Croydon Update 26 March

The Council is seeking  Met Police investigation of aspects of the financial crisis against senior officers and Councillors. While the Government moves to step in both Labour and Tories are playing party politics with pointless motions for debate at the Council meeting this coming Wednesday.

Tuesday 28 March. 6.30 pm. Scrutiny & Overview Committee

Council Tax Hardship Scheme 2023/24; Budget Scrutiny: Month 9 Financial Performance Report; Scrutiny Recommendations.

Wednesday 29 March. 6.30pm. Council Meetings

6.30pm. Nominations – Civic Awards

6.35pm. Croydon Question Time – Public Questions; Section 24 Statutory Recommendations Report from Grant Thornton; Recommendations of Cabinet or Committees to Council; Quarterly Report on the use of Special Urgency Procedures in respect of Key Decisions; Mayor and Cabinet Questions; Appointments to committees; Council Debate Motions.

Thursday 30 March – Saturday the 1st April, 12 – 4pm. Pictures of Dementia Exhibition

1 April. 2-4pm. Book Launch Pictures of Dementia

Stefan Szczelkun is launching his new book Joan Colnbrook’s Dementia Painting about his mother. She was an artist who got vascular Dementia in her late Eighties. Stefan writes: ‘When she was diagnosed I began to think about how I could best relate to her in this stage of her life. I documented three aspects of her life on video: her collection of needlework; the songs of her youth; and supporting her to carry on painting. This book focuses in more depth on the paintings she made in the four years she was living in a care-home in Walton. Dementia seemed to liberate another kind of art from her which was exciting to witness.

The book puts a selection of these later paintings in the context of her life as a suburban housewife, mother and working class artist.’

TURF Projects Space, Whitgift Centre, 46-47 Trinity Court, Croydon CR0 1UQ

29 March Council Public Questions

1. Can the Mayor/Council confirm whether they understand the causal factors behind the Brick by Brick/Fairfield Halls issues and if so what controls have been put in place to prevent this from happening again?

2. Instead of ordering residents to pay unaffordable council tax now, why have you not yet announced any plans to recoup monies paid by Croydon council, to former members and officers, as detailed in your recent election communications?

29 March Council Debate

Conservative Group Motion ‘This Council notes the decision of the Appointments and Disciplinaries Committee on 23rd March 2023. Those who caused Croydon Councils financial downfall must be held to account. It is vital that all avenues are pursued to ensure that residents anger and desire for accountability are recognised.’

Labour Group Motion. ‘This council recognises the progress that has been made since November 2020 in addressing the council’s financial and governance problems. This council further notes that these improvements were acknowledged by – amongst others – a Non Statutory Rapid Review and the Improvement & Assurance Panel, with the latter acknowledging the “creditable progress that had been made” during the period of the last Labour administration. This council is disappointed to note the recent announcement by the Secretary of State at DHLUC that he is minded to intervene in the governance of Croydon following his conclusion that the council under the leadership of Mayor Perry is not meeting its Best Value Duty. This council recognises that all councillors have a role to play in ensuring that the council once again meets its Best Value Duty. This council therefore calls on the Mayor to set out how he intends to work more collaboratively with councillors from all political parties represented on the council to ensure the authority continues at greater pace, its improvement journey.’

Council To Seek Met Police Investigation Over Financial Crisis

Now that the Council is seeking Met Police investigation of aspects of the financial crisis and those who were responsible, this should includesome long-term Tory and Labour Councillors,  including Perry because of the massive debt his Conservative administration left Labour in May 2014 incurred by the deal with J. Laing on Bernard Weatherill House, and the premature approval of the Westfield Centre plans which led to the collapse of the Town Centre.

Perry states: ‘When I was elected in May I promised residents that I would hold those responsible to account for the catastrophic failures in governance that led to the council’s financial collapse. Yesterday, I chaired a committee which gave the go-ahead for the council to take unprecedented action against former senior leaders at the council. We will be referring a series of reports to the Met Police for investigation; referring individuals to industry bodies which operate a code of conduct; and seeking to recover as much of the former chief executive’s settlement as is legally possible. ..

I share residents’ anger at the deep unfairness that senior officers and members – who held positions of trust at the authority – should walk away, whilst the rest of us continue to pay the price for their reckless misconduct. I’ll also be lobbying government for more powers for councils to hold former politicians and officers to account.

Put simply, they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it – and I will do everything in my power to make sure that they don’t.’

Regina Rd Ballot On Future

Residents of the appallingly bad management and maintenance Regina Road estate will be asked to vote on the proposal to demolish and rebuild the three tower blocks and surrounding properties within their estate, in a ballot set to be held this spring. Lets hope new tower blocks are not built but houses with gardens and open space.

Croydon High Tree Cover

Croydon has 23.8% tree cover, higher than the 12.8% average for England. Analysis conducted on behalf of Friends of the Earth by mapping experts Terra Sulis has identified lone and street trees, which were not previously captured. The Government’s current goal is to increase tree coverage to 16.5% by 2050, but climate charity Friends of the Earth said this is “inadequately low”, and argued double the current figure would be more reasonable.

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History Update 19 March

Monday 20 March. 5.30pm. The lost, late medieval, greater and lesser chapels of the Bishop of Durham at Auckland Castle: archaeological and liturgical re-imaginings  

Online Zoom IHR seminar talk. Register on IHR site.

Tuesday 21 March. 7pm. The 1980 Steel Strike on Teesside

Zoom talk by Charlie McGuire (Teesside University) for North East Labour History Society.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 820 0587 1102 Passcode: 043412

Thursday 23 March. 6pm. “Bound by Treaty”: Emancipation and Diplomacy in the Age of Revolutions & Politics Over Relief and Rehabilitation: Revisiting the Bengal Famine of 1943-44 

Online Zoom IHR seminar talk. Register on IHR site.  

Saturday 25 March. 10am. Wandsworth Common Heritage Trail 

Anne Lambert leads Friends of Wandsworth Common Heritage Trail walk.

Meet by the Friends notice board/flagpole, near Skylark.

Monday 27 March. 7pm.Louise Cripps Samoiloff

Christian Høgsbjerg will launch his new publication for the Socialist History Society.

Please register here:

The book is available from Bookmarks bookshop…

Louise Cripps Samoiloff (1904-2001) was an English born writer, journalist, publisher, historian and socialist who became an American citizen who had a close relationship with C. L. R. James.

To 4 June. Shifting the centre: Grenada as reference

Black Cultural Archives exhibition of materials from the Grenadian Revolution (1979-1983).

Tuesday, 4 April. 6pm. Who Benefited from the British Empire?

Gresham College Lecture by Professor Martin Daunton

Friday 21 April. 12 noon. Poor Man’s Improvement and Land Settlement Association Petition

On 23 April 1938 in Jamaica Robert Rumble’s Poor Man’s Improvement and Land Settlement Association sent a petition to the governor demanding a minimum wage for agricultural workers and peasants and an end to exploitation by landlords stating that a century after their forebears were released from slavery they were still in a state of economic slavery to the landowners.” Prof Anthony Bogues will take a lead, along with members of the Pennants Local History Research Team. 

Black History Conversations Zoom event.

Tuesday 25 April. 6.30-8pm. In conversation: Gary Younge with Linton Kewsi Johnson

Gary Younge discusses his new book Dispatches from the Diaspora: From Nelson Mandela to Black Lives Matter.

Black Cutural Archives at Lambeth Town Hall.

Thursday 27 April. 7-8.30pm. Highlighting Heritage: Ellen Morewood, Industrial Queen of Alfreton

Talk by Dr Peter Collinge for Arkwright Society

In person and online • register here

In 1853, when he came to Britain to raise funds for the Anti-slavery Society of Canada, at a time when there was a large influx of escaped slaves from the United States seeking refuge in the British colony, Ward brought letters of introduction to Thomas Binney, planning to seek help initially from fellow Congregationalists in London.  He spoke at a meeting chaired by Lord Shaftesbury which led to the formation of a London Committee of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada that raised £1,200 to assist fugitive slaves.

1855 saw him speak at the London Anti Slavery Conference’  and the publication of his Autobiography of a Fugitive Negro: His Anti-Slavery Labours in the United States, Canada & England.  

Saturday 13 May. 2pm. Women and Chartism

Talk by Dr Matthew Roberts for Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Labour History Society

The St. Thomas Centre Hall, Chatsworth Road, Chester

Monday 17 July –  Friday 18 August. South Asian Heritage Month

Previous talks are still available to watch on SAHM’s YouTube channel.

Preparing For 75th Windrush Anniversary

Black History Conversations will run 6 sessions in May and June.

Keep a look on what the Windrush Foundation is planning at:


Nadia Cattouse

Interview at:

Article at:

Singing at:

The Cato St Conspiracy

Conspiracy on Cato Street: A Tale of Liberty and Revolution in Regency London by Vic Gatrell, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2022.

Westminster Project website:

Jacob Wainwright Project

Wainwright was a companion of the explorer David Livingstone on his last journey in Africa) left a diary of the journey he and 60 other Africans made to bring Livingstone’s body to Zanzibar. A project has been underway in Nottingham to make it available.

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Croydon Update 19 March

Tuesday 21 March 2pm. Health & Wellbeing Board

Public Questions; Healthwatch Croydon Annual Report 2021-2022;  Update on Croydon’s JSNA; Croydon Health and Wellbeing Strategy Refresh; South West London Integrated Care Partnership Strategy and Joint Forward Plan.  

Tuesday 21 March. UN Anti-Racism Day

See also Marc Wadsworth below.

Wednesday 22 March. 6.30 pm. Cabinet

Scrutiny Stages 1 and 2; Regina Road – Outcome of Public Consultation;  Local Development Framework – Local Development Scheme Approval; Month 9 Financial Performance Report; Annual Procurement Plan 2023-24; Property Disposals; Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman Report Finding of Fault causing Injustice.

Friday 31 March. 7.30pm. THE BIG LIE

Croydon Assembly presents Platform Film’s Oh, Jeremy Corbyn! The Big Lie documentary exposing the injustice, deceit and smears that undermined Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. Tickets: £5.00 at the bar/on the door; or online £5.80 at:

Ruskin House (Cedar Hall), 23 Coombe Road, CR0 1BD

More information and tickets are available online (£5.80) at:

also from Ruskin House Bar/on the door (£5.00 cash) – subject to availability.

 Government Control Of Croydon & 4 Other Councils

 The Government control of local authorities does not just involve Croydon (see previous posting) but also Liverpool City, Sandwell, Thurrock and Slough, as discussed in Inside Croydon.

Paying Council Tax Advice

Sootuh West LondonLaw Centres have produced a briefing on the complex issues relatingto paying Council Tax at

Essential reading forallthose involvedin the discussionson whether to withold paying the wholeof the Tax or the 15% rise,and people’s rights re-threats to force payment.

 Poor Health and Economic Inactivity In Croydon

One in 20 Croydon residents said they were in poor health when asked in the 2021 census, new figures show.

The Census also shows that 106,260, 34.2% of over-16s in Croydon were economically inactive.

How many of the former are in the latter?

Marc Wadsworth NUJ Award

On Tuesday I emailed readers of this blog on my elist: ‘It is excellent news that Croydon based anti-racist activist Marc Wadsworth has been awarded a Gold Badge by the National Union of Journalists for the exceptional contribution he has made to the NUJ over many years.’

I have received a really unpleasant email attack on Marc from a Labour Party member in response to his award, which is unprintable. I have also received the following message from a former NUJ President who lives in Croydon.

‘Thank you for highlighting this award to Marc Wadsworth.   Marc has a distinguished record as a journalist and NUJ member. Equally, he’s been a long-standing anti-racist campaigner. Delighted that he has been honoured by his union.’   

Marc writes about UN Anti-Racism Day at:

Voting System Changes

Norbury Village Residents Association has pointed out to its members that following a change in electoral law, we will need to take photo identification to the polls in order to vote.  Included in the list of acceptable voter ID is a Driver’s Licence, Passport, Blue Badge and a Freedom Pass.  Those who don’t have any acceptable photo ID will need to apply to the Town Hall for a Voter Authority Certificate.  There is no charge for the certificate but you will need to provide a regulation sized photograph.  There’s more information on –

Borough of Culture Launched

The Council has launched the Borough of Culture. Key events include:

  • Caribbean Influencers an exhibition developed by the Museum of Croydon, the National Portrait Gallery, artists, and volunteers
  • Music Heritage Trail
  • Play about Croydon’s black composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
  • Pollock’s Toy Museum in the Whitgift Centre
  • The Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra

Unless I have taken off the Croydon Culture Network there was no email to inform those on it of the opening event at Boxpark. Typical of the failure of the organisers to consult local experts, the proposed play said to be the fist about  Coleridge-Taylor is not the first. In 1987 Crowned With Fame about him was performed at Battersea Arts Centre. Ironically the press cutting about his daughter Avril visiting his grave at Bandon Hill Cemetery with the cast is in the Museum of Croydon Samuel Coleridge-Taylor collection.

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Government Increases Control Of Croydon Council

Using directions under section 15(5) of the Local Government Act 1999 the Government has decided to increase control over Croydon Council through increased powers to the Improvement and Assurance Panel for two years. The announcement was made in the House of Commons and followed up with a letter from the Secretary of State.

The Council has the legal right to make representations before the Government finalises the proposed intervention package.

Commenting on the Historic Croydon Facebook Andrew Kennedy writes

‘Our Mayor is no longer in charge and will not be for at least the next two years. What he says he would like to happen is not necessarily what will happen. The Improvement Panel can issue contrary directives. ….So look out people, communities and organisations, assets may be seized and sold at any moment. Taxes raised and services curtailed.’

Government Conclusions

The Government has concluded:

  • that the Council is failing to comply with its Best Value Duty;
  • that given the scale of the challenges ‘further serious issues may be uncovered which could have a severe impact on the Authority’s ability to maintain and increase the momentum of the required improvements that they have started to make’;
  • that ‘there has been a delay in the Authority taking an effective grip of the key issues it has faced since 2020’;
  • that there ‘is evidence that whilst the Council is now starting to increase the pace, the Authority has not made progress at the pace of change expected since the commencement of the intervention and appointment of the Improvement and Assurance Panel in February 2021, particularly in relation to the transformation of its housing service’;
  • that on ‘financial governance, there is evidence of poor record keeping and budget management, alongside an overall lack of strong grip on financial management;’
  • that ‘(H)istoric legacy issues continue to be discovered, with current financial pressures made up of £161.6m of errors in historic accounts that require correction;’
  • that the accounts for the three years 2019 to 2022 ‘remain open and there is a risk that further pressures may crystallise following the findings of the Mayor’s Opening the Books exercise’;
  • that on ‘culture and leadership, a culture whereby difficult financial decisions were not taken and implemented has been allowed to embed within the Authority over several years’;
  • that on ‘services, the Authority does not currently have the capacity to resolve at pace the magnitude of the financial issues it faces, and there is a risk this will significantly impact on service delivery’;
  • that on ‘capacity constraints ….. particularly with regards to the ….. finance and housing functions.
  • that the housing service ‘requires a credible and properly defined improvement programme, alongside substantial corporate support for the new Housing Director’.

The Proposed Intervention Package

The Government explains that the intervention package will need:

  • ‘To ensure that the strategic and systematic approach to risk management, with appropriate scrutiny and governance of the decision-making processes and procedures, continues and becomes embedded across the Authority.
  • To continue to address the culture of poor financial management of the Authority.
  • To continue to develop the governance capacity of the Authority in respect of its commercial portfolio.
  • To restore public trust and confidence in the Authority by ensuring that the Authority’s activities, practices, and omissions are compatible with the Best Value Duty.
  • To secure as soon as practicable that all the Authority’s functions are exercised in conformity with the Best Value Duty thereby delivering improvements in services and outcomes for the people of Croydon.’

Supporting The Improvement and Assurance Panel

The Council will be required:

  • to follow the instructions of the Panel;
  • to allow the access to premises, documents and employees and Councillors;
  • to provide the Panel with ‘reasonable amenities and services and administrative support;
  • to pay the Panel ‘reasonable expenses, and such fees as the Secretary of State determines are to be paid to them;
  • to provide the Panel ‘with such assistance and information, including any views of the Authority on any matter’, as Panel ‘may reasonably request;
  • to ‘co-operate with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in relation to implementing the terms of any directions’.

The full text of the Government letter can be read at:

Labour Hypocrisy

The  Labour Councillors, several of whom were responsible for the financial crisis,  have hypocritically made the following statement:

‘In a damning judgement the Conservative government has declared Conservative Croydon a failing council that is not meeting its Best Value Duty to residents.

Giving new powers of direction to government officials is a clear sign that the government is losing confidence in the leadership of the council. Residents have already lost confidence in the council after Croydon’s Conservative mayor and councillors imposed a staggering 15pc increase in council tax on residents in the middle of a cost of living crisis created by their own government’s mismanagement of the economy.’

Inside Croydon’s discussion on the situation can be read at:

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Croydon 15% Council Tax Rise Approved – What Next?

On Wednesday 8 March Mayor Perry’s budget  including a 14.99% rise in Council Tax was adopted after being defeated on the first vote and then passing on the second vote with Labour abstaining and the two Greens and the Lib Dem voting against. Inside Croydon discusses the meeting and sets out the Government’s justification for not requiring a referendum.

Auditors’ Advice

A letter from the Council’s discredited auditors, Grant Thornton, published on the day of the meeting outlined that if the Council did not agree to the budget it would not be able to meet its legal requirement of setting a balanced budget.

‘Failing to pass the budget, will not only be unlawful, it would make a bad financial position worse and damage the council’s reputation even further.’

Labour Leader Explains Abstention

Explaining the decision to abstain on the second vote Labour Leader Stuart King says: “Embroiling the council in a protracted deadlock scenario, with the consequences that a legal budget would not be set, is the last thing that residents in Croydon need at this time.

“Whilst Labour wholeheartedly disagrees with the 15 per cent council tax rise, we could not in good conscience repeatedly block the setting of a legal budget and plunge the borough into a Tory-made financial crisis.”

Where Should Anger Be Directed?

Many campaigners  against the proposed rise of 15% in Council Tax are angry that the Labour Councillors abstained.

It is difficult to decide whether Labour’s tactics were correct or not. While the Greens and the Lib Dem made a proposal to amend the budget, Labour made none, even though they could have started drafting possible amendments in the days before the 1 March meeting.

Their decision to abstain may have been taken in the light of the risk of being made personally liable for failure to set a budget, as happened to Lambeth Labour Councillors in the 1980s, or to ensure that the Government did not send in commissioners to run the Council.

The real anger should be against:

  • Perry and the Tories for their contribution to the debt they left Labour in 2014 mainly over the development of Bernard Weatherill House;
  • Perry and the Tory Councillors for failing to persuade their Government to find a  solution that would allow a lower Council Tax rise;
  • the Government for years of underfunding Croydon;
  • the Government for its decision that Perry did not have to run a referendum on the proposed rise;
  • Tory Croydon South MP, Chris Philp, for his failure to find a more acceptable budget solution
  • Philp for his misleading South Croydon residents activists in backing the idea of an elected Executive Mayor.

Statement By Sarah Jones, Labour MP For Croydon Central

‘I am deeply disappointed with Croydon Council and Mayor Perry, who have decided to hike council tax by 15% across the borough.
In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis fuelled by disastrous economic policy from Westminster, it is unacceptable that Croydon Council has heaped an extra burden onto taxpayers. Under current rules council tax can only be increased by more than 4.99% with the express agreement of local residents via a referendum, so I am shocked that Mayor Perry has been given special permission by the Government in Westminster to raise our tax by an extra 10%.’

Referendum Petition To Parliament

Inside Croydon is urging everyone to sign the petition to Parliament calling for referendums on Council Tax rises above 5%.

Don’t Pay, Won’t Pay

There will no doubt be a debate as to whether there should be a campaign to persuade people

  • not to pay their Council Tax;
  • or not to pay the 15% or the 10% being the % above the normal 5% increase.

Those who refuse to pay all the Tax will need to cancel their Direct Debits will need to cancel them as will those not prepared to pay the 10/15%. They can pay the basic Tax by cash, cheque or bank transfer. They will need to put the money aside when they are finally forced to pay.

Residents on benefits who have their Council Tax paid will not be able to take action.

Those in low income work will put themselves at extreme risk of legal action inc. attachment of earnings and baliffs.

With the cost of living crisis continuing many residents will not be able to pay their Council Tax anyway and will be subject to attachment of earnings and baliffs.

Campaigners will therefore need to develop a strategy that physically and financially supports those prepared not to pay their Council Tax or not pay the 10/15% increase. If they are not prepared to do so then they will have no right to campaign for non-payment civil disobedience.

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Wandsworth History News at 6 March

Tuesday 14 March. 7.30pm. The Charles Bravo Murder

Talk by Colin Fenn  speak about the rise and fall of Dr Gully and his role in the Charles Bravo murder at The Priory in Balham in April 1876.

Tooting History Society.  United Reformed Church, Rookstone Road, SW17 9NQ.

Geoff Simmons leads an entertaining ramble through radical Battersea to celebrate the centenary of the death of agitator and workers’ champion Francis Kitz who died one hundred years ago.

Meet at Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill.

I have supplied Geoff with my relevant walk notes.

Geoff writes about the Tooting Corruganza strike of 1908 at

The front cover of the latest issue of the Wandsworth Historian joins the run-up to King Charles’s crowning in May by carrying a fragile memento of Wandsworth’s official celebration for Edward VII’s coronation in 1902. The main articles in the magazine itself explore growing up in post-war Roehampton, the story behind those amazing carved stone historic freezes on the southern side of Wandsworth Town Hall, and the varied fortunes of six pharmacy shops in our area.

All this and more can be found in the Spring 2023 issue of the Wandsworth Historian (ISSN 1751-9225), the magazine that brings you the latest research into Wandsworth’s past.

The Wandsworth Historian is published by the Wandsworth Historical Society, and copies are available price £3.00 plus £2.00 for postage and packing from WHS, 119 Heythorp Street, London SW18 5BT or by emailing Cheques payable to ‘Wandsworth Historical Society’, please, though on-line payment is much preferred.

The website address of the Wandsworth Historical Society is

Penelope Corfield launches her Georgians paperback

Battersea’s 18thC history expert Prof.Pene Corfiled launched the paper back of her very successful book on the Georgians at Waterstones in St.John’s Rd at Clapham Juncrion on Friday 3 March. A launch willas to take place in Central London. The book is reviewed in the latest issue of Wandsworth Historian.

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History Update 6 March

Wednesday 8 March. 6-8pm. Woman on a Mission: Cranogwen (Sarah Jane Rees, 1839-1916)

Moot Court, Treforest Campus USW, CF37 1DL

A sailor’s daughter ‘Sarah Jane Rees was from the 1860s onwards frequently hailed as a woman on a mission. Many of her contemporaries saw her as a pioneer, leading her society, and its women in particular, out of the dark caves in which they were entombed by Victorian class and gender prejudices into the light of a more egalitarian world.’

Speaker Professor Jane Aaron (University of South Wales).

University of South Wales

Book your space HERE.

Thursday 9 March. 7pm. US Eastern Time. Behind the Scenes of Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom

Meeting and on-line talk by Ilyon Woo for the American Antiquarian Society and the Worcester Black History Project.

The Crafts escaped to Britain living and speaking here for the American abolition cause.

Register here

Monday 13 March. 6-7.30pm. Road Building in the UK over the last 50 years: the influence of campaigning

Speakers: Helen Baczkowska (Writer and Ecologist), John Stewart (Campaign for Better Transport) and Rebecca Lush (Transport Action Network).

VAHS Seminar meeting and on line.

Register on the IHR website

Wednesday 22  March. 4pm. US Eastern Time. Phillis Wheatley Peters in Material Memory

Barbara McCaskill, Sarah Ruffing Robbins, Ashley Cataldo, and Elizabeth Watts Pope discuss online.

Register here:

2023 marks the 250th publication anniversary of Phillis Wheatley Peters’ Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

Monday 27 March. 6pm. Saving the other at home and overseas: philanthropy and disability in nineteenth-century Britain and its Empire –

Speaker: Dr Esme Cleall.

VAHS Seminar meeting and on line.

Register on the IHR website

Saturday 17 June. Chartism Day

Sheffield Hallam University

For further details see:


Colin Rochester (b. 1942) died on 16 February

Colin was an academic, teacher, practitioner, mentor, colleague, editor, author and with an independent and sharp mind. He helped establish and maintain the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector (ARVAC) in 1978, the Voluntary Action History Society (VAHS) in 1991, the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) in 1996 and the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) in 1997. He was head of Cambridge House and Talbot Settlement in London (1978-1987), a lecturer at LSE (1987-2000) and later led a course at Roehampton University (1999-2007). 

To honour his memory and to highlight his spirit of collaboration, kindness and conviviality the four institutions he helped to establish plan to jointly organise a memorial seminar later on in the year.

I knew Colin when I worked for BASSAC and then when I attended and gave talks to VAHS. 

BME small grants scheme backs six projects.

Reading on

Box makers at bay: commemorating the Corruganza strike of 1908. Article by Geoff Simmons of the Tooting Summerstown182Project

 Additions to labour history archive collections 2022

Very nearly an armful… donating blood for Vietnam

Who needs the ILP? How Labour’s 1918 constitution set it an existential challenge

Avril Coleridge-Taylor

I am talking about Avril Coleridge-Taylor, the daughter of Samuel, and a composer and conductor in her own right at the Norbury based Cassandra Centre International Women’s Day event on 9 March. Avril grew up in Norbury and Croydon.

Leah Broad has been cataloguing the archive of Avril’s papers held by her surviving family – the Dashwoods.

Recordings of some of Avril’s compositions can be seen on You Tube, inc: Nocturne, The Shepherd, Can Sorrow Find Me, Sussex Landscape and Mister Sun.

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Dersu Uzala Film Showing 24 March At Ruskin

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What Will Happen At The 8 March Council Budget Meeting?

Having been defeated on his budget on 1 March Mayor Jason Perry has to come back to the Council on 8March with a response and either submit the same budget or a revised one. There is debate about whether Perry simply needs a majority to adopt a budget. If so he will require 2 opposition Councillors to back him.

Writing in On London Dave Hill poses the following questions:

‘As Perry works out what to do next, will Michael Gove’s department come to his aid in some way?

  • What concessions will King and the Labour group be looking for?
  • What if no agreement can be reached?
  • At what late hour might next Wednesday’s meeting end?’’

Gove has agreed to offer capitalisation directions totalling £224.6 million in a letter dated 1 March from Lee Rowley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Local Government and Building Safety.

What effect this has on Perry’s proposed budget will not doubt be explained at the Council meeting on 8 March.

Legal Issues

At the recent Croydon TUC organising meeting for the protest against the 15% council tax rise I raised some constitutional questions. Andrew Pelling and former lawyer David White have sought to find answers to these and have  benefited from input from Andrew Fisher and former Labour Councillor and lawyer Jerry Fitzpatrick.

What Voting Figures Does Mayor Perry Need on 8 March?

Question: If the Mayor fails to get a simple majority of councillors to approve his budget on 1st March can he force it through one week later unless two thirds of councillors vote against?

David writes:

‘The Council’s constitution (available on the Council’s website) provides that, if the Mayor is defeated on his/her Budget on a simple majority he/she should consider the objections and bring the Budget, or an amended version, back to a meeting a week or so later.’

‘At the second meeting the options are i) approval of the Mayor’s proposal or ii) passing an amendment by a 2/3 majority, or iii) the Mayor’s proposals are voted down again on a simple majority. 

In the event of iii), and if there is insufficient time to fix yet another meeting to go through the whole process again, the meeting must continue with no time limit until a Budget is agreed. So there could be a long impasse. If a balanced budget is not agreed by the deadline it is likely the Government will send commissioners in.’

The ‘Labour Group are taking independent legal advice about the options open to them. There will be a meeting of the Group on Tuesday, the night before the Council meeting, where the Group’s strategy will be decided.’

Is The Lack Of A Referendum Legal?

Question: Does the Government have power to waive the rule about councils requiring approval in a referendum for any tax rise above 5%?

David writes:

‘Andrew Fisher reports that this is what the House of Commons Library has said:

“The Government sets the thresholds for council tax referendums each year as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement. The legislation can be found in sections 52ZA-52ZY of the Local Government Act 2000 (inserted by schedule 5 of the Localism Act 2011).

Section 52ZC permits the Secretary of State very wide powers to set thresholds for different types, or groups, of authorities as they see fit. For 2023-24, the Secretary of State decided that Slough and Thurrock would have a threshold of 10%, and Croydon would have a threshold of 15%. Other upper-tier authorities will have a threshold of 5%.

This decision is set out in the council tax referendum reports for 2023-24. Section 52ZD of the 2000 Act requires a report of this type to be published annually and approved by the House of Commons. The reports for 2023-24 were approved by the House on 8 February.’

There are useful articles by Andrew Pelling:

and Jerry Fitzpatrick:

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Croydon Update 6 March

Meetings & Events

Monday 6 March. 6.30 pm. Cabinet

Re-procurement of Responsive Repairs Contract – Contract Award.

Wednesday 8 March. 5.30pm. CTUC Demo At Council Budget Meeting

Hundreds of people attended the 1 March anti-Council Tax Rise demonstration. Interviews with some of them are in

For further discussion on the politics of setting the Budget for 2023/4 see next posting, including the 1 March letter from the Government offering £224.6m capitalisation approval.

The Council meeting starts at 6.30pm.

Thursday 9 March. 6.30 pm. Planning Committee

2 Welcomes Road, Kenley – demolition of  bungalow and outbuildings and erection of a three-storey building containing 6 x 2-bedroom flats and 2 x 4-bedroom semi-detached houses.

Followed by

Planning Sub-Committee

27 Orchard Rise – demolition of house and erection of four semi detached houses; Kickers House, 172A Selsdon Road – demolition of 3 garages at rear.

Saturday 1 April. 11am – 4pm. Spring Fair in Thornton Heath

Salvation Army,66 High Street, CR7 8LF.

  • 25+ local stalls of crafts, gifts, plants, clothes, face-painting, art, cake…
  • Lots of activities for kids
  • Teas and coffees
  • Seating area
  • Hot food with vegan, veggie or meat options.


New Council Capital Projects

The Council plans to spend:

£7.5mof its Growth Zone fundto redesign Minster Green and St John’s Memorial Gardens through the spaces around the Croydon Minster;

£140,000to upgrade the community centre room and build a 30-station gym at the Monks Hill Sports Centre in Selsdon.

Tory Opposition Fears North Herts Council Could Be A Croydon

At a meeting on 23 February 23 Conservative Councillors said they do not want North Herts Council to become “another Croydon” after the authority bought Hitchin Churchgate for £3.75m in 2022. (Hertfordshire Mercury & The Comet)

Croydon Community Energy Is Crowdfunding

CCE is seeking £5,000 to implement renewable energy generation in Croydon, to both cut greenhouse gas emissions & energy bills through community ownership.

Highlights From The Penn Report

Richard Penn, author of the Local Government Association inquiry into how Croydon got into its financial crisis found that the senior leadership team accepted that a small number of councillors controlled the “operational domain” of the council.

  • ‘While the council’s governance looks fit for purpose from a distance, these interviews revealed a highly dysfunctional organisation characterised by a culture of poor decision-making and conduct of some of the council’s most senior managers.’
  • ‘This is evidenced, among other things, in the belief that needing to be ‘fleet of foot’ meant that public money could be spent without due regard to public decision-making and internal managerial and financial controls.’

Brick By Brick

There ‘were no formal records or details that anyone was “keeping an eye on” the £200m loaned to Brick By Brick, and ensuring that returns actually materialised’.

Senior ‘officers failed to challenge the viability of the company in 2018 when it requested more money from the council, and that they seemed to have acted as “silent bystanders or had been compliant with these abnormal practices’.

Three Years Saving Plan

The Council adopted a three-year savings plan in February 2017, but this was shelved following an adverse Ofsted inspection later that year.

This led to the council diverting more funding towards children’s services, taking valuable resources away from other departments, including the authority’s finance function.

Penn says:

  • ‘The finance team was under-resourced and had been reduced as part of the savings to put resources into children’s services after the Ofsted judgement in 2017’.
  • ‘The finance team’s ability to effectively challenge and play an impartial role in the management of a £1bn annual budget was severely compromised.’

Lack Of Dissent

Penn reports that

  • people he interviewed said that while the council planned to expand its commercial operation to offset funding constraints, decision-makers were not ‘clever enough to know what they were doing, and dissent or challenge was dismissed’;
  • that  senior officers and Councillors, including the former Chief Executive, did not want to ‘hear any bad news, and they buried their heads in the sand’.
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