Croydon Update 9 May – Council Rules Out Library Closures

Monday 10 – Friday 14 May. 11am. Employability Workshops

Thursday 13 May. 3.30pm. MHA The Wilderness On-line Roadshow Heritage and Accessibility

MHA The Wilderness free online event with Heritage Ability – Living Options Devon to celebrate MHA’s National Lottery Heritage Fund projects and its communal effort in making heritage environments more accessible to people living with disabilities. Book your free ticket at:

Monday 17 May. 6.30 pm. Cabinet Meeting

The Cabinet will rule out closing the five small libraries as an option in the second stage consultation on the future of libraries. Meanwhile most libraries re-opened with limited service on 7 May. The Cabinet agenda is: investigation into conditions at 1-87 Regina Road and the Housing Service Improvement Plan, on-going review of Brick by Brick, Libraries Public Consultation Phase Two – Financial Performance Report – Period 11, Fees & Charges 2021/22 ; Croydon Renewal Community Engagement; (Stages 1 & 2 recommendations from Scrutiny, Investing in our Borough (CALAT Management Information System Contract ). The 484 page agenda pack can be seen here:

Friday 4 June. London Mozart Players & Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Concert at Fairfield Halls with London Mozart Players, Kanneh-Mason will perform Dvorak’s  cello concerto.

Tories Do Well But Fail To Take Labour Seats

Croydon Labour will breath a sigh of relief, while the  Tories need  to ponder why they did not take the three Labour seats in the bye-elections on Thursday. Labour’s  Kola Agboola won New Addington North,  Labour Louis Carserides South Norwood, and Michael Bonello Woodside. The Tories held on to their two by-election seats, Ola Kolade in Kenley and Jade Appleton Parkhill and Whitgift.

The Tories romped  home in the GLA election to retain the Croydon and Sutton seat. I hope the GLA victor Neil Garratt (41% to Labour’s Patsy Cummings 32%) enjoys his powerless role in the Mayoral dictatorship system. Their candidate for Mayor took 44% of the Croydon and Sutton vote with Khan  on 32%.

Unravelling The Complexity Of Brick By Brick Should Ease Sale To Urban Splash

On 17 May the Cabinet is being asked to  agree a number of measures to unravel the complexity of its financial relationship with Brick by Brick. which should mean less complex negotiations with Urban Splash to buy Brick by Brick and its architecture team 40-under-40 Common Ground.

The Cabinet will agree:

  • that the £69.262m  costs of the Fairfield Halls refurbishment  be treated as capital expenditure rather than as a Capital Loan;
  • that the existing Fairfield Halls refurbishment contracts with Brick by Brick be novated to the Council
  • that specialist consultants or contractors be appointed to identify any additional remedial works to Fairfield Halls;
  • that the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) acquire 104 residential units from Brick by Brick
  • that the consolidated loan agreement shall, if required, be varied to include a further loan draw down amount of up to £10 million to cover additional working capital, in the event that this is required by Brick by Brick due to possible delays with forecast sales receipts;
  • that the Council acquire further units or other assets from Brick by Brick within existing capital budget provision.

Other Croydon News

Money Still To Be Made From Offices

Brunswick Property Partners are showing that there is still money to be made from offices. It has just spent £32.7m purchasing the long leaseholds on Knollys House and Stephenson House in Addiscombe Road for Akoya, its London neighbourhood workplace venture. Existing tenants include the British Medical Association and the Local Communities Department of the Government.

Domestic Violence Rockets

Referrals to Croydon’s FJC (formerly Family Justice Centre) rose from 980 in March 2017 to 2,076 in April 2021, an increase of 111.8%.

Croydon Young Anglicans Discuss Racism And Anti-Racism In the Church

Police Heavy Use Of Stop And Search Of Black People

Police Raid Scrapyard

Aldi Plans New Store

Planning Applications Week Of 25 April

The applications include one to demolish a Red Gables, 2 Beech Avenue and build a part 3-4storey building of 31 flats.

Chris Philp Attacks Council Proposed Library Closures

Before he knew that the Council is to drop closing the five small libraries, Croydon South Conservative MP Chris Philp hypocritically slammed the Council. Hypocrisy: he represents the Party

  • that planned to close Libraries over ten years ago and had to back off, contracted the service to Laing which sold it on to Carillion, which collapsed leading to the Labour Council taking the management back in house;
  • whose austerity cuts to Councils have led to crises with libraries across the country;
  • whose Secretary of State rejected my proposed alternative funding strategy for the Council (with Philp not even acknowledging receipt of the copy sent to him.)

Philp is also the MP who has conned people into supporting  the one person dictatorship of a so called democratically elected Mayor.

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Is Croydon A Rogue Landlord?

For years we have had Councillors bleat on about the need for more ‘affordable’ and Council housing and the need to take action against ‘rogue landlords’. Led by former Planning Chair Paul Scott they backed everything Brick by Brick proposed, which has itself been shown to be incompetent ad badly managed and supervised. Now the Ark independent report on the Regina Rd flats scandal has revealed the Council:

  • to be incompetent and negligent at managing and maintaining its relatively small stock of Council homes;
  • to treat its tenants with a lack of care and respect;

Can it therefore be defined as a ‘rogue’ landlord?

Cabinet Cursory Discussion On 17 May

Despite the devastating report by ARK the Cabinet will be expected to consider it and the proposed interim improvement plan in a crowded agenda on 17 May, so it will only have superficial consideration.

It would be reasonable to expect that:

  • the Cabinet would hold a special meeting just on the report
  • the Scrutiny Committee would hold a special meeting in the days before the Cabinet
  • that Ark, residents and the Town Hall trade unions be given time to speak, and the contractor to speak at both meeting.

All Councillors should be ashamed about the devastating critique of Ark. Those with Council housing in their wards should review their past case work with Council tenants to see to what extent they should have realised there were severe failings in the system, and how long this went back. In future they should see casework as an indication of policy and administrative problems which create difficulties for many others. They should drive down into the detail and where they are dissatisfied with the officers’ responses they should put in questions at Council meetings and formal complaints.

Consideration could be also be given to a special Committee that meets monthly at which Councillors and the MPs and advice service workers can report on the cases they are dealing with, how they have been dealt with and officers required to report the action they are taking.

The former Cabinet member for housing should resign by way of apology for failure to ensure the maintenance system was being adequately run and monitored.

Tip Of The Ice-berg

1-87 Regina Road is an 11-storey block consisting of 44 one-bedroom flats. It was built in 1965 and was re-clad in 1999. They are among 14,360 homes owned by the Council. Ark states that ‘The Council’s housing service normally completes about 65,000 repairs a year to its housing stock – comparatively a very high number of repairs.’

It notes that over ‘half of the homes in Regina Road have been surveyed to varying degrees. These surveys identified issues relating to damp, mould and condensation. Indeed, the Council planned to investigate the installation of a mechanical ventilation system into flats before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. ARK understands the Regina Road roof was programmed to be replaced some time ago. However, in 2018/19 as part of the Council’s installation of a sprinkler system the roof was considered ‘fit for purpose’. Leaks into flats on the upper floors of 1-87 are now common, with patch repairs having limited effect.’

‘There are 26 blocks of a similar age and construction type and the problems experienced at Regina Road are likely to be replicated elsewhere.’

The report examines in detail the specific events at Regina Rd. In particular it found:

  • that residents’ ‘concerns were left unresolved and opportunities to resolve the problem were missed’ from 2017;
  • that the cause of the water leaks ‘were caused by a corroded copper rising main in the slab between’ two of the flats.
  • that the ‘block is also known to experience other water leaks caused by corrosion in the pipework, as well as a leaking roof.’
  • that there ‘was a limited stock condition survey of the block completed in 2017.’

Ark’s Key Findings

ARK’s critique is applicable to the way the whole of the stock has been dealt with. It identified ‘a range of issues primarily across the Council’s operational teams (repairs, asset management and tenancy management) and to some extent with its contractor’ leading to a failure to deliver even basic ‘core’ housing services effectively. They are potentially symptomatic of poor performance across the Council’s housing service and impact on its ability to drive self-improvement.’

These issues are:

  • a lack of capacity and competence;
  • a poor operating culture with a lack of care and respect for tenants;
  • systemic problems in how the Council communicates and deals with tenants’ concerns and complaints;
  • weak performance management meaning senior managers do not appear to know what is going on;
  • poor use of data and ‘intelligence’ by the Council and its contractors.

It sets out a list of recommendations – see below.

A Major Transformation Is Promised

Based on the key findings and recommendations of ARK on the need for a major transformation of the way the Housing Department operates, on 17 May the Cabinet will fully accept the findings of the report of the independent investigation into the housing conditions at 1-87 Regina Road. It will also agree:

  • to ‘recognise that the housing conditions in the affected flats at Regina Road are completely unacceptable and reiterate the Leader’s full apology to the tenants concerned’;
  • to note ‘the Council’s response to the conditions at Regina Road: rehousing the tenants affected and responding to other urgent issues identified in the report’;
  • to note ‘the Council’s steps to identify whether there are any issues at other council-owned high-rise blocks of flats, and the steps to resolve any problems identified’
  • to adopt the Council’s initial action plan for the housing service;
  • to note ‘that a wider review of the Council’s housing services, including delivery of the repairs service, will be conducted and will consider how the Council fully involves its tenants and leaseholders, both in terms of responding to issues raised and in the co-design and co-delivery of services;
  • to note the appointment of ‘an Interim Executive Director of Housing for an initial period of six months to bring additional capacity to provide new leadership and direction for the housing service, conduct a review of the wider housing service, and lead the development and implementation of a longer-term Housing Improvement Plan for the service;
  • to establish ‘an independently-chaired Housing Improvement Board, the membership of which will include council tenants and leaseholders, and independent housing experts, to oversee the development and implementation of the Housing Improvement Plan’;
  • to note that consideration be given to the need for any investigation is required to be undertaken in accordance with its agreed staff policies and procedures;
  • to ‘welcome the recommendations of the Social Housing White Paper ‘The Charter for Social Housing Residents’, in particular the focus on the importance of treating residents with respect and ensuring the voices of tenants and leaseholders are heard’.

The ARK report and the initial action plan will be shared with the Tenants and Leaseholders Panel, Housing Scrutiny Panel, Scrutiny and Overview Committee, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Croydon’s Improvement and Assurance Panel, the Regulator of Social Housing and the Local Government Association;

A report will be made to the Scrutiny and Overview Committee to engage its members on the initial action plan, progress in implementation and developing the Housing Improvement Plan.

Staffing Weaknesses

  • ‘Resources are stretched with problems with recruitment and low morale.’
  • ‘High vacancy rates exist across the service but are highest in the repairs teams – some are operating with only half their staffing complement.’
  • The ‘service is focused on ‘firefighting’ and reacting to circumstances and events, rather than getting ahead of things and being proactive.’
  • Resourcing of the Council’s health and safety compliance function within the housing service, is inadequate. Currently only one of three posts is filled.
  • Each ‘tenancy officer is responsible for a patch of more than 1,000 properties, which is double what ARK might typically see from a high-performing housing provider.’
  • ‘The Council’s staff do not appear to understand their role in delivering even basic ‘core’ housing services effectively.’

Management System Weaknesses

  • Due to the management system the Council’s managers have insufficient focus on housing issues, ‘making it harder for the Council to address issues with performance, communication and working across teams.
  • The Council’s housing service is inward-looking and failing to keep up to date with good practice.’

Lack Of Care And Respect For Tenants

  • There is ‘an outmoded culture and attitude among a number of Council staff towards tenants. Tenants were often seen as demanding, difficult to deal with and less worthy of respect.’
  • ‘Council and contractor staff do not always treat all tenants with care and respect.’
  • Council staff repeatedly failed to provide advice and support to tenants.’
  • ‘No-one took ownership of the problem and sought to ensure everyone pulled together to get the problems resolved effectively.’
  • Council staff failed in their duty of care to manage risks and keep tenants safe.
  • the Council’s ‘and (to some degree) the contractor’s operational staff repeatedly failed in their duties to act as the ‘eyes & ears’ of the Council by ensuring hazards and risks are removed.’

‘ARK did not find clear evidence of discrimination on race grounds as part of this investigation. Instead, there appears to be a wider issue, with all tenants being stigmatised and seen as less worthy of respect. However, ARK has some concerns about allocations, tenants understanding of their tenancy status and overcrowding within the block that should be explored further.’

Failure To Communicate

  • The Council lacks a simple, effective, clear and accessible route for getting concerns and complaints resolved.
  • ‘ARK is puzzled as to why issues being raised by councillors and the MP would not spur senior managers at the Council to take ownership of the problems.’
  • ‘The Council is moving many of its services online. Currently tenants reported to ARK difficulties in using the website to access services or the information they need.’
  • ‘Tenancy and Repair handbooks are no longer provided to tenants to set out their mutual roles and responsibilities and the standards tenant should expect.’
  • ‘Tenants lack awareness of who they should report failures in the day-to-day repairs service or non-repair issues to. They were often unaware of who their tenancy officer is.’
  • In the absence of a Tenants and Residents Group at Regina Road block ‘tenants are not aware of other engagement opportunities or mechanisms to have their voices heard.’

Weak Management  

  • ‘The Council’s housing service appears to lack a common understanding of the roles that teams collectively play in delivering even basic ‘core’ housing services effectively.’
  • ‘Council staff operate in ‘silos’ resulting in a lack of a ‘joined-up’ service delivery and resources being wasted.’
    • ‘There are ‘blurred lines’ of responsibility and accountability between the Council and its main repairs contractor.’
  • ARK ‘identified a ‘leadership vacuum’ with an absence of active or visible leadership to front-line Council staff.’
  • It ‘cannot understand why this problem was not escalated by front-line staff to their managers. Similarly, why it was not identified by managers as part of their one-to-one discussions with staff.’

‘In ARK’s experience any competent housing provider would have readily identified these problems. The issues could have been identified from a number of different perspectives – the number of call-outs, the number of repairs, long-standing empty properties, complaints from tenants and councillors and MPs enquiries.’

Supervision Of Contractor Shortcomings

  • ‘Relationships appear to operate on a client/contractor basis with a focus on monitoring performance indicators rather than actively managing performance.’
  • ‘ARK would expect discussions to be forward-looking, seeking to identify trends and working together to resolve operational problems and drive continuous improvement.’
  • ‘ARK understand the contractor shapes their service around available budget on a price per property basis. This model can work effectively but without the right relationships can act as a barrier to contractor working proactively and collaboratively to address larger problems.’

Poor Use Of Data Etc

  • ‘The Council is not using its data and intelligence to identify and learn from problems or to underpin its decision-making. Intelligence and data exists in ‘silos’ and independent investigation does not appear to be drawn together to provide a holistic view of asset performance.’
  • ‘ARK is unclear to what extent the Council uses its intelligence to inform strategic decision making or budget-setting.’
  • ‘The Council is over reliant on contractor data to monitor repairs performance. ARK cannot identify the extent to which scrutiny and validation of this key repairs data is undertaken but are concerned about its reliability to drive performance management and good decision-making.’
  • ‘ARK understand the Council holds information on stock condition based on around 60 per cent stock surveys, although much of it is dated. This data appears to direct future investment.’
  • ‘ARK was told that investment decisions failed to reflect repairs information. The Council needs to ensure its investment decisions are based on a robust assessment of stock condition and performance and responds to the ‘real-life’ problems that tenants experience.’
  • ‘It is important that plans around ICT improvements include measures to cleanse data and improve performance reporting and do not disrupt service recovery measures.’

‘ARK repeatedly heard concerns that the Council is not investing sufficiently in planned improvement to ensure its homes are sustainable over the longer-term – in demand, reflecting tenants needs and providing good value for money. The high level of responsive repairs demanded suggests the need to proactively invest in homes.’ The Council should assure itself ‘that all key data covering stock condition (Decent Homes Independent investigation Standard) and landlord health and safety responsibilities is accurate.’

ARK Recommendations

Recommendation 1. ‘Establish clear governance arrangements to provide strategic leadership to the service. This strategic group should direct future strategy around a common vision for the service. Their role should include ensuring robust performance management and decision-making, agreeing policy and practice (including service standards) and ensuring there is a ‘joined-up’ approach across all Council services.’

Recommendation 2. ‘Undertake a forward-looking skills gap analysis. Develop a workforce plan to recruit, train and develop staff (including mentoring and involvement of good practice networks) to fill any gaps.’

Recommendation 3. ‘Implement a development programme to ensure all staff consistently demonstrate the attitudinal and behavioural competences needed to support the Council’s values and help shape its culture. This should include steps to ensure the Council (and contractors) consistently deliver a tenant-focussed service and have a ‘safety first’ culture.’

Recommendation 4. ‘Strengthen the Council’s capacity, competence and commitment to tenant involvement through training and development of staff and councillors and reviewing existing structures to ensure they are ‘fit-for-purpose’ and ensure tenants have their voices heard. Independent investigation.’

Recommendation 5. ‘Develop ‘business intelligence’ systems that allow the Council to collect and share real-time information on asset condition and performance (including from the contractor). This should enable the Council to proactively identify and learn from problems, manage disrepair claims more effectively and drive better investment decisions.’

Recommendation 6. ‘Conduct a fundamental review of existing performance management arrangements. Develop a comprehensive performance management ‘suite’ with bespoke reporting relevant to the ‘audience’ (for example, councillors, senior managers, operational managers and, tenants scrutiny groups). All indicators should be outcome-focussed and underpinned by robust assurance ‘arrangements’ covering data quality and outcomes delivered.’

Recommendation 7. ‘Make improvements to complaints handling in line with the Housing Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code and publicise how the Council is using complaints to drive service improvements.

Council Leader Hamida Ali’s personal and Council statements on the ARK report and the interim action plan can be read at:

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Clapton CFC Remembers Walter Tull

Thanks to Kathy Chater for this

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Croydon Update 2 May

Tuesday 4 May. 5pm. Annual Meeting of Council

Formal Mayor making, party political balance on Committees, election of independent Chair for General Purposes & Audit Committee. The 1000+ Croydon residents who have died of COVID will be remembered.

The balance of Committee membership between the two parties may change as a result of the 6 May by-elections.

Two documents are essential reading as they list the roles of individual Councillors – important to know if you are lobbying or want to draw a problem to their attention, or make a suggestion. The second lists Councillors on external bodies including local organisations.

Patsy Cummings has an enormous workload, which raises the question of whether it will have to be re-considered if she is elected as GLA member on 6 May.

Wednesday 5 May. 7.45pm. Sir Joseph Wilson Swan: a life of light bulb moments”,

Zoom talk by Dr John Ridley about Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914), one of a group of Victorian inventors whose work impacted upon the world. Although best known for inventing his incandescent light bulb, he was also active in other areas such as photography, engraving and the manufacture of artificial silk.

If you are not  a member of CNHSS and want to join in please email your request to

Tuesday 11 May. 6.30pm. Scrutiny Health & Social Care Sub-Committee

Covid-19 Vaccination Uptake – Residents in Care Homes and Care Staff in all settings; Overview of the 2021-22 Adults Budget. The Sub-Committee is asked to review the information provided to reach a conclusion on the following:- 1. Are the budget savings within Adult Social Care achievable? 2. Does the leadership team have sufficient line of sight over the savings programme? 3. Is there sufficient political oversight over the savings programme? 4. Are the financial monitoring systems in place sufficient to allow effective tracking of the budget? 5. Are the performance monitoring systems in place sufficient to allow any unforeseen impact, as a result of the savings programme, on vulnerable residents to be picked up and addressed at an early stage?

Thursday 13 May. Closure Date To Be Croydon’s New Chief Executive!!!

Monday 21 June. Hoped for Re-opening of Fairfield Halls

New website

Croydon’s Housing And Homelessness Crisis

The Council spends over £200,000 a year on housing the homeless in hotels. Yet another case of maintenance negligence was come to light. Croydon Central Labour MP sets out her views on what needs to happen. Will the letting of Greystar’s Ten Degree modular tower block on George St push up the average private rent level, which will then fuel rent rises across Croydon?

Sarah Jones states:

‘After the ITV news report into the conditions of properties at Regina Road, Croydon Council has launched a full inquiry to establish how this was allowed to happen. The council is reviewing the conditions in all of their high-rise blocks as a matter of urgency.

The horrific scenes reported on ITV has shocked the community – no one should have to live like that.   We know there is an underlying and fundamental lack of affordable housing, but it is alarming that any tenants of the council could live in such horrific accommodation, despite so many attempts to get the Council to act.  I am calling for fundamental changes to improve our housing provision in Croydon and make sure that no one has to suffer such terrible living conditions again.  We need:

  • A tenant’s charter of rights and responsibilities where tenants are equal partners with the council
  • An investigation into repairs and maintenance, including the conduct of Axis, the company contracted to carry out council housing repairs.
  • A new forum for people in temporary accommodation to raise concerns and seek advice
  • A review of how many other London boroughs are placing families in temporary accommodation in Croydon
  • A review of the housing association provision within the borough
  • A regular routine of walk-abouts with Cllrs, MPs, housing officers and the police across the borough
  • 500 people have asked for my help on housing issues since 2017, it is clear that we have a housing crisis and the fundamental lack of affordable housing and government policy is driving a lack of decent housing.’

Can Croydon Comeback?

A reader comments:

‘Democracy and the listening to residents has long disappeared in Croydon in favour of individuals ambition. Croydon has to rethink and be honest, remember arts quarter document and the local plan. Getting a mayor will only reduce democracy.

Croydon has lost a lot of its community and that cannot be rebuilt by demolition of the past and rebuilding as an overcrowded metropolis.

Every green space and brown site building replaced by flats damages the quality of life and environment.

People of an area is what makes an area and community, not bulldozing and creating the Croydon of ambition. That will take longer than building a few new buildings. That is the question as to whether Croydon can comeback.’

Croydon’s Economic Recovery

Economic recovery will probably occur through small steps, like the building of the new Lidl on Purley Way, pop-up shops in an article published by Croydon Bid, the funding obtained by Croydon Commitment to lead a two-year Employability Programme, called Ways2Work, and and whether Croydon can benefit from developments such as the continued operation of from a proposed new building for the existing metal recycling and management bsite facility in Lambeth on land off Windsor Grove, adjoining the railway at West Norwood, which Croydon is being consulted on – inc. in planning list above.

The BID website is:

Croydon Cultural News

The April Croydonist postings are:

  • interview with artist Skye
  • interview with Elizabeth Shepphard on her latest book
  • the Purley Pear Tree Mural
  • Croydon’s history  of magic and  spiritualism
  • Norwood’s Blue Plaque Run

Other News

South Norwood Library Campaign has explained its position, the latest planning applications list has been published, a primary school now has a roof garden, and the police have had a high arrest rate in operations in Croydon and Bromley.

The Work of the General Purposes & Audit Committee

Key points in the Annual Report of the Council’s General Purposes & Audit Committee which it considered this week include:

  • that ‘internal control still has some way to go’
  • ‘several organisation wide audit reports that are still draft but are currently unsatisfactory’
  • the ‘planned internal audit has not been completed on time this year’ partly because of COVID ‘furloughing of our audit contractor’s staff’
  • the ‘020/21 accounts cannot be completed until the 2019/20 Audit is completed’

Internal Audit Update

The internal audit update report to GPAC highlighted the following issues:

  • ‘Housing voids were not being properly monitored, with housing void reports not been prepared or shared monthly’.
  • Reconciliation of the Housing Repairs system were not being conducted monthly.
  • Reconciliations of the Payroll system were not evidenced as checked.
  • Quarterly debt write offs had not been conducted for parking enforcement or accounts receivable.

There were still in completed follow-up audits from 2016/17, including:

  • staff being unable ‘to locate the original full definitive signed contract with City Suburban Tree Surgeons.’

The 2018/19 follow-up audits were incomplete, especially with respect to:

  • payments against orders identified as means tests were not on file for six out of the sample of 10 adoption allowances tested.
  • the % of Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs) completed within the statutory 20- week period was only 78%.
  • ‘(T)here are some 7,762 housing assets….  for which there was no identifier of whether asbestos was either identified, strongly presumed, presumed or was not found’ in respect of roads, general rent dwellings, service tenancies and garages.

There was much better completion of the 2019/20 follow-up audit matters. Outstanding matters include:

  • Lettings Allocations and Assessments application forms are not compliant with the Data Protection Act 2018 or the General Data Protection Regulation.
  • the apportionment of costs, for the Adult Community Occupational Therapy Service between the Croydon Clinical Commission Group and the Council had not been formally agreed.
  • at 18 September 2019 there were 197 waiting clients, 180 of whom had been on the waiting list more than 3 months and as at February 2021 ‘Waiting lists remain high due to increase in demand, Covid and staff shortage, although interim arrangements have helped reduce waiting lists.’
  • ‘(T)he 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.’
  • The Enforcement Agents Contract Notice was open for 27 days only and not 30 as required by The Public Contracts Regulations 2015.


Financial Update

GPAC also considered a financial update report, which included an action plan of 75 recommendations. Those already implemented included:

  • Financial governance: new arrangements are in place for budget setting involving all cabinet and ELT members in the budget development process through budget development meetings.
  • The council’s medium term financial strategy (MTFS) has been reviewed and updated.
  • The MTFS sets out a plan to build up reserves over three years to provide the council with adequate resilience.
  • Previously unreported financial risks have been identified and included in forecasts.
  • Work has been commissioned to develop a new 30 year plan for the HRA and a new Asset Management Plan.
  • A review of the capital programme has been completed.
  • Budget savings proposals put forward for 2021/22 have received additional validation by PWC.
  • Budget monitoring is carried out monthly and reported to ELT and cabinet members, with reports to Cabinet quarterly but moving to monthly in the new financial year.
  • A savings tracker has been developed and implemented to ensure budget reductions effected promptly and reported.

Monitoring measures are:

  • meetings with the officers who hold actions in order to assess progress.
  • the action plan will be reviewed as part of the annual audit plan, to ensure that the actions agreed are completed fully.
  • progress will be reported regularly to the Renewing Croydon Steering Group, the Improvement Board and GPAC.
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Black History Update 29 April

The amount of information that could be included in postings like this is becoming overloaded, which is why this posting does not include the latest news developments like the Commonwealth War Graves Commission scandal which has forced the Government to change its line on the Black and Asian contribution, or on last night’s TV programme on whether Universities are racist and today’s Guardian review of its superficiality. It is now too time consuming to keep up to date. Therefore it is important that there is improved sharing of information, with readers emailing me with details of their news and activities.

Thursday 29  April. Uprisings! 40 years On: Media, Terminology & Representation

Black Cultural Archives

Friday 30 April. 8pm. Black Lives in Wandsworth

My Zoom talk for Wandsworth Historical Society

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 871 0946 3017

Passcode: 525717

Friday 30 April. 6.30pm. New Beacon Books

Talk in Black Bookshops series – see below.

Wednesday 5 May. 6.30pm. Centerprise

Thusday 20 May. Planned Re-opening Of Black Cultural Archives

Saturday 29 May. 6.30pm. British Slave Owners, Tracking The Money And The Stories Of The Enslaved

Black History Walks event.

Some Other May Events

Remembering the ‘Southall Riots’ of 23 April 1979

The so-called “Southall Riots” were a multi-racial  protest against the National Front.  Black, Asian and White people tried to keep the National Front out of Southall and people of and all ages and sexes took part. 

Clarence Baker, a Rastafarian and manager of Misty in Roots, was in a coma for at least a week before he came round having been beaten by the police.

Prior to the police raid on the premises of People Unite/Misty in Roots, Clarence had been in the street with a loud hailer telling everyone to keep calm.

An eye-witness recalls: ‘The SPG [Special Patrol Group] used the same kind of tactics that they used on the miners.  They arrived in vans and were shouting profanities at the crowds and making V signs through the windows as they drove up through lines of peaceful demonstrators.  I think it is assumed that the White people who attended were all very left wing…. A White retired vicar was knocked over by the police and his glasses broken.’

The National Council for Civil Liberties asked witnesses to submit accounts of what happened and later produced an unofficial report.  In January 1980, Southall Rights published its account of the night’s events.

The event resulted in several groups being founded including Southall Black Sisters (women of Asian and African descent), which is still active today and still includes all women of colour.

In the 1970s Black and Asian people fought together for their rights and Asians were proud to be politically Black.

Clarence tells his own story of the events on that night:

See also:

Linton Kwesi Johnson performs “Reggae Fi Peach”  –  “The SPG them a murderer, murderer….” at

Other coverage can be seen at:

Paul Robeson

Tayo Aluko discusses Robeson at

The African-American actress Kathleen Warner starred with Robeson at least twice alongside the legendary baritone and actor Paul Robeson in London, including in C. L. R. James’s play about Toussaint L’Ouverture. She also appeared in several films, including the British drama Debt of Honor.

Jackie Robinson clashed with Robeson

There is growing recognition in the USA of the contribution of Robeson.

Robeson Added Lyrics To The House I Live In

Rock Against Racism

Two articles on the same theme: 

The above article ends with the following: 

‘We hear about how rock stars of the previous generation, mucked up on coke and money, began spouting reactionary drivel. “Bowie came up with a load of crap,” one RAR founder remembers. Eric Clapton’s still jaw-dropping speech supporting Enoch Powell (if you haven’t read the full text, you will almost certainly discover it’s worse than you thought) is, as rock ‘n’ roll lore has long suggested, confirmed as the founding myth of Rock against Racism.

We hear a bit of The Gang of Four. We hear a bit more of X-Ray Spex. Archival Janet Street Porter pops up to remind us that leaving the EEC was a key plank of National Front policy. The young Prof Stuart Hall notes the then-current problem with including right-wing extremists on broadcasts for “balance”. Is any of this sounding familiar?

There are more reminders of current discontents in a film [White Riot] that is as much about the power of solidarity as the dangers of intolerance. Leave the last words to Sham 69:  if the kids are united they will never be divided.’

The Eric Clapton interview can be seen at:

Black Service Personnel

Research by John Ellis has uncovered the story of Moore who fought in WW1 at Gallipoli and the Somme in the Royal Naval Division, and was later transferred to the British West Indies Regiment.  John Siblon has researched about men of colour in the Royal Artillery.

Details can be seen on:

RAF Recruit Gilbert Clarke

Like many others he was sent to RAF Hunmanby Moor, Filey, on their arrival in Britain.

“Longest serving female Royal Naval Reserve celebrates 40 years of service” 


Women At Sea: The Navy And Piracy

South African Library Destroyed by Fire

Claudia Jones And Other Radical Black Women In The USA

Book by Dr. Dayo Gore (Associate Professor, University of California), Radicalism at the Crossroads: African-American Women Activists in the Cold War.

Araf Chohan

Some family photos of the Chohan family were shown in the TV programme Saved and Remade, but not those going back to almost 1900.Although not on Black and Asian themes Araf Chohan collects old postcards and has used them to write several books.

Chinese Survivors Of The Titanic

History of British Black Bookshops

Black History Walks has been running a series online talks ‘Books, Violence and Resistance’. The first on 16 April was Eric Huntley of Bogle-L’Ouverture /Walter Rodney Bookshop) Friday 16 and 23 April. See above for the next two.

‘Those [bookshops] that did exist were subject to continued racist attacks including firebombing. Spaces where Black people could meet and learn were rare so bookshops were often packed out and people would travel long distances to attend. While in the bookshop, advice would be sought, information shared, change and campaigns started at a time when many people did not have their own phone far less a computer. This series of four lectures will interview several of these booksellers/activists. With personal testimony, photos and video clips we will tell this powerful story of resistance by reading and retail.’

Bookshops outside London:

Harriet Tubman Bookshop, Birmingham

Raddle Bookshop, Leicester

Harambee Association, Wolverhampton

Ujamaa Co-operative Development, Nottingham

Tree of Life Culture Shop, Birmingham

Source Books, Liverpool
Abasindi Co-operative, Manchester

The Ink Works, Bristol

I & I Bookshop Trust, Ujammaa and Unity Books, Sheffield

Bookshops in London:

Headstart, West Green Road, N15 (Black Liberation Front)

Grassroots, Golbourne Road, W9 (Ditto)
Sabarr Books, Brixton

Unity Books, Kennington (Black Power Movement)

Other booksellers who sold Black and Asian books:

Shakti Bookshouse, Southall

Soma Books, Kennington

Many left wing and community bookshops also had relevant stock, including:


Bookplace in Peckham

News from Nowhere in Liverpool

Frontline Books in Manchester

There were the Black and Radical Book Fairs in London and other parts of the country.

Those African Books Go And Read

Black British Music video by Music4Causes with support by Prof Paul Gilroy, Prof Lez Henry and Tony Warner Compiled & edited by Kwaku.

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Community Struggles And Black Lives In Wandsworth History

This posting is a review of some of the activities going on about the history of the historic Wandsworth area, especially black lives and the campaign to save Wandsworth Common.

Tuesday 27 April. 6pm. A Brief Social History of Battersea

Zoom talk for Battersea Society by local historian and Councillor Tony Belton looking back on 200 years of Battersea social history over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – the good, the bad and the not so ugly.

Email  to receive Zoom login details.

Friday 30 April. 8pm. Black Lives in Wandsworth’s History

A Zoom talk by me for Wandsworth Historical Society.

To book


The leading promoters of talks and other activities in Battersea at the moment are: Philip Boys, Sue Demont, Jeanne Rathbone and Tony Belton. All four are doing talks in the coming months, especially in Wandsworth Heritage Festival.

I have published Battersea 1860 & 1870s, and am finalising Battersea Railwaymen. An Introduction.

I will be working with the Battersea & Wandsworth Trades Union Council on the theme for the annual John Burns walk in August which I usually lead. The theme this year will be Tom Mann, which will include an exhibition.

John Archer

There has been growing interest in John Archer. My talk for Wandsworth Black History Month last year on John Archer can be seen at:

Other talks in the Month can be seen at

which includes Wandsworth’s Council Conservative Leader Ravi Govindia’s introduction emphasising remembering ‘the pain of the past’.

Ravi has had a group of officers examining erecting a statute of John Archer.

Because he was a Councillor for Nine Elms, which at the time was in the Clapham Parliamentary constituency, not in John Battersea constituency Vauxhall Society has published a piece about Archer by me on its website at

The Black Heroes Foundation is also doing work on Archer. It is running four events in the Heritage Festival: 3,4, 10 & 11 June.

My 2013 assessment of why Archer is important can be seen at:

My pamphlet biography can be ordered at:

Shapurji Saklatvala

Marc Wadsworth’s revised and extended Comrade Sak was published. My review can be seen at:

and on the publisher’s website.

The Worker’s Liberty organisation has published a pamphlet about Saklatvala by Sacha Ismail.

It is very well written review of his life with a critique of Marc’s political interpretation. For those who cannot afford to buy Marc’s book, this is worth buying.

Caroline Ganley

I am advising Yvette Elliott who is working on a PhD thesis on Caroline Ganley, the socialist campaigner for family health and welfare, and a colleague of John Archer’s as Labour Councillors from November 1919. Although there are two published pamphlets by Terence Chapman and Sue Demont about Ganley, there are still big gaps in our knowledge about the wide range of her activities and interests. I published and sell the one by Chapman.

Sue Demont and Carol Rahn are leading a virtual walk on Ganley on 9 June as part of Wandsworth Heritage Festival.

Wandsworth Heritage Festival Programme


Wandsworth Common

This year is the 150th Anniversary of the saving of Wandsworth Common. Philip and Sue Demont have been working on the history of Wandsworth Common, as part of a special project of the Friends of the Common. In March Philip gave a talk on the Common and the campaign to save it. Sue led a virtual tour of the east side of the Common along Bolingbroke Rd for the Friends. Both of these can been seen at:

Philip is doing a follow-up to his talk Down with the Fences Part II on May 5 at 6pm.

The Friends have also organised the following talks

Thursday 29 April. 6pm. Read All About It. The Common’s rich and varied literary history

Sunday 16 May. 6pm. Virtual book launch 

Sunday 30 May. Twixt the Taverns. A real life walk on the Common from the Hope to the County Arms.

Monday 7 June. Fitzhugh Estate

In April last year Wandsworth Society published on its website a self-guided walk from Wandsworth Common Station to Tooting Bec.

John Buckmaster

Philip and Sue are both working on the life of John Buckmaster,  the leading campaigner to save the Common who lived in Battersea, next to Clapham Common Station. Several years ago Roger Logan, another Battersea historian, gave me his hand written notes on Buckmaster and the Battersea Vestry. I was unable to do anything with them, until spurred by Philip’s interest. With the help of my son David, the notes have been transcribed. I added the material I had on Buckmaster, and some searching of press coverage on the Internet. The compilation has been given to Philip, Roger, Sue and Buckmaster’s descendants, and a set donated to the Wandsworth Heritage Service.

Wednesday 12 May. 6pm. Local Hero: the story of John Buckmaster 

Talk by Sue Demont for Battersea Society.

Email  to receive Zoom login details.

Battersea Riverfront

The last four decades have seen major redevelopment of the Battersea riverfront. Jon Newman, who works at Lambeth Archives, is researching these changes, and would be pleased to hear from anyone who has information and/or was involved in campaigns against some of the developments. Jon is giving a talk on the new apartment blocks on 10 June as part of the Wandsworth Heritage Festival. Jon’s history of Price’s Candles which I published can be ordered at:


Geoff Simmonds has continued to develop his range of history activities, especially online. He is leading walks of different parts of Tooting during the Wandsworth Heritage Festival on 29 May, 4, 5 & 13 June Tooting History Group has organised a talk by John Broughton  (Municipal Dreams)on Council housing in London before and after the Totterdown Fields Estate for 1 June. John has drawn on my material on the Latchmere Estate:

and on Holborn.

Streatham Society is strolling through Furzedown on 6 June during the Festival.

Geoff used my material on Wandsworth Black History in talks he gave as part of the Black Lives Matters meetings on Tooting Common following the murder of George Floyd in the United States. This resulted in my being contacted by Esuantaiwa Jane Goldsmith  the BLM organiser.  Last year she published her autobiography The Space Between Black and White. A Mixed Race Memoir. She grew up in Battersea, her white grandfather had known John Archer.

I am finalising a pamphlet about Tooting  comprising a collection of miscellaneous material that the late Martin Tupper and I compiled over the years in our researches.

My 2011 Alternative Tooting Rambles talk for the Tooting History Group can be seen at:

Wandsworth Historical Society

The Society has continued to publish its Journal. See:

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General History News at 22 April

Saturday 24 April. 20pm. ‘Hot spots’ and ‘Hinterlands’ – a local history of Britain’s war resisters 1914-1918.

Talk by Cyril Pearce using the research in his book Communities of Resistance.

To register:

Monday 26 April. 7.15pm. Mary Chrystie And Her Family

Talk by Judith Witter about Mary Chrystie, a Temperance campaigner who tried to close down every pub in Bookham. She is widely believed to have been motivated by a missionary zeal to help the poor.

Monday 17 May. 6pm. Social change, community action and making legal advice accessible in England, 1960-1980

Talk for Voluntary Action History Society by Kate Bradley, Reader in Social History and Social Policy, Uni. Kent.

 To register go to:

Details of her book Lawyers for the Poor (2019) can be seen at:

Saturday 29 May. Writers Of The Left In An Age Of Extremes.

Launch of Socialist History Society’s latest occasional pamphlet about Edgell Rickwood, Greta Sykes and Carlo Levi.

Stan Newens

The former MP, MEP and labour movement historian died on 2 March aged 91. Obituaries appeared in papers like The Guardian, and also in the Spring Bulletin of the Labour Heritage and the Spring newsletter of the Socialist History Society, of which organisations he was President. I got to know Stan through our overlapping interests in Battersea co-operative history and because his daughter Sarah was a Battersea Labour Party comrade. I joined the Labour Heritage Committee which he chaired, as was Secretary for a while. With his support we sought to develop Labour Heritage outside London, not with much success. The two initiatives that did get off the ground were the annual West London and Essex Conferences. His death is a sad loss.

The family are fundraising for St. Clare Hospice.

Nigel Todd

Nigel Todd, a North East WEA activist and historian sadly and unexpectedly died on 26 March.

David Connolly, the Secretary of the North East Labour History Society, and former WEA worker with Nigel, commented:

‘Our friend and comrade Nigel Todd died unexpectedly last Friday. His death is a huge loss to so many socialist, co-operative and progressive organisations in the region including the North East Labour History Society. We have published a short tribute to Nigel which has links to two recent articles he wrote for North East History.’

Given his past research and writing on the black presence in the North East Nigel was supporting the African Lives in Northern England project team which I am a member of. A few days before his death Nigel emailed me to congratulate me on my pamphlet on Africans in the North East. His death has been widely reported on the Internet, including on the WEA and Co-op, Newcastle Council, and Society for the Study of Labour History websites.

Alfred Hayes and I Saw Jo Hill Last Night

When I was growing up I constantly listening to an EP on which Paul Robeson sang I saw Jo Hill Last Night, and Ol’Man River. Both will be on my funeral request. The writers of the words that became famous songs are often forgotten about. Jo Hill was written by Alfred Hayes. Nick Matthews looks at his life at

A People’s History of Classics

The Socialist History Society talk by author Edith Hall can be seen at:

Edith Hall’s books can be found on her website and many may be downloaded for free

Sylvia Pankhurst in America

The excellent talk by Katherine Connelly for the Socialist History Society can be watched here:

A discount code will give you 30% off her two books Sylvia Pankhurst: Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of Empire and A Suffragette in America: Reflections on Prisoners, Pickets and Political Change from the Pluto Press website. Just use the discount code SHS30 at the checkout.

The National Council of Women and Voluntary Action in the UK 1895-1939

Pat Thane’s talk for the Voluntary Action History Society can be seen at:

Working Class Movement Library Salford

The Library is now re-open for 2 readers per day booked in advance although it hopes to keep pace with the gradual lifting of restrictions so that it can open the hall and exhibition space to visitors again on a less formal basis.

You can sign up to its newsletter to get the latest news. If you would like to book in as a reader do get in touch.

0161 736 3601.  

New Books

British Socialists and The Outbreak of the Great War

Book by Ian Bullock (Bonchurch Press).

Transatlantic Radicalism. Socialist and Anarchist Exchanges in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Frank Jacob | Mario Keßler. Studies in Labour History, 16. Liverpool University Press.  2021

New Pen & Sword Books

The new catalogue from Pen & Sword Books contains a numerous set of interesting titles including:

How The World Allowed Hitler To Proceed with the Holocaust

Spanish Republicans and the Second World War

Darlington & Teesdale at War 1939-45

Deserters of the First World War. The Home Front

The Siege that Changed the World. Paris 1870-1871

The Real George Eliott

A Dark History of Chocolate

Rowntree’s –The Early History

The Life of Richard Cadbury

The Nurse who became a spy. Madge Addy’s War against Fascism

The Rebel Suffragette. The Life of Edith Rigby

It also has a spring discount sale on back titles, including on the United Irishmen,  the assassination of Spencer Percival, and suffragettes (especially in different towns).

Postscript Remainder Books

Mary Beard. Women and Power. A Manifesto. £4.99. No. 512451

Tom Paine. The Rights of Man. £2.99. No. 513953

Mary Wollstonecraft. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. £2.99. No. 513980

Labour Heritage Spring Bulletin

Appreciation of Stan Newens; The Independent Labour Party and the Foundation of the Labour Party; Sudbury (Suffolk): A Surprise Labour Gain in 1945; Tom Braddock: a Left-wing Maverick during the Cold War (Part 2); Rank and File Journals in London Transport in the 1970s and 1980s; review of Michael Tichelar’s Why is London Labour? It also contains a supplement Christopher and Margaret Lancaster. Mayor and Mayoress of Fulham 1936-37: a life devoted to helping others. Copies available from Bulletin editor:

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Croydon Up-date 21 April

Thursday 22 April 6pm. Planning Committee

80 Croham Road;  10 Welcomes Road, Kenley

Monday 26 April.  6.30pm. General Purposes & Audit Committee

Presentation on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence; Implementation of the Finance Review Phase 1 Report; An update report on the Implementation of the Croydon Finance Review – Phase 1; Internal Audit Update Report; General Purposes and Audit Committee Draft Annual Report of 2020-2021.

Domestic Violence Presentation:

All documents accessible from:  

29 April. Tenant and Leaseholder Panel Cancelled

Why given the housing maintenance scandal?

12 May Onwards – Wednesdays and Fridays.11am-1pm & 2-4pm. Limited Council archival appointments

There will be two sessions each day – 11-1pm and 2-4pm for two people socially distancing and wearing masks. All access will be by appointment and any archival retrievals or materials from the 3rd floor will have to be ordered in advance. Requests for appointments and material should be made to:  

COVID Up-date

Research Study Volunteers Needed

Council Postings

and there are also postings on rapid  testing and vaccination of those aged 45 plus, and acting safely as lockdown eases.

Experiences Of COVID

Conservative Leader Jason Perry discusses his experience of COVID:

Hospital Staff Experience

Carers Coping with Stress

The Council Crises Up-date

The webcast of the Cabinet meeting on 12 April can be viewed via the Croydon website.

Assessment Of Crisis And COVID

The Regina Scandal

The Council says that it has ‘now received the initial findings’ and has ‘asked the investigators to do some further work to help’ it ‘improve the services … give(n) all … residents in council properties.’

‘This inquiry is just the start of a much longer-term and wider-reaching improvement programme’ the Council is ‘undertaking, which includes a review of’  its ‘housing services, and’ it ‘will make sure’ it keeps ‘residents updated on the work’ being done.

Save Croydon Libraries Up-date

Where Do The Political Parties Stand?

Campaign Statement On South Norwood

The campaign is fighting to save all of Croydon’s libraries as properly funded, staffed and stocked public libraries. 

Our campaign does not therefore align with or endorse the current plans for South Norwood library, proposed by the friends’ group, who submitted a bid to run the library building and greatly reduce the library offer in order to make way for income-generating hired or rentable spaces. Their bid also proposed a sole library worker on duty which is completely unworkable, unsafe and unfair to both library workers and library users. 

Our position has been made clear to the Friends’ group but we remain open to working with this group if they drop their plans and want to join our fight for properly funded, staffed and stocked public libraries.

What is not being made clear, however, is the friend’s groups plans, who are still giving the appearance of fighting for all of Croydon’s libraries, and fighting the same cause as us.

Other News

April’s Thornton Heath Chronicle

Another excellent issue at

Croydon Gender Pay Gap

Gender pay gap -15.2%. Average wage – £24,354. Women as % of workforce – 53%. Women employed at senior level – 15.8%.

Accusation Of Mysogony At Whitgift School

The Campaign Company – Tories Counter Attack On Cronyism

Planning Applications

Charlotte Davies’ Facebook

Charlotte is continually posting interesting comments on her Facebook in issues relating to learning and development. It is worth signing up to it as a Friend.


Croydon Based Undergraduate Degrees Strengthened

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Windrush Community Fund Event 21 April

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Can Croydon Comeback?

Croydon Comeback is a twelve page report from the marketing agency Bare PR. Despite its website containing the supporting logos of the Council, Brick by Brick and the Historic Croydon Airport Trust, it has not previously shown up through Croydon internet searches. A big thanks to Josi Kiss for providing the link on her Facebook page.

The report is downloadable here:

The company has also undertaken a case study on Historic Croydon Airport

It consulted a wide range of organisations and activists and businesses and invited people to contribute but only through Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram – not much use to those who are not on these social media.

It has grouped thoughts and views into the following themes:

  • Change must be driven by the people
  • Inclusion that encompasses ‘hidden audiences’
  • Connectivity between Croydon’s spaces
  • Creativity as the language of community
  • From grey to green

It recognises that post-COVID poses ‘very real challenges’. It highlights the ‘huge increase in unemployment for 18-20 years olds’.

Change however ‘brings huge opportunity’.

Key points

  • (L)ocal people want to be actively and meaningfully involved in what comes next.’ ‘(R)esistance to ‘top-down’ authority-led consultations’. ‘Genuine co-creation’.
  • ‘Inclusion and access was also felt deeply and strongly as a key solution to rebuilding Croydon and its communities in a cohesive and collective way.’
  • ‘It seems that now could be a fork in the road at which to pause, adapt and turn the Westfield delay into an opportunity to rethink developments and building a stronger heart fir Croydon’ especially through building small businesses.
  • ‘With the Borough of Culture 2023 in sight many felt that the work had to start promptly and be sustainable rather than a big band that fizzles out quickly.’
  • ‘Beyond the parks it as felt more work needed to be done ‘greening streets’ and urban areas and making roads more welcoming for walkers and cyclists.’

The report draws readers attention to the Green Recovery Plan for Croydon put together by Cllr Jamie Audsley and others.


There is much in this report which echoes what I have been arguing through my blog postings over the last year. Some of them are here:

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