150 Years Of The Durham Miners Association

The cover of Dave Temple’s Durham Miners Association 150 Years of Struggle, has this picture of the national Union of Mineworkers Durham Area Dean and Chapter Lodge on the cover. The pamphlet is jointly published by the DMA and Labour Heritage.  Copies can be ordered from Labour Heritage @ £1.50 per copy incl. p&p (reduction for multiple orders) at

labourheritage45@btinternet.com

Details about the banner and the DMA’s anti-racism policies can be read at

www.durhamminers.org/international_solidarity

Richard Burgon, MP, discusses the banner in the  context of socialist culture at

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/arts-are-the-lifeblood-of-the-struggle

Northumberland Collections put on an exhibition about black miners in the North East during this year’s Black History Month.

www.itv.com/news/tyne-tees/2020-10-06/new-exhibition-running-during-black-history-month-at-woodhorn-museum-to-celebrate-black-and-african-caribbean-miners

There is a national Black Miners Museum project at:

www.blackcoalminers.com

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Uncertainty Faces Borough of Culture 2023 and Other Croydon Culture News

The plans for the Borough of Culture 2023 will have to be changed due to the financial crisis and COVID crises.

Paula Murray, the Council’s Creative Director,  writes in the latest Culture Network newsletter

‘Our cultural stakeholders and funders have been in touch with us to ask how all of this will affect culture in Croydon and our plans for the London Borough of Culture 2023. We will have to change our plans – we would have had to in any case given this extraordinary time we are living through – and we will pick this up with you all in the new year.’

Local Studies Forum Calls For Protection of Museum and Archives

After discussion at a Zoom meeting of the Local Studies Forum its Chair Roger Packham has written to Cabinet member Oliver Lewis, copied to all Councillors and  Paula Murray, the Creative Director, saying:

‘I am writing on behalf of the above Forum to request that Croydon Council continues to fully support Museum of Croydon and the Archives Room in these difficult financial times. The Forum is made up of representatives from the several local history and related societies in the Borough.  

Please be advised that the Museum of Croydon and Archives Room are in great demand by a sizeable section of local residents who would be greatly inconvenienced/disappointed by any reduction to services. Recent attendance figures should be disregarded because of Covid.  

The CROYDON RECOVERY PLAN recognises the importance of rebuilding community life after Covid and together with BOROUGH OF CULTURE 2023 we believe that the Museum and the Archivist have a very important role. Recent exhibitions about Windrush and Croydon Council Housing have successfully engaged a diverse range of Croydon residents. Investment in these services will ensure that other important aspects of the Borough’s history can be presented for the education and enjoyment of an increasing number of visitors. 

We urge all members of Croydon Council to support one of the Borough’s outstanding resources.’

(Local Studies Forum members: Bourne Society, Croydon Airport Society, Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society (150  years old), Croydon Palace, East Surrey Family History Society, Kenley Revival Project, Shirley Windmill, and several independent researchers, including myself.) 

Black Lives Matters & Borough of Culture 2023

My discussion paper on planning for the Borough of Culture was written before the Black Lives Matters movement had its global impact. Lots of Councils are now considering what it means for them in terms of qualities and diversity, school curriculum, memorialisation in statues and street names etc

https://seancreighton1947.wordpress.com/2020/04/20/time-to-debate-croydon-borough-of-culture-2023

Croydon Composers

Latest album presenting work by 25 Croydon artists.

https://kud.li/DTBASS007

Keeping Up-to Date With Singing Activity

https://creativecroydon.wordpress.com/

Museum of Croydon Website

The Museum’s website has a number of new pages.

My Home is My Island, Covid-19 Stories

https://museumofcroydon.com/my-home-is-my-island

Arnhem

https://museumofcroydon.com/arnhem

Black History

https://museumofcroydon.com/black-history-in-croydon-learningpack

Croydon Shared

This is an online archive documenting life in Croydon post 23 March. Share your experience @croydonshared

www.instagram.com/croydonshared

Croydon History Groups

Bourne Society

Index to its publications.

New publications

The Byrons of Coulsdon: Abroad and At Home. Nigel Elliott. £16 [add £4.00 p&p]

Richard Kearton’s Surrey Field Notes 1900-1927. Transcribed by Gwyneth Fookes. Foreword by Brian Thomas. £11 [add £3.00 p&p].

http://bournesoc.org.uk/shop

Kenley Revival Project

Although the project has officially ended, the worker continues to organise activities as a volunteer.

www.kenleyrevival.org

Croydon Airport Museum

For next open day in December see:

www.historiccroydonairport.org.uk/opening-hours

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Croydon Financial Crisis Update

The Emergency Council meeting approved the financial crisis Action Plan. Leader Hamida Ali explains it at:

https://news.croydon.gov.uk/action-plan-latest-step-in-croydons-drive-to-tackle-financial-challenges

The Labour administration faces a new embarrassment with the announcement of an investigation by the Local Government Association into who was responsible for the risky property speculation that and how they were allowed to get away with it.

Ironically the LGA has on its website a report it published on Croydon’s transformation of children’s services re-health and well being.

www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/croydon-customer-led-tran-eb7.pdf

Tory Bexley Now Faces Problems As Do Other London Councils

Tory controlled Bexley Council is seeking Government permission to borrow money to help with its financial crisis.

www.lgcplus.com/finance/london-borough-seeks-15m-capitalisation-direction-18-11-2020

See also Bexleys’ website for ‘Council approves nest step budget planning, and .

hpps://bexley.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/516382

Will Other London Councils Fall Into Crisis?

There seems to be a growing consensus that Croydon will soon be joined by others.

www.mylondon.news/news/news-opinion/its-not-sexy-matters-many-19293334

The Mystery of Brick By Brick

Despite the investigation into to Brick by Brick the Planning Committee ploughs on giving it more planning permissions.

www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/170-new-flats-could-soon-19303341

The   company  will not reveal why it is sitting on over £7 million worth of potential sales from affordable housing built in Thornton Heath.

www.thorntonheathchronicle.co.uk/brick-by-bricks-7million-empty-homes-puzzle

The report of the investigation into Brick by Brick will not now be published until December.

www.housingtoday.co.uk/news/d-day-for-brick-by-brick-pushed-back-to-december/5109099.article

What Should Council Workers Be Doing?

The Socialist Party (formerly Militant) comments:

‘Unison, the union representing council workers, has correctly stated it will not accept a section 114 notice as cover for attacks on members’ terms and conditions and jobs. But how?

Labour councillors need to make the decision to stand up for the communities they’ve been elected to defend or stand aside for those who will.’

Many will agree, including those who were involved in trying   to reduce Militant’s influence within and outside the Labour Party.

www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/31637/18-11-2020/croydon-council-declares-bankruptcy-no-cuts-in-croydon-or-any-other-council

Unison General Secretary Candidate Supports Croydon members

‘Where is the pressure on Chancellor Sunak to put up the £12-15 billion that councils say is needed to end their deficits? Where is the call from the Labour frontbench to fund cash-starved councils? Why doesn’t Croydon have the backing of the Labour Party to be the first council to say it refuse to make these cuts?….

We should be supporting our members to take action. And we should be calling all our local government branches together in national action, to win back the money the Tories have taken from our services.

If Labour councillors are not prepared to take this stand at this crucial time, our union should give no more money to cutting and privatising Labour councillors. It should allow our branches to democratically decide to support candidates from the trade union and workers’ movement who will fight for our jobs and services.’

www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/31637/18-11-2020/croydon-council-declares-bankruptcy-no-cuts-in-croydon-or-any-other-council

Other News

Croydon Business Woman To Stand Again For London Mayor

www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/croydon-businesswoman-who-wants-first-19309941

Westfield Desperate For Rent

Westfield threatens tenants with legal action for unpaid rent. (Property Week. 9 November)

Another Restaurant – No Loss If Its Closes

www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/dirty-croydon-restaurant-staff-dont-19296116

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Croydon Update 16 November

The Financial Crisis

In response to my posting about the issuing of the Section 114 notice, several Labour Council’s have thanked me for it being more balanced than much of the rest of the growing media coverage.

Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North, and former Leader of Lambeth Council shares my view aboiut the Tory contribution up to 2014.

“Croydon council’s serious financial challenges have deep roots through a decade of austerity and administrations of different parties and have been greatly worsened by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”. (Guardian 13 November)

In her latest message on Your Croydon News (13 November), Hamida Ali, the new Leader writes:

‘The financial problems the council is facing have multiple causes and, while a decade of austerity, historic under-funding and the Covid-19 crisis have had a major impact on our finances, we’ve got to be honest that the council has also made mistakes.’ (Underlining in my emphasis.)

‘We’re not going to fix these problems overnight and there will be difficult decisions ahead, but I want to reassure local people that the council will still be here to support you.

My priority is rebuilding a financially-sustainable organisation, which provides the value for money and high-quality services that residents deserve and I am confident we will achieve that.’

https://news.croydon.gov.uk/covid-19-update-a-message-from-councillor-hamida-ali-leader-of-the-council-5/

The Tories are calling for  Brick by Brick to be wound up rather than reformed as the Croydon TUC/Assembly 2018 local election manifesto called.

www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/calls-croydon-council-owned-developer-19268673

Although many Councils across the party political divide have also been investing in commercial property to obtain rental income, for a buying a hotel and a shopping centre. Last December it also bought for £14m the  builders’ merchants Selco building in Imperial Way, Waddon, and medical supplies specialist Alliance Healthcare at Vulcan Way in New Addington – at a combined cost of £14 million.

In its critical Public Interest report the less than robust auditors  Grant Thornton deemed the hotel and shopping centre investments as  ‘inherently flawed’ and ‘ grounded in a sufficient understanding of the retail and leisure market and have again illustrated that the council’s strategy to invest its way out of financial challenge rather than pay attention to controlling expenditure on core services was inherently flawed.”

www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/croydon-bust-councils-decision-invest-19271255

At least, as I have suggested in the past  the Council is using the hotel for homeless families, so it is not a waste of money.  It would be useful  if the Council would publish the cost of running the hotel and the savings made by not having to pay landlords for families in live in high priced accommodation.

Among the actions still needed to redress public hostility is:

  • to take Paul Scott, the arch defender of the Brick by Brick, off the Planning Committee and Sub-committee
  • to withdraw from Brick by Brick the green spaces on which it plans to build housing schemes pushed by Scott.
  • to announce that it will withdraw from taking part in future MIPIM events toadying up to the property developers, who have done Croydon non favours, having failing to meet the real housing needs of residents, not providing enough so called affordable housing and not providing enough funding for the infrastructure developments needed because of their schemes.

The Council had allowed reserves to drastically fall. Writing on a local government finance website Richard Harbord argues that:

‘In the case of reserves, it is the role of members to challenge their adequacy before approving the budget.’ Clearly they did not.

He also argues that:

  • Councils need to show greater rigour in challenging budget assumptions, how savings are achieved and also the underlying affordability of the treasury management strategy.
  • Cabinets and councils need to review their arrangements to govern their interests in subsidiaries. This is a key issue more generally, particularly during difficult financial times.
  • Growth in the use of wholly and partly-owned companies has been considerable. There are obvious advantages, especially for raising finance from sources not available to council. Some councils have, however, encountered problems in achieving the correct routes and means to achieve governance of these entities.’

www.room151.co.uk/funding/richard-harbord-croydons-114-notice-hold-lessons-for-all-councils

It now

It now appears likely that some other London Boroughs may also become bankrupt as http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1360385/Sadiq-Khan-London-Mayor-Croydon-council-BBC-debt-bankrupt-latest-news-vnlocalgovernment faces a huge £1billion deficit

This reminds me of my time at Solon Housing Association. When the funding system changed we calculated that it could result in an unfundable debt.  We took the decision to take the matter up with the Housing Corporation. It was hostile to us because of our worker collective structure and high proportion of tenants on the Management and Area Committees. We were vindicated in our analysis and steps had to be taken to ensure that London associations were not all adversely affected. So Croydon may been the first to act on its potential bankruptcy, but if others follow then it could be that the Government will have to respond in a non-punitive way.

Philp Voted Against Feeding Children In The Holidays

Croydon South MP Chris Philip voted against feeding the countries most vulnerable children.

www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/18872239.power-fail-us-local-businesses-step-in–abi-cooper-st-philomenas

NHS Still Needs Support In COVID Crisis

The NHS still need campaigning support during the COVID crisis. Please consider supporting the petition for a pay bonus at:

https://platform.organise.org.uk/campaigns/nhs-staff-bonus

Some Trusts are upping the parking charges for NHS staff. It appears that Croydon University Hospital is not one of them, but King’s is.

https://platform.organise.org.uk/campaigns/add-your-postcode-to-find-your-nearest-trust-parking

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8949913/Thousands-NHS-staff-face-disgusting-200-cent-hike-hospital-parking-fees.html

Don’t Be Too Sad If Some Restaurants Etc Collapse

What is needed is good quality affordable restaurants, unlike the one that stored food under the sink!

www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/croydon-restaurant-stored-food-underneath-19262174

Libraries Hit By Lockdown

From Thursday 5 November Croydon Libraries have had to suspend the limited browsing and pre-booked IT appointments. They  continue to offer a Select and Collect service from Central, Ashburton, Bradmore Green, Coulsdon, New Addington, Purley, Selsdon, South Norwood and Thornton Heath Libraries.

Views on ‘AffordableHousing’

The London Mayor consulted on Intermediate Housing consultation.  The summary of what people said about affordable housing schemes such as shared ownership and London Living Rent is as follows:

  • Housing should be a major priority for local and central government
  • Shared ownership doesn’t get to the root of London’s housing problem
  • There should be more regulation in the rental/housing market
  • London Living Rent needs to be affordable
  • There needs to be transparency over long-term costs and risks for these affordable housing schemes

For full details see:

www.london.gov.uk/talk-london/these-are-your-views-intermediate-housing

This is a report that the Council needs to consider as part of its Local Plan Review and when assessing applications for housing schemes with a shared ownership component.

The Mayor/GLA are continuing you toconsuton other planning issues:

  • Good Quality Homes for
  • All Londoners Public London Charter Circular Economy Statements

https://consult.london.gov.uk

Justin Homes Consultation 155 Homes Scheme off Purley Way

Concerns are being raised about whether there is adequate infrastucture for this scheme. The Purley Way area was identified in  the Local Plan Review process as a possible area for the building of a large number of homes, including in mixed developments, which could ease the pressure on other areas. The Council consulted on the idea. The outcome of the Local Review consultation has still to be published.

Former Purley Resident Worked at Bletchley Park

www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/secret-bletchley-park-worker-who-19263916

Mireille Completes Her PhD On Croydon’s Suffraggette Prisoner Katie Gliddon

The artist Mireille Fauchon reports that she has has successfully completed her PhD based on the diary of the Croydon suffragette prisoner Katie Gliddon.

‘Over years I made several iterative artworks encompassing print, collage and performance works. These creative interpretations described the story lines that developed as I explored the life writings left by the Croydon Suffragette Katie Gliddon. The archival met the anecdotal and Gliddon’s past became inextricably entwined with my present.’

The digital document can be accessed at:

https://padlet.com/k1652337/g06kxkhm5gngmyn

Mireille recommends playing the audio file at the top of the page and scrolling down while listening.

www.mireillefauchon.com

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Black History News Update at 16 November

Mangrove

What a riveting  film last night about the Mangrove Nine by Steve McQueen as the first of his Small Axe series prime time BBC TV last night. A well crafted script not afraid to show the contradictions and tensions faced by the lead characters. Very well acted  especially Shaun Parkes as Franck Cricthlow, Letitia Wright as Altheia Jones-LeCoint and Sam Spruell as the racist Constable Pulley.The actor for Darcus Howe captured him superbly that it might have been Howe himself.  Audrey Dewjee reminds me that it can still be seen at:

 www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p08vy19b/small-axe-series-1-mangrove

See also:

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08vxt33

For reviews see:

www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2020/nov/15/small-axe-review-steve-mcqueen-triumphs-with-tales-of-britains-caribbean-history

www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/2020/11/15/small-axe-mangrove-review-pummelling-chronicle-forgotten-bit

www.mylondon.news/news/news-opinion/bbcs-mangrove-showed-britains-racism-19289114

Wednesday 18 November. The Good Lord Bird

Film re-John Brown and Henry Shackleford. Sky Atlantic.

Friday 20 November. Radical Topologies

Conversation between Lola Olufemi and Languid Hands about attempting to ‘map’ contemporary black cultural production in the UK

www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/radical-topologies-a-conversation-between-lola-olufemi-and-languid-hands-tickets-127984724757

Tuesday 24 November.7pm. The Tynesiders who volunteered for Garibaldi’s army and joined the fight for Italian unification

Talk by Nigel Todd for North East Labour History Society

Dr Velma McClymont

Velma was the speaker at the end of the Journey to Justice AGM held on Zoom on Saturday, reflecting on the black experience, racism, anti-racism, allies in the campaigns, British Black History and Black Lives Matters, and  supporting and nurturing young people.

Born in Jamaica came over the London in the 1960s where her parents were. She attended Notre Dame Roman Catholic High School in Battersea. She lived in Wandsworth for many years. She has written story books for children under the name Kate Elizabeth Ernest. Hope Leaves Jamaica, Festus and Felix, Birds in the Wilderness and Tricky Tricky Twins. She is working in a feminist historical novel. She has set up WomanzVue which has been holding Zoom meetings. Its website is not yet live.

https://wandsworthart.com/profiles/dr-velma-mcclymont

Velma has also had as speakers Croydon Councillor Patsy Cummings who was in charge of the Windrush Remenbrance programm last year,and Croydon resident anti-racist campiagner Marc Wadsworth on his new book on Shapurji Saklatvala.

Journey for Justice

The AGM was chaired by Martin Spafford, who is well known to many of this blog’s readers. Madge Dresser also took part.

Mark Harrison, a secondary school teacher in Sheffield, stood down as a Trustee. His talk on BBC Radio Sheffield on 13 June discussed the history of the Sheffield Ladies Anti-Slavery Society, statues and what schools should be teaching about Black history today.

Black History Videos and Recordings

Demanding Freedom: Attucks & the Abolition Movement 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVwsOT1hrYg&feature=youtu.be

 Mark Johnson on Black Pilots (2014)

From civil rights to Smethwick: Why was Malcolm X in the West Midlands?

www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/newsbeat-54659258   

MLK, Malcolm X and Kwame Nkrumah’s daughters discuss racial justice

www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-africa-53935302   

How Plymouth changed black sport in the UK

www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/newsbeat-54698567

Misty Copeland: Ballet’s listening after George Floyd

www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/newsbeat-54660408  

The Story of Britain’s Black Power Movement   

www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-54953249

The Black Panther Party: Challenging Police and Promoting Social Change  

https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/black-panther-party-challenging-police-and-promoting-social-change

Reading on the Internet

www.nytimes.com/2020/11/09/arts/alexander-hamilton-enslaver-research.html

www.caribbeanaircrew-ww2.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/Caribbean-Airmen-V3-Mark-Johnson.pdf

www.academia.edu/14096658/Britain_and_the_Seventy_Years_War_1744_1815_Enlightenment_Revolution_and_Empire_2015

www.academia.edu/40073757/Randy_M_Browne_Surviving_Slavery_in_the_British_Caribbean

www.academia.edu/22790036/Land_of_Hope_and_Dreams_slavery_and_abolition_in_the_Dutch_Leeward_islands_1825_1865

www.academia.edu/2134324/Slavery_and_Racism_in_Nineteenth_Century_Cuba

www.academia.edu/210584/The_Garden_of_the_World_an_historical_archaeology_of_Eastern_Caribbean_sugar_landscapes

www.aaihs.org/report-from-the-bahamas-the-legacies-of-colonialism-and-white-supremacy

www.academia.edu/19605871/Socio_Racial_Sensibilities_towards_coloured_subaltern_sectors_in_the_Spanish_Atlantic

www.academia.edu/41749815/Sugar_in_the_Atlantic_world

www.academia.edu/5329233/UNIVERSITY_OF_GREENWICH_GREENWICH_MARITIME_INSTITUTE_Dissertation_submitted_towards_the_MA_in_Maritime_History_Politics_Patronage_and_Profit_A_Case_Study_of_Three_18th_Century_Merchants by Kenneth Cozen whose Conference papers can be seen at

www.academia.edu/7607864/Conference_papers

www.scotsman.com/heritage-and-retro/heritage/ps100m-slavery-wealth-bought-highlands-and-islands-3030230

https://today.duke.edu/2020/11/group-urges-atlantic-seafloor-be-labeled-memorial-slave-trading

Studentships

Stuart Hall PhD scholarship at Manchester

http://stuarthallfoundation.org/news/phd-scholarship-manchester-uni

AHRC North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership

http://stuarthallfoundation.org/news/ring-fenced-studentships-at-ahrc-north-west-consortium-doctoral-training-partnership-nwcdtp

Black Composers, Musicians and Performers

Coleridge-Taylor’s Legende

www.classicfm.com/discover-music/instruments/violin/most-relaxing-pieces-classical-music

Raised in Streatham opera singer Elizabeth Llewellyn plans to include SC-T in her debut album. She is interviewed at

www.culturewhisper.com/r/opera/elizabeth_llewellyn_interview_english_national_opera/15983

Australian opera singer pays tribute to Paul Robeson

www.smh.com.au/culture/art-and-design/sixty-years-on-opera-singer-pays-tribute-to-paul-robeson-20201109-p56cpq.html

www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/7003746/coal-miners-daughter-marks-60-years-since-the-first-sydney-opera-house-concert/?cs=300

Belfast City Council approves statue of Frederick Douglas 

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-54794087

New Books and Reports

Football’s Black Pioneers.

On 12 November Bill Hern and David Gleave launched their book  Football’s Black Pioneers about the first black player to represent each of 92 English Football League and English Premier League clubs.They also have a website at

https://footballs-black-pioneers.com

They also run the Historycal Roots website featuring the stories of people of African heritage. Guest contributors include Audrey Dewjee, John Ellis and Jo Stanley.

http://historycalroots.com

See Audrey’s reflections on the site about Remembrance Sunday

Plantation slavery and landownership in the west Highlands and Islands: legacies and lessons A Discussion Paper

Scores of estates in the West Highlands and Islands were acquired by people using the equivalent of well over £100m worth of riches connected to slavery in the Caribbean and North America. Many would go on to be leading figures in the Highland Clearances, evicting thousands of people’.

www.communitylandscotland.org.uk/category/news

where the report is available to download.

Whites: On Race And Other Falsehoods.

Otegha Uwagba. Fourth Estate. Reviewed in Guardian Review 14 November.

OCR Migration GCSE

The OCR Migration GSCE developed by four former members of Black & Asian Studies Association (Hakim Adi, Dan Lyndon, Marika Sherwood and Martin Spafford) changes the area to be looked at every year. This year it is Spitalfields written by Martin Spafford,  addition to material on the French Huguenots and Jewish communities there is a lot of material on South Asians.

www.ocr.org.uk/Images/538133-spitalfields.pdf

There are down loadable documents for use by schools at:

https://schoolhistory.co.uk/ocr-gcse/ocr-gcse-history-urban-environments-patterns-of-migration-spitalfields

The OCR material is featured positively on

It is a pity that OCR has taken off its website the volumes about the previous areas for in-depth study – Butetown and South Shields.

Martin is a member of the Education Committee of the Migration Museum based in Lewisham.

www.migrationmuseum.org/resources/patterns-of-migration-spitalfields-ocr-history-gcse

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Croydon’s Financial Crisis Deepens

Croydon’s financial crisis has reached a critical point with a freeze on all non statutory expenditure following submission by the Finance Director of a Section 114 notice to the Government stating that it cannot balance its books. The Council press releases about this and the steps that are being taken can be read here.

https://news.croydon.gov.uk/council-issues-section-114-notice-as-part-of-action-plan-to-tackle-financial-challenges

It has also issued a press statement about the steps that are being taken leading up to the Emergency Council meeting on 19 January.

Prior to the auditor’s report Croydon had already taken steps to tackle its financial challenges. Actions in progress include:

  • Delivering a £24m package of savings during this financial year
  • Developing the Croydon Renewal Plan, which includes: formally seeking a loan (capitalisation direction) from the government in order to balance this year’s budget and enable the council’s transition to a sustainable budget over the next three years
  • a review of the capital programme
  • an independent review of the council’s group of companies and entities

https://news.croydon.gov.uk/croydon-outlines-way-forward-from-auditors-report

The wider context has also worsened with what looks like a coup at the AGM of U-R-W, the company involved with Hammerson in the proposed Westfield shopping centre, by a shareholders group who say the company’s problems were exacerbated by buying up Westfield Australia, which could lead to the Westfield project being abandoned.

Council Meetings

A series of Council on-line meetings has been scheduled to consider the next stages of what the Council needs to do.

Tuesday 17 November. 6.30 pm. Scrutiny & Overview Committee will discuss the Renewal Plan with a view to making  comments and any recommendations to its  consideration by Cabinet on 25 November.

Thursday 19 November. 6.30 pm. Extraordinary Council Meeting to consider the auditors Public Interest Report concerning the Council’s financial position and related arrangements in addition to establishing an overarching improvement board.

Wednesday 25 November. 6.30pm.Cabinet

Monday 30 November. 6.30pm. Council

Wednesday 2 December. 6.30pm. Audit and General Purposes Committee

What does the S114 notice mean?

Oldham Council’s website explains (edited):

‘(N)o new expenditure is permitted, with the exception of that funding statutory services, including safeguarding vulnerable people, however existing commitments and contracts will continue to be honoured.’

‘Council officers must therefore carry out their duties in line with contractual obligations and to acceptable standards, while being aware of the financial situation.’

‘Any spending that is not essential or which can be postponed should not take place and essential spend will be monitored.’

‘The only allowable expenditure permitted under an emergency protocol would include the following categories:

· existing staff payroll and pension costs

· expenditure on goods and services which have already been received

· expenditure required to deliver the council’s provision of statutory services at a minimum possible level

· urgent expenditure required to safeguard vulnerable citizens

· expenditure required through existing legal agreements and contracts

· expenditure funded through ring-fenced grants

· expenditure necessary to achieve value for money and/or mitigate additional in year costs Councillors have 21 days from the issue of a Section 114 notice to discuss the implications at a Full Council meeting’

Croydon is not the first to submit a Section 114. Tory controlled Northamptonshire County Council had to do so in 2018.

www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2018/02/what-happens-when-council-runs-out-money

Warnings that several Councils may have to do the same have been made since March.

www.lgcplus.com/finance/rob-whiteman-dont-leave-councils-facing-section-114-notices-over-coronavirus-31-03-2020

‘In June, the BBC found many large councils in England feared going effectively bankrupt because of the Covid-19 pandemic. To cope with coronavirus, councils revealed they were planning a mix of responses including using up cash reserves, reducing services and cancelling or postponing spending on big projects.’

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-54897296

Council Response To Recommendations

The proposed action plan appears to contain many sensible proposals for improvement, some of which with hindsight should have already been part of the process.

The full set of recommendations is set out in:

There is also an accompanying Officers’ report:

This report states:

‘The Council will need to continue its very recent focus on learning and seeking support, advice, guidance and challenge from partners across the sector to ensure that the improvements it delivers reflect best practice nationally. The fourth LBC recommendation speaks to this area of work and seeks to create a new system of internal control and a new set of behaviours, accountabilities, role clarity and effective practice in the Council. This will be based on extensive staff engagement and consultation that ensures we can function as an efficient and effective environment, free from fear and built on trust and openness.’ (Para 4.22)

One of the most challenging recommendations in the Action Plan states:  

‘Working with local residents, rebuild the trust with their local Council by focussing on effective delivery of core services, responding promptly and appropriately to queries and complaints and learning from good practice as well as failures and from each other.’

Well this re-opens up the whole question of the Tory and then Labour top-down tokenistic consultation approach, lip-service to community and diversity, and the failure of both sets of Councillors to support a return to a proper decision-making Committee system,  devolve more decision making down to local neighbourhoods with Committees of Councillors and representatives of the different types of residents organisations, and much more powerful Scrutiny Committee process which involves people from outside the Council. What the Executive Leader model of governance reveals is the way in which most Councillors are sidelined and find it difficult to undertake the probing approach that was possible when I was a Councillor 1982-6 in Wandsworth, resulting for example in changes in housing maintenance tendering procedures, the dangerous structures works contract, and the monitoring of building contracts finances after the completion of the physical works. In the 1990s I was involved in freelance projects with other authorities showing how inefficiency and poor value for money was involved in energy efficiency work, and the loss of money related to the cost of crime, by lack of inter-Departmental working. I drew on the latter work to twice try and persuade Croydon’s Audit & General Purposes Committee to look at the cost of crime to the Council, but nothing happened.

The Hypocritical Tory Response

It is this wider context that should mean that the Croydon Tories, and especially Chris Philp (Croydon South) who is a Government Minister, should desist from their public attacks in the media on the Labour administration. Philp’s tweet (11 November) has been picked up the media:

‘Croydon Council has just issued a s114 notice – i.e. they are bust. They are the only London Borough in this position. Labour has bankrupt Croydon through poor financial control, running up £1.5 billion in debt and engaging in disastrous commercial property speculation.’ He is ignoring the concern in the new a couple of weeks ago about Tory Spelthorne’s commercial investments.

Jason Parry, the new Croydon Tory leader, has also slammed Labour as in the above BBC story . ‘The audit report was “scathing” and he had fears local residents “would suffer most”. He added: “Labour were warned repeatedly over the last few years but ploughed on anyway, they must take full responsibility for the damage they have caused.’

It is hypocritical of him to be critical, as one of the Tory Councillors who left Labour a budget problem caused by the Laing deal over Bernard Weatherill House, and who have failed in opposition to do in depth financial analysis when they went into Opposition in 2014. 

Key Challenges

In their report the Officers state:

‘6.4 Given the challenges that the Council currently faces, careful consideration will need to be given to whether the Council has the capacity and capability to undertake all of the improvements that are required within a very demanding timescale.

6.5 The Council will need to both rebalance its immediate priorities to ensure that sufficient capacity is focussed on delivering improvements at pace, as well as working to ensure that it has the necessary skills available to deliver that improvement.

6.6 This will require the Council to seek to secure those specialist skills where they do not currently exist within the Council, through a combination of seeking external support and providing opportunities to staff to be seconded and develop new skills in those roles.’

Croydon Renewal Plan Improvement Board

In the Officers’ report the Council is being asked to set up an independently chaired overarching Improvement Board to ‘support and challenge the delivery of the Council’s improvement journey as it seeks to recover its financial position, strengthen its governance and ensure that it is an effective organisation that delivers value for money services’, and to ‘submit a public report on its work to Council every three months’. ‘Further details on the Board, including its terms of reference, detailed Membership, costs and the initial overarching Croydon Renewal Plan will be presented to a future meeting of Cabinet and subsequently to Council.’ (Paras 7.4-7.6)

The Westfield Coup

Investors at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the partner with Hammerson in the proposed Westfield development, ‘have blocked the company’s plans for a €3.5bn capital increase and won seats on its board’.

 ‘The battle at Unibail has been a potent reminder of how the pandemic has up ended the commercial property market, causing some tenants to stop paying rent and others to seek lower rates. That left Unibail one of the most shorted stocks in Europe with nearly 30 per cent of shares out on loan to investors betting against the company…’

U-R-W sought to raise €9bn plan to shore up its balance sheet announced in September, including selling €4bn in retail and office properties in Europe, saving €1bn from paying dividends mostly in shares, and €800m in savings from cutting out or delaying real estate projects. The aim was ‘to cut the company’s €24bn debt load, much of which was incurred in 2018 when it bought Australian mall operator Westfield for $24.7bn to create what was at the time the world’s second-biggest mall owner by market value.’ 

It could be that U-R-W many decide to cut its losses and pull out the Westfield scheme, meaning no increase in income for the Council. The Government Task which is still carrying out its review of the financial crisis and Council governance will have to assess what long-term effect this could have on the Croydon Recovery Plan.

www.ft.com/content/46a9186e-5353-4423-be43-671e8f49bf5a

www.marketwatch.com/story/unibail-rodamco-westfield-holders-reject-proposal-2020-11-10

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-unibail-rodamco-agm/westfield-owner-unibails-shareholders-reject-rights-issue-idUKKBN27Q0XN

https://uk.reuters.com/article/unibail-rodamco-agm/unibail-braces-for-investors-clash-over-mall-owners-capital-hike-idINL8N2HV689

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Black & General History at 8 November

Events

Sunday 8 November. 7pm. Cy Grant

Equiano Society zoom event.

www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/remembering-cy-grant-1919-2010-tickets-127982211239

Lieutenant in the RAF in WW2,  later he  become a barrister (who couldn’t get work because he was Black) and then that he would become so important as an actor and promoter of Black culture in Britain.  Before his death he ran  www.caribbeanaircrew-ww2.com

The video of the Nubian Jak plaque to Cy Grant in 2017 can be seen at

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oXDmjD4HI8

It includes a few words by me.

Wednesday 11 November. 2pm.   The renewal of radicalism 1867-1924

WCML online talk by Matthew Kidd.

Thursday 12 November.10am-noon. William Morris

Zoom talk by John Hawks of the Wandle Industrial Museum for Surrey Industrial History Group.

www.meetup.com/Surrey-History-Meetup/events/274407403

Saturday 14 November.2.30pm.  A centenary for Socialism – Britain’s Communist Party 1920-2020 

Online launch of Communist Party publication written by 20 contributors and edited by Professor Mary Davis. To register to attend the CP ask you to go to  www.communistparty.org.uk/centenary

but I cannot find it.

November. Black Lives Matter In Historical Perspective

http://asch-cthistory.org

19 November. 3-3.30pm.British Association for the Advancement of Science – Collection on the History of Science: 1830-1970

Zoom launch of new digital resource. Free with reservation

www.jisc.ac.uk/events/old-world-science-new-world-science-history-day-19-nov-2020

Thursday 19 November 2pm.  Begin the World Over Again – radical thoughts & actions for radical times

WCML online talk. (1)

Monday 23 November. 7.30pm. Chineke plays Coleridge Taylor’s  African Suite

You Tube.

www.chineke.org/events/black-legacies

Wednesday 25 November. 2.30pm.  The greening of the city

WCML online talk by Carole O’Reilly. (1)

Thursday 26 November. 7pm. Women’s oppression, the origins of the family & the condition of the working class

Mary Davis gives virtual third annual Engels Memorial Lecture, organised jointly by the Marx Memorial Library, London and the Working Class Movement Library. You can register for the event 

at

www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/engels-memorial-lecture-tickets-122054192375

Wednesday 2 December. 2pm. Labour women: Ellen Wilkinson, and Vera Brittain


WCML online talk by Clara Jones and Natasha Periyan. (1)


(1) To register for WCML events go to

www.wcml.org.uk/events

Black History Month News

Young reporter interviews pupils at Croydon High School for Girls about Black History Month.

www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/youngreporter/18837723.black-history-not-black-people

Krystyna Antoine, a community nurse from New Addington, was the national face of the NHS on 30 October as part of Channel 4’s  Black and Proud campaign that has been running throughout October.

www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/black-history-month-croydon-nurse-19191900

The Working Class Movement Library held an online talk about Len Johnson, the Black Mancunian boxer, activist and community organiser, by Deej Malik-Johnson of Black Lives Matter Manchester and the Len Johnson Memorial Campaign

October 1945 Pan African Congress Manchester

www.wcml.org.uk/our-collections/international/pan-african-congress

www.historyworkshop.org.uk/the-fifth-pan-african-congress-75-years-on-a-landmark-moment-in-british-radical-history

Christmas Multi-Cultural Items

British Black History activist Audrey Dewjee has published a list.

Eric Preston  Obituaries

Eric was a leading member of ILP Publications. 

www.independentlabour.org.uk/2020/10/13/eric-preston-a-life-lived-for-that-better-day

www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/nov/01/eric-preston-obituary

Another Side of US Democracy

www.idcommunism.com/2020/11/gus-hall-great-figure-of-american-communist-movement.html

Summerstown182 Projects News

www.summerstown182.wordpress.com

BCA Switches Back To Digital & Remote Working

As a result of the new lockdown 1 Windrush Square is closed again, and planned events there postponed. You can still experience BCA’s programme and resources 24 hours a day through

www.bcaexhibits.org

https://artsandculture.google.com/project/black-cultural-archives

https://blackculturalarchives.org/exhibitionsandevents

Staff will be working from home and can be contacted via email, social media and by telephone on 0203 757 8500. Researchers should contact archives@bcaheritage.org.uk for further information on how to access the collections during the closure.

North Shields Old Low Light Heritage Centre Volunteers Win Award for Breaking Chains Exhibition

The North East regional Marsh Award for Volunteers in Museum Learning 2019 is run by the British Museum and the Marsh Christian Trust. 

The volunteers had to show how they had made a difference to the people who visited the heritage centre during 2019. Judges were looking for innovation, dedication and excellence by volunteers who engage the public in museums, galleries and heritage sites. 

The Breaking Chains exhibition told the story of how Mary Ann Macham escaped from a plantation in Virginia, eventually arriving in North Shields where she was met and cared for by the Spence family who were Quakers and local business people. After more than 60 years of freedom, she died in 1893 aged 91. 

The exhibition which opened at the heritage centre at the beginning of October 2019 and ran until the end of February 2020, also focused on the part played by key local people in campaigns to abolish slavery. 

It was supported by several other events involving children from John Spence Community High School, a community choir, one of the country’s leading experts in American History, local historians and a quilting group. 

I gave information for the project.

See video at

https://www.youtube.com/watch

Videos and Podcasts

Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan   

 www.crowdcast.io/e/noorinayatkhan/register


The Indian Empire at War: From Jihad to Victory, The Untold Story of the Indian Army in the First World War

www.crowdcast.io/e/indianempireatwar/register

Britain’s Black Regiments: Fighting for Empire and Equality   

www.crowdcast.io/e/britainsblackregiments/register

There are many more talks with Black and Asian themes at

www.crowdcast.io/nationalarmymuseum

including  The Indian Contingent at Dunkirk

The War in Burma 

Live-interpretation performance www.crowdcast.io/e/junglefighter/register

Online conversation between two Burma veterans, who both recently walked to raise funds for charity – Captain Sir Tom Moore (aged 100) and Private Joseph Hammond (aged 95) from Ghana.   

www.nam.ac.uk/whats-on/soldiers-stories-veterans-conversation

Black History Podcasts

www.historyworkshop.org.uk/?s=%22Power+in+the+telling%22

Book Talk: The Yellow Demon of Fever: Fighting Disease in the 19th-Century Transatlantic Slave Trade

www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlXIi-6063E

Black and British – Digtal History Resource

Google Arts & Culture in collaboration with Historic England, Black Cultural Archives, City of London Corporation, Tate and others have launched a new dedicated digital resource which celebrates Black history with a selection of art and culture in the UK. Take a virtual tour around London and learn about its connection with the Transatlantic Slave Trade the Blue Badge Guide, Dominic Burris -North.

https://artsandculture.google.com/story/fQXxndMqnWn_hA

Reading

www.historyworkshop.org.uk/why-we-need-black-history-in-uk-schools   

www.historyworkshop.org.uk/james-watt-and-slavery-in-scotland

www.historyworkshop.org.uk/notting-hill-carnival-disturbances

https://aldianews.com/articles/culture/social/cachita-unknown-history-slavery-spain/60973

Review of Priyamvada Gopal’s Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial resistance and British dissent  

www.independentlabour.org.uk/2020/10/09/from-sympathy-to-solidarity

www.sentinelassam.com/editorial/the-african-american-bhupen-hazarika-509971

A life in struggle against apartheid: An interview with E.S. Reddy|Archishman Raju

www.mainstreamweekly.net/article10074.html

www.academia.edu/39784404/The_Monarchical_Caribbean_Tomas_Wood_Exiles_and_Royalist_Strongholds_during_the_Spanish_American_Independence_Wars

www.academia.edu/11791840/_The_Maroons_of_Santo_Domingo_in_the_Age_of_Revolutions_Adaptation_and_Evasion_1783_1800_

www.academia.edu/41710493/Caribbean_historical_processes

www.academia.edu/41749815/Sugar_in_the_Atlantic_world

www.academia.edu/13039990/Continental_Origins_of_Insular_Proslavery_George_Dawson_Flinter_in_Cura%C3%A7ao_Venezuela_Britain_and_Puerto_Rico_1810s_1830s

www.academia.edu/35160924/Patterns_in_the_Intercolonial_Slave_Trade_Across_the_Americas_before_the_Nineteenth_Century

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Croydon National Lock Down And Other News

Croydon Under National Lockdown

In an appeal for Croydonians tounite once again to keep Croydon safe’ Council Leader Hamida Ali says that ‘Covid-19 infection rates are rising rapidly across the country and Croydon is no exception. We had 868 confirmed cases in the two weeks between 15 and 28 October, compared with 570 cases in the previous two weeks.’

https://news.croydon.gov.uk/covid-19-update-a-message-from-councillor-hamida-ali-leader-of-the-council-2

Government and NHS Lockdown Guidance

www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/social-distancing/what-you-need-to-do

https://platform.organise.org.uk/campaigns/1452

www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

Council helpline

If you need urgent help as a result of Covid-19 call our helpline 020 8604 7787, Monday – Friday 9am-4pm.

Croydon COVID Business Help

https://new.croydon.gov.uk/covid-19-business-support-advice-and-funding

COVID Verbal Update At Scrutiny 10 November

University Hospital Develops COVID Safe Area

www.thetimes.co.uk/article/virus-secure-hospital-within-a-hospital-is-blueprint-for-non-covid-ops-cwfnl72fs

Croydon NSPCC Supports Funding For Health Visiting

The NSPCC and a coalition of early years charities have written Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, saying that England’s health visiting programme is not equipped to meet the challenge of the Coronavirus pandemic, and must be rebuilt according to eight principles developed by a group of early years experts.

www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/charity-claims-generation-of-unborn-babies-are-at-risk

North End Record Slams Lockdown.  (My London. 3 November)

www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news

Ruskin Folk & Blues

RFB is now closed till December. If allowed:

6th Dec – Four Gone Confusion and Singers’ Night

13th – Molly & the Blackbriar Band and Singers’ Night

20th – Libre Fuego and Singers’ Night

Financial Crisis, Housing And Development News

Hamida Ali’s Promises

www.onlondon.co.uk/croydon-new-council-leader-promises-reform-of-corporate-culture-and-meeting-with-governance-referendum-campaigners

Brick by Brick Defends Itself

www.housingtoday.co.uk/news/brick-by-brick-hits-back-after-audit-slams-croydons-management-of-developer/5108749.article

Given the Government Task Force is due to examine its operation sometimes its best just to keep silent.

How Croydon Fails To Meet Housing Need

Under Paul Scott’s planning regime Labour Councillors kept accepting the argument that more homes were needed to meet housing need. The module tower block on George St shows how they have been conned.  Monthly rental costs will are expected to be £1,450 for a one-bedroom, £1,880 for a two-bedroom and £2,195 for a three-bedroom flat.

If rent is 50% of your income then you need to be earning at least £34,800.

General News

Corporate Parenting Panel 11 November

Licensing Sub-committee 12 November. 35 Westow St

https://democracy.croydon.gov.uk/documents/s25765/SCR35WestowStreetSE19andAppxA1-A5.pdf

Drugs Dens Closed

https://news.croydon.gov.uk/drugs-dens-closed

Bomb Scare in George St. (My London. 3 November – 3 stories)

Mandy Sparkes, the Care Manager at Bluebird Care Croydon, will be taking part in. Dementia UK’s 50-mile jog to raise money for Dementia research and support. You can donate for Mandy’s fundraiser at www.facebook.com/donate/2770055113280392

www.bluebirdcare.co.uk/croydon/contact-us

Black & Asian History

Young reporter interviews pupils at Croydon High School for Girls about Black History Month.

www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/youngreporter/18837723.black-history-not-black-people

Krystyna Antoine, a community nurse from New Addington, was the national face of the NHS on Channel 4’s Black History Month programming on 30 October (My London. 30 October)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Has Freshwater Lost The Plot At 96-98 George St?

The property developer and landlord Freshwater group is proposing to demolish  96 (Norwich Union House) and 98 (St Matthews House) George St and build an 11 storey office block, with café/restaurant use on part of the ground and mezzanine floor, a roof terrace on the top floor. Public realm and landscaping works are also proposed for College Square, the area separating the site from Suffolk House to the west of the building.

Do we really need more new office space given the reassessment going on about the future of working in offices as a result of COVID?

Do we really need another restaurant COVID crisis and likely collapse of restaurants in the Town Centre aggravated by the delay in progressing the Westfield scheme?

The Planning Committee will consider the proposals at pre-application stage tomorrow. The Officers are asking the members to focus on:

1. The principle of a commercial development in this location and the loss of 6 residential units

2. The height and massing of the building

3. The ground floor uses and site layout, including public realm proposals

4. The proposed design approach to the façade and elevation details including materiality

5. The likely impact on neighbouring occupiers in terms of daylight, sunlight and outlook

6. The level and location of car and cycle parking proposed

7. The importance of green infrastructure and urban greening, both on the roof and in College Square

Inadequate Information

The discussion may be premature because the report on the Place Review Panel is not on the agenda to ensure that the officer summary is accurate, and because the Mayor of London’s review write-up has not yet been published. It is important that the members have the full information. Despite the Panel’s views during pre-consultation the officers do not report what consultation has been carried out by Freshwater.

This should be a line of robust questioning by members, with a view to deferring taking a view on the basis that:

  • The Place Review Panel report should be publicly available
  • To enable the Mayor’s detailed review is taken into account
  • To insist that there be consultation before the Committee re-looks at the pre-application

It may also want to consider additional requirements for action during the period of deferment.

  • A review of the provision of flats linked to work units within the office block.
  • As assessment of the demand for different sizes and rental costs of office spaces in Croydon.
  • A 100% zero carbon strategy.
  • Discussion with Croydon College and South Bank University as to whether they will need additional floor space for staff and students study needs.
  • The inclusion of student accommodation.
  • A ground floor hall for the community and for officer tenant functions.
  • An exhibition space.
  • A combined heat and power scheme that will generate surplus energy to sell into the grid.

The Farce of Consultation

The problem with pre-application consideration is that the public are excluded from speaking to the Committee. They can email comments in but these do not become part of the official record. Therefore residents and businesses concerned about the emerging details have no influence. It also means that as the scheme becomes more and more acceptable to the Planners the formal consultation when the final planning application is submitted is tokenistic, because it becomes almost impossible for residents and businesses to have the planning grounds to justify rejection of the scheme.

Pre-Application Discussions To-Date

The officers report that their discussions ‘so far have primarily focused on the existing and proposed uses, height and massing, design and façade treatment of the building, ground floor activation, public realm and impact on neighbouring occupiers.’

The Residential Units

‘The applicant has provided evidence that these units are of poor quality in terms of fabric and layout, with a refurbishment up to lettable standard not viable.’

‘Officers support the principle of a tall building in this location. Subject to views testing, and balanced against the constraints including the neighbouring amenity impact and need for larger floorplates for an office typology, officers consider that the proposed massing could be appropriate, if the façade and materiality continue to develop positively.

Place Review Panel (PRP)

The scheme was first presented to PRP on 21st May 2020. The Panel were generally supportive of the proposal but thought different options should be tested to see how the building could better relate to its context. Key comments were made as follows:

· Good starting point for the design, however the social aspirations of the project should be brought to the fore and the scheme should respond to the significance of its location within the Cultural Quarter.

· More community engagement with local stakeholders (including the College). The applicant was encouraged to explore opportunities to program events and activities with the College to make the scheme more richly integrated with its context. Important that the scheme seeks to break down some of the existing social barriers and creates a positive relationship with the College.

· Testing of different options for the massing and volume to explain rationale of how the applicant has arrived at the current design. A solution with a smaller footprint and taller mass would potentially work better to alleviate some concerns regarding townscape, microclimate and impact on adjoining occupier amenity, subject to testing.

· A more slender orthogonal footprint could be more appropriate.

· Microclimate testing should be undertaken as a priority.

· Concern about the close proximity of the massing to existing residential windows within 101 George Street and the impact on daylight/sunlight and outlook – the applicant should consider pulling the footprint further away from the boundary.

· Proposal needs to respond to the character of this part of Croydon more convincingly.

· Further consideration should be given to the material treatment and architectural expression – more material studies and contextual analysis should be undertaken to inform this and define a set of guiding design principles for the scheme.

· More variety in the elevations would be welcomed, e.g. treating the north and south elevations differently and adding architectural interest to the east.

· Site offers great opportunities to improve the landscape of College Square which should tie into the wider vision for the Fair Field Masterplan Area (and should connect the different spaces e.g. through common materials). Landscape architect should be appointed to develop this further.

· The notional public realm should extend into the building footprint and invite the public inside to dwell – the glazed ground floor café and semi-public coworking space on the corner could work well.

· The terrace should be more public-spirited. It will benefit from excellent views towards the Fair Field Cultural Quarter and this should be celebrated.

‘The scheme is continuing to develop since the PRP review’.

Changes Made

The changes made include:

· Different massing options tested and further justification for current approach

· Further contextual analysis carried out including nearby heritage assets

· Development of architectural approach and materiality

· Cycle store development

· Landscape architect appointed and public realm proposals for College Square starting to develop

· Initial qualitative assessment of microclimate impacts provided

· Initial daylight/sunlight impact assessment on nearby occupiers undertaken

Environmental impact and sustainability

‘A detailed sustainability strategy has not yet been confirmed, but the applicant has been made aware of the relevant policy requirements, including the forthcoming requirements in the Intend to Publish version of the London Plan for major non-domestic development to achieve zero carbon. Full discussions relating to air quality, overheating, surface water drainage, microclimate and lighting impacts are yet to be held.’

‘The applicant has been advised that a full flood risk assessment and drainage strategy would be required to support a planning application. Green field run-off discharge rates are the policy requirement.

Possible Planning Obligations

The officers suggest that planning obligations could be:

· Employment and training (contributions and obligations)

· Air Quality contribution

· Zero carbon offset (if required)

· Future connect to District Heating Network

· Car parking permit restrictions

· Car club provision and membership to occupiers · Travel Plan

· Transport for London contributions

· Delivery and servicing plan with financial bond

· Contribution to improvements to the public transport network/sustainable travel improvements/highway improvements/restrictions

 · TV signal mitigation

· Wind mitigation measures

· Public realm delivery and maintenance

· Highway works to facilitate access and servicing requirements including potential loading bay/loss of on-street parking spaces, upgrades to footway and College Square

  • Retention of scheme architects

· Affordable work space

Mayor of London

‘A planning application for the proposed development would be referable to the Mayor of London under the Mayor of London Order 2008.’ ‘The applicant has submitted a pre-application to the Greater London Authority (including consideration by Transport for London) for an opinion. A meeting was held on 6th October. Their main feedback focussed on the loss of the existing residential units, the height and massing of the development and the impact on residential amenity of the adjoining occupiers. The formal written response has yet to be issued.’

Freshwater in Croydon

In 2016 the Council list of private rented landlords and included 31A Elmfield Way and 11 Windsor Rd owned by Daejan Investments and Daejan Estates Ltds at Freshwater House at 158- Shaftesbury Ave, and managed by Freshwater Property Management based in Suffolk House. They were both on the Valuation Office list of regulated rents. The Daejans were part of the Daejan Holdings group in which the Freshwater family were the largest shareholder. In May 2020 they bought out the rest of the shareholders and made Daejan Holdings a private company.

Has Freshwater Lost The Plot?

The property developer and landlord Freshwater group is proposing to demolish  96 (Norwich Union House) and 98 (St Matthews House) George St and build an 11 storey office block, with café/restaurant use on part of the ground and mezzanine floor, a roof terrace on the top floor. Public realm and landscaping works are also proposed for College Square, the area separating the site from Suffolk House to the west of the building.

Do we really need more new office space given the reassessment going on about the future of working in offices as a result of COVID?

Do we really need another restaurant COVID crisis and likely collapse of restaurants in the Town Centre aggravated by the delay in progressing the Westfield scheme?

The Planning Committee will consider the proposals at pre-application stage tomorrow. The Officers are asking the members to focus on:

1. The principle of a commercial development in this location and the loss of 6 residential units

2. The height and massing of the building

3. The ground floor uses and site layout, including public realm proposals

4. The proposed design approach to the façade and elevation details including materiality

5. The likely impact on neighbouring occupiers in terms of daylight, sunlight and outlook

6. The level and location of car and cycle parking proposed

7. The importance of green infrastructure and urban greening, both on the roof and in College Square

Inadequate Information

The discussion may be premature because the report on the Place Review Panel is not on the agenda to ensure that the officer summary is accurate, and because the Mayor of London’s review write-up has not yet been published. It is important that the members have the full information. Despite the Panel’s views during pre-consultation the officers do not report what consultation has been carried out by Freshwater.

This should be a line of robust questioning by members, with a view to deferring taking a view on the basis that:

  • The Place Review Panel report should be publicly available
  • To enable the Mayor’s detailed review is taken into account
  • To insist that there be consultation before the Committee re-looks at the pre-application

It may also want to consider additional requirements for action during the period of deferment.

  • A review of the provision of flats linked to work units within the office block.
  • As assessment of the demand for different sizes and rental costs of office spaces in Croydon.
  • A 100% zero carbon strategy.
  • Discussion with Croydon College and South Bank University as to whether they will need additional floor space for staff and students study needs.
  • The inclusion of student accommodation.
  • A ground floor hall for the community and for officer tenant functions.
  • An exhibition space.
  • A combined heat and power scheme that will generate surplus energy to sell into the grid.

The Farce of Consultation

The problem with pre-application consideration is that the public are excluded from speaking to the Committee. They can email comments in but these do not become part of the official record. Therefore residents and businesses concerned about the emerging details have no influence. It also means that as the scheme becomes more and more acceptable to the Planners the formal consultation when the final planning application is submitted is tokenistic, because it becomes almost impossible for residents and businesses to have the planning grounds to justify rejection of the scheme.

Pre-Application Discussions To-Date

The officers report that their discussions ‘so far have primarily focused on the existing and proposed uses, height and massing, design and façade treatment of the building, ground floor activation, public realm and impact on neighbouring occupiers.’

The Residential Units

‘The applicant has provided evidence that these units are of poor quality in terms of fabric and layout, with a refurbishment up to lettable standard not viable.’

‘Officers support the principle of a tall building in this location. Subject to views testing, and balanced against the constraints including the neighbouring amenity impact and need for larger floorplates for an office typology, officers consider that the proposed massing could be appropriate, if the façade and materiality continue to develop positively.

Place Review Panel (PRP)

The scheme was first presented to PRP on 21st May 2020. The Panel were generally supportive of the proposal but thought different options should be tested to see how the building could better relate to its context. Key comments were made as follows:

· Good starting point for the design, however the social aspirations of the project should be brought to the fore and the scheme should respond to the significance of its location within the Cultural Quarter.

· More community engagement with local stakeholders (including the College). The applicant was encouraged to explore opportunities to program events and activities with the College to make the scheme more richly integrated with its context. Important that the scheme seeks to break down some of the existing social barriers and creates a positive relationship with the College.

· Testing of different options for the massing and volume to explain rationale of how the applicant has arrived at the current design. A solution with a smaller footprint and taller mass would potentially work better to alleviate some concerns regarding townscape, microclimate and impact on adjoining occupier amenity, subject to testing.

· A more slender orthogonal footprint could be more appropriate.

· Microclimate testing should be undertaken as a priority.

· Concern about the close proximity of the massing to existing residential windows within 101 George Street and the impact on daylight/sunlight and outlook – the applicant should consider pulling the footprint further away from the boundary.

· Proposal needs to respond to the character of this part of Croydon more convincingly.

· Further consideration should be given to the material treatment and architectural expression – more material studies and contextual analysis should be undertaken to inform this and define a set of guiding design principles for the scheme.

· More variety in the elevations would be welcomed, e.g. treating the north and south elevations differently and adding architectural interest to the east.

· Site offers great opportunities to improve the landscape of College Square which should tie into the wider vision for the Fair Field Masterplan Area (and should connect the different spaces e.g. through common materials). Landscape architect should be appointed to develop this further.

· The notional public realm should extend into the building footprint and invite the public inside to dwell – the glazed ground floor café and semi-public coworking space on the corner could work well.

· The terrace should be more public-spirited. It will benefit from excellent views towards the Fair Field Cultural Quarter and this should be celebrated.

‘The scheme is continuing to develop since the PRP review’.

Changes Made

The changes made include:

· Different massing options tested and further justification for current approach

· Further contextual analysis carried out including nearby heritage assets

· Development of architectural approach and materiality

· Cycle store development

· Landscape architect appointed and public realm proposals for College Square starting to develop

· Initial qualitative assessment of microclimate impacts provided

· Initial daylight/sunlight impact assessment on nearby occupiers undertaken

Environmental impact and sustainability

‘A detailed sustainability strategy has not yet been confirmed, but the applicant has been made aware of the relevant policy requirements, including the forthcoming requirements in the Intend to Publish version of the London Plan for major non-domestic development to achieve zero carbon. Full discussions relating to air quality, overheating, surface water drainage, microclimate and lighting impacts are yet to be held.’

‘The applicant has been advised that a full flood risk assessment and drainage strategy would be required to support a planning application. Green field run-off discharge rates are the policy requirement.

Possible Planning Obligations

The officers suggest that planning obligations could be:

· Employment and training (contributions and obligations)

· Air Quality contribution

· Zero carbon offset (if required)

· Future connect to District Heating Network

· Car parking permit restrictions

· Car club provision and membership to occupiers · Travel Plan

· Transport for London contributions

· Delivery and servicing plan with financial bond

· Contribution to improvements to the public transport network/sustainable travel improvements/highway improvements/restrictions

 · TV signal mitigation

· Wind mitigation measures

· Public realm delivery and maintenance

· Highway works to facilitate access and servicing requirements including potential loading bay/loss of on-street parking spaces, upgrades to footway and College Square

  • Retention of scheme architects

· Affordable work space

Mayor of London

‘A planning application for the proposed development would be referable to the Mayor of London under the Mayor of London Order 2008.’ ‘The applicant has submitted a pre-application to the Greater London Authority (including consideration by Transport for London) for an opinion. A meeting was held on 6th October. Their main feedback focussed on the loss of the existing residential units, the height and massing of the development and the impact on residential amenity of the adjoining occupiers. The formal written response has yet to be issued.’

Freshwater in Croydon

In 2016 the Council list of private rented landlords and included 31A Elmfield Way and 11 Windsor Rd owned by Daejan Investments and Daejan Estates Ltds at Freshwater House at 158- Shaftesbury Ave, and managed by Freshwater Property Management based in Suffolk House. They were both on the Valuation Office list of regulated rents. The Daejans were part of the Daejan Holdings group in which the Freshwater family were the largest shareholder. In May 2020 they bought out the rest of the shareholders and made Daejan Holdings a private company.

The report to the Planning Committee is:

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History News at 1 November

Events

November. The Good Lord Bird. Film series based on novel about abolitionist John Brown. Sky Atlantic.

Monday 2 November. 2pm. Online Induction: Research Black London with Senate House Library Resources. (1)

Monday 2 November.7.15pm.  The Gentleman’s Magazine. A Panorama of Georgian Surrey

Zoom talk by Julian Pooley, Surrey History Centre manager, for Surrey History Meet-up group.

www.meetup.com/Surrey-History-Meetup/events/271513452

Tuesday 3 November. 5.15pm. The West India Interest and the parliamentary defence of slavery, 1823-33. (1)

Tuesday 3 November. 5.30pm. Libraries, Reading Communities and Cultural Formation in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic: A New Database Project. (1)

Tuesday 3 November. 5.30pm. Violent abolition: encounters and authority at the end of the Brazilian slave trade. (1)

Thursday 5 November. 5.30pm. Futures of socialism: ‘modernisation’ and the British left, 1973-1997. (1)

Saturday 7 November. 7pm. HERO: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life & Times of Mr. Ulric Cross   

Book here:  www.eventbrite.ca/e/wcff-2020-our-voyage-tickets-126476862701  

Tuesday 10 November. 5.30pm. ‘Everything deep down within would encourage me to shriek with despair’: The Anglican Church and the Colonial State during the Mau Mau Conflict. (1)

Tuesday 10 November. 6.30pm. Antisemitism and the Left in the Russian Revolution

Online talk by Dr Brendan McGeever.

Book your place

Thursday 12 November. 6pm. The Politics and Ethics of Black British History. (1)

Thursday 19 November – History Day

Online interactive events to explore library, museum, archive and history collections across the UK & beyond. Includes topics re-decolonisation, the involvement of BCA’s temporary archivist and Working Class Movement Library.

You will need to book in.

Wednesday 25 November. 11.30am-6pm. What’s Happening in Black British History? Transitional Workshop 2.

See details below.

Black History News

On 27 October the Equiano Society presented online Joanna Vassa – Daughter of Olaudah Equiano, and 28 October  Carmen Fracchia (Professor of Hispanic Art History, London University) spoke on Black but Human: Slavery and Visual Arts in Hapsburg Spain.

 Leroy Logan

 Former police officer Leroy Logan discusses his career and the beating his father received at the hands of the police. (The Guardian G2. 29 October)

 The Chineke-Hutchinson Work

https://theartsdesk.com/classical-music/jeneba-kanneh-mason-sode-chineke-orchestra-edusei-rfh-review-protest-passion-and-joy

Yorkshire & Harrogate Black History

See details at

www.facebook.com/HarrogateLibrary

Essex Black History

www.essexrecordofficeblog.co.uk/tag/black-history-month

www.essex.ac.uk/event-series/black-history-month

www.visitsouthend.co.uk/whats-on/2859/Forgotten-Black-

www.echo-news.co.uk/news/15993682.artist-elsa-james-responds-forgotten-black-essex

Essex Student Reflects on Studying History in COVID

https://historyatessex.wordpress.com

Stuart Hall Foundation PhD Studentships

(1)  PhD studentships for two British Black students in partership with the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership.

(2)  The Stuart Hall Scholarship at University of Sussex( Media and Film.

See SHF website and

www.sussex.ac.uk/study/fees-funding/masters-scholarships/view/1219-Stuart-Hall-Scholarship

Salute for Paul Robeson

www.peacefmonline.com/pages/comment/features/202010/431034.php

Tayo Aluko On Robeson

www.counterfire.org/articles/video/21762-paul-robeson-fighter-for-liberation-video

Counterfire seems to have emerged from the split in the Socialist Workers Party. Its website has several articles on aspects of Black History.

Slave Trade Teaching 1950s-1980s

A number of letter writers are saying that they and members of their families and friends remember being taught about the British slave trade but not about the link between the plantations and British cities. e.g. Hugh Bishop (BBC History Magazine. December.)

Caleb Femi on growing up in Peckham. (Guardian Review. 31 October)

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Tamsin Little – Violin Sonata in A minor 

https://theartsdesk.com/classical-music/tasmin-little-farewell-recital-rfh-review-memories-tributes-and-dreams

Power Couples: The Crafts and Coleridge-Taylors

www.stylist.co.uk/books/it-takes-two-cathy-newman-extract/436459

Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Nonet

www.thetimes.co.uk/article/members-of-the-scottish-chamber-orchestra-review-orchestra-must-rediscover-its-ambition-in-changed-times-0z8srgzj6 

Reading – The Atlantic World

www.academia.edu/21308778/Colonial_and_postcolonial_Gothic

www.academia.edu/30874508/Search_for_a_New_Land_Imperial_Power_and_Afro_Creole_Resistance_in_the_British_Leeward_Islands_1624_1745

www.academia.edu/39847309/2019_A_Caribbean_Affair_The_Liberalisation_of_the_Slave_Trade_in_the_Spanish_Caribbean_1784_1791

www.academia.edu/38922523/Rethinking_the_Unthinkable_The_Haitian_Revolution_and_the_Decline_of_First_Wave_Antislavery_in_the_United_States

www.academia.edu/7824501/The_Eighteenth_Century_Danish_Dutch_and_Swedish_Free_Ports_in_the_Northeastern_Caribbean_Continuity_and_Change

www.academia.edu/31083626/Our_Side_of_the_Water_Political_Culture_in_the_Swedish_colony_of_St_Barth%C3%A9lemy_1800_1825

www.academia.edu/34087337/Smugglers_before_the_Swedish_throne_Political_activity_of_free_people_of_color_in_early_nineteenth_century_St_Barth%C3%A9lemy

BBC History Magazine (December)

Gillian Burke on George Washington Carver (c1864-1943), the US agricultural scientist who had been born into slavery.

Corinne Fowler of the Colonial Countryside Project on the Colonial Secrets of Britain’s Stately Homes.

Ian Mortimer on the Regency Chasm Between Rich and Poor.

Michael Wood  on Lemn Sissay’s My Name Is Why in an article The Power of Personal History.

Migration stories

Martin Spafford. Migration stories, the British civil rights movement and the impact of the Cold War on identity: How migration and migrant stories can provide new insights into teaching Britain’s twentieth-century history

file:///C:/Users/Acer%20user/Downloads/Migration_stories__Martin_Spafford.pdf

www.counterfire.org/articles/history

New Publications

North East History

Articles inc. John Charlton on the 1931 Labour defeat and the North East, India F. H. Gerritson on ‘‘Memory Lingers Here’: Are Newcastle’s Monuments Sites of Collective Memory’; Don Watson on ILP theatre in Gateshead between the wars; miner’s welfare and the Ashington Minoughan family; Crowley’s Crew: From Royalists to Radicals – iron workers; Newcastle West End Foodbank; The Primrose League on Tyneside 1883-1901; and Schools and Labour History. There are appreciations of Peter Latham, Terry MacDermott and Jack Common. There are also book reviews, including one by me on letters by Poor Law applicants.

See: North East Labour History Society website.

Socialist History 58

Stephen Williams and Tony Chandler. ‘Tussy’s great delusion – Eleanor Marx’s death revisited’

Ian Beckwith. Edward Maxted: Socialist Vicar of Tilty 1908-1918. (Previously in Battersea and Clapham)

Christian Hogsjberg. A. L. Morton and the Poetics of People’s History.

Plus article on Cypriot Communist movement

Socialist History Society/Lawrence & Wishart

Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Labour History Society

The November newsletter is here:

It contains articles on: The History of Anti-apartheid Activism in Nottingham and Notts;  Fighting the Colour Bar on Nottinghamshire’s Buses;  Chartist Electoral Strategy in Nottingham;  ‘The Air of Freedom’ The Derbyshire Boot and Shoemakers Strike 1918- 1920

New Books

Carmen Fracchia. Black but Human: Slavery and Visual Arts in Hapsburg Spain, 1480-1700

Gretchen Gerzina (ed.) Britain’s Black Past. stories and analyses of an early musician, the sales of slaves in Scotland, the grave of a black enslaved boy left to die in Morecombe Bay, a country estate owned by a mixed-race slave owner and more. It also re-examines living history, in the form of modern plays, television programmes and genealogical sleuthing. (Liverpool University  Press)

Christina Hammonds Reed. The Black Kids. Novel set in Los Angeles after the shooting of Rodney King. Simon & Schuster.

Sujit Sivasundaram. Waves Across The South: A New History of Revolution and Empire. William Collins.(Reviewed BBC History Magazine December.)

Michael Taylor. The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery. Bodley Head.(Reviewed Guardian Review. 31 October)

Alex Wheatle. Cane Warriors. Novel on Tacky’s Rebellion 1760. Anderson.

Remainder Books

Stephen Alford. London’s Triumph. Merchants, Adventurers and Money in Shakespeare’s City. (ABS Ref HC46)

Guy Arnold. Africa. A Modern History: 1945-20125.(PSB Ref 512738)

Gregory Claeys. Marx and Marxism. (ABS. Ref S382)

Michael John & Graham Potts. The Architecture of Sunderland 1700-1914. (ABS Ref AB17)

Christopher Kelly & Stuart Laycock. All The Countries The Americans Have Ever Invaded. (PSB Ref 223513)

John McAleer. Picturing India. People, Places and the World of the East India Company. (ABS Ref AB29)

Jo Stanley. From Cabin ‘Boys’ To Captains. 250 Years of Women at Sea. (PSB Ref 509322)

Coll Thrush. Indigenous London. Native Travellers at the Herat of Empire.(ABS Ref HC73)

Benjamin Wardhaugh. Gunpowder and Geometry. The Life of Charles Hutton: Pit Boy, Mathematician and Scientific Rebel. (Pit boy on  Tyneside). (ABS Ref 959)

Donald A Yerxa. British Abolitionism and the Question of Moral Progress in History. (ABS Ref HC58)

ABS – www.academicbookcollection.com 

PSB – www.psbooks.co.uk

What’s Happening in Black British History?

Transitional Workshop 2 Wednesday 25 November.

  • Education and Public Engagement Panel: Yvonne Sinclair (How enslavement is taught in both England and Jamaica); Carina Ancell and Alan Kunna (using the Hutchison Family of  the Gold Coast and Britain  at Newham Sixth Form; Susanna Jorek on Processes of Decolonization in Museums in Germany and the UK; Tony Kalume on Celebrating African Caribbeans in Sussex Past And Present.
  • Gretchen Gerzina, editor of Britain’s Black Past – see above.
  • Digital Humanities and Databases. Charles R. Foy on his  Black Mariner Database; Katy Rosecoe on her database of prisoners incarcerated on Cockatoo island, Sydney; Daniel Domingues on  his Visualizing Abolition Project  mapping the suppression of the African slave trade.        
  • Art and Culture. Melissa Hill on  mural in the Shambles, Sevenoaks; Mark McCarthy Benjamin West’s ‘Allegory of Britannia’;Alice Proctor on Discomfort: Truth and Representation in British Galleries

Booking form and full agenda: 

https://commonwealth.sas.ac.uk/events/event/23313

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