danger of “losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse”.

Palace are one of two Premier League clubs (the other is Newcastle, run by that paragon of business virtue, Mike Ashley) who have opted to use emergency business measures during the coronavirus and deferred filing their latest annual accounts by three months. All perfectly legal, and morally a good deal more acceptable to many that what some other clubs have chosen to do, such as laying off backroom staff, or using the government’s furlough scheme, while keeping their players on full wages of five-figure sums every week. Continue reading

Posted in Crystal Palace FC, Football, Sport | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Family fortunes: council suspected of planning cover-up

Heather Cheesbrough, one of Croydon’s most senior directors, has been accused of misleading the public and the elected councillors on the planning committee in a council cover-up over whether one of her staff properly declared an interest in advance over a multi-million-pound development in Purley.

Director of planning Heather Cheesbrough: did she mislead the planning committee?

The council has so far refused to respond to residents’ Freedom of Information requests that have asked for the full documentation that shows that one of its most senior planning officers declared that he is married to the director of a company which was granted permission to build a five-storey block of flats.

Natalie Gentry works for Macar, an Epsom-based developer who has schemes across the borough. Her husband is Ross Gentry, one of Croydon’s most senior planning department officials.

That important detail was not included in the original report prepared ahead of the council’s planning committee in December, where the Labour majority on the committee voted through the scheme for the large block of 40 flats on Higher Drive.

Continue reading

Posted in Community associations, Heather Cheesbrough, Planning, Purley | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Newman’s ‘virtually all there’ for his secret Town Hall meeting

The government finally moved late last week to make it legally possible for local authorities to stage “virtual” council meetings, and to continue with a semblance of Town Hall business during the covid-19 lockdown.

Still at work: Jo Negrini

Yet less than 48 hours before the Whitehall edict to give the all-clear for councils like Croydon’s to move into the 21st century and embrace socially distanced communications technologies, Tony Newman and his Labour group at the Town Hall had already done just that, holding a secret meeting so that they could be briefed by the council chief executive, Jo Negrini, about how she and her senior directors are coping with the coronavirus emergency.

But Newman, and Labour, excluded all members of the public from the briefing, though the council leader and a couple of his colleagues gave the game away somewhat when they put tweets into the public domain about what was being discussed behind closed doors. Continue reading

Posted in Caragh Skipper, Croydon Council, CVA, Jo Negrini, Sean Fitzsimons, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Local businesses get on their trikes to help Mayday workers

Esther Sutton ready to set off from The Oval Tavern with another batch of meals for NHS workers

As the pandemic crisis heads into its second month in London, even under the toughest economic conditions for generations small businesses rooted in their communities are going out of their way to help, with special offers for NHS staff.

Jose Joseph, the Surrey Street fruit and veg stall-holder, is offering 25 per cent off the price of his healthy produce to NHS workers. This is in addition to his weekly, Tuesday night soup kitchen that he has been running for more than a year for the town centre’s homeless and working poor.

In Addiscombe, The Oval Tavern might be shut for its usual business during the lockdown, but together with Selhurst bicycle specialists, Peddle My Wheels, they’ve teamed up to provide a food delivery service to staff working at Mayday Hospital. Continue reading

Posted in Addiscombe East, Business, Esther Sutton, Health, Jose Joseph, Mayday Hospital, Pubs, Surrey Street | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘We’re scared. But we’re here for you. Help us – stay indoors’

After 14-hour night shifts for the past two weeks, often covering for colleagues who are ill or self-isolating, one senior healthcare practitioner from Croydon working at a large London hospital – though not Mayday – offers their perspective on dealing with the covid-19 emergency

Working on the frontline in a London NHS hospital has always been pretty tough work.

Even though for us it’s our day job, we’re always conscious that we’re looking after real people, who might just as easily be us, our parents, children or friends.

The last few weeks have seen unparalleled change and challenges, with the accompanying levels of stress that you might expect. Continue reading

Posted in Croydon CCG, Croydon NHS Trust, Health | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

‘Marigolds and bin-liners’: council care homes run out of PPE

Croydon Council has failed to provide vital safety equipment for hundreds of its carers risking their health and that of social care residents during the coronavirus lockdown.

The shortage of personal protective equipment is putting care home staff at risk

With NHS workers deeply concerned about a lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE, such as face masks, disposable gowns and visors, and with reports from St Helier Hospital that staff there are having to use bedsheets to move the dead, Croydon Council has put out repeated pleas for local businesses to give up any suitable equipment they have to hand.

Croydon has a large number of care homes, both privately operated and several run by the council. They also have social care staff who visit some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents who are housebound in their homes.

And it is council staff who have become very worried about a lack of PPE. Continue reading

Posted in Adult Social Care, Care Homes, Croydon Council, Health, Tony Newman | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment