Wolfe Tones in Norbury 16 November


Part of the ban’s British tour.

Their website https://www.wolfetonesofficialsite.com

has a history section about  the Irish Famine and the 1916 Easter Uprising.


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Living Memorial website & other history events & news

Saturday 9 November. 4pm. Launch of the historic Living Memorial website

‘You’ll see five short films from the website, which builds on the acclaimed Divided by race, united in war and peace hour-long film about Second World War veterans, particularly those Caribbean and African young men who volunteered to join the war effort and afterwards returned to live in Britain.

The Living Memorial website has never before seen new interviews with women and African service personnel as well as the original participants in the film. It tells the fascinating untold story of how they risked their lives to serve under the British flag in times of war, then faced a Windrush-type second battle – their right to remain under that flag, as British citizens. Until now their stories have not been properly heard. Nor has the contribution they made been fully recognised, both in helping win the war but also changing the face of British society. This documentary from The-Latest.Com, is directed by its editor Marc Wadsworth and deputy editor Deborah Hobson, the co-producer, who’ll do a Q&A at the end of the film screening.’

£5.50 which includes a glass of wine and other refreshments + booking fee.

Black Cultural Archives. To book go to



Saturday 9 November. 2.30 pm. The Spennymoor Settlement: unemployment, ‘mass society’, and ‘the right use of leisure’

Talk by Dr. Andrzej Olechnowicz (Durham University)

The Spennymoor Settlement established in 1931 is still going after nearly 90 years. It is famous for its impact on local art and culture. Under Bill Farrell, its warden of 23 years (1931-54), by 1939 it was known as the Pitman’s Academy and from then its Everman Players consistently presented an audacious and lauded programme of classics by Ibsen, Strindberg, Synge, O’Casey etc. After the war, Sketching Club artists, such as Norman Cornish and Tom McGuiness, and the writer Sid Chaplin made their names.

Dr Andrzej Olechnowicz of will consider the Settlement in a different context – the national debates within the voluntary movement, which founded and funded it (at least for the first years), and also among politicians, academics and commentators.

What if unemployment was not temporary? What if mechanisation meant more and more people thrown out of work with no or little prospect of finding ‘work’ as it had been understood hitherto? How could social and political order be maintained in the face of this ‘enforced leisure’ of millions who lacked the educational or moral resources to use it wisely, and so would use it unwisely and destructively.

Andrzej will ask if, in the face of the connection between economic dislocation and the rise of fascism, Spennymoor Settlement assumed the role of not only nurturing ‘miner-artists’ but also of making democracy safe through ensuring that the unemployed were equipped to make ‘the right use of leisure’. He will explore whether it succeeded and what obstacles it faced. Finally, as we move towards an economy based on AI and automation, he will reflect on what our answer would be to a new age of ‘enforced leisure’.

Durham County Local History Society.

The City Theatre, Fowler’s Yard, Back Silver Street, Durham City, DH1 3RA

Note: Spennymoor was set up by the British Association of  Settlements Coalfields Settlements Committee which ran between 1926 and 1936  in response to collapse of coal industry. In the 1930s its activities included children’s play.  By 1941 Spennymoor had a branch of the County Library, its own theatre, children’s play centre, Citizens Advice Bureau and Poor Man’s Lawyer scheme, adult education programme, and clubs. (From learning from the past to inform the future. The history of settlements and social action centres display at British Association of Settlements & Social Action Centres at BASSAC conference which I put together as Policy Development Officer 2000-2). Durham County Record Office has an archive about the Settlement at D/X 1542. It would be interesting to see whether there is any mention of the Settlement in  D/Sho 102 (Spennymoor Divisional Labour Party Agendas for Annual Meetings 1923 – 1924, 1935, 1937, 1944 – 1946, 1948, in the Shotton Family papers at the DCRO. (From listings on North East Popular Politics database: ppp.nelh.net, which I edit).

Thursday 14 November. 6.30 pm for 7 pm. The St John Family A 17th-Century Life in Battersea

‘Sally Sellers, historian, will give a talk which has become unusually topical in the light of our current political situation. References to the English Civil War and the constitutional changes of the seventeenth century have been prevalent in what is said and written about Brexit and our political crisis. Members of the St. John family were  prominent players in the conflict and political turmoil of the 17th century and the family was very much divided between Royalists and Parliamentarians just as some families today are conflicted between Remain and Leave.’

Battersea Society. Tickets £5 on the door.

St Mary’s Church, Battersea Church Street, SW11 3NA

Thursday 14 November. 6.30pm Treason: Rebel Warriors and Internationalist Traitors

Socialist History Society launch of publication edited by Steve Cushion and Christian Høgsbjerg. Speakers:- Steve Cushion, Christian Høgsbjerg (chair) and Merilyn Moos.

Introduction – Rebel Warriors;  Soldiers of Misfortune: Napoleon’s Polish Deserters in the West Indies; The Saint Patrick’s Battalion; Deserters, Defectors and “Diehards” – The British men who fought and died for Irish Freedom;
Resistance to the Nazis from 1933 from within the German workers’ movement; Walter Pätzold – German Soldier and Italian Partisan; Major Karl Plagge and Sergent Anton Schmid; German and Italian Volunteers in the French Resistance Ilio;  Barontini; Supporting the Enemy in the Death Agony of French Colonialism.

Bookmarks Bookshop, 1 Bloomsbury Street, London,WC1B 3QE

£2 on the door, includes a glass of wine
Reserve your place here or call 020 7637 1848

Thursday 14 – Saturday 23 November. Black Men’s Mind

Artistic interpretation by audio-visual artist and psychotherapist Stephen Rudder, in collaboration with black men from various backgrounds, who have had mental health challenges.

Black Cultural  Archives. £3 admission



Saturday November 16. 2pm. Hunger in War and Peace: Women and Children in Germany 1914-1924

Talk by Dr Mary Cox for Socialist History Society.

Red Lion Hall, Basement, Tresham House, Red Lion Square,
entrance via Lamb’s Conduit Passage by Conway Hall, Holborn, WC1R 4RE

‘At the outbreak of the First World War, Great Britain quickly took steps to initiate a naval blockade against Germany. In addition to military goods and other contraband, foodstuffs and fertilizer were also added to the list of forbidden exports to Germany. As the grip of the Blockade strengthened, Germans complained that civilians-particularly women and children-were going hungry because of it. The impact of the blockade on non-combatants was especially fraught during the eight month period of the Armistice when the blockade remained in force. Even though fighting had stopped, German civilians wondered how they would go through another winter of hunger. The issue became internationalised as civic leaders across the country wrote books, pamphlets, and articles about their distress, and begged for someone to step in and relieve German women and children with food aid. Their pleas were answered with an outpouring of generosity from across the world. Some have argued, then and since, that these outcries were based on gross exaggerations based more on political need rather than actual want. This book examines what the actual nutritional statuses of women and children in Germany were during and following the War. Mary Cox uses detailed height and weight data for over 600,000 German children to show the true measure of overall deprivation, and to gauge infant recovery.’

Communities Secretary announces funding to protect more local heritage buildings 


black Cultural Archives new website on Google


The Legacy of Harry T Burleigh


Petition re-memorial to victims of the slave trade



‘In late October 1841, the Creole left Richmond with 137 slaves bound for New Orleans. It arrived five weeks later minus the Captain, one passenger, and most of the captives. Nineteen rebels had seized the US slave ship en route and steered it to the British Bahamas where the slaves gained their liberty. Drawing upon a sweeping array of previously unexamined state, federal, and British colonial sources, Rebellious Passage examines the neglected maritime dimensions of the extensive US slave trade and slave revolt.’ (Gilder Lehrmann Center for Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University newsletter 4 November)

Olivette Otele appointed Professor of the History of Slavery at Bristol

Congratulations to Olivette on her appointment starting on 1 January. Her first task will be a two-year research project on the university’s and the city of Bristol’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.


Battersea’s Empress of Hapsburg

Alyson Wilson writes in the Clapham Society newsletter  November 2019:

‘A member drew my attention earlier this year to the death, at the age of 101, of a notable local ‘character’. Hanna Barrington was born in Vienna, became an active Communist, was arrested when the Nazis seized power, fled to Paris and then to London. After working in an East end biscuit factory, on London buses, travelling to Guyana (where she married) for the Communist party and running a script-editing service for the commercial television company Rediffusion, in the 1960s she bought a rundown off-licence in Battersea, where until 1992 she ran a wine bar called The Corkscrew. Does anyone remember it, or know where it was?

There were said to be cats lying on the bar and prices so low that customers often insisted on putting them up. If Hanna liked you she was charming and extremely generous – if not she could be outrageously rude. A passionate supporter of gay rights, after the wine bar closed Hanna took in lodgers through the LGBT telephone helpline Gay Switchboard.

Her parties, reminiscent of a 19th-century Paris salon, were legendary. Artists and academics, socialists and socialites of every hue and sexual orientation would gather with the ‘Empress of Habsburg’, as she danced on the tables well into her 70s.’

Essays on Essays etc on Academia.edu

https://www.academia.edu/535631/_That_sash_will_hang_you_Political_Clothing_and_Adornment_in_England_1780-1840 – Katrina Navikas

https://www.academia.edu/2311418/Samuel_Bamfords_Diaries_Introduction – Robert Poole

https://www.academia.edu/2341650/A_Poor_Man_I_Know_Samuel_Bamford_and_the_Making_of_Mary_Barton – Robert Poole


https://www.academia.edu/535633/Captain_Swing_in_the_North_the_Carlisle_Riots_of_1830 – Katrina Navikas








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Westfield to make changes to Shopping Centre

6 November – editorial changes re-headings plus comments by Andrew Kennedy

The Council has had a meeting with the Whitgift site owner and developer  and discussed changes to the existing planning permission, which will involve the retention of more of the existing buildings.


The details are not yet public. If a major re-design is underway then it is important that the following issues that that have previously been raised should be considered:

Indiscriminate Demolition & Active Frontages

The proposed regeneration of more existing buildings may be welcome, depending on whether or not they include the office tower blocks. If they include the preservation of older buildings then this will be welcome.

The case against indiscriminate demolition and for active frontages was put by Andrew Kennedy to the CPO Planning Inquiry in 2014. He cited as examples 5 George St and the Grant’s building.

‘No. 5 George Street, Entrance to Allders Mall. Under a previous order the façade was retained and the building and roof demolished behind. Subsequent years of neglect since the front of the building was closed off with mirror glass have got it to the state where it is now no longer considered worth preserving. The original roof was removed and an industrial style roof imposed which is not only out of character with the saved façade but also extended over the neighbouring building which is of a completely different building style. The result is a dead and decaying façade that may not be recoverable. Where what was something that was deemed worth saving is now considered only fit for demolition.’

‘The former Grants Building, High Street, Croydon. Example of over powering roof line due to original roof being demolished right up to the front of the building. Also blank walls behind window openings that has resulted in a dead facade. The councils own CAAMP statement (adopted 9th January 2014) recognises the loss of original roof lines but this has not been enshrined in any new conditions that would make a difference in the future. The CPO and the CAAMP do not give sufficient guidance and do not stipulate anything that would prevent the same happening again. It does not mention that roof slopes must be preserved as well as facades retained. The steel structure behind the façade does not follow the original floor levels and the windows have been blanked off. This has only paid lip service to the saving of the façade and has been done to make the construction of the inner building simpler rather than to retain a recognisable use for the window openings.’

‘A feature that is essential for a successful retained façade is what use the first few feet of the building is put too. The floor levels, the window openings must be consistent with the existing building. Sometimes this will means restoring the original use of the building but with new floors behind, At other times more imaginative solutions can be found but using the original room heights (or multiples thereof). Once windows are opened up to let light through and to show signs of life behind then the building façade has a fighting chance of succeeding. Installing mirror glass to hide what is going on behind will inevitably lead to deterioration of the asset and to a deteriorating street scene.’

I pointed out at the Inquiry that the Council’s Opportunity Planning Framework (OAPF) for the Town Centre stated that North End ‘houses a mix of heritage assets which play an important role in defining the area’s character’, and endorsed the concept of active facades for conserved heritage frontages, as argued for in his evidence by Andrew.

Heritage Assets –  not to be left to Reserved Matters

I drew the Inquiry Inspector’s attention to the statement in the Council’s Sustainability Review consultation about its past failure to protect the heritage built environment. ‘If the Council has admitted its own past failings then its heritage planning policies are flawed. Therefore CLP’s  heritage statement is built on wobbly foundations. What is of particular concern is that given the way in which details are dealt with as reserve matters so that the Planning Committee will not be considering a detailed application, then any detailed changes to the treatment of the heritage buildings  may not reflect any new requirements.’

‘Once demolished there can be no going back and a weak regulatory system makes a nonsense of the idea of a locally listed asset.’

It is to be hoped that any changed planning application will provide full detail of any further steps to preserve heritage buildings and not be left as reserve matters.

District Energy System –  Provision of by the CLP

A new application will give an opportunity to try and ensure that the Council’s long-term aim for a district energy system is implemented. I pointed out at the CPO Inquiry that the OAPF discussed the need to connect to and help deliver a Croydon Opportunity Area wide district energy system where feasible. I pointed out that while the Plan envisaged the first phase would be in Mid- and East Croydon, the CLP redevelopment of the Retail Core should have enabled not just the provision of a Combined Heat and Power facility in the new development and connectivity to a plant for the whole OA, but should have been used to deliver that plant.

CLP proposed to provide a CHP system with a total capacity of 2,450 kilowatts, but did not mention the connectivity to a future district energy network, although that was covered by a planning approval condition.  I suggested that the Council should  discuss with the developer providing for a much larger facility to meet the needs of the whole Opportunity Area or at least that part west of Wellesley Rd, with  the developer being able to re-coup its extra investment through the sale of power to others connected to the system

Questions I asked at the time may still be valid given the other developments that have taken place in the Town Centre.

  • What is the total kilowatt capacity projected for the power needs of the whole Opportunity Area?
  • What is the total kilowatt capacity for the power needs of the Opportunity area west of Wellesley Rd?
  • What is the projected cost of constructing the CLP facility?
  • What is the estimated cost of constructing a facility that could meet the needs of the whole Opportunity Area?
  • What is the estimated cost of constructing a facility that could meet the needs of the Opportunity area west of Wellesley Rd?

Electrical Energy –  Additional Sub Station required

At the time of the CPO Inquiry the OAPF stated:

‘There is a lack of resilience in the local supply network, which requires the provision of a third, strategic sub-station in the town centre.’ ‘Without this provision development of several key sites becomes problematic and electricity supply becomes a major constraint on further new homes, offices and shops.’ I put the following questions to the Inspector:

  • Has agreement been reached on the provision of a third sub-station with the appropriate energy supplier and will it be located in the Retail Core or elsewhere in the OA?
  • When will it be built and what disruption to pavements and roads will be caused to ensure that it is linked in with the underground grid across the OA?
  • Will there be a link of the improved energy grid with the proposed CLP CHP plant in the event that CLP is able to sell energy to into the grid?

Water supplies – Impact Study required as a condition

Given the Thames Water prediction since

2014 of a water shortage in London and the South East my suggestion at the Inquiry that there be a planning condition requiring the submission and approval of impact studies on existing water supplies should be part of the on-going negotiations with the developer.

Retail and Leisure Provision

The nature of consumer retail leisure and retail activity has changed dramatically since 2014. At that time the Council  had simply accepted the developer’s case for the proposed retail and leisure provision without taking a wider view about what is needed in the area and the wider Town Centre. I cited at the Inquiry the following examples of potential provision:

  • Different meeting and event venues of sizes for which there is a demand because existing facilities like Fairfield Halls and the Conference Centre either are too large or too expensive.
  • A new small independent theatre premises to replace the Warehouse Theatre.
  • A museum and arts centre facility.
  • High-speed broadband infrastructure to service all retail, leisure and residential units, and the provision of public broadband information kiosks for use by people in the Retail Core to allow them to find out more about the wider Town Centre.

Independent Shops – once a feature of Croydon town centre

I argued at the Inquiry that one of the attractions of Croydon was the variety of small shops. ‘The scheme should be judged on the extent to which it helps to sustain this. The danger is that the increase in rental and rateable values by the new scheme will filter into the wider Town Centre encouraging landlords to put up rents leading to the closure of many small businesses.’

The retail and leisure issues are compounded by the retail and leisure offer in the St George’s redevelopment which is being progressed, but for which there was no indication of development at the time pf the Inquiry.

The Revision in 2016

When the developer submitted its revised application in 2016 there were several potential negative features:

  • The increase in the number of storeys for the proposed residential tower blocks which could cause problems in terms of the heritage assets and the visual amenity of the people who already, or will live in the new schemes such as Saffron Square and Delta Point.
  • The absence of the previously proposed roof garden community space for residents.

Challenges of a new application  now being considered in 2019/2020

In terms of amendments now being considered over three years later, the new application will need to be accompanied by a new Environmental Impact Assessment and other special studies, especially in view of the Council’s commitment to a carbon free Croydon. There will also need to be an assessment of the following concerns raised at the time:

  • the significant increase in massing of the 2016 scheme and how this will be modified in a revised scheme.
  • the impacts of any changing in massing on heritage assets e.g. the Almshouses and St. Michaels and All Angels Church, and in relation to the Central Croydon Conservation Area.
  • the creation of a high quality public realm on Wellesley Road.
  • the creation of a vibrant urban block lined with active frontages incorporating residential at upper floor.

In relation to the public realm on Wellesley Rd there should be significant tree planting and small green spaces to soften the building environment and help combat air pollution.

As the Planners commented in 2017 at the time: ‘the design approach requires further work to demonstrate’ ‘an appropriately balanced and informed relationship between the retail and residential aspirations of the proposal and the wider aims and aspirations for the Opportunity Area and Croydon as a Metropolitan Centre.’

When the Planning Committee considered the revised plans in November 2017 I urged the members to support a much more imaginative approach which could include:

(1)    spreading the new homes across the top of the centre in accordance with the historic “Living Over the Shop” element of  the Town Centre’s streets, and produce a lower roof height enabling the proposed towers to be dispensed with.

(2)    creating an extensive public green space on the roof, identified as a top priority by members of the public in the Nudge Factory survey, and which could be looked after by community gardeners.

(3)    providing a major public performance, art and meeting place and fountain.

(4)    providing a major leisure facility such as a swimming pool and dance studio, as suggested to Westfield in 2012, and which would attract more people  instead of a cinema which will compete with the existing Vue.

(5)    returning the former Allders building into a premier department store.

(6)    reducing conflict between pedestrians and car park traffic on Wellesley Rd, by reconfiguring the car parks and increasing drop-off (and pick up space for cars, taxis and self-driving vehicles) along Wellesley Rd.

(7)    contributing to employing local people and paying them  the London Living Wage. 

University Campus and Students

South Bank University is still looking for a campus and that 1,000 students are expected to be in Croydon to study from next September. As I have suggested in my comment in the blog posting


Campus facilities could be provided in the new Centre.

Some of these issues may still be relevant in the discussion

on a revised application and in assessing the merits

and negative aspects of that application.

Comments by Andrew Kennedy

District Energy Scheme: Is there an example from around the world of good practice where a district heating system has been introduced in similar circumstances?

Revised plans 2019/20:

Amend (6):  reducing conflict between pedestrians and car park traffic on Wellesley Rd, by reconfiguring the car parks and increasing drop-off (and pick up space for cars, taxis and self-driving vehicles) for the disabled along Wellesley Rd. Consider bringing back into use the existing peripheral car parks at Sydenham Road and at the Croydon Flyover and build new ones on the periphery, then pedestrianise the town centre.




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Croydon events & news at 3 November


News inc: housing developments, Town Centre bus changes, students in flux next September, Trees for all of us, worst air pollution areas, Peggy Seeger at Ruskin House


For Ruskin House events in November see:


Bernard Winchester’s November diary can be read here:

Diary November 2019 (1)

Bernard has also circulated the following:

CNHSS Programme 446 Oct 2019 ed-min (3)Pantomimes 2019-20

Pantomimes 2019-20

Forst Floor

Care 14 November

Made in Croydon

Concern about Croydon’s unemployment

Cllr Sean Fitzsimmons, the Chair of the Scrutiny and Overview Committee has expressed concern about the level of unemployment in the Borough. The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that 75.4 per cent of 16-64-year-olds in Croydon are in full time employment. That means that 24.6% are not. Obviously many of those aged 16-22 are in full-time education. However the overall London figure is  79.1%. While there has been an increase in the number of jobs based in Croydon, it is clear that many of these are being filled by people commuting in rather than by residents.


Petition to support ASDA workers


Town Centre’s modular towers partially completed

It has taken 35 weeks to complete the installation of all the modules into the two tower blocks of 38 and 44 storeys.


Sanderstead residents fight housing plans


Bus changes in Town Centre

Bernard Winchester writes:

‘As of today, bus routes 250, 264, 405, 412, and 433 will terminate on the edge of the town centre and no longer serve the Whitgift centre, inconveniencing people coming from all four points of the compass from Croydon.  Following the consultation at the beginning of the year, only the 75 and 154 have been spared.  The reason for the changes are not clear: TfL is under financial pressure due to falling bus use and fares (freeze/hopper) and has recently also curtailed the number of routes which pass through central London.  However, if economy is the motive, why increase frequency in routes like the 60 and 466 (and, previously, the 130?).  Congestion at the bus station has also been cited, but terminating the frequent 250 there will increase it.  A driver I know blamed Westfield, who allegedly want fewer buses to pass the new shopping centre, but this sounds perverse.’

1,000 new students are expected next September

Even though the partnership between the Council and South Bank Poly has not yet identified a building, 1,000 students are expected to come to Croydon next September.


Could this be provided in buildings that may be saved under the Westfield Centre developer’s revised thinking? Under the current plan there is an option to provide student housing. This could therefore be re-designed to provide not only a campus integrated into the Town Centre, but also provide a large group of customers studying and living in Town Centre for the retail and leisure offer. This would help to make the new development and other businesses more sustainable. If the housing was all for non-students then there would be a danger that most of the residents would be commuters to work outside Croydon.

Trees for all of us

Schools and community groups can apply for trees to plant from the Woodland Trust


Individual residents can apply for two trees for their gardens from the Mayor and London Assembly working with the Woodland  Trust.


Government funding for pocket parks


Worst air pollution areas

Croydon Council’s Air Quality Action Plan 2017-22 identifies a ‘focus area’ of five places in Croydon which were failing to meet the EU’s annual average limit for nitrogen dioxide – 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

These are:

  • London Road, Norbury
  • Purley Cross and Russell Hill
  • Thornton Heath/Brigstock Road/High Street/Whitehorse Lane
  • London Road between Thornton Heath Pond and St James Road
  • Wellesley Road


Assessment of new waste bin system


Peggy Seeger at Ruskin

Peggy Seeger came to Ruskin last Monday on Mon to unveil a portrait of herself which will be hung in the Georgina King Lewis room when it’s finished.  If you were unable to come on Mon, here’s a video of some speeches and then Peggy singing.


It is hoped that she will be back to do a benefit for the restoration fund in the New Year.


185 London Road: Vistec House ( history part 3)



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Farewell tributes to Stephen Aselford, Croydon TU, Labour, Disability and Transport activist


The life and achievements of disability, public transport and Labour campaigner Stephen Asleford were celebrated on  25 October at his funeral at Croydon Crematorium and the gathering afterwards at Ruskin House by a wide range of people who knew him over the years in a variety of organisations.

Tributes were paid to him at the Crematorium by his brother David, who had come especially from Australia with his daughter, Ellen Clifford of Disabled Peoples Against Cuts (DPAC) and Councillor Toni Letts. Leanne Purvis a close friend in DPAC read a poem ‘The Bus Ride’. Those speaking at Ruskin included other members of DPAC. Ted Knight and Charles King, a fellow member of the Croydon Mobility Forum and Passenger Transport Advisory Committee.

Charles King’s Appreciation of Stephen

Since the funeral Charles King has written the following appreciation especially for this blog.

Stephen came to Croydon as a young boy attending St Andrews school in Old Town. As an adult he lived in Selhurst.


Stephen Joined Croydon Branch of the GMB around 1975 when he had started working for Croydon  Council in one of their sheltered workshops. He was a committed trade unionist and through his GMB membership he campaigned on behalf fellow members. I first met him around this time. When as a young man he turned up at a GMB branch meeting and kept us all half an hour longer than usual. But of course, it was on a sensible subject of workers with disabilities.

Disability workers campaigning

Despite a number of disabilities, he was a campaigner through and through. Whenever he could he would appear on marches and demonstrations especially when this involved cuts for people with disabilities. One of his first campaigns was to get the GMB and other trade unions to campaign on behalf of workers in sheltered workshops, to recognise their genuine work and to be properly paid on local authority rates of pay. He not only lobbied the Council, but also the then Croydon Conservative MP  John Moore. This campaign took him a number of  years, but he succeeded.

He was prominent member of the unions who fought against the closure of Crossfields sheltered workshop, which was not only against the loss of jobs, but for the loss of a safe environment where people with disabilities and learning difficulties could contribute to society. He attended many trade union courses, conferences and functions representing members with disabilities.

Labour Party

Stephen joined the Croydon Labour Party in the late 70s and was one of the GMB delegates to his Constituency Party now Croydon North right up until his death. Until he was physically unable to, he delivered leaflets by the hundred and helped out at many a street stall.

Disabled People Against Cuts

Yet this was never enough for him. He was active outside the Labour and trade union movement in many other ways. He was a founder member of  Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and a co-founder of Bromley and Croydon branch of  DPAC.

Mobility and Public Transport

He was a prominent member of Croydon Council’s Mobility Forum and their delegate to the Public Transport Liaison Panel, a member for Transport for All (TfA) and Disability Croydon.

As somebody who could not drive, he was passionate about public transport and buses in particular. He used his knowledge of public transport and the needs of people with disabilities, advocating their needs to bodies such as TfL, GTR, Network Rail and Croydon Council.

Even if he didn’t know they name of every driver on his local bus routes the 75 and the 157 I am sure they knew his and was liked by them all. In his last days he was campaigning for an addition stop in Portland Road on the 130 route. Although he won the argument TfL decided they couldn’t agree a safe spot, not to be defeated Stephen came back and said well divert the 130 round Clifford Road.

Selhurst was his local station and he had campaigned for many years for step free access and lifts which are now being installed. I am only sorry that he won’t be able to see the results of his campaigning.

Even in adversity Stephen was always cheerful and willing to help

others regardless of any cost to him. He will be missed by us all.

 Ted Knight’s appreciation of Stephen

 I feel very privileged to have known Stephen and very honoured that he welcomed me as a friend.

I came to know him through meetings here in Ruskin House.

Always the advocate of those without a voice.

His words would come booming across the meeting.

Do you know what is happening out there in the community, he would demand.

He would then explain in graphic form, the suffering of a family or a vulnerable person, at the hands of uncaring bureaucracy.

But it would not just be a horror story because he would then tell you what steps he had taken to assist.

But what Stephen always emphasised was that no one should be left to battle alone.

Collective support was always his message.

But not just words or letters or petitions, Stephen believed in direct action.

That is why he was so proud of his comrades in DPAC.

Stephen knew that the establishment had power and resources, that the role of the state was to preserve an unequal society.

But Stephen had confidence that working class people acting together in unity could win friends and allies to overcome that class barrier.

Whenever I met up with him he would tell me of another action that he and his comrades had carried through.

He would chuckle, and you can hear that chuckle, as he explained in detail how they had demonstrated or occupied, perhaps a benefits office or surrounded a bureaucrat or saved a family from eviction.

But Stephen also knew that it was not enough just to help and assist people when they were under attack, but it was necessary to remove the threat altogether.

You had to change the balance of wealth and power from those who owned to those who were exploited.

That is why he became excited by the movement that grew around Jeremy Corbyn.

He well understood the demand:

“From the Few to the Many”.

He was very proud to say that he was the one of the first to support Jeremy.

Croydon TUC had invited Jeremy to speak at May Day 2015, days before the General Election.

Stephen had his photograph taken with Jeremy holding DPAC banner

That photograph has appeared many, many times on Facebook.

Then when Jeremy became candidate to be Leader of the Labour Party, again we invited Jeremy to speak hear in Ruskin House.

Expecting a meeting of 50 or so, 500 plus turned up, together with the world’s press.

The press surrounded Jeremy and stopped him entering the meeting.

Stephen immediately took charge.

He moved in between the reporters and Jeremy.

And when Stephen moved in with those shoulders, they had to get out of the way

And he then ushered Jeremy to the stage and the meeting began.

He then gave his support, awaiting the day when Jeremy and a Labour government came to power.

Whenever I was running a meeting here at Ruskin, Stephen was always the first, usually waiting for me to arrive, and as I paced nervously up and down wondering whether people would come, Stephen was always the font of absolute confidence .Calm down Ted, he would say. They will come.

Then if, when the meeting opened, and there was any hesitancy in discussion, that voice of his would loudly come across the room, and another of his experiences would get people talking.

It is always hard to say goodbye to a friend, but particularly one who has been a firm and constant fighter.

A man, who from his own experiences, understood the pain and frustrations of those who looked to him for help.

That is what made Stephen in his own right a leader.

And as such he will be remembered and be a strong influence for those who continue his struggle.


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Croydon ‘A Dirty Derelict Town’ and other news at 27 October


Britain's Underbelly 2019

From: https://polycarpjournals.com

What people dislike about Croydon


Councillors should take note.

836 co-living units proposal rubbished by Place Review Panel

The Council’s Place Review Panel has described the proposed project on College Green for co-living units ‘as being closer to a Cruise Ship than anything else.’. Andrew Kennedy writes on Historic Croydon Facebook: ‘There are legitimate concerns about how amenity space will be used, layout of studios which are closer to being like study-bedrooms in an HMO and fire escapes. Plus a comment that many studios designed for one person may end up being used by two or even a family. Their whole report together with the developer’s Design and Access Statement is a must read. Links to the reading material in the posting at:


Council’s proposed sites for all the extra homes



Driverless cars to be trialled in Croydon


Black History should be taught in schools

At the Cabinet meeting on 21 October Councillor Patsy Cummings, supported by others, urged the case for black history to be taught in schools.


As someone who has been involved in researching, writing and speaking about British Black History for many years, and who helped Merton Council put together resources for primary schools, has been involved in delivering two projects and in running assemblies and project lessons, I have written to Patsy to draw attention to some of the practical problems involved. British Black History has traditionally been hidden from how British history is taught giving a distorted view. Redressing that is important for pupils to develop a better understanding of our current so-call multi-cultural society, and in combating racism. Racism is on the rise, institutional racism persists in the Home Office (the Windrush Scandal) and other public services (e.g. mental health) and in Universities. Things are like to get worse because of the toxic fall out from Brexit.

Second World War Croydon bomb map 



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Croydon’s landlords licence consultation and latest deprivation assessment

Croydon consults on Borough wide selective licensing scheme renewal 

In October 2015, the Council correctly introduced a borough-wide scheme requiring all private landlords to be licensed and ensure their tenants’ homes meet key housing, environmental and safety standards. As the  scheme is up for renewal next year a consultation has started ending in February on three proposals: (1) to introduce a scheme covering 92% of the private rented sector in Croydon; (2) a borough-wide scheme; or (3) one that focuses on property conditions in 22 Croydon wards and anti-social behaviour in the remaining six wards.


The Resident Landlords Association is urging its members to submit their views.


It is therefore important that the views of residents associations, residents and tenants is also encouraged.

As part of their regular canvassing sessions Labour Councillors should visit the licensed addresses to speak to tenants and have a special leaflet to give to them or leave for those who are out, encouraging them to submit their views. Tenants who have moved in recently are also less likely to be registered on the electoral register.

Croydon’s most disadvantaged  deprived areas

Overall Croydon is the third most deprived place in the capital and it is the 1,096 most deprived of 32,844 neighbourhoods in the country The ‘Indices of Deprivation 2019’ study, by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has measured the deprivation rates of every neighbourhood in the country.

Croydon’s neighbourhoods with the most social and economic inequalities are:

  • South of West Thornton ward – Duneaved Road North down to Bensham Lane around Croydon University Hospital.
  • West border of New Addington South ward – Includes Thorpe Close, parts of Central Parade, Chertsey Crescent and Homestead Way.
  • North of Shirley North ward – Longheath Gardens and Long Lane.
  • North border of Selhurst ward – The area around Princess Road and Queens Road
  • South of Broad Green ward and North of Fairfield ward – Includes Leighton Street and Montague Road.



Other statistics show that:

6% of children are living in low income families (2016)

12% of households experience fuel poverty (2017)
1,000 households are homeless and in priority need  (2017-2018)

In 2004 when I analysed the deprivation as at 2000 as part of a project to identify the best locations for the offices of the South London Law Centres the worst wards were: Fieldway In worst 10%), New Addington and Broad Green (in worst 20%), and Whitehorse Manor and West Thornton (in worst 30%).

The level of inequalities, however, appears to be increasing and is a challenge to the Council, especially in terms of its planning approach. Tackling inequalities should be at the heart of the Planning Review.

The drawback with the Indices of Deprivation is that it does not identify very small pockets of deprivation which can be hidden in wards which appear not be have much deprivation.




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