Croydon events & news at 15 May

Contents: Events at Ruskin House, inc. re-FGM, Palestine, Fascism & Racism; Westfields; CCG & NHS Trust; rodent plague, sale of Toys ‘R’ Us store; Inside Croydo; Cycle Lanes in Croydon

Events at Ruskin House

23 Coombe Road, CR0 1BD

Saturday 18 May. 8pm. Cinema Ruskin.  ‘The Gay Divorce’ (Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers) 1934 plus shorts.  £2

Monday 20 May. 8pm. aym.   ‘In the Name of Your Daughter’

Film about FGM in Tanzania, the girls escaping it and about women’s fight back.

Croydon Amnesty free event

Tuesday 21 May. 7.30pm.  Fascism, Racism and their Contemporary Afterlives

Croydon Momentum and LARAF (Labour Against Racism and Fascism) discussion. Invited speakers are Esther Leslie (Professor, Political Aesthetics,  Birkbeck College, Dr Alberto Toscano (Reader in Critical Theory and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Theory, Goldsmiths College) and Anwar Akhar (Samosa media project leading the Royal Society of Arts Pakistan Calling project, of 70+ films.

LARAF aims to mobilise Labour Party members for anti-racist and anti-fascist activities, including demonstrations and local campaigns, as well as to share experience and spread local anti-racist initiatives across boroughs and Constituency Labour Parties. https://laraflondon.wordpress.com/about; laraflabour@gmail.com

Get your tickets here! 

Friday 31 May. 7.30pm.  ‘5 Broken Cameras’

ea55b6d4-d645-4978-8efe-6210f738c865.jpg

Award winning documentary about Palestine.  Emad Burnat, a Palestinian farmer living in the village of Bil’in in the occupied West Bank, bought a camera to film his new son, Gibreel. Then construction began on a separation barrier between his village and a nearby settlement, cutting off access to 60% of Bil’in’s farmland. The villagers responded with non-violent protests and Burnat, recorded their resistance struggle and the growth of his son. Over the next five years, his cameras drew fire from Israeli forces trying to stop his filming. Co-directed with an Israeli peace activist, this feature documentary reveals a gripping story.

Tickets from Ruskin House Bar (£5.00) or online (£5.83) at:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/film-five-broken-cameras-tickets-61002603429

Fascism, Racism and their Contemporary Afterlives

News

Is Westfield delay making Croydon a retail graveyard?

A detailed analysis in Retail Week discusses the uncertainties about the new Westfield shopping centre amidst the closure of retail stores and collapsing footfall.

https://www.retail-week.com/property/analysis-is-westfield-delay-making-croydon-a-retail-graveyard-/7031847.article?authent=1

Despite the uncertainty the Council website only talks about the potential benefits from the 2016 planning permission.

https://www.croydon.gov.uk/planningandregeneration/regeneration/westfield-hammerson/whitgift

The company that now owns Westfield states on its website|:

‘The Croydon Partnership, a joint venture between Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Hammerson, aims to redevelop Croydon’s retail town centre to build a true retail and leisure hub for South London. The project will create 5,000 new local jobs, and act as a catalyst for the wider regeneration of the town. The scheme will be anchored by a brand new combined John Lewis and Waitrose store, and a Marks & Spencer.’

The opening date is given as 2023. The job creation figure is down 2,000 on the original Partnership promise.

https://www.urw.com/en/website~o~content/assets/shopping~o~centre/croydon/portfolio

First joint chief executive for CCG and NHS Trust

Is the proposal to have a joint chief executive for the Croydon NHS Trust and Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group a sensible move to improve the integration of health and social services, or does it create an over powerful body which it will be more difficult for Health Watch and campaigners to influence?

https://www.hsj.co.uk/croydon-health-services-nhs-trust/trust-and-ccg-announce-plans-for-single-leader/7025068.article

Rodent plague or bad management?

Two more stores have been fined for rodent infestations. Is this because cafes, pubs, restaurants, take-aways and grocers and convenience stores have an uphill struggle to combat rodent  infestation, or is it because of poor health and safety management?  Whichever t is it raises questions about how much the public an rely on food safety.

https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/porter-sorter-pub-croydon-fined-16254396

https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/croydon-londis-no-hot-water-16251200

Croydon’s former Toys ‘R’ Us store sold for over £16m

https://bdaily.co.uk/articles/2019/05/13/croydons-former-toys-r-us-store-sold-for-over-16m

Inside Croydon v Sean Creighton

Because of his dislike of me, and despite  for sometime now I have been listing some Inside  Croydon stories in this blog,  the Editor Steve Downs has chosen to bad mouth me on a posting on Andrew Kennedy’s Facebook.

New arrivals in Croydon may not know that back in 2015 there was a spate of personal attacks via social media on various people leading  to the following postings on Croydon Citizen:

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/politics-society/croydons-appetite-self-destruction by me and a follow-up by Robert Ward, now a Conservative Councillor

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/politics-society/how-to-spot-a-troll

Cycle Lanes in Croydon

Following his talk at the Nobury Village Residents Association AGM on 26 April I asked Cabinet member Stuart King for more information on cycle lanes. Here is the reply (15 May) from Tom Sweeney, the Council’s Programme Manager for Walking and Cycling:

‘Much of the Croydon’s existing and proposed network is on quieter back streets where there is less of a need to provide segregated cycle lanes (although there is a need to reduce some ‘rat running’ traffic from these largely residential roads).

Where cycle lanes are introduced on more main roads this is done in line with the London Cycle Design Guidance (for the cycle lanes) and other guidance such as Manual for Streets (for general traffic lane widths).  Where acceptable widths for the cycle lanes and the general traffic lanes are not possible due to narrowness there  is the option for cyclists to take the ‘primary position’, travelling in the same lane as general traffic, although the assumption is to segregate wherever possible.

Cycling schemes are (as with most road schemes) subject to network approvals in line with the Traffic Management Act 2004.  A balance has to be struck between keeping the private motor vehicle moving and providing space for safe cycling. When compared to use of the private car cycling has a number of benefits, polluting less, taking up less road  space per vehicle, providing health benefits and cutting fossil fuel use.   There have been an number of articles with regards to the issue of cycle schemes, congestion and pollution as exemplified by the two articles below:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5272945/Lord-Winston-blames-cycle-lanes-extra-pollution.html

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/jun/16/myth-bike-lanes-congestion-pollution-debunked

The evidence of the introduction of cycle schemes in central London has not been accompanied by increased levels of  air pollution.  The picture on delays is more complex, with some impacts on bus journey times in particular, although much of this can be attributed to the rise of Uber and light delivery vans for internet shopping, etc.  Overall the more we get out of our cars and onto our bikes the fewer cars there will be in traffic jams and less pollution.

With regards to a study of which roads would be suitable to have cycle lanes, this has been done at a very high level to accompany the Cycle Strategy.  More detailed analysis is conducted on a scheme by scheme basis as proposals go through feasibility prior to implementation and are then subject to consultation/highways approvals.’

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Closures at St Helier’s & Epsom Hospitals Public Meeting 21 May

Closure will have a serious impact on Croydon University Hospital.

Final Front Epsom Meeting Leaflet JPG 59547754_298453717746440_6721577909334573056_n

Final Back Epsom Meeting Leaflet JPG 59712807_2362930353935867_8694632082061656064_n

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Croydon news at 10 May

http://nowcroydon.uk/whats-on/next-week

Wednesday 15 May. 7pm. Health Watch presentation and discussion

Croydon Communities Consortium

St Michael’s Church Hall, Poplar Walk, CR0 1UA

To book seat go to:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/community-meeting-in-croydon-healthwatch-croydon-open-to-all-tickets-60529278702

500 plus properties owned by tax haven companies

https://www.londonnewsonline.co.uk/more-than-500-properties-in-croydon-owned-by-tax-haven-companies/

Lime to launch dockless e-bikes in Croydon

https://www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/youll-soon-see-bright-green-16224450

More than 1:4 jobseekers are over 50

https://www.londonnewsonline.co.uk/more-than-one-in-four-jobseekers-in-croydon-are-over-50-data-shows

Inside Croydon stories

Inspector approves Queens Hotel (1 May)

Cancer fears over incinerator (2 May)

Brick by Brick delays (4 May)

Schools chosen for care fee experiment (9 May)

Croydon wins family holiday funding (9 May)

History of London Rd – No. 190 – Lobo Seafood (part 2)

https://london-road-croydon.org/history/0190-lobo-seafood-part-2.html

ian-bevan-crystal-palace-talk-flyer-13-5-19e

 

 

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Croydon’s New Libraries Plan

The Library Plan to be adopted by the Croydon Council’s Cabinet of Wednesday 7 May aims to transform Croydon’s library service whilst retaining thirteen libraries. It consists of the already printed Plan plus an officers’ report Inform, Involve, Inspire & Create – Croydon’s Cultural and Libraries Plans. The Library Plan sits alongside the Cultural Plan for Croydon (2019-2023) – see preceding posting.

The two documents can be downloaded here:

Public reports pack 07052019 1830 Cabinet

Aims of Plan

The Libraries Plan sets out to:

  • transform the thirteen libraries
  • provide a modern library service that will contribute to the delivery of Croydon Council’s Corporate and Cultural Plans
  • adopt a new approach to library delivery in Croydon, ranking libraries as either area hubs, branch libraries or local libraries.

Library Categories

Main hub: Central Library  serving the entire borough providing a comprehensive range of stock, including specialist collections, study space and public computers, partnership and staff led activities and events.

Area hubs: Thornton Heath and Selsdon, serving the north and south; with a book stock at a lower level than at the Central Library, and partnership and staff led activities and events.

Branch libraries: Ashburton, Coulsdon, New Addington, Norbury, Purley and South Norwood serving district centres, serving their communities with partnership activities.

Local libraries: Bradmore Green, Broad Green, Sanderstead and Shirley libraries, generally serving local areas

National Libraries Taskforce

The Libraries Plan ‘is grounded in the work of the national Libraries Taskforce; which has identified the following key outcomes that libraries are well placed to deliver:

  • cultural and creative enrichment
  • increased reading and literacy
  • improved digital access and literacy
  • achieving potential
  • greater prosperity
  • stronger more resilient communities
  • healthier and happier lives

Libraries as spaces

The libraries will be:

  • part of the Borough’s network of cultural venues
  • community hubs
  • venues where residents can access the information and services that are most relevant to them
  • spaces where community groups can meet

Technology

All the libraries will receive a technology upgrade which will include:

  • new, modern hardware for staff and the public
  • a new Library Management System including a library app and an upgrade of self-service technology, allowing for future integration with the computer booking system and printing services
  • A pilot OF ‘an innovative technology solution, Open +, which is already used in around 20% of UK libraries, to enable library buildings to be open for longer hours, enabling customers and community groups more access to library services and spaces. This system works from the residents’ library card and will be age restricted. Libraries are equipped with monitored CCTV.’

Options

Consultants were hired to review the options for the future of the Libraries. There report which is appended to the officers’ report examined the strengths and weaknesses and challenges and opportunities of each option.

  • Option 1: Make changes to staffing levels whilst maintaining the current library service
  • Option 2: Change library opening hours to reflect usage patterns
  • Option 3: Make extensive use of volunteers

What emerged is the  different approach the Plan is based on.

Analysis

Link with the Cultural Plan. The link of the Library and Cultural Plans is welcome. In my June 2016 comments on the report I argued:

‘Another key area of partnership should be through the libraries, with cultural activity providers and with schools.  There do not appear to be organised  mechanisms for the development of partnerships by the library service contractor and the local organisations and schools in the neighbourhoods they service. It is therefore to be hoped that the Library review report will discuss how libraries will fit into the cultural programme. As suggested by the survey of the views of 10 and 1 year olds at Norbury Manor Primary School submitted to the Library review, children value libraries and reading, and if they are to remain users into adulthood then the attraction of libraries has to be improved.’

Donations to Library Stock. Because the Plan cannot go into great detail there is no reference to the possibility of residents donating books to the Libraries. I raised the issue with the then Cabinet member, who replied: ‘Second hand books we do have to be careful of, in that we don’t want our libraries to become volunteer libraries full of dusty volumes. Good donations are important new or second hand, but how this fits overall needs working on. We recently had a £1,000 donation for travel books in the central library for instance. So central library no longer has a range of historical travel books but bang up to date guides!’ (email 23 February 2018).

I assume that the idea was parked as no officer contacted me to find out what I had to donate. So last month I drew the current Cabinet member’s attention to the  exchange with this predecessor.

I added: ‘One of the problems with Libraries across the country over the years has been the pruning out of stock because rarely borrowed. This means that there are less and less individual copies that can be borrowed on the inter-Library scheme, or can only be borrowed from the British Library. The latter is particularly expensive. There are also books which people have purchased which were too high a price for Libraries to buy. If the idea of donations is a goer then for example if they were deposited in the Central Library special events could be held to display them with a talk by donors as to why they are important books for the Library to have. Obviously there are some old stock that has to be pruned because they are falling apart or damaged; trying to find replacements from residents could be an aim.’

The Cabinet member replied (17 April): ‘I’m pretty sure people can already donate books to our libraries – there obviously have to be some parameters in place so will check on those and get back to you.’ He would discuss with the officers. I am waiting the outcome of that discussion.

Community Hubs. The idea of Libraries as community hubs is an important concept, which I had discussed in Should more community hubs be developed in Croydon? (Croydon Citizen. 16 July 2014.

‘Libraries have been mentioned to me but there are problems given the privatisation of their management and of course they have limitations of space. The former Ashburton Library could be one possibility with an asset transfer to a community trust, and re-configuring the access to separate it improve its security within the park setting.

The issue of hubs is one that cuts across different policy agendas: social inclusion, fairness, building community identification and links, fostering small businesses, developing cultural and other activities from the bottom up. It is to be hoped that in the coming months the development of hubs will appear within a range of new policy approaches.’

It  has become much easier for the Council to operate libraries as hubs once they came back into its control.

Top-down Plan Development. Like the Culture Plan the Libraries Plan can be seen as top-down. In 2016 the Council ran a libraries consultation. A full report of the findings and the Council’s response does not appear to have been  published, so we do not know to what extent the new Plan reflects the ideas and aspirations of those members of the public and Croydon organisations that responded. The responses included the views of Year 6 pupils at Norbury Manor Primary School based on a consultation I ran with them (https://thecroydoncitizen.com/politics-society/croydons-children-think-libraries). While the children valued libraries and reading, I suggested that if they are to remain users into adulthood then the attraction of libraries has to be improved.

Public Consultation 2018. The Council ran another consultation last year. I therefore wrote to the then Cabinet member saying: ‘There was a consultation in 2016. You may recall I submitted the views of Year 6 pupils at Norbury Manor Primary School.  I never saw a report setting out the findings. Is it available? Is it being taken into account in the present exercise?’ He  sent the following reply: ‘The consultants have had all of that. And the results of the south Norwood consultations re new site. Croydon officers do like their consultants- but at least in this case it should move everything forward later in year.’ Note his ignoring the question of the report on the findings of the 2016. I have also written to the current Cabinet member to ask about the public report on the 2018 consultation.

History of Library. It is disappointing that the rich heritage of the Library Service has not been flagged up in the Plan as an inspiration to creating a new vision for the future. After telling him about the pioneering role of Stanley Jast, Croydon’s Chief Librarian in the 1890s to 1915, and he wanting more information, On 17 December I emailed the Cabinet member, with the web links:

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/politics-society/lets-protect-croydons-pioneering-libraries

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/culture/edwardian-library-legacy-anglo-pole

I added: that as Jast ‘was a major pioneer in development the wide range of library services; highly influential’ all staff should know about him to inspire them to contribute to making Croydon Libraries a leading model again.’ I do not know whether the Cabinet member acted on this suggestion.

Donations to Library Stock. It is disappointing that the Plan does not include a reference to book donations. I raised the issue with then then Cabinet member, who replied: ‘Second hand books we do have to be careful of, in that we don’t want our libraries to become volunteer libraries full of dusty volumes. Good donations are important new or second hand, but how this fits overall needs working on.

We recently had a £1,000 donation for travel books in the central library for instance. So central library no longer has a range of historical travel books but bang up to date guides!’ (email 23 February 2018). I assume that the idea was parked as no officer contacted me to find out what I had to donate. So last month I drew the current Cabinet member’s attention to the  exchange with this predecessor. Quite a few of people in Croydon have books in good condition that could be donated.

‘One of the problems with Libraries across the country over the years has been the pruning out of stock because rarely borrowed. This means that there are less and less individual copies that can be borrowed on the inter-Library scheme, or can only be borrowed from the British Library. The latter is particularly expensive. There are also books which people have purchased which were too high a price for Libraries to buy. If the idea of donations is a goer then for example if they were deposited in the Central Library special events could be held to display them with a talk by donors as to why they are important books for the Library to have. Obviously there are some old stock that has to be pruned because they are falling apart or damaged; trying to find replacements from residents could be an aim.’

The Cabinet member replied (17 April): ‘I’m pretty sure people can already donate books to our libraries – there obviously have to be some parameters in place so will check on those and get back to you.’ He would discuss with the officers. I am waiting the outcome of that discussion.

Inspiring Library History

It is  disappointing that the rich heritage of the Library Service has not be flagged up as an inspiration to creating a new vision for the future. On 17 December I emailed the Cabinet member after telling him about the pioneering role of Stanley Jast, Croydon’s Chief Librarian in the 1890s to 1915, and he wanting more information. My piece about him on Croydon Citizen can be read at:

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/politics-society/lets-protect-croydons-pioneering-libraries/

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/culture/edwardian-library-legacy-anglo-pole/

I added: that as Jast ‘was a major pioneer in development the wide range of library services; highly influential’ all staff should know about him to inspire them to contribute to making Croydon Libraries a leading model again.’ I do not know yet whether the Cabinet member acted on this suggestion.

 

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Croydon’s New Cultural Plan

Culture should be ‘on every doorstep, in every locality, in every community, and in every life’ as the ‘key to connecting communities, and creating vibrancy and opportunities to thrive.’ (Croydon Creates. Our Cultural Plan for Croydon 2019-2023. p. 5)

‘Creativity helps us to see the world differently and understand our place within it. A rich cultural heritage contributes to our sense of self and community …’ (Inform, Involve, Inspire & Create – Croydon’s Cultural and Libraries Plans. Para. 3.2.9)

The Croydon Council Cabinet will adopt its new Cultural Plan at its meeting on Tuesday 7 May. In addition to the already printed Plan there is an officers’ report outlining the main features.

The two documents can be downloaded here:

Public reports pack 07052019 1830 Cabinet

Cultural Ambitions for Croydon

The Plan’s ambitions are for Croydon to be a place:

  • where culture is for everyone
  • where people come first
  • with a stunning, inspirational public realm
  • that is energising and dynamic
  • that celebrates its past, present and future
  • a place of cultural entrepreneurialism and creative business

The Plan will be ‘integral to the Council’s wider ambitions such as regeneration and economic growth, localities working, outcomes for young people and improving health and wellbeing.’

New Cultural Developments

The officers’ report accompanying the new Cultural Plan states that it is launched at a time of new cultural developments:

  • the refurbished Fairfield Halls due to open later this year
  • the residency of Talawa, the UK’s premier Black theatre company at the Halls
  • recent funding announcements such as Croydon’s selection as one of six new Creative Enterprise Zones for London and one of five national Arts Council England funded youth performance partnerships
  • a growing music scene building on Croydon’s historical success in this sphere
  • the Council’s cultural partnership fund attracting over £3 into Croydon for every £1 of council investment
  • an annual calendar of events e.g. Croydon Pride, Mela, street arts festival

Partnership

The Council says that the Plan can only be achieved through partnership with Croydon’s Cultural Network, local schools and colleges, the Local Strategic Partnership.

Diversity and Outreach

The Plan takes into account the recommendation of the Strategy & Overview Committee that actions in the Cultural Plan should cover the whole of the Borough and be a reflection of the diverse population in Croydon. As Croydon has the highest population of under 25s in London, it particularly highlights the need to reach out and engage young people.

Economy and investment

Understandably the officers highlight the economic importance of culture.

  • ‘Culture plays a significant role in making a strong case for inward investment and in creating direct employment and secondary economic impacts and this is reflected in the Cultural Plan.
  • The creative economy is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, in the last five years.
  • The digital and creative industries are highlighted by government as a priority for growth, and Croydon has, and will continue to contribute much to this agenda. (paras. 3.27 & 8)

Heritage Assets

‘Croydon’s heritage is built into its very fabric – from brutalist architecture to the remains of the 12th century Old Palace.’ The assets include: Stanley Halls, Whitgift Alms Houses and schools, Croydon Airport, Fairfield Halls. The list could have included Shirley Windmill and the historic parks. Without stating its name the report acknowledges Croydon History & Scientific Society as ‘one of the oldest historical societies in the UK still active with a 150 year track record’. (Croydon Creates. p. 15)

Musical heritage

‘A rich cultural heritage contributes to our sense of self and community, it affirms our identity and helps us to build resilience.’ (Ditto)

The Redevelopment of the Clocktower  and Museum of Croydon

The redeveloped Clocktower ‘will house a new museum that will be a truly meaningful space to reveal Croydon’s past, present and future, cohesively and dramatically.’ It will ‘tell different stories that are relevant and matter to people – how society is changing, freedom of speech, equality, social justice, environmental action and immigration.’

The  Clocktower and Museum will:

  • become ‘the landmark that puts creativity and participation at the heart of the town’s regeneration
  • make Croydon’s heritage more visible by working with crosscultural partners across the borough’
  • be ‘the focus for achieving Croydon’s cultural potential, by championing our cultural agenda in all developments’
  • celebrate ‘the links between contemporary culture and Croydon’s music heritage through creating Croydon’s music heritage trail’

Analysis

In general the new Culture Plan is welcome. There is much in it that echoes what I outlined in my 2013 discussion paper used in the South Croydon Community Association’s initiative to consider the future of Fairfield Halls which in turn led to the formation of the Croydon Arts Network. https://southcroydoncommunityassociation.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/the-future-of-fairfield-halls.pdf

Croydon’s Culture Network. The report does not explain its role or its membership. A previous officers report states: ‘Croydon’s Culture Network, a legacy of the process of bidding for the London Borough of Culture, is now a regular meeting of around 50 people individuals and organisations. The purpose of the sessions is for networking, keeping up to date with current initiatives and opportunities and it takes place monthly in different cultural venues around the borough. This provides both a channel into the sector and a collective voice of the sector. (Cultural Plan Update. Cabinet. 11 June 2018. Para 3.1.3)

  • How many of the local cultural groups are involved?
  • If the Cultural Plan was subject to discussion with some groups, which ones were not asked to take part?
  • Which of those involved in the former voluntary Arts Network were invited to be involved, and which not?
  • Given the importance given to heritage why was the Local Studies Forum of local amenity, heritage sites, history societies and independent historians not consulted?

The lack of a list of those consulted mirrors the failure of the Cabinet report Towards a Cultural Programme for Croydon on 20 June 2016  to list  the then approx. 50 cultural organisations that had been spoken to by the Creative Director along with a summary of their views. In my comments at the time to Cabinet members I pointed out that such a list would enable them to assess whether or not the report adequately reflected the thinking by the organisers and initiators of the thriving and growing cultural offer.

The issue of broad consultation has been around for over four years. In the list of questions I submitted to the Scrutiny & Overview Committee in November 2014 when it questioned the then Cabinet member for Culture I suggested it ask:

  • ‘How does he plan to involve the history and heritage organisations in the development of the heritage aspects of cultural activities?’
  • Will he set in motion the return of Local Archives to its original premises in the Library so that all the material that was publicly accessible becomes so again, and to turn the ground floor room used by Local Archives into a gallery for the whole of the Council’s art collection?

The new Culture Plan does promise to ‘Expand and enhance’ the Network. It is to be hoped that this will happen soon in an open and transparent way.

 

Partnership. Some cultural organisers may regard the Plan as yet another top down creation, suggesting there is no fundamental change in the Council seeing itself as the driver, requiring ‘partners’ to do what it wants, and failing to address the concerns from the grass roots of Croydon’s cultural scene, which has  grown up independently of the Council. Previous examples of the top-down approach were the failure of a previous Cabinet member for culture to organise  follow-ups to the meeting held to talk to the grass-roots in July 2014, the imposition of the narrowly focussed Ambition Festival, and the declaration of the Cultural Quarter.

Some funding for culture can only be applied for by Croydon’s community, cultural and heritage organisations. The Council’s role has to be as a supporter and facilitator, not as lead partner or controller. Partnerships can only develop and work if the Council treats other partners as equals regardless of the differences in levels of resources. Ignoring and overruling the wishes of others only damages partnerships, and stokes the cynicism that many cultural (another other) activists have about the Council.

Culture and Economy. The Plan’s stress on the importance of the cultural activities in the local economy echoes the views of the Croydon Trades Union Council in its report What kind of economy do we need in Croydon? Croydon Council’s Growth Plan and District Centre Investment; Growth For All. A Commentary with Recommendations (August 2014),  stressed the importance of understanding the inter-relationship between local heritage, culture and arts and the local economy. It pointed out that at the launch of the Just Croydon website on 13 August  and in an interview with Develop Croydon published on 26 August 2014 Council Leader Tony Newman stressed the importance of the cultural offer in attracting employers. The Growth Plan did  not discuss this.

The Council Sustainability Review document being consulted upon at the time referred to the Croydon’s Sustainable Community Strategy (2010-15) which ‘states that the creative sector should play a significant role in driving arts and cultural enterprises to support regeneration and establish Croydon as a cultural destination.’  The TUC recommended that the Sustainability Review consider suggestions:

  • to promote growth of creative industries and development of centralised hub to support creative businesses;
  • to support temporary use of vacant buildings and sites for creative/cultural activity;
  • to ensure that all communities have access to leisure and recreation facilities, and that these should be examined as part of the Growth and the Places Plans.

Tourism. The Plan does not address the issue of the cultural attraction for tourism. The Council as planning authority needs to do more to protect those elements of the built heritage which people value. The damage done to provision of information to visitors to the Town Centre whether Croydonians, Londoners from other Boroughs or foreign tourists, by the Business District’s closure of the Visitor Centre where Boxpark now is has been huge. The work of the pink suited guides who talk to people has not made up for there being no Centre. If tourism is to be encouraged then it is important to ensure that there is a new Visitor Centre. The Council ignored the closure at the time and seems to have continued to ignore the issue since.

Musical Heritage. The recognition of the importance of Croydon’s heritage is recognised (Plan. p.15). However, this section is flawed and superficial. I urged the Cabinet of 20 June 2016 to ensure that the report Towards a Cultural Programme for Croydon should recognise ‘heritage as a major component of culture and as a stimulus to cultural activities and tourism’.  The Plan report is particularly weak on the history of the musical heritage. The fact that famous performers like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones performed at venues like Fairfield Halls, is important and interesting, but they were just passing through. It ignores the rich classical and folk scenes. There is no mention of the classical composers Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and William Hurlestone who grew up in Croydon and ran musical events involving local musical talents like the Petherick sisters. Nor does it mention other residents such as Ralph Reader (Gang Shows),  Kathy Stobbart (jazz saxophonist), and Ewan McCall and Peggy Seeger (folk singers nor the musical importance of the National College of the Blind. Nor does it mention the rich music hall history or the way in which music was central to the social and public activities of the wide range of faith, charitable, labour movement, friendly society, and faith organisations, and of campaigners such as the suffragists and suffragettes. There is no excuse for this, given that some of the detail has been written about in Croydon Citizen, given the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor year long Festival in 2012 organised by Jonathan Butcher with the help of Surrey Opera and the Borough based Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Network, and the Petherick family exhibition at the Museum.

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/history/talented-pethericks-family-album

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/culture/rich-stories-fairfield-halls

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/culture/samuel-coleridge-taylor-croydon-music-scene

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/culture/discovering-selhursts-history-part-2

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/history/samuel-coleridge-taylor-remembered

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/culture/politics-culture-remembering-paul-robeson

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/history/keep-singing-along-pete-seeger

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/history/samuel-coleridge-taylor-civil-rights-movement

Clocktower Redevelopment. There is no mention of what will happen to the Local Studies Reading room and whether the resources that used to be on open shelves in the former Reading room which has been locked for many years will be available once again on open shelves. This issue was first raised by me with the Scrutiny & Overview Committee in November 2014 when it questioned the then Cabinet member for Culture. I suggested it ask ‘Will he set in motion the return of Local Archives to its original premises in the Library so that all the material that was publicly accessible becomes so again, and to turn the ground floor room used by Local Archives into a gallery for the whole of the Council’s art collection?’ The suggestion was no acted upon.

When the Council remodelled the Reading Room and included the art gallery space it was too small to  display the whole of Croydon Art Collection. A large number of the art works were donated to the Library Service for the benefit of Croydon residents. These donations were reported in the annual reports of the Council’s Library Committee. Examples include: Tatton Winter, 4 water colours of Croydon, 1883; donation by Mrs F. W. Wilkins of Purley, of 13 water colours of Surrey subjects by J.B. James; and donation by H. Maynard Carter of 16 water colour drawings of Croydon and the neighbourhood.  (Public Libraries Annual Reports 1924 and 1924-25). The Museum of Croydon confirms that these donations are still in the Collection (email to writer last month). i.e. none had been quietly sold. The problem is that the whole of the Art Collection may not be on view in the re-organised Clocktower.

The Riesco Collection. In the lead up to the 2014 Council elections the Conservative administration sold items from the Riesco collection of Chinese porcelain which is on display in the Clocktower. The money was supposed to have been allocated to the budget for renovating Fairfield Halls. When the sale money was received the new Labour administration allocated it to general funds. My requests that the administration rescind the policy of sale, and promise not to sell any more items was not acted upon. (My proposed Council resolution in December 2013 at How Can the Rest of the Riesco Collection Be Safeguarded?)

Therefore there is a continuing potential threat of sale of more items from the Collection. In June 2013 I outlined an approach to re-presenting the collection to reflect the historical context of Britain’s relationship with China e.g. the two Opium Wars, and Croydon’s training of East India Company personnel about which I have given talks. http://historyandsocialaction.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-radical-history-perspective-on-reisco.html. Because the new Cultural Plan does not explain in great detail the redevelopment of the Clocktower it is unclear what the intentions are for the future of the Riesco Collection.

Engaging Schools. The Culture  Plan does not explain how it will engage schools. Given the pressures on schools it is very difficult for them to take full advantage of the cultural offer, even when it links with topics within the National Curriculum. Academies and Free Schools do not have to follow the Curriculum. The concentration  of primary schools on the three main core subjects has prevented many of them developing a cross cultural curriculum which includes these along with the non-core subjects like geography, history and science. They often struggle to be able to take advantage of the local study element of the curriculum encouraged by the Government. When the  Cabinet discussed Towards a Cultural Programme for Croydon’ I recommended that it should be re-written because of a number of serious omissions, including the need for proposals on assisting LEA schools and the problems involved in seeking to influence non-LEA schools develop their cultural programmes. The Museum runs first-rate education work with those schools that ensure they take advantage of what is on offer.

Equality and inclusion. Equality and inclusion are important themes of the Plan. The problems inherent in engaging schools in cultural (including heritage) activities raises questions about the way in which schools promote equality and inclusion. In November 2015 in my evidence to the Fairness & Opportunity Commission I wrote: ‘Over the years BASA (Black & Asian Studies Association), the former national organisation that promoted research, and publication about Black and Asian history and culture in Britain, found dealing with the DfEE, Ofsted, Qualifications Authority and Teacher Training Agency very frustrating in terms of trying to get real qualitative change. Whatever the problems involved in achieving the national frameworks and support, there are clearly potential avenues in this work for voluntary and community organisations, through helping schools with curricular activities, and with extra-curricular activities, e.g. around community days, arts festivals, religious festivals, International Women’s Day, Black History Month and Holocaust Memorial Day. Progress appears very hit and miss and seems to depend on initiatives by individual teachers. A campaign had to be run to ensure that people like Mary Seacole were not taken out of the National Curriculum by the former Secretary of State Michael Gove. A Conference held on 8 November 2015 entitled ‘Putting the Black in the Union Jack? Black British History in Education’  expressed concerns about the continuing problems involved in helping teachers to use for example Black and Asian history material in their teaching.

A wide range of activities provide community and voluntary organisations with opportunities for practical activity to celebrate cultural diversity and to encourage anti-racism, including: community and religious festivals, after-school clubs, older people’s clubs, holiday play schemes, arts activities, International Women’s Day, Black History Month, and Holocaust Memorial Day. The organisation of these in Croydon in recent years appears to be very hit and miss.

My experience is that the way in which the Black History month is organised in Croydon leaves much to be desired, as it does not include those of us who have researched, talked and published on aspects of British Black History for years. I have raised this concern with Cllr Patsy Cummings who is leading the Windrush Generation project. Having been given funding by the Government more than matched by the Council, there will be a Windrush exhibition and display from June to October in the Clocktower and other activities, which I am helping with.

Public Art. The emphasis in the Culture Plan on the role of public art in regeneration projects is welcome. It also gives  much emphasis to street art (pps.10 & 11), which it wants to further roll out across the Borough. However, the Council and the street artists need to realise that for many people many street art paintings are threatening uncomfortable images, and highlight the run down nature of the  Town Centre. Public and street art needs to give a positive visual image should be central to its spread to other parts of the Borough, and the planners need to be more pro-active to encourage developers to incorporate it. Although the Norbury Residents Associations’ Planning Committee suggested the provision of public art features in the redevelopment of the Norbury Police Station the applicant did not include any in its application and it was not insisted upon by the Council’s Planning Committee.

The Role of the Local Plan. In its comments on the Local Plan consultation in 2015 the Arts Network emphasised the need for a wider range of cultural venues, especially with the proposed closure of Fairfield Halls for refurbishment. It recommended that the Plan be amended by:

  • the inclusion of ‘SP3.4A. The Council will encourage the provision of a wide range of different types and sizes of performance spaces.’
  • the addition at the end of ‘Para. 4.35. The Council remains committed to: protecting existing capacity for activities such as theatres, cinemas, art galleries,’ of ‘pubs and bars, restaurants and cafes with performance spaces, community centres, etc, and promoting new capacity.’ 
  • the addition at the end of Strategic Policy SP3.5 of ‘and will work with cultural and creative industry organisations to identify suitable venues and assist in negotiating their use.’

These recommendations were not accepted.

Council Planning Policy

Policy DM14 of the Local Plan 2018. adopted in February last year, states:

‘To enhance and express local character, the Council will support the inclusion of public art and require all major  schemes to include public art that:

  1. a) Is integrated into proposals at an early stage of the design process;
  2. b) Enhances and creates local distinctiveness and reinforces a sense of place;
  3. c) Responds to local character;
  4. d) Makes a positive contribution to the public realm; and
  5. e) Engages the local community in its creation.’

The justification for the policy is given in the following paragraphs.

‘6.139 Despite its size there are relatively few examples of public art within the borough. The Council acknowledges the important role that public art can play in enhancing the setting of a building and creating a visually stimulating public realm and strengthening local distinctiveness.

6.140 There is a need to ensure that opportunities to incorporate public art within new developments or public realm improvements are taken and that it relates to the local character, contributes to the sense of place and reinforces local distinctiveness.

6.141 The incorporation of public art offers the opportunity to work with the local community to create distinctive works that help engender a sense of ownership and strengthen the sense of place.

6.143 By considering public art during the early stages of the design process and clarifying the scope at the beginning of the pre-application process, opportunities can be taken to integrate public art into the fabric of the development itself in more imaginative ways. Public art should not be confined to statues, but can be incorporated in imaginative, simple and cost effective ways such as bespoke paving, gates, lighting, signage, street furniture, playground equipment, railings and landscaping, murals (painted or ceramic), decorative bargeboards or works of art incorporated on elevations where they will be visible to pedestrians.

6.144 The Council expects all public art to be of the highest design quality and craftsmanship and whenever possible, encourage the use of sustainable or recycled materials. When commissioning public art, developers should place equal weight on creating the right piece of work, the craftsmanship of the artist. Major schemes are defined as being over 0.5 hectares or residential schemes over 10 units or developments over 1000m2 and those installing the piece and the maintenance after it has been installed.’

6.143 partly reflects the recommendation during the Local Plan (Partial Review consultation in 2015 by the Arts Network In its comments on the Local Plan (Partial Review) consultation, that the then existing policy be strengthened by the addition of ‘and mural paintings, ceramic murals, decorative roof pelmets, and substantial works of art of flat roofs especially where they will be visible to pedestrians given their location’.

There is a Public Realm Design Guide adopted back in 2012, which may need to be reviewed.

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History events & news at 30 April

Contents: Glasgow commemorates Paul Robeson; DIY Democracy; Brixton Windmill; Sir Charles Trevelyan; play moon 150th anniversary of TUC; Larkhall walk;Tanobuie family in 2WW; Corruzangza strike play; slavery, colonialism and Peterloo; brewing along Wandle Valley; Thames Panorama 1829; Henry Tate Gardens walks; Annual Chartism Day Conference;  history of Durham Miners; NELHS AGM & George Orwell and the Left; news from the USA

Friday 3 May. Glasgow commemorates Robeson leading 1960 May Day march in Glasgow

Event to commemorate Glasgow Mayday Parade of 1960 led by activist Paul Robeson

Includes Tayo Aluko’s Call Mr Robeson

https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/whats-on/theatre-news/paul-robeson-mayday-parade-glasgow-16158175

Sunday 5 May. 10.30am-5pm.  DIY Democracy: from Peterloo to the present

Showing of Mike Leigh’s Peterloo with speakers/workshops on Peterloo and its aftermath, protest in the 1960s and the current fight for women’s pension rights.

Tickets via https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/642615 covering a hot lunch, tea, coffee and cake all day. £10, waged and £5, pay as you feel, low income

Organised by the Workers Educational Association, North East History and Heritage Branch

Star and Shadow Cinema, Warwick Street, Newcastle NE2 1BB

Further information from 0191 212 6100

Monday 6 May. 1-5 pm. Brixton Windmill Beer and Bread Festival Celebration of local producers includes food, entertainment and local breweries than ever before. Meet the volunteer millers inside the windmill.

7 May. 7pm. Sir Charles Trevelyan of Wallington – Northumberland’s Upper-Class Socialist MP

Talk by Mike Fraser at North East Labour History Society First Tuesday:

Old George Inn, Bigg Market, Newcastle NE1 1EZ

Friday 10 May. 7pm. Banner Theatre’s ‘Spirit of 1868’

Introduction to the 150-year history of the TUC

spirit of 1868 – Wallsend e-flyer

Wallsend Memorial Hall & People’s Centre

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/wallsend/wallsend-memorial-hall/banner-theatre-spirit-of-1868/2019-05-10/19:00.

Saturday 11 &  Sunday 12 May. 1-5 pm. May Open Weekend at Brixton Windmill

You can book a tour to the top in advance at http://www.brixtonwindmill.org/visit or just turn up on the day for a shorter tour. Short tours run every 20 minutes and all tours are guided by trained Windmill volunteers. Tours are free, although donations are welcome.

Thursday 16 May. 6.30pm. Larkhall Walk

Led by Anne Wilson meet outside the gates to St Paul’s Church in Rectory Grove, SW4 0DX. The route will follow Larkhall Rise and Larkhall Lane taking in the Grade II listed Larkhall Estate and gardens and proceeding to Larkhall Park and The Surprise.

Tantobie

Tara Arts

Thursday 13 June. 5.30pm. The violence of empire come home: Slavery, colonialism and Peterloo

Talk by Dr Shirin Hirsch (Manchester Metropolitan University and People’s History Museum) on the colonial context and implications of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, alongside spoken word performances of black voices past and present, responding to the themes of slavery, oppression and protest.

Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre

Manchester Central Library, St Peter’s Square, Manchester, ME PAD

Monday 17 June. 8pm. Brewing along the Wandle Valley

Talk by Alison Cousins (volunteer Wandle Industrial Museum). Clapham Society

Clapham Society. Omnibus Theatre, 1 Clapham Common North Side, SW4 0QW (Bar opens 7pm)

Monday 20 May. 8pm. Panorama of the Thames Project

Talk by John Inglis and Jill Sanders who uncovered a 1829 60ft panorama from Richmond to Westminster. It and their contemporary film show continuous views of both banks of the river, enabling comparisons across almost 200 years of social and architectural change. They have published A Riverside View of Georgian London.

Clapham Society at Omnibus Theatre.

Sunday 26 May. 2pm or 3pm. Henry Tate Gardens Walks

See the exterior of his Grade II listed mansion and explore the historic garden with its Grade II listed garden features, including a dramatic Pulhamite (artificial stone) grotto, Victorian castle folly, lake and temple.

Meet at the lodge gates, Henry Tate Mews, Streatham Common North Side, SW16 3HA at 2 pm or 3 pm.

Lambeth Walks

Lambeth walks

Saturday 1 June. 9-5pm.  Annual Chartism Day Conference

After registration and introduction talks by:

Tom Scriven (Manchester):  Chartism’s electoral strategy and the bifurcation of Radicalism.

Joan Allen (Newcastle). ‘Chartist trials, 1839: Revisited’.

Mike Greatbatch. (Independent). William Parker: A Chartist Life.

Joe Stanley (Sheffield Hallam). Protest and Popular Politics amongst the Yorkshire Miners, 1786-1839.

Keynote Lecture: Robert Poole (UCLAN). ‘Peterloo and Chartism’

Mark Bennett (Durham). ‘Chartism’s legacy: the reform debate in Yorkshire, 1859-67’.

Matt Roberts (Sheffield Hallam). ‘The Visual and Material Culture of Chartism’.

Mid-morning and afternoon breaks and lunch.

Sponsors: School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University, and the Society for the Study of Labour History

Booking form can be downloaded here:

Tuesday 9 July. 7pm. The history of the Durham Miners

Talk by Huw Beynon (Emeritus Professor of Social Science, Cardiff University)

DMA Redhills, Durham City

Tuesday 10 September.  7pm. NELHS Annual General Meeting

Lit & Phil, Newcastle

Speaker: John Newsinger (Professor of History at Bath Spa University) Hope lies in the Proles: George Orwell and the Left.

News from the USA

Celluloid Chains. Slavery in the Americas through Film. (Edited by Rudyard J. Alcocer, Kristen Block, and Dawn Duke.

https://www.academia.edu/38868974/On_Film_Historiography_and_Teaching_the_Experience_of_Slavery

Rutgers dedicates plaza to Paul Robeson

http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2019/apr/18/rutgers-dedicates-plaza-paul-robeson

The Smith singer alleged racism row

https://www.chestnuthilllocal.com/2019/04/26/commentary-removal-of-kate-smith-statue-unjust

 

 

 

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Croydon events & news at 30 April

Contents: May Day Rally; defending Corbyn Government; Ruskin House events; Croydonites Festival; Croydon Art Society; Dyslexia School; Minster lunch-time recitals; Croydon has talent; Surrey Opera; South Norwood Community Festival; Inside Croydon stories; other news; Marlpit Lane Bowling Green

Croydon TUC May Day 2019 jpg

Thursday, 9 May. 7.30pm. How do we defend a Corbyn-led government

 

Speaker: Chris Williamson MP (Derby North constituency)

He has written: ‘The policies Labour has adopted since Jeremy Corbyn was elected to lead the party have the overwhelming support of the British public. But the obsession in certain quarters with Brexit and a second referendum are unhelpful, and have the potential to strike a fatal blow against the prospects of delivering a common sense socialist government. But that’s not the only barrier. The need for strength through unity to provide solidarity with those unfairly criticised and misrepresented is being severely tested.

However, the storm we’re currently enduring is nothing compared to the full blown hurricane of attacks we’ll face from the establishment and vested interests, should Jeremy get the keys to 10 Downing Street. We therefore need to be ready by building an unstoppable social movement to help secure and then defend what will be our elected government. Remember, a Corbyn-led Labour government would have the potential to bring about an irreversible shift in the balance of wealth and power in the UK! And that’s a prize worth fighting for.’

Croydon Assembly, Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Road, CRO 1BD

To book free ticket: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-do-we-defend-a-corbyn-led-government-tickets-60974930659

Ruskin House events:

Tuesday 7 May. 7 – 9pm Croydon Unison Quiz. Max teams of six.  Non-members welcome.  £2.

Tuesday 7 May. 7.30pm. Is ‘The Four-Day Working Week’ possible?  Croydon TUC & Assembly open meeting.  All welcome.  Free.

Sunday 12 May. Trevor Hyett & Rambling Valentines and Singers’ Night – Folk & Blues

Sunday 19 May. Singers’ Night – Folk & Blues

Sunday 26 May. Libre Fuego and Singers’ Night. Folk & Blues

Croydonites Festival 2- 25 May

https://www.croydonites.com/programme-for-2019.html

Monday 16 September  onwards. Angela’s Ashes – The Musical. Fairfield Halls

Wednesday 18 September London Mozart Players – Fairfield Halls Gala Opening Concert

You can sign up for information by email via the website:

https://www.fairfield.co.uk

art club

creating-a-dyslexia-friendly-school

croydon-minster-2

Talwent

Barber

SNCF

Inside Croydon Stories

Shirley Pub development (23 April)

Newman wants less parking at Westfields (24 April)

Centrale Debenhams  to stay open (26 April)

Phoenix Centre Upper Norwood (26 April)

Queens Hotel Planning Inspector judgement due (27 April)

Croydon objection to Sutton incinerator HGV plan (29 April)

Council’s subsidy to Brick by Brick (30 April)

Other News

Dingwell Job Centre to be replaced by 118 multi-storey flats; Job Centre to move into Bernard Weatherill  House

https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/heres-what-huge-new-tower-16195375

Noel Russell: Croydon’s Windrush Generation Victim

https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/treated-like-illegal-immigrant-life-16182112

Visual impression the changes to North End 1833 to today

https://www.facebook.com/Timetravelimages/videos/1194711454040119

Marlpit Lane Bowling Green

The Bowling Green was closed by the Tory Council in 2012 without any consultation. Locally with the help of Councillor Terry Lenton and the East Coulsdon Residents Association a friends group was set up. It took two years of negotiation  with the Council to allow the Friends to take over and maintain the green. By this time the grass was a foot high and it took another  two years to return it to a condition that you could play on.

A year later the Council asked the Friends take over the running of the putting Green.

For more info see the 2016 article:

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/culture/friends-marlpit-lane-bowling-green-now-reopened-marlpit-lane-bowling-green-still-need-help 

The green is open to everybody no membership required. Prices are kept down: £3 bowls  and £2 putting. Simple rules for Bowling you must have flat shoes and children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Marlpit Lane Bowling Green Flier

(Thanks to Charles King)

 

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