Jobs & Climate Conference 10 March

Jobs abd climate

Further details at

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University staff defend their back pay and pensions 28 February

28 February

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Ofsted’s attack play in Reception classes

On Saturday 24 February Croydon Assembly & the National Union of Education are holding their Save our Schools event at Ruskin House.

11.30 Registration
12.00 Plenary + discussion
Speakers: Professor Ken Jones, author of ‘Education in Britain: 1944 to the present’ and NEU senior policy officer; parent-governor and school student.
1.15 Lunch
2.00 Manifesto launch + film
2.15 Working Groups
education & housing
more than exam factories
democracy & education
combatting discrimination
campaign against funding cuts
3.45 Tea Break
4.00 Action planning from working groups
4.30 Close

New line of attack on  curriculum freedoms

Saving our Schools is not just about the problems of funding, SATs etc, but the continual role of the Government through Ofsted to exercise very detailed control over what happens in classrooms.

The latest front to defend our schools has been opened by Ofsted wanting to downplay the importance of play in Reception classes. This is creating considerable concern in the education world.

Bold beginnings

In January 2017, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, commissioned a review of the curriculum. Its aim was to provide fresh insight into leaders’ curriculum intentions, how these are implemented and the impact on pupil outcomes.

After  Inspectors visited successful primary schools a report Bold beginnings: The Reception curriculum in a sample of good and outstanding primary schools” was published at the end of November 2017. It examines the provision in Reception Year and the extent to which it was preparing four- and five-year-olds for their years of schooling and life ahead.

It  states that the Reception year is a “false start” for many children with no clear curriculum.

Breadth of rejection of Ofsted report

Over 1,850 early years’ academics, organisations and teachers, including the National Union of Education,  have signed an open letter calling for the report to be withdrawn, as it is a

“potential disaster that play-based approaches”

are undervalued.

The report:

  • is “flawed and biased”; there is not one mention of “play” in its recommendations but 15 references to phonics, reading, writing and maths.
  • will lead to a narrowing of the curriculum due to the additional focus on numeracy and literacy with the potential for increased formal teaching in reception lessening the opportunity for play.
  • is based on flawed methodology yet will be used by the DfE as a foundation for future education policy.

Ofsted has stated that it will not be withdrawing the report.

The Pre-School Learning Alliance states:

“We have long argued that the principles of the EYFS should be extended further up into primary education, rather than the principles of Key Stage 1 being extended down into the early years. As such, although we know that this shift is one that has been led by the Department for Education, it’s disappointing that this report focuses so heavily on aligning the reception year with Key Stage 1, and the narrow skills of literacy and mathematics.

“While both skills are of course vital for early development, research has shown that a focus on them over and above broader skills such as physical development, and personal, social and emotional development, is likely to be detrimental to children’s early learning experiences. As such, we urge both the government and Ofsted to work with early years experts to ensure that the reception year is focused on all the skills that children will need during their primary years, and throughout their longer educational journeys.”

The report is downloadable at

The letter can be seen in The Guardian (16 January). See also reaction of teachers as reported in Times Educational Supplement 17 & 18 January.




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Croydon events & news at 21 February

Oval Tavern

Sunday 4 March. 11.30am-2.30pm. Our Green Mile Launch Event.

West Croydon Rail Station, London Road

Our Green Mile project is a community initiative to create a Green “corridor” along the London Road linking West Croydon Station and Thornton Heath Pond.

I am in discussions with one of the members about a project on the history of the Pond and the surrounding area.

28 April to 20 May. Croydonites Festival of New Theatre

Programme details at

News in Brief

Council to plant 3,500 new trees. (Croydon Advertiser & Council Your Croydon News)

Council leadership regrets merger of Croydon Bromley & Sutton police. (Council Your Croydon News)

Landlord fined £6,000 for failing to register under licence scheme. (ditto)

Warren Evans the bedroom furniture firm with premises in Brighton Rd was placed in administration on 6 February.

Hammerson may drop out of FTSE 100 after taking over INTU.  (Daily Telegraph 17 February)

Licence granted for controversial underground night club (Croydon Advertiser)

Carioca at Boxpark in Croydon has closed because ‘it wasn’t making any money’ (ditto)

Huge new mural in town centre. (ditto)

Council’s IT revolution – interview (Computer Weekly. 20 February)

Creams Cafe to open in town centre. (Croydon Guardian) The one in Norbury is very popular with young people and families.

Beddington Lane Incinerator building firm gone bust. (Croydon Advertiser)

The Cityscape Cladding Scandal

Croydon North CLP Executive Backs Marc Wadsworth

Croydon resident and black activist and citizen journalist Marc Wadsworth has the support of the Croydon North Labour Party Executive Committee for the lifting of his suspension as  a member of the Labour Party. Marc has been fundraising to finance a legal challenge to the suspension and the length of time it is taking for the National Labour Party to consider the matter.

Important Changes to the Planning Register

Back in late summer the Planners began to change the way they publicise planning applications, re-adopting the use of letters to adjoining owners on applications such as General Planning Development Orders and minor schemes, and public notices on larger schemes.

Love Norbury’s Planning Committee sought clarificiation on this and other changes in the application administrative process. The outcome was the Planners holding meetings with Residents Association in the two Planning Zones (North & South) in late January early February. Some Councillors also attended.

Pete Smith, Head of Development Management, outlined the constraints the planners operate under because of national planning rules and policies, and the wish to have improved dialogue with Residents Associations.

In addition he explained that it was intended to have a system whereby any resident can ask to be emailed about any applications submitted by their neighbours, in their street or wider neighbourhood, and Residents Associations in their area or ward. The guidance for this has now been published and can be acceded here:

Public Access Register – Searching and Registering Guide

Leaving aside the problems faced by people who are not  IT connected or savvy, this is an important development, which should encourage more people to become involved in seeking to influence planning decisions.

Please consider signing up to this new service

and let your neighbours and organisations that may have a specialist interest in planning, know.

The Council proposes that the next follow-up meeting will be in June or July. I have suggested that there be one sooner on what the Local Plan means, once it is adopted by the Council on 27 February.

Croydon History

  • First World War

  • Crystal Palace & Upper Norwood Towers

  • 1937 Typhoid Epidemic

  • Croydon 1960s film

How much housing does Council own?

 At the end of October there were 4,862 applicants and tenants on the Council’s Housing Register. It only has 13,600 social housing units.

13,494 were lived in.  Of the empties, 41 were ‘Under going refit’, 12  of which had teants waiting to move in; 21 were structurally unsound; 8 subject to ‘Regeneration’amd 8 to ‘Modernisation’.

There were 14 other units which were fit for habitation: 10 for people requiring extra care, 1 sheltered unit, and 3 flats.

The majority of tenants seem satisfied with the way the Council operates. Between 1 January 2016 and  31 October 2017 469 complaints were received of which 370 related to repairs. These appear to have been dealt with quickly as only 15 went further through the complaints pathway.

The shortage of large units is shown by the average length of time people wait on the housing and homelessness registers just over 4 and nearly seven years 6 years for 3 and 4plus bedrooms. For those existing tenants on the transfer relist the wait can be nearly 2 and 41/2 years.

Source: Freedom of Information reply to Suzanne Kelly, 24 November 2017.

Alcohol and temporary events licences 2013-2017

Since the beginning of 2013 to the end of December 2017 the Council has approved 213 applications for alcohol licenses. It onyx refused 2 and 4 others were withdrawn. There was one application for new club premises approved in 2014. The Council does not provide the figures to show how many of the licences were for bars, late night food premises, restaurants etc.

2,555 temporary event notices that were approved in the same five year period, the highest being  635 in 2017 (up to 20 December). 123 applications were not approved, the highest number being in 2017 – 123.

Source: Freedom of Information reply to Andy Rush

 Parking enforcement

 One the Council’s in-house services is parking enforcement. It has a team of 46 full-time equivalent workers. The contract is being re-tendered and a new one will start in April.

Only the technology aspects and some bailiffs activity of the service are outsourced,

 For debt recovery after a warrant of control has been issued, the following enforcement agents are used: JBW, Newlyn, Equita, Ross & Roberts, Confero Collections and Whyte & Co.

The contract is self-financing . The value of warrants issued varies but is usually between £2-3m pounds a year.

Source: Freedom of Information Reply to Ms Howard-Jones.




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Women’s History Month in East London 1-31 March

Women’s History Month in East London 1-31 March

Contemporary women artists, activists, writers, performers, women’s groups and community organisations a diverse programme of events and exhibitions in galleries, venues, libraries and institutions across East London, celebrating the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act which gave the vote to some women for the first time.

Women in Parliament:100 Years On.  Panel Discussion at the Bishopsgate Institute

Mural celebrating Sylvia Pankhurst and the East London Federation of Suffragettes will be painted on the side wall of the Lord Morpeth pub, 402 Old Ford Road in Bow next to the site where the ELFS Women’s Hall once stood.

Museum of London display dedicated to those who campaigned for over 50 years to achieve Votes for Women.

From Pithead to Politics – images of miners wives at Four Corners Gallery

Photos of East End Women at Work in the early 90s

Tower of London workshop about Leonora Cohen – the suffragette who was imprisoned there

Making Her Mark: 100 Years of Women’s Activism exhibition at Hackney Museum

Film ‘Sylvia Pankhurst: Everything is Possible’

Eastside Community Heritage look at Equal Pay campaigns from the First World War to the Ford Dagenham sewing machinists

Tower Hamlets Idea Stores workshops, exhibitions, screenings and events with women writers talking about their books

Performances at Toynbee Studios, Rich Mix, Barbican, Rosemary Branch Theatre plus

Art exhibitions at Chisenhale Gallery, Parasol Unit, Ugly Duck, Whitechapel Gallery and Barbican plus

Women’s groups and community organisations events in Tower Hamlets International Women’s Week 3-10 March: theme ‘Votes for Women’ and East London Suffragettes.

Full details at

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Croydon Council budget setting and adoption of Local Plan 26/27 February

Monday 26 February. 6.30pm. Cabinet

Agenda items include setting the Council tax for 2018/19. There are reports on the financial performance in the 3rd quarter, the Treasury Management Policy Statement, Minimum Revenue Provision Policy Statement & Annual Investment Strategy 2018/2019, Children’s Services Improvement Update, update on the development of Legacy, Croydon Youth Zone, and on  the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, the Brick by Brick Business Plan 2018/9, Housing Commission on Community-Led Housing, and recommendations from the Scrutiny Committee in September which have either already been acted upon or are to be accepted. Finally there is the Investing in Croydon report about delegated approvals of contracts.

Tuesday 27 February. 9.30am. Public Transport Liaison Committee

This will receive a  presentation  on Croydon as a Dementia Friendly Borough and public transport, bus issues, minimising noise from Thornton Heath bus garage, and updated on New Addington to Wimbledon tram service changes, on the upgrading of Ticket Machines, on Govia performance and new timetable, and  on the replacement of Blackhorse Lane and Addiscombe Park bridge. There will also be a presentation on train Station Skipping.

Thursday 27 February. 6.30pm. Council

The agenda includes approving the budget and Council Tax increases and Treasury Policy Management Statement that will have been approved by Cabinet the previous evening, and on which there will be a party political debate. It will also consider approving the Local Plan, now to be available as the Local Plan 2018 in one document ((588 pages – the consultation was in two documents), and which is on the web at

Meeting papers can be accessed at

Council Tax Rise

The Cabinet will approve a 2.99% increase in Council Tax for services in line with Government expectations, and a 2% increase in the Adult Social Care precept both in line with Government expectations. It is also being asked to welcome the Greater London Authority increase of 5.07%, on which over 81% of which is being used for the Police and 16% for the Fire service. It will also agree a rent decrease for all Council tenants in line with Government requirements.

The 2018/19 Budget

The budget for the year will see a cut of £4.5m on 2017/18 comprising:

  • £1m by ‘Creating a permanent workforce with less agency cover and costs, reducing management costs and creating more holistic team structures around our residents.’
  • n£2.3m from One Croydon Alliance’s budget by ‘Managing the increased demand through better partnership working within the Alliance.’
  • £0.75m from support for disabled people aged 25-65 and £0.125m from people with mental health issues by ‘Creating efficiency through better outcomes for people reducing expensive care packages’.
  • £2.2m from the emergency accommodation budget offset by receipt of Flexible Homelessness Support Grant.

The biggest saving will be on the new South London Waste Partnership Street Cleansing and Refuse Collection Service of £5.170m.

There are various ‘savings’ which are difficult to assess whether they are cuts or creative improvements to services. Is a ‘saving’ resulting from a review of the Travel Policy ‘to maximise use of Personal Travel Budgets & Independent Travel Opportunities’, a cut?

A definite cut is the reduced frequency of cleaning across the Council’s corporate estate including windows and general cleaning.

There are tiny changes which shift expenditure from the Council such as the introduction of charging for food hygiene revisits, which hopefully adds pressure on those eating establishments which have very low ratings to either close or improve.

On the other hand a saving by restructuring of the Energy and Sustainable Development Team will be achieved by outsourcing to a data bureau specialist.

There are creative savings, for example, the recruitment of an additional empty property officer should save £0.137m by reducing void periods of Council housing.

Community Land Trust initiatives

The report on community led housing to the Cabinet contains the following:

‘Locally, Croydon Council is working with London Community Land Trust CLT and Croydon Citizens to develop a proposed community land trust (CLT) scheme for affordable housing on a council-owned site on Shrublands Estate. The recently established Norbury Community Land Trust has a wide remit including housing, workspaces, retail and open space. The Council is working with the CLT to support them on initial projects including exploring bringing empty homes back into use for affordable housing and bringing an empty shop back into use for community purposes.’

Norbury Community Land Trust, which I chair, had its public launch on Monday 19 February.

New Homelessness Responsibilities

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 will increase demand as it is now a statutory duty for Councils to prevent and relieve homelessness  for anyone who is eligible (i.e. has a legal right to remain in the UK) and is homeless or threatened with homelessness.

The Act started as a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, and was passed due to support from a Commons Select Committee and the Government.

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What’s Happening in Black British History VIII? Call for Papers


Following the success of our previous events in London, Liverpool, Bristol and Preston we would like to invite you to the eighth of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies’ Black British History Workshops (WHBBH8) at the University of Huddersfield, on Thursday 10th May 2018.

The aim of the series is to foster a creative dialogue between researchers, educationalists (mainstream and supplementary), artists and writers, archivists and curators, and policy makers. It seeks to identify and promote innovative new research into the history of people of African origin or descent in the UK and facilitate discussion of the latest developments in the dissemination of Black British history in a wide variety of settings including the media, the classroom and lecture hall, and museums and galleries, thus providing an opportunity to share good practice.

We welcome proposals for papers and presentations on a wide variety of themes relating to the history of people of African origin or descent in the UK. As this is the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush we are particularly keen to receive papers on the Windrush Generation and their impact on Britain. As we will be in Huddersfield local and regional or family histories from Huddersfield and the North of England would also be welcome.

We would be delighted to hear from researchers, educationalists, archivists and curators or others interested in offering a presentation, lasting for 15-20 minutes. Please submit a title and a brief description of your presentation either in writing (in which case, of no more than 300 words) or in some other form (for example a clip or podcast) to Dr. Miranda Kaufmann at by  16th March 2018.

In addition, we would be happy to consider proposals for a complete panel. The panel should have a coherent unifying theme, and the proposal should include the abstracts of three related presentations and the names and affiliations of the presenters. We would also be interested in providing A-level students, undergraduates or graduate students with an opportunity to give presentations on projects relating to Black British History.

The day will run from 11am to 6.00pm, followed by a Reception. There will be a registration fee of £20 (£10 for students/unwaged) to cover the costs of lunch and refreshments. A limited number of travel bursaries will be available to independent speakers on application. Requests to register should be sent to

Dr. Miranda Kaufmann

Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies

07855 792 885

My book, Black Tudors: The Untold Story is out now.


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