Croydon Financial Crisis Update 17 January

Further details about the system defects in Croydon Council’s financial management systems have been made public through the reports to its General Purposes & Audit Committee meeting on 14 January, by the external auditor Grant Thornton and the Internal Audit Team. This includes new information about Brick by Brick. The Committee also received a report on the work of the Anti-Fraud Team. The Corporate Risk Register which the Committee received is essential reading if you want to understand the complexity of the Council’s financial crisis.

Grant Thornton’s Concerns

  • Self authorisation of journals. ‘We have identified from our journals testing that a number of journals have been initiated and posted by the same individual. Although our testing showed that none of these journals were indicative of fraud, there is a control weakness that could give rise to the posting of inappropriate journals where no automated control or separate review is in place to ensure that a separate individual posts the journal from the individual who initiated the journal. No material issues were identified from our journals testing performed at early testing however the above constitutes a control weakness which will be presented within our audit findings report.’
  • Inaccurate FTE data. ‘As part of our early testing of payroll, we identified that Full Time Equivalent (FTE) reports provided were inaccurate. As an example, an individual who was a contractor and not London Borough of Croydon staff, they were included within the FTE report as they were required to be input onto ‘my resources’ (HR) system in order to access the finance and ledger systems to perform migration of data work. The input of FTE should have been included as 0 on the HR system however had been input as 1 and therefore was input incorrectly. We were unable to gain assurance that the residual individuals included in the FTE reports were included correctly and therefore we were unable to use the FTE report as a key source for our planned audit approach (substantive analytical review) and we revised our audit approach to substantive sample testing of individual council staff. No material issues were identified from our payroll testing performed at early testing however the above constitutes a control weakness which will be presented within our audit findings report. Conclusion We have altered our planned audit approach as deemed necessary based on the findings above to respond to risks resulting from control weaknesses identified. A formal recommendation will be presented in our audit findings report alongside management responses on all control weaknesses identified during the course of the audit.’
  • Transfer of property assets from the Council to the pension fund. ‘We have confirmed verbally with management that the transfer of properties from the Council to the pension fund did not occur in the 2019/20 financial year and has not yet occurred at the date of drafting this report. We are awaiting written confirmation. The written confirmation is needed for us to conclude whether this remains a significant audit risk to the financial statement audit for 2019/20
  • Users self assigning responsibilities without formal management approval. ‘Where administrative staff require additional functionality, they should be required to request this through the formal change management procedures. Any such access granted should be end-dated accordingly. Management should implement monitoring controls to identify instances where members of staff have assigned themselves additional responsibilities and any non-compliance with the abovementioned process investigated.
  • We have identified that there has been assignment of forecast approver roles within the projects module by project managers. We will review appropriate controls with Finance and Oracle. 2) The majority of self-assignment occurred during or just after implementation. We have now removed access to the IT security manager role from 3rd Party support staff. 3) We will restate the message that that the internal My Resources support team must not self-assign roles and must follow the normal user access request process if they require additional responsibilities. We will also introduce monitoring controls via a report to identify instances where members of staff have assigned themselves additional responsibilities and any non-compliance. This report will be sent to the Head of Finance and HR Service Centre for review and investigation of any non-compliance.’

The following questions arise.

  • Are these new problems occurring in 2019/20?
  • If they are new what are  the reasons for them happening?
  • If they are problems varied forward from 2018/19 why had they not been identified by the auditor previously?

Internal Audit Team Report Priority Concerns

Fairfield Hall and Brick by Brick Audit

  • The licence for access to carry out works in respect of property at Fairfield, College Green issued to BXB did not include specific contract conditions relating to quality or deadline for delivery.
  • The conditional sale of the Fairfield Car Park agreement was still in draft at the time of the substantive internal audit fieldwork in February 2020.
  • The Executive Director Place, a director of BXB, was the chair of the Fairfield Board meetings which is a conflict of interests.

Parks Health & Safety

The Council’s Internal Audit report to the General Purposes and Audit Committee meeting on 14 January states that aspects of parks health and safety are priority issues to be sorted out.

  • A Parks Strategy was not in place
  • Weekly reports of playground area visual inspections were missing in a number of instances
  • Fire risk assessments for most of the parks and green spaces (where applicable) required review and, where appropriate, update
  • The list of responsibilities for the various teams/services involved in parks/green spaces was generic, lacking any role details of processes
  • 69 (out of 116) parks had not yet been visited to conduct risk assessments
  • The central Action Log only included action plans for 5 parks (of the 47 that have been visited)
  • The Park Programme Board terms of reference was not up-to-date

Age Assessment Judicial Review

The Council’s Internal Audit report to the General Purposes and Audit Committee meeting on 14 January states that aspects of the monitoring of costs of Age Assessment Judicial Review, are priority issues to be sorted out.

  • The 2018/19 recharge for 50% of the legal costs incurred for age assessment judicial reviews to the UK Border Agency was overstated.
  • There was a lack of monitoring and reporting of appropriate statistics on the outcomes or costs of age assessment judicial review cases.
  • The ‘Age assessment information sharing consent form’ did not fully provide the information as required by the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018 and GDPR to comply with transparency requirements.
  • Statistics, such as the average cost of and success rate in pursuing age assessment judicial reviews, was not known or used in the assessment of whether to pursue these cases.
  • Formal lessons learned exercises were not conducted following each successful or unsuccessful age assessment judicial review.
  • Statements of legal charges were not provided in a timely manner.

Debt Recovery In-House

  • It could not be evidenced in all cases that sufficient actions had been taken to recover outstanding debts. Furthermore, consistent records of customer developments were not being maintained.


 ‘A priority 1 issue was identified as there are some 7,762 housing assets, assets for which there was no identifier of whether asbestos was either identified, strongly presumed, presumed or was not found. Discussion established that this number included assets such as roads; however, examination of the listing noted that there were also general rent dwellings, service tenancies and garages included Response March 2020: The asbestos policy and plan has now received Director sign off. Workshops and asbestos awareness training for relevant staff are to be arranged over the next couple of months.’

Anti-Fraud Team Action

The Council’s Anti-Fraud Team’s ‘investigations relate to a broad section of service areas within the Councils including’: Environmental enforcement, Trading Standards – trademark and rogue trader cases, Planning – enforcement case, Licensing, Internal cases, Safeguarding cases, and Business rates evasion by fraud

The Anti-Fraud Team investigated 213 cases between 1 April and 30 November, and used powers under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act six times. The Team has 10 full-time equivalent staff members, and costs £328,107.

At the request of the Committee meeting on 2 December 2020, the committee requested details of the numbers of internal investigations, involving staff or contractors, undertaken by the team over the last 5 years:

  • Open/current 19
  • Investigated but no further action needed 42
  • Not investigated 11
  • Investigation and action taken 48

No figures are given for the amounts of money recovered by the Team.

Other than fraud the Council still does not appear to investigate the costs of crime, something I have been arguing for since 2015.

Risk Register

  • UASC. ‘The number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children and care leavers looked after by Croydon remains significantly higher than the national average, leading to substantial financial pressure on the Council. **The voluntary structure of the scheme means there is always vulnerability. Croydon is responsible for all new presentations to Lunar House as a locally based service**.’
  • 2020/21 Budget. ‘The Council does not agree and deliver a balanced 2020/21 budget following the issuing of the s.114 notice leading to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) imposing additional restrictions.’
  • Governance and Risk Management. ‘Robust governance & risk management procedures/frameworks are not activated to safeguard the interests (financial & reputational) of the Council and it’s taxpayers within all subsidiary organisations where the Council has an interest. (Specifically in reference to Brick X Brick & Croydon Homes LLP).’
  • Financial Control. ‘Poor financial control and ineffective governance arrangements leads to financial bankruptcy.’
  • Government Funding. ‘Funding levels provided through the Government Grant are significantly lower than forecast or anticipated, resulting in considerable savings being required to balance the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy.’
  • Social Care. ‘Social Care market supply disruption leading to market failure and inability to fulfil statutory requirements. Risk jointly owned with Commissioning & Procurement.’
  • Adult Social Care. ‘The Council does not provide appropriate financial resource to meet the demand for Adult Social Care in line with all statutory obligations.’
  • YoungPeople’s Social CARE. ‘Young people transitioning from 18-25 to 25-65 Social Care Services are disadvantaged due to operational restrictions: Specifically: • Unaffordability and budget overspend; • Delays in assessment, reassessment and review; • Increase in staff caseload. • Managing parental expectations; • Insufficient management oversight and scrutiny of proposed placements,’
  • Resources. ‘The level of resource required to manage demand and reduce costs safely within time-frame is insufficient.’
  • COVID. ‘Continuing increase in the infection rate leads to the Government placing further restrictions on residents & businesses resulting in a prolonged demand for emergency provision of services.’
  • COVID. ‘The spread of the C-19 infection and the nature of the interventions implemented to reduce it widen health inequalities and increase demand on all Council services. ** e.g. overcrowded/poor housing – less effective self-isolation; those in deprived areas more likely to have underlying conditions; unsecure employment leading to great financial insecurity**.’
  • Special Educational Needs. ‘Increasing population with complex learning needs and parental expectations leads to rising demand and financial pressure on SEN fixed budgets including pressure on High Needs Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) budget, which can’t be funded from General Fund reserves. **The in-year overspend for 2019/20 was £5.434 million, with a DSG cumulative overspend of £14.558 million. The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed the provisions in The School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2020 establishing a statutory requirement for any DSG deficit balance to be held within the local authority’s overall DSG, meaning authorities cannot fund deficit from general fund without Secretary of State approval**.’
  • OFSTED. ‘That a ‘Local Area (OFSTED) Inspection’ could issue a letter detailing improvement requirements/concerns in respect of the SEND Service. **The Education Directorate is coordinating the Council’s approach but the responsibility is jointly shared by Education, Health & Children’s Social Care**’
  • School Deficits. ‘Increasing number of Council maintained schools moving into a financial deficit leading to default and arrears. **Currently there are 10 of our 50 maintained schools in deficit. Two schools account for a significant proportion (St Andrews at £2.716m and Virgo Fidelis at £2.5m) for which the Council holds liability.
  • Children’s Services. ‘Effective action is not taken to address the underlying causes of social care overspends within Children’s Services, specifically in terms of both the demand and the resulting cost pressures.
  • Adult Social Care. ‘Effective action is not taken to address the underlying causes of social care overspends within Adult’s Services, specifically in terms of both the demand and the resulting cost pressures.’
  • Risk. ‘Ineffective management of identified risk leads to organisational failure.’
  • Challenge, review, etc. ‘There is no effective challenge, review, investigation or ownership taken on all activities that the Council undertakes by the Executive Leadership Team, Cabinet and all Scrutiny Committees (including GPAC). **This risk specifically relates to financial strategy, treasury management strategy (including borrowing), capital investment strategies and appropriateness of continuing investment and association with BXB**.’
  • Data. ‘The data provided from within the organisation via corporate systems and processes is inaccurate and incomplete.’
  • Capital Programme. ‘The scale and ambition of the capital programme creates a requirement for borrowing that exceeds affordability.’
  • Reserves. ‘The council’s financial strategy does not enable it to maintain the required level of reserves.’
  • Investments. ‘The investment strategy and income generating properties do not deliver the required financial benefits. **Main Risks CPH (£1.75m), Colonnades (potential £700k), Davis House (£200k), BWH (Arcadis £750k) remainder portfolio (£100k). Issue compounded by the inability of landlords to take swift action through the courts to pursue non-payment remedies**.’
  • HRA Estate. ‘The Council does not meet its obligations in respect of new and emerging legislation for the delivery of the General Building Works and Mechanical upgrade works across the HRA estate.’
  • Whitgift. ‘The Whitgift Centre is not redeveloped as anticipated. Previous uncertainty in respect of retail behaviours has been exacerbated by Covid 19, which has further affected the likelihood of the risk materialising. The redevelopment was removed from the Unibail development pipeline in Feb 20 and there is no date for the redevelopment. The Croydon Limited Partnership (CLP) partners are both suffering from loss of income and are seeking to raise funding to strengthen their balance sheets.’

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Croydon News 17 January

To 7 March. Libraries Consultation

The statutory consultation on the future of the Library Service started on 14 January.

The Council proposes to close Bradmore Green, Shirley, Sanderstead, South Norwood and Broad Green ‘unless viable alternative plans are found that cost no public money. These five libraries have expensive long-term maintenance costs and dropping visitor numbers’

The on-line survey can be completed here

Paper copies can be requested:  or call 020 7884 5159.

Monday 18 January. 6.30pm. Croydon Cabinet (on-line)

Update on the Croydon Renewal Plan and Submission to MHCLG; Action Plan to address the Report in the Public Interest; Education Estates Strategy; General Fund Capital Programme 2020-24; Proposed closure of Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School; Dedicated Schools Grant Schools Funding 2021/22 Formula Factors; Making Croydon’s Private Rented Homes Safer and Protecting Residents; London Councils Grant Scheme 2021/22 (see below); Scrutiny Stage 1: Recommendations from Scrutiny & Overview Committee’s consideration of the Strategic Review of the Council’s Companies – Action Plan; Investing in our Borough.

Tuesday 19 January. 6.30pm. Scrutiny Children & Young People’s Committee

Staff Changes, Service Impact and response to Budget Reductions in Early Help and Children’s Social Care;  Early Help, Children’s Social Care and Education Dashboards; Higher Education Journey of Young Croydon Residents; Education Budget;  Education Standards; Blended Learning Assessment.

Wednesday 20 January. 2pm. Health & Well-Being Board

Covid-19 workshop follow up including update on current Covid-19 situation (Verbal update); Response to ICS consultation (Verbal update); Section 114 Notice and impact on the Health & Welbeing Board (Verbal update); Healthwatch Annual Report.

Thursday 21 January. 6pm. Planning Committee

Land R/O The Shirley Inn Public House, 158 Wickham Rd; Sycamores, Kenley Lane, 27-29 Biddulph Road; Crown Point, Beulah Hill; Homestead, Gibsons Hill; 11 Hartley Old Road,

Thursday 21 January. 6.45pm. Croydon Libraries Under Threat

Croydon Communities Consortium on-line meeting. To join go to

Friday 22 January. 12 noon. Deadline to submit public questions for 25 January Council Meeting

Democratic Services explains: ‘There is no maximum number of questions a person can submit, however we can only guarantee one will be answered on the evening. This is to allow the maximum number of residents to ask questions within the 30 minute time slot. If you have any questions unanswered during the meeting, you will receive a written response within three weeks of the meeting. Please note that if a group of questions are of a very similar subject, the Mayor may put those questions together to be answered by Cabinet Members.’ Send your questions to:

Croydon COVID Crisis Grows

‘The latest data confirms that the virus is now widespread throughout Croydon, with our incidence rate now 1080 per 100,000 compared with 305 just four weeks ago. This is a very stark reminder of why we must all stay at home and do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The vaccine programme is under way, but we still have a very long way to go before we can let our guard down.’ – Hamida Ali, Council Leader, 15 January message

Croydon’s Director of Public Health urges people to following the lockdown rules.

COVID Affects Refuse Workers

Hotel Houses Recovering COVID Patients

Best Western Plus London Croydon Aparthotel in Thornton Heath is accommodating patients from King’s College Hospital in Denmark Hill.

Council Deputy Leader Stuart King tells me in response to asking whether the Council had been consulted:

‘As I understand it, the council wasn’t specifically consulted but is engaged through the regional and sub-regional NHS/LA professional networks.

As the article makes clear, these are patients from a hospital based in another part of London. CUH have confirmed that they are not using and have no plans to use hotels as part of their “step down” of covid patients.

I am not sure that there would be marked increase in parking requirements not least given the report suggest that the patients have been homeless. There are no plans to change parking arrangements in the area as a result.

I note that Kings have stressed that the patients  are no longer acutely unwell,  do not need to be in hospital and can be cared for safely in the hotel. I think that suggests that – so long as people are following the current guidelines about only going out for essential and approved reasons –there shouldn’t be an increase in risk to those living nearby.’

I commented back:

‘If the patients are homeless what will happen to them when they are discharged?

Will they be offered accommodation by the people who arranged for them to be in the hotel, or will they land up on Croydon’s streets adding to the Council and voluntary sectors’ workload, and the risk of them becoming re-infected.’

Cllr King has responded: ‘The Adult Services director advised me that they are working with colleagues at other London boroughs through the regional and sub-regional NHS/LA professional networks in place and that it is through these that any concerns of the type you have identified would be raised.’

Charities Continue Their Work. e.g.

but the Arc Centre (animal education and therapy)  needs funding help.

Oliver Lewis Reaffirms Commitment to Borough of Culture 2023

‘… I wanted to take the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Borough of Culture 2023. As you know, Croydon Council faces extremely difficult financial challenges and as a result is undergoing significant change. However, we remain committed to delivering the programme and believe the ambition it has is essential for the borough’s recovery and renewal. It is vital we remain in continued discussion and partnership with you to realise this vision. We know there is work needed to recalibrate the programme in order to ensure it is responsive to the long-term impacts of COVID-19 and to shape a positive future for Croydon for everyone. Culture is an essential part of our recovery and Borough of Culture is at the forefront of this.

There will be plenty of opportunities to participate in shaping that future direction, but please do bear with us during this period of significant change. Opportunities to engage will grow as thinking develops and the Culture Network will have the first opportunity to engage when the time arises. We will use this channel to start conversations and I hope you will participate to help inform how the programme can best respond to the needs of our own cultural and creative sector and our residents. You are instrumental to the renewed vision for Croydon and to start this conversation, please see the news item below.’

With the arrival of 2021 and our thoughts on the horizon for 2023 we’d welcome 3 words which describe your hopes / ambitions / vision for Borough of Culture.

Please send these to

From Croydon Culture Network newsletter

New History Art Works At Purley Station

Purley station has unveiled new artwork  commemorating Amy Johnson, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and William Jessop (Surrey Iron Railway engineer), created by local artists Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison, Dan Cimmerman and  Morgan Davy.


London Borough Grants Scheme

The Cabinet meeting on 18 January will approve the Council’s contribution of £287,731 to the London Councils Grants Scheme for 2021/22. This amounts to a reduction of £722 compared with the Council’s net contribution to the Scheme in 2020/21. This congtribution is a statutory obligation.

The Scheme’s priorities for the year are:

  • Combatting homelessness
  • Tackling sexual and domestic violence

linked to Croydon’s focus on tackling ingrained inequality and poverty in the Borough.

The Scheme budget for the year 2021/22 is £6.668m.

In relation to homelessness work to-date the proportion of actual service users who were from Croydon was 3.83% (the ninth highest share among London boroughs),in respect of tackling sexual and domestic 4.06% (the third highest share among London boroughs).

‘Lockdown disrupted the delivery of prevention projects in schools, alternative provision and youth settings, though some work moved online. Taking referrals and finding safe accommodation took longer due to the perpetrator being present. The pandemic has decreased the availability of refuge services due to reduced throughput. Following London Councils’ declaration of its commitment to use money flexibly to meet emerging needs due to Covid-19, some organisations furloughed or redeployed staff within their respective organistions to meet the increased demand for frontline services for tackling violence against women and girls. Helplines, emails and web chats were heavily used by survivors finding it difficult to access support.’

Payments to CEOs etc

Many people were outraged by the£440,000 deal on the departure of Jo Negrini as Chief Executive Officer. Private Eye (8 January) reports on other pay-offs:

A Highland Council Director: £475,000

Boston Borough Council CEO: £443,998

North Norfolk District Council CEO: n£389,000

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Croydon COVID & Financial Crisis Update 11 January

As the spread of COVID overburdens the local health services it is all the more important that people think about how they behave in the street over and above the Government advice, especially as it is not clear how far exhaled breath goes.

Always wear a mask

Don’t smoke in the street

Do not spit – have a tissue if you need to get rid of flem

There is increasing advice that the immune system is helped by taking Vitamin D, especially in winter.

Meanwhile the Council is still going through the process of seeking loan permission from the Government and consulting on the proposed ‘savings’ – cuts from April to March 2024. Croydon Unite Retired members branch heard Deputy Leader Stuart King explain the financial crisis and agreed  resolutions on the effect on services and Brick by Brick.

Croydon Communities Consortium has published details about its meeting on refuse and recycling and follow-up information.

For families without laptops for their children’s at home on-line learning Sarah Jones, Croydon Central Labour MP, appeals for donations and for volunteers to help with the vaccination programme.

There continue to be on-line cultural activities and if you support local authors I highly recommend Marc Wadsworth Comrade Sak. See my review at:

Keeping Busy During Lockdown

In doors there is plenty to do on-line for those with the right equipment.

Croydon Art Society Virtual Exhibition

Croydon Art Society talk 25 January – Gwen and Augustus John – Alan Reid

Croydon Art Society demonstration 8 February – Demonstration – Oils – Rosso Emerald Crimson

Croydon Age Concern

Creative Croydon Singing for Wellbeing Group

Mondays 8 February and 15 March 7pm.’

More details:

Croydon Community Choir

Croydon Community Choir Facebook page  shares ‘any interesting opportunities to sing, chant, listen and experience online choirs.’

Katie Rose Choir Singing

Financial Crisis Issues

Stuart King Briefs  Croydon Unite Retired Members

Council Deputy Leader Stuart King briefed the Croydon Unite Retired members branch Zoom meeting on Friday 8 January about the financial crisis. It was a shortened  version of the explanation he gave to Love Norbury in December – see

Key additional points, including in answer to questions, were:

  • The £29m receipts from the Brick by Brick deal will take time to be received as each individual sale is completed.
  • The second report from PWC on Brick by Brick will be considered by the Cabinet on 18 February.
  • Even though it is the sole shareholder of Brick by Brick the Council has not control over the company’s staffing – in response to a question as to why the CEO was still in post.
  • The previous culture which prevented questioning of details of Executive decisions by Councillors has been ended.

Effect of Council Cuts

Croydon Unite Retired Members branch agreed a resolution at its meeting on 8 February  noting that the Council cuts consultation continues until 24 January, that that elderly services are likely to reduced and that the Council does not provide any details about what the likely effects will be. It is therefore calling on:

(1) the Council to provide details of how the elderly may be affected.

(2) branch members living in Croydon to respond to the consultation and to lobby their local Councillors.

Brick by Brick

After Stuart King had completed his briefing and answered questions and left the meeting theCroydon Unite Retired Members branch discussed Brick by Brick.

A member pointed out that the sale of shared ownership flats will take time. The first batch is often sold quickly, and the remainder take a lot longer. Sales also fall through due to financial and legal difficulties.

The branch agreed a resolution that has been sent to Stuart King, thanking him for the up-date on the £29m and noting:

(1) that Brick by Brick has entered a deal to sell three of its completed housing schemes for £29m

(2) that hopefully this sum will reduce the short fall in funding and thereby reduce the cuts to be made

(3) that the future of Brick by Brick is still under review

It calls on the Council to:

(1) issue a public statement as part of the cuts consultation about the effect on the budget for 2021/2 of the Brick by Brick Deal

(2) re-examine the future development strategy of Brick by Brick to provide new housing appropriate to the needs of the elderly as outlined in the branch’s discussion paper especially to enable older people to move to more suitable accommodation and release family size housing to meet local housing needs on the Council transfer and homelessness lists.

Refuse and Recycle Issues

Following its Zoom meeting on refuse and recycling on 11 December Croydon Communities Consortium has posted up the notes of the meeting and additional information.


The COVID crisis is escalating across London and is stretching local hospital services. There is concern about the number of people who are travelling around the Borough. Council is continuing to deliver COVID related support services. Trading Standards  and the police warn about COVID vaccination scams. Special support serviced continue to be provided such as the Asian restaurant in Coulsdon feeding the homeless. The crisis has delayed the move of a school into new buildings. It is outrageous that Croydon University Hospital is still charging staff for parking. A youth group has been given a large grant  to help it support young people.

Family Welfare In New Addington

Lap Tops Needed For Children Learning At Home

Sarah Jones, Labour MP for Croydon Central, has sent out the following message.

‘Thousands of children in Croydon are now reliant on laptops and remote learning to continue their school education. Children with no access to broadband or laptops are falling behind as a result. Every day that a child tries to learn without the right equipment, their educational development is set back. Can you help by donating a laptop or tablet? Click Here

I have been contacted by many worried parents and teachers about children without internet access or laptops to work from.  

I am so pleased that a fantastic group of people from Croydon Commitment, the Croydon Voluntary Action, Palace for Life and Go2Games are collecting old laptops. 

I am helping this campaign by offering to collect any old or new laptops, mobiles, tablets or webcams that you can donate. 

I am contacting lots of people and businesses across Croydon to ask for help. If you or your family have any spare laptops, tablets, or mobile devices to donate, it will make a huge difference to local children. If you don’t have a spare gadget, or would prefer to donate financially, donations raised through here ( will be used to place technology in the hands of those who need it in Croydon.

If you can donate a laptop, tablet or mobile device, I can come and pick them up from your office or home. I would be grateful if you can fill in the form below to let us know the details.’

Sarah Jones Urges People To Volunteer Re-Vaccinations

Please ‘encourage anyone who can to:

  • Sign up to NHS volunteer campaigns
  • Speak to friends, neighbours and relatives about the importance of getting the vaccine
  • Ask your faith leaders and local community champions to promote vaccination
  • Start a campaign with your union branch to get your employer to give workers paid
  • Take (and give!) time off to get vaccinated
  • Speak out against disinformation online
  • Check on neighbours and friends to ensure they are safe over the coming months.

Over the coming weeks and months we will need a huge national effort. For those of you who want to carry on or start helping out, please consider registering to volunteer at your local Vaccine Centre and #LetsVaccinateBritain!

School Closures

In the posting of 6 January I reported the resolution passed by the South East London Socialist Education Association. The wording had been prepared in discussion in the Croydon Unite Retired Members Branch as part of preparation for its meeting on 8 January. The Branch approved the resolution.

Fairfield Halls Management In COVID

At the moment the Council does not know how much it is spending on looking after Fairfield Halls during COVID lock down, according to a reply (11January) to my Freedom of Information request on the management of Fairfield Halls during COVID.

(1)   What date was the Fairfield Halls management agreement signed with BH Live?

22 July 2019.

(2) Given the COVID closure of the Halls what are the current management agreement obligations of BH Live?

The Operator Agreement remains in place, the council has responsibility for the building whilst it is closed in hibernation. 

(3) How much of the COVID grant to BH Live has been allocated to Fairfield Halls?

This information is not held.

(4) Is the management agreement with BH Live still operational?


(5) How much money was BH Live supposed to handover to the Council in (a) the financial year 2019/20,and estimated 2020/21),and how much has been received?

No payments were due.

(6) How many BH Live staff are working on the constructing the programme when Fairfield Halls is able to re-open?

This information is not held.

(7) Is BH Live or the Council currently responsible for the running costs, maintenance and security of Fairfield Halls?

The council has the responsibility for the building in hibernation until January 2021

(8) If the Council is responsible under (1) how is it funding the costs and how much has it spent in 2019/20 and estimated to spend in 2019/20)?

The building is being managed through our facilities management services and the costs are currently being finalised

(9) What budget has all of the money paid to BHLive come from? 

Council budgets, Greater London Authority grant funding, Arts Council funding

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Croydon, COVID And History Update 6 January

This posting is combines Croydon, COVID and history news now that we are stuck at home in national lockdown wondering how to constructively fill our days, especially when the weather discourages going out. Keeping our brains active is important through Zoom talks, chatting to people on Zoom etc and on the phone, and developing new  interests and reading.


January onwards. Institute of Historical Research Seminars & Gresham House Lectures

Thursday 7 January. 10am. Historic Agriculture in Surrey

Surrey Industrial History Group Zoom talk

Thursday 7 January. 5pm. Scrutiny & Overview Committee. CALL-IN: Emission-Based Parking Charges

I have sent the Committee members as background information the submission on the scheme last year from the Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committee, and an assessment of the transport context change due to the COVID crisis I penned in August.

Friday 8 January. 11am. Berthe Morisot

Croydon Library  on-line talk about Berthe Morisot, a founder-member of Impressionism exploring her key works, techniques and life and times .

Monday 11 January. Closing Date for Postdoctoral Researcher: History of Slavery in the City of London

Tuesday 12 January. 6.30pm. Croydon Traffic Management Committee – On-line

Albert Road (Part) & Eldon Park – Results of Informal Consultation on a Possible Extension of the South Norwood Controlled Parking (CPZ); Crystal Palace and South Norwood Low Traffic Neighbourhood.

Tuesday 12 January. 7pm. Analysing the Contexts and Causes of the 1910-14 Labour Revolt

Zoom talk by Professor Ralph Darlington for North East Labour History Society

Meeting ID: 858 1228 1578
Passcode: 383471

See Labour Revolt below.

Wednesday 13 January. 6-7pm. Creating Your Local History Website

British Association of Local History  Web Manager and professional web developer Paul Carter introduces the basic concepts of setting up a local history website, whether that is for an individual research project or a local history society. 

Thursday 14 January. 6pm. Black British History in Schools: Continuing the Conversation

Saturday 16 January. 1pm. The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution

Dan Hicks Slaveryarchive Book Club Zoom Talk

Tuesday 19 January. 5.15pm. Romantic Memory? Forgetting, Remembering and Feeling in the Chartist Pantheon of Heroes

Monday 25 January.10am. Sons of the soil: researching our agricultural labouring ancestors

East Surrey Family History Society on-line talk

Monday 25 January. 5.30pm. German working class resistance to the Nazis

Monday 25 January. 5.30pm. Histories of Pan-Africanism. 5.30pm

Tuesday 2 February.7pm. John Marshall: Printer, Librarian and Radical

Zoom talk by Paul Gailiunas for North East Labour History Society

John Marshall was very well-known in Gateshead and Newcastle in the first third of the nineteenth century, and there are references to him in a variety of contexts.

The evidence that has survived contradicts some of the assumptions made by previous authors, especially around the winter of 1816/1817, when he first became politically active. Although politics seems to have become less important to him by the mid-1820s, he was present at a political meeting in 1830, and he printed radical material until 1831, when his business collapsed and he disappears from the record.

Zoom link to be notified.

COVID Advice

First, there is a COVID message from

Rachel Flowers, Croydon’s Director of Public Health.

‘Following last night’s government announcement we are now in a national lockdown, with immediate effect.

As you will be aware the situation in Croydon is extremely serious and as of today, there are 244 people receiving treatment at Croydon University Hospital.

Our Covid-19 incidence rate is now 964.5 cases per 100,000 – higher than the London average for the first time – and I am seeing around 600 new cases every day.

The situation has escalated rapidly in the last few weeks and unless we act now, we risk more people becoming ill, our hospital becoming overwhelmed and ultimately, sadly, more loss of life.

It is vital that we all follow the national restrictions – stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives. This is the most important thing we can do to reduce transmission of the virus in our borough and keep Croydon safe.

The national lockdown means we must not leave our homes except for essential reasons which include to:

– shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person

– go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home

– exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

– meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one

– seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)

attend education or childcare – for those eligible

You can find the national restrictions in full here

Please do check them and ensure you know what they mean for you & your household.

If you must go out, always remember the NHS guidance on hands, face, space. Approximately one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising, so this advice is vital.

If you have any of the Covid-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate and get tested. Only leave your home to get a test – otherwise you are putting others at risk.

Thank you for all of your continued support’.

More than 3,400 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the London Borough of Croydon in the week up to December 29. 

Getting your vaccine? Dont forget your NHS No.

Message from National Pensioners Convention

A plea from NHS staff. Please, please, please make sure you and your family all dig out your NHS number and have a copy of it immediately to hand for when you or they are called for the COVID jab. From my colleagues on the front line this is far and away the biggest bottle neck when it comes to administering the vaccine to as many people as quickly as possible. You can find your NHS number on any NHS correspondence or through the app.’

The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then, so please wait to be contacted.

For further info go to:

Croydon BID Plea For Business Help

Matthews Simms, the CEO of Croydon Bid, is one of 12 signatories to a letter to the Prime Minister from London business groups pleading for government help with protecting swaths of London businesses vital to national economic recovery has been made to Boris Johnson today as the capital enters national lockdown.

The letter asks Johnson and Sunak to:

  • Extend the current VAT relief scheme for the whole of this year.
  • Extend the business rates relief scheme to businesses told they must close under Covid rules throughout 2021.
  • Expand the grants programme delivered by local authorities and adjust it to that based on the number of businesses within a borough rather than the number of residents.
  • Provide targeted support to night-time economy businesses, such as nightclubs, which have been unable to open since March

Croydon NHS Hero

Josi Kiss draws our attention to Croydon Hospital’s Dr Mayank Agarwal being named the nation’s NHS hero.

Croydon 32nd Worst Area in England

The Education Debate

The debate about the closure of schools continues. A lot of national media coverage has been given to the views of the education trade unions. Behind the scenes the Socialist Education Association has also been lobbying.

Recently its South East London Branch passed a resolution noting:

a) The emergency pandemic situation.

b) Cases, admissions, and deaths surging at a time when hospitals are reaching or have passed capacity.

c) The reopening of schools will accelerate the surge.

d) SAGE experts have said that premature school opening will ensure the R number stays above 1. e) Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides that “(1) An employee has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by his employer done on the ground that– …d)in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent and which he could not reasonably have been expected to avert, he…refused to return to his place of work,”

f) The National Education Union, as well as UNISON and other unions affiliated to the Labour Party, advised their members employed in schools to rely on the said section and not return to work for the time being.

g) The Government pressed for schools to start reopening from Monday 4th January and the Leader of the Opposition refused to oppose this until on the afternoon of that day Downing Street leaked that a closure of all schools would be announced that evening.

h) The TUC has called for all parents who cannot work because they are caring for children who would normally be at school to be furloughed.

The ‘branch believes it has been apparent for some weeks that the danger of returning to school in January would far exceed any possible benefit to children’s education or the economy.’

It calls on Keir Starmer, Labour Leader, and Kate Green, Shadow Education Secretary:

1. In close cooperation with the NEU and Labour affiliated trade unions, to keep all relevant evidence under review and oppose any return to school until the danger of doing so is minimal and clearly outweighed by the benefits of returning. 2. To press the Government to extend the furlough scheme to all employees prevented from working by the need to care for children. “Schools” for the purposes of this motion includes nursery and other early years provision. It is assumed that provision for vulnerable children and the children of key workers will continue.

On-line Teaching Via TV

Given the back of proper IT equipment in many homes, meaning many pupils cannot participate properly on on-line learning, a reader of this blog points out that the Open University teaches effectively through TV, which almost all households have. ‘Can that technique be adapted for younger age groups, designed to stimulate curiosity and incentivise thinking, experimenting and discussion at home more than passing exams? something on the lines of short, topical, engaging intros on animals, plants, climate, temperature etc that involve maths, physics, biology at appropriate levels for children of all ages , short cartoons outlining dilemmas for characters and how they can be solved; even Aesops fables…..PE exercises that are fun to do at home or on local walks, suggestions for art (beyond rainbows!) …writing illustrated letters to missed school friends about your Xmas or what your favourite book is…. none of which needs internet but which could promote mental and physical activity among children.’ 

Black History and Culture

Conductors on Classic FM

Courtney Pine Taken Off A-Level Music

The Guardian. 5 January

Sculpture to David Oluwale

The Guardian. 6 January

Bridgerton’s’ Queen Charlotte

Black in Times—January-3rd-UKs-first-hip-hop-star-Derek-B–Samuel-Coleridge-Taylor-and-the-1971-Ladywell-petrol-bomb-attack-eofkik

Shooting Of Cherry Groce

 To order:

August Agboola Browne. Freedom-fighting Jazzman

Clare Mulley on the Nigerian involved in the Warsaw Uprising.

BBC History Magazine. January 2021

African Europeans: An Untold History

Review of Olivette Otelle’s book

BBC History Magazine. January 2021

Representations of Women, Motherhood and Breastfeeding in British Slavery

One man’s discovery of slavery, family and football

Jimmy Carter: The story behind the Premier League’s first British Asian player

A Radical Change of Heart: Robert Wedderburn’s Last Word on Slavery

Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson

From Ma Rainey To Robeson’s Moscow Concert


Several readers who are Labour Party members may be interested in the arguments as to why Labour should not have backed the BREXIT deal.

Robert Tombs discusses his book This Sovereign Isle arguing that “Both sides of the Brexit debate have got things wrong about our history.”

BBC History Magazine. January 2021

Co-operative Movement News

The Labour Revolt 1910-14

The ‘Labour Unrest’ – or what more precisely should be termed ‘Labour Revolt’ – that swept Britain in the years leading up to the First World War between 1910 and 1914 was one of the most sustained, dramatic and violent explosions of industrial militancy and social conflict the country has ever experienced.

Most explanations for the causes of this strike wave have tended to focus almost exclusively on economic factors, on the way in which the decline in real wages and purchasing power after 1900 and the sudden upturn in trade and employment after 1910 provided the major economic impetus for a series of wage demands that lead to strike action. Yet arguably, even if the most commonly reported single cause of strikes was pay, this hardly offers an adequate explanation, by itself, for the scale, insurgent nature, rank-and-file dynamic and broader political challenge of the industrial rebellion that swept Britain during this period.

This talk attempts to provide an understanding of the way in which there was a coalescence of a multifaceted set of interconnected contextual and casual elements (structure and agency) contributing to the process.

Specifically, it examines six features: the economic, industrial and social backcloth; industrial relations and trade union framework; political context; bargaining capacity; leadership and mobilisation resources; and broader zeitgeist of defiance of the authorities and rule of law. In the process, it assesses the limits and potential of George Dangerfield’s depiction in his celebrated book The Strange Death of Liberal England of a conjunction of three rebellions – by workers, women and Irish nationalists – that had the cumulative effect of placing the country on the verge of semi-revolution.

And there is consideration of the extent to which workers’ readiness to engage in militant strike action depended upon the subjective element – the encouragement they received from the minority of uncompromising working class socialist and syndicalist agitators and propagandists within their own ranks.

Ralph Darlington is Emeritus Professor of Employment Relations at the University of Salford. He is the author of The Dynamics of Workplace Unionism (Mansell 1994) and Radical Unionism: The Rise and Fall of Revolutionary Syndicalism (Haymarket 2013), co-author of Glorious Summer: Class Struggle in Britain 1972 (Bookmarks 2001) and editor of What’s the Point Of Industrial Relations: In Defence of Critical Social Science (2009).

He is currently researching to write a book on the 1910-14 Labour Revolt to be published by Pluto Press.

Note: Back in 2010 I proposed a London Project on the Great Unrest but it did not materialise.


South Sea Bubble

Thomas Levenson. Money for Nothing: The South Sea Bubble and the Invention of Modern Capitalism. Head of Zeus. £20.

Reviewed in BBC History Magazine. January 2021.

Indians At Dunkirk

Ghee Bowman. The Indian Contingent: The Forgotten Muslim Soldiers of Dunkirk. The History Press. £20

Reviewed in BBC History Magazine. January 2021.

Books Etc On Sale From Me

The 15% Xmas book offer I made on 13 December remains applicable with the 15% going to Rusknin House. See list at

For Battersea, Croydon and Lambeth local and Black History publications see:

Remainder Books From Postscript

1919: Britain’s Year of Revolution. Simon Webb. £7.99. No. 509485

The Amisted  Rebellion. An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom. Marcus Rediker. £4.99. No. 508151

Common Sense. Thomas Paine. £4.99. No. 508596

Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History. Richard. J Evans. £9.99. No. 513162

Enemy on the Euphrates. The Battle for Iraq, 1914-1921. Ian Rutledge. £4.99. No. 508977

The Feminist Revolution. The Struggle for Women’s Liberation: 1966-1988. Bonnie Morris & D. M. Withers. £3.99. No. 507898

Islam. A Short History. Karen Armstrong. £3.99. No. 504432

The Life Story of a North Tyneside Town. Dan Lawrence. £6.99. No. 590330. North Shields

Reform Acts. Chartism, Social Agency and the Victorian Novel 1832-1867. Chris R. Vanden Bossche. £7.99. No. 511559

Regency Spies. Secret Histories of Britian’s Rebels and Revolutionaries. Sue Wilkes. £7.99. No. 506170

Windrush: A Ship Through Time. Paul Arnott. £9.99. No. 512413

Print version of this posting

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Brick By Brick Sells Flats And Other Croydon News

Tuesday 5 January. 10.30am. Licensing Sub-committee (on-line)

Application for variation to licence at 76 Westow Hill, Upper Norwood.

Thursday 7 January. 5pm. Scrutiny & Overview Committee (on-line)

CALL IN: Emission-based Parking Charges

Brick By Brick Sells Off £29m Of Homes

Residential Secure Income PLC has acquired 85 1, 2 and 3 bedroom new build apartments in Upper Norwood, Thornton Heath and South Croydon new from Brick by Brick. They will marketed as shared ownership homes.

ReSI (Residential Secure Income), a subsidiary of fund manager TradeRisks Ltd (part of Gresham House Group), is a registered provider of social housing and is part financed by a government grant.

Colm Lacey remains CEO of Brick By Brick.

The LGA Investigation 

Richard Penn, the Local Government Association investigator into the governance of Croydon has not exclusively relied on information from Councillors and Council staff. I and one other activist I know sent him information on aspects of the failures of governance and openness and transparency back from the years of the Tory administration up to May 2014. He has acknowledged receipt of the information, including of an up-date sent to him this morning. How he will treat this information remains to be seen when the report is published.


In her Your Croydon update on 27 December Council Leader Hamida Ali reports that ‘in the two weeks from 12 – 25 December there were 5,405 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Croydon, a huge increase from the 1,676 cases the two weeks before. The incidence rate in Croydon is now 779.70 per 100,000 over seven days while the R rate in London has grown to 1.2 – 1.5, meaning more and more people are becoming infected. The borough has also suffered more than 560 coronavirus-related deaths and my thoughts are with everyone who has lost a loved one.’

Some areas have a higher level of cases than others.

COVID And Schools

In her posting of 27 December Hamida Ali says: ‘his will be very upsetting news to many parents and children and we are continuing to work closely with all our schools to provide as much support and advice as we can.’ This is a controversial issue and there was a petition in support of closure which I signed.

I added the following comments:

‘In addition to the reasons in the petition I suspect that the statistics of the incidence of COVID among pupils and staff is greater than suggested through the media. I know of one secondary school that is completely closed and two with closed six forms, and a fourth whose attendance is at about 40%. Schools are clearly spreaders of COVID.  The educational downsides of closure are unfortunate and it may be that the curriculum needs to be abandoned in favour of on line sessions that focus on creativity, discussion about current affairs to increase pupils understanding of what has and will be happening, and topics they request which relate to their interests. Exams should be abandoned  for good in favour of other forms of assessment.’

Note: I have been opposed to examinations as a flawed method of assessment since 1968.

How Young People in Croydon are spending Christmas in Tier 4

Nicholas James of Wilson’s School explains at

Barings Provides Meals To Harris Primary Academies

Using food provided by investment managers Barings nearly 1,000 freshly prepared, frozen meals have been delivered to pupils from the Croydon and Purley Harris Primary Academies.
for the Christmas holidays.

Council Fails To Close Shishas Cafes That Allow Smoking Inside

It is clear that the Council continues to fail to take legal action against shisha cafes that continue to defy the indoor anti-smoking legislation, given the answer (29 December) to my Freedom of Information request.

  • Which shisha cafes are still thought to be allowing smoking inside their premises in contravention of the law?

‘In relation to the Health Act, officers are regularly carrying out proactive visits to verify compliance. Legal cases are still pending. Changes to the coronavirus legislation has resulted in warning letters being sent to all shisha businesses within Croydon. These letters are advising them of the current restrictions in place. Compliance checks are being carried out by the Council and other enforcement agencies.’

  • What is the current state of planned legal action against shisha cafes for allowing smoking to take place inside their premises?

‘In line with other businesses that are not following Health Act and current coronavirus legislation, escalated enforcement will take place. This will include the issuing of warning letters, prohibition notices or fixed penalty notices, as well as prosecutions.’

Communicating With Every Household Costs Very Little

The Council’s ‘savings’ (cuts) proposals being consulted on up to 24 January includes ending the production and distribution of Your Croydon magazine. Cutting Your Croydon reduces the promised openness and transparency and is discriminatory. It has been an important way of reaching all households, especially those not receiving Your Croydon news by email and those without or with limited digital access. The detailed costs have been provided in reply (21 December) to a Freedom of Information request I submitted.

(1) How many issues of Your Croydon magazine were distributed in 2018/19 and 2019/20?

2018/19 (1 April – 31 March) – Four issues: Summer 2018 issue 81; Autumn 2018 issue 82; Winter 2018 issue 83; Spring 2019 issue 84.

2019/20 (1 April – 31 March) – Four issues: Summer 2019 issue 85; Autumn 2019 issue 86; Winter 2019 issue 87; Spring 2020 issue 88.

(2) How many copies of each issue were distributed?


(3) What were the costs in each of those years of

(a) Writing the content

(b) Designing the content

(c) Printing the magazine

(d) Distributing the magazine

Costs 2018/19 2019/20

Writing* N/A

Design (total) 7,974.99 – 8,130.83

Printing (total) 34,628 – 47,872

Distribution (total) 58,900 62,000

* The council’s communications team writes the articles as part of their role. No individual is employed solely to work on the magazine.


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Black Atlantic News 29 December

Tacky’s Revolt Lecture 

Vincent Brown (Harvard) gave the on-line Race and Resistance Annual Lecture for the School of History at the University of Leeds on 2 December about his new book Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War

Black SpartacusThe Epic Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture 

Sudhir Hazareesingh on BBC Sounds – Episode 1

Gender History, Global History, and Atlantic Slavery’

Diana Paton talk on 14 October exploring issues of enslavement, inheritance, illegitimacy, marriage and sexuality within the framework of a global gendered division of labour.

The Implications Of Haitian Independence For Black People In The Caribbean After Slavery

Matthew Smith gave the annual James McCune Smith Memorial Lecture at the University of Glasgow on 29 October.  He focused in particular on the movement of Haitians across the archipelago and how the stories of their intersecting lives tell us volumes about the expectations of liberty and decolonisation and the enduring struggle for recognition among black Caribbeans.

On-line course on the history of slavery in the British Caribbean

The University of Glasgow and UWI have created a four week programme designed for anyone interested in learning more about the Black experience during British involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. Discussions include the culture and lifestyle of enslaved people, oppression and rebellion and contemporary legacies. You can sign up for free and study in your own time.

Sir John Cass Foundation Connections To Trans-Atlantic Slavery

Report for the Foundation by Prof Miles Ogborn on Sir John Cass,  an English merchant and philanthropist and a key figure in the development of the slave trade.

The foundation has also changed the names of the two schools of which it is trustee and agreed to remove all statues of Sir John Cass as well as announcing plans to change the name of the foundation itself.


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Black History News 29 December

January Talks On Eventbrite

Wednesday 6 to Friday 8 January. On-Line 18thC Studies Annual Conference

A much reduced programme has been put together on-line for the Annual Conference of the British Society for 18thC Studies usually held in Oxford. The programme includes:

Wednesday 2 January. 2-3.30pm. Slavery. Host: Gemma Tidman

Speakers: Nicola Westwood: Radical Rhetoric – The Abolitionist Response to Parliamentary Defeat; Matthew Jones: Legacies of the Bicentenary of the 1807 Abolition Act: Institutional Memory and the curating of the British slave trade; Monika Class: “I wanted to preserve this Great Man”: Remembering and Forgetting the Dismembered Royal Slave.

Wednesday 6 January. 5.45-6.15pm. Keynote speaker Anne Lafont on Saint-Domingue, 1791: The Revolution without Images

Monday 11 January. 10am. Closure Resource Development – Freelance Opportunity Applications

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre’s ‘archive and library collections hold an amazing range of diverse and powerful histories and experiences from Black, Asian, global majority, refugee and migrant communities. We need someone to help us create a set of lesson/activity plans and other resources that are rooted in our collections and support teachers and educators to deliver strong anti-racist teaching.’

Full details at:

Black History And Schools

Miranda Kaufmann, joint organiser of What’s Happening in British Black History, and author of The Black Tudors, discusses what is happening in schools.

Stella Dadzie

Stella Dadzie, founder member of Owaad (Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent) published Toolkit for Tackling Racism in Schools (Trentham Books. 1999).

Benjamin Zephaniah Book For Children

Windrush Child

Small Axe

Teaching resources from Steve McQueen’s BBC TV Small Axe programmes suitable for 11-16 year olds are at:

The films can still be seen at

Guardian article about the series:

Podcasts taking the themes and dreams of the films series to tell the everyday stories of Black Britons through generations and shine a light on those imagining a better future are at

African Lives In Northern England Calendar

The calendar’s print run was increased from 250 to 500 then 600.Allsold out.

Colin Grant on the Windrush

Kimpa Vita

Michael Wood on the Queen of the Congo whose  revolt against the Europeans led to her being burnt as a heretic.

BBC History. Christmas 2020.

The Historians’ Verdict

Debate including on Black Lives Matters

BBC History. Christmas 2020.

The Last Queen of Madagascar

The Guardian. 7 December.

The rise of the Black Internationale: Anti-imperialist activism and aesthetics in Britain during the 1930s

Ashley Dawson article at

Arif Ali

The Equiano Society ran an on-like tribute to Arif Ali, founder of Hansib Publications and of several newspapers such as Caribbean TimesAsian Times and African Times.   

Mention was made of Roy Sawh and Rudy Narayan.  A reader remembers that her ‘late husband used to love listening to Roy Sawh at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park on a Sunday.  He admired Roy’s clever speeches and extremely witty responses to racist hecklers… (M)y would chuckle over some of his favourite sayings for years afterwards and carefully kept a leaflet he must have bought from Roy in the 1960s.’ Mention was also made of Alex Pascall (Black Londoners on BBC Radio London) and Syd Burke (Rice ‘n’ Peas for Capital Radio. Alexander D Great contributed a new calypso in praise of Arif’s life and work, and a song about Pritti Patel.’

Roy Sawh

Alex Pascall

Alexander D. Great

Guy Reid-Jones and Bristol Bus Boycott

Claudia Jones

An on line meeting was held on 1 December to launch a new Communist Party publication, charting the life and times of Claudia Jones. It was hosted by the Communist Party Anti Racist, Anti Fascist Commission. Speakers included: Dr Claire Holder (Past Director of the Notting Hill Carnival), Jacqueline McKenzie (Windrush Barrister) and chaired by Luke Daniels (President of Caribbean Labour Solidarity). It was supported by the Claudia Jones School for Political Education in Washington USA.

Cleo Sylvestre

She appeared in the Christmas special of All Creatures Great and stars in one of the 5 Plays of Christmas (online short plays).

Bristol and Colston, Karl Marx on Slavery & Claudia Jones

Articles in  winter edition of the Socialist History Society Newsletter

Black Footballers

Historycal Roots organised the on-line Football’s Black Pioneers: Windrush United event on 17 December on professional footballers of the Windush Generation. ‘In all, around 30 clubs in the English Football League had a first black player who was a member of the Windrush Generation.’

Police Power

A reader writes: ‘All the issues being raised today about the police were raised in years gone by – obviously without success because they are still causing grief.  However, it is really important that the history of this struggle is remembered.

This BBC video reminded me of the early 1970s when Derek Humphrey and Gus John’s Police Power and Black People was published (1972).  That same year, a report by Stanislaus Pullé for Ealing Community Relations Council, entitled Police Immigrant Relations in Ealing, was also published.  It is available to read online  and should be of interest to historians researching the subject and the 1970s.’

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Chineke Concert Review

Amanda Aldridge

The Historian (Autumn 2020)

Paul Robeson

A Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson: Ballad of an American

Book by Sharon Rudahl, Paul Buhle, and Lawrence Ware. Rutgers University Press. 2020

No Way But This. In Search of Paul Robeson

Jeff Sparrow’s book is now a remainder with Postscript Books: No 512290

Ole Man River

The song is performed as a song of hope and comfort by cellist Yo-Ya Yo-Yo Ma and  pianist Kathryn Stott

Tony Benn and Robeson

Robeson in Australia

Black Waters Heritage Project

Phoenix Dance Theatre’s educational digital resource.

Glasgow University of the Year For Addressing Legacy Of Its Ties To The Slave Trade

Review of talk by Maxine Berg

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The Culture Wars At 29 December

60+ right-wing Tory MPs and Peers ‘have formed the “Common Sense Group” which accuses ‘the so-called “snowflake” generation….of “rewriting history” to suit their “Marxist dogma” and liberal preoccupations.’ The BBC and National Trust are among their prime targets.’  

Media Attack The Colonial Countryside Project

Prof Corinne  Fowler (Leicester University) has had circulated the following.

‘Sorry to hijack this space, but what I have written below applies to any of us working in this field as it involves the intimidation of researchers who are working on topics related to slavery in particular. If anyone feels able to stand alongside the Colonial Countryside project that would be great. It may happen to any one of us. In a nutshell, our work is being maligned over a long period of weeks by the Telegraph, Times and Spectator (articles behind paywalls but the most recent Times article pasted below). There’s been a smear campaign against the National Trust report and Colonial Countryside by the Common Sense group of 56 MPS who have turned their big-gun columnists (particularly Simon Heffer and Charles Moore) on us. There have been around 16 articles published in the last 4 weeks in a coordinated smear campaign. Some of the comments are playground-level stuff (we are ‘not fit for third-class degrees in third-rate universities’, we ‘lack intellectual heft’) but others are more serious charges: we are ‘politically partial academics’.

We have been given no right of reply, although the report has been defended by David Olusoga, a letter by 72 academics (which the Telegraph ignored) and no right of reply to any of the academics involved. I know that people sometimes call this a badge of honour and a sign of success, etc, and on one level I agree, but the intensity of the attack and the malevolence involved might well trouble all of us involved in this work.

Any tweet @colonialcountr1 or public show of support would be welcome. You can see that some pretty erudite academics are being attacked here (Katie Donington for example).’

Appointment of David Goodhart to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission Challenged

Gus John and a number of other prominent people have written to Liz Truss to express their concern.

BSECS Statement On Black Lives Matters

‘The British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies strongly condemns the murder of George Floyd by US police officers on the 25th of May 2020. We recognise that George Floyd’s death can be, with sadness and anger, counted as one murder in a long list of other Black Americans who have tragically lost their lives in all too similar circumstances: Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Chinedu Okobia, Michael Brown and many more. We acutely recognise that here, in the United Kingdom, Black British people also face violence, systemic racism, societal inequalities and wide-ranging oppression. In remembering George Floyd, we also remember Mark Duggan who was shot dead by Metropolitan police in Tottenham, North London, in August 2011. We recognise that, in the United Kingdom, the list of Black British people to die in police custody is just as tragic: Sean Rigg, Christopher Alder, Sarah Reed and Sheku Bayoh, to name but a few. To these names we might add the names of Jonathan Strong and James Somerset, both enslaved men, who suffered brutal attacks in London, which led to the first antislavery campaign in Britain in the 1760s. From the brutalities of plantation slavery to the Windrush scandal, we strongly recognise Britain’s own persistent and shameful dehumanising of people of colour. As scholars of the eighteenth-century period in Britain and elsewhere, we are also conscious of the ways in which our own contemporary realities of structural racism and white privilege are deeply and complexly imbricated in the historical legacies of eighteenth-century Britain itself. Britain’s involvement in the Black Atlantic slave trade, as well as its violent imperialist expansion, have seeded the flourishing of anti-black racism as it exists today in the United States of America, in the United Kingdom, and across the world. In publicly condemning the murder of George Floyd we also do so by acknowledging the particular struggles faced by people of colour in Britain. In making this statement, BSECS is keenly aware of the performative and belated nature of all statements on the murder of George Floyd, however heartfelt and genuine such statements are. We also believe that it is important to publicly condemn George Floyd’s murder and to unequivocally state that Black Lives Matter. As a society, BSECS’s role is to understand the global long eighteenth century both through our individual and collective scholarly enquiry and through the promotion of public education. Over the past two decades, the society has been active in promoting the study of empire, slavery and their legacies in Britain and across the globe. Further work is needed and we are very aware that we need to do more to include the critical and scholarly voices of people of colour in our society and in our field. In recent years, BSECS has set about establishing a programme of equality, diversity, and inclusivity within the society. In our 2017 ‘Statement of Commitment to Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity’ we clearly set out our commitment to the fostering of an inclusive and diverse intellectual community. We recognise that we as an intellectual community have much more to do and we pledge to continue this work. Our plans for the ICE Legacy, also published here, are part of that pledge and we will update our members on our progress.’

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General History News 29 December

Wednesday 6 to Friday 8 January. On-Line 18thC Studies Annual Conference

A much reduced programme has been put together on-line for the Annual Conference of the British Society for 18thC Studies usually held in Oxford. The programme includes:

Wednesday 6 January. 2-3.30pm. Material Culture Host: Tina Janssen

Speakers: Jolene Zigarovich “Commemorating and Mourning Paper Peepshows”. Joshua Dight Making a meal out of remembrance: Chartist banquets and newspaper representations of late eighteenth-century radical memory, 1837-42.

Wednesday 6 January. 2-3.30pm. The Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837 Annual BSECS 6 Panel: Women Commemorated and Commemorating Host: Brianna Robertson-Kirkland

Speakers: Gillian Williamson ‘For ever shaded by oblivion’s veil’: Commemorating the lives of women in the Gentleman’s Magazine. Trudie Messent Mourning Their Princess: Public and private responses to the death of Princess Charlotte Augusta (1796-1817), her legacy in the material culture of remembrance. Penelope Cave Praise and Patriotism at the Piano: Women’s use of music to commemorate vic

Thursday 21 January 2. 4pm. Secrets, Lies, and Title Pages

On-line talk by Joseph Hone (English Literature at Newcastle University on the secretive world of underground printing and bookselling in England following the lapse of the Printing Act in 1695.

Ivor Montagu

Codename Intelligensia. The Life and Times of the Honourable Ivor Montagu – Filmmaker, Communist, Spy

Book by Russell Campbell now remaindered by Postcript Books. No 511698

I met Ivor Montagu several times while growing up. He always impressed me as a man with such a wide range of interests and activities.

Labour Heritage Bulletin Autumn 2020

Articles on The League of Nations Union and the Labour Party; Arthur Creech Jones: From East Dulwich to Africa; Tom Braddock: a left-wing Maverick during the Cold War; Syd Bidwell: A Taleto Tell(review).

Winter Socialist History Society Newsletter

Articles on: From Wulfstan to Colston, Lilburne and Cromwell, Labour and Internationalism, Anti-Nazi Germans, Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming, Religious Roots of European Socialism, Worst Television History Programme Ever Made, Karl Marx on Slavery, Class and feminism in post-war Britain, Claudia Jones, Eleanor Marx and Edward Aveling, Marxism and the Mayflower, Hegel.

The Unite History Project

Unite Education and Marx Memorial Library ‘are putting together thoughts, feelings, recollections, triumphs and losses, through the eyes of those who were there’, the Union’s members. The Unite History Project is asking members to ‘join us in this quest to record forever the deeds of the past and present.’

Labour History Calendar

The Scottish Conventions 1792-4

The Swing Resistance

The Influence Of The Radical Press 1800-1825

Political Violence


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Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Paul Robeson At Christmas

Putting Croydon politics aside for Xmas, you may want to listen to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Christmas Overture, and Paul Robeson singing carols.

Back on Saturday 9 December 1911 the composer’schildren Gwendolen and Hiawatha were involved in The Snow Village, at St Mary’s Hall, Addiscombe. As well as Christmas ‘shops’. In the evening here was a Grand Evening Concert organised by the Petherick sisters, and Gwendolen and Hiawatha doing dialogue and songs.  The proceeds were for Dr Barnardos Homes.

Christmas Overture

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor wrote Christmas Overture, two versions of which can be heard at

Paul Robeson

Xmas Card

Robeson Sings Carols

Silent Night

Mary Had a Baby Yes  Lord

Other Songs

Robeson and Amazing Grace

Tayo Aluko and Wonderful World

Fred & Lily Scott and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Croydon musicians have recorded Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas for SCAT.

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