Croydon Round-up – 14 February

Diary

Wednesday 25 February. 6–8pm. Quarterly Patient and Public Forum on Urgent Care and Primary Care

Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group. District and Masonic Hall, 73 Oakfield Road, Croydon, CR0 2UX.  To register attendance go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/february-quarterly-patient-and-public-forum-a-focus-on-urgent-care-and-primary-care-tickets-15271306890

Wednesday 25 February.7-9pm.  Croydon Communities Consortium meeting

St. Augustine’s, St Augustines Avenue, South Croydon, CR2 6BA. https://croydoncc.wordpress.com/category/meetings . Peter Staveley of UKIP stood aside as Vice-Chair on 19 December as a result of the discussion at the AGM. https://croydoncc.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/ccc-committee-update-peter-staveley-steps-aside-during-run-up-to-election

Saturday 28 February. 7 for 7.30pm. Burns night supper in aid of the Ruskin House Restoration Fund

Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Rd, CR0 1BD. Tickets available from Ruskin House bar or contact Betty on betty.calderbank@btinternet.com

4 & 18 March. 2pm. British Black history civil rights films at David Lean Cinema. See

https://seancreighton1947.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/campaigning-for-civil-rights-two-films-at-david-lean

Thursday 19 March. 11am and 7.30pm. Selma.

David Lean Cinema Campaign film showing. See details plus full programme to 31 March at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/davidleancroydon

What is Riesco sales money being spent on?

In recently submitted Freedom of Information request I asked: “Please state the sales receipt after any costs of the sale of items from the Riesco Collection and a breakdown of how that money is being allocated on Fairfield Halls, other cultural activities, or on other budget heads”.

The answer (13 February) states:

‘The council received £9.467m after costs for the sale of the items.

The full amount is proposed to be part of the funding for the 2015/16 capital programme.’

You can see that the specific expenditure headings are not given so it can be interpreted that the some of the money is not being spent on Fairfield Halls or culture. I have asked for clarification.

Whitgift CPO Inquiry

In her evidence to the Inquiry the Council’s Executive Director of Development and Environment Jo Negrini on Tuesday 10 February said that the redevelopment would be a catalyst in bringing about that regeneration.
http://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/Scheme-transform-perception-Croydon/story-26021565-detail/story.html#ixzz3RfL3lxax 

Reportage and debate on the progress with the first two weeks of the Inquiry can be seen at:

http://insidecroydon.com/2015/02/12/serious-whitgift-cpo-objections-could-end-up-in-law-courts

http://insidecroydon.com/2015/02/10/how-the-whitgift-cpo-is-proving-bad-for-croydons-business

Meanwhile the Court of Appeal has stopped the Whitgift Trust from appealing the High Court’s dismissal of its claim for a judicial review of the planning permission.

http://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/Whitgift-Trust-loses-fight-Whitgift-shopping/story-26022840-detail/story.html#ixzz3RfIGoBjj 

There is also concern that TfL’s Fiveways proposals are aimed to get traffic up to the south side of the Whitgift scheme area.

http://insidecroydon.com/2015/02/12/tfls-87m-scheme-for-purley-way-really-is-a-bridge-too-far

Hammerson is growing financially stronger and stronger

http://www.ig.com/uk/shares-news/2015/02/13/hammerson-set-for-strong-full-year-result-22852

Louise Ellison, the firm’s head of sustainability discusses the low carbon issues affecting the business at http://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/under_the_spotlight_louise_ellison_on_what_uk_plc_needs_from_solar  

Second abortive Academy project will play havoc with school places provision

A second proposed Academy school has been dropped by its backers. So the Council officers will have to go back to the drawing board on meeting school place numbers.

http://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/Academy-group-pulls-plug-plans-open-tech-school/story-26008876-detail/story.html

Croydon Council use of bailiffs

The Council has been criticised for heavy handedness by its bailiffs.

https://tradeonion.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/croydon-council-send-heavy-mob-to-attack-families-benefits-classwar-votebigger

Fieldway Family Centre faces closure over axed funding

http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/news/11788680.New_Addington_family_charity_facing_closure_over_axed_funding

Emailing Councillors

From time to time I email Councillors with comments and questions on matters under consideration at Committees. It is usual not to get a response. So recently I followed up the collective non response in relation to comments I submitted on the Public Health report 2015, voter registration, the auditors and Public Protection Placement Orders. I included the following: ‘If you want members of the public to engage with the scrutiny and decision making process it is essential that someone on the relevant committee is given the responsibility to respond’. I have had a reply from the Chair of the General Purposes Committee on the last three items. It refers to the full report I have had from Nathan Elvery on voter registration (see below) even though that was not a comment on my views to Committee but to a specific email to him. It also tells me that I will be receiving replies from officers on the auditors and the PPPOs. It ends: ‘The interest which you have demonstrated is very much appreciated and I welcome any future contributions which you may have.’ So if you are feeling frustrated at not getting responses from Councillors chase them up.

The Opportunity & Fairness Commission

A critical analysis of the approach of the Commission is discussed by Robert Ward at

http://thecroydoncitizen.com/politics-society/making-croydon-fairness-commission-project-managers-take

The Commission is being supported by The Campaign Company, a Croydon based consultancy led by David Evans, a former Assistant General Secretary of the Labour Party in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with responsibility for running the 2001 General Election campaign nationally.

The effectiveness of the Commission will partly depend on how well TCC can underpin the consultations with its value drive approach. It particularly stresses the importance of social networks as ‘the powerhouse that pushes societies on’, and of relationships in exercising influence.

Interestingly its website does not yet state that it is servicing the Commission. However one of the photos it uses is from its involvement in ‘Imagine Croydon’ project 2008-10, even though this was led by the regeneration consultancy Renaisi.  You can find out more about the company at http://www.thecampaigncompany.co.uk. You can see videos from the Imagine Croydon project at https://www.youtube.com/user/ImagineCroydon. The outcome was the Local Strategic Partnership document ‘We are Croydon. This is our Vision’. http://www.croydononline.org/get_involved/local_strategic_partnership/croydons_new_vision.pdf  

Croydon Freedom of Information webpages not up-to-date

Croydon CEO Nathan Elvery has thanked me for drawing his attention to the fact that the Freedom of Information area on the Council’s website was not up to date as at 9 February: https://croydondata.wordpress.com. The latest information was dated 13 October 2014. Yet there have been many responses to FOI requests sent by email alert from the WhatDoTheyKnow site: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com. I asked Elvery to instruct the FOI staff to make sure that the Council website is up-to-date. The page had not been up-dated by 11am on 14 February.

Tracey Hague stands for Greens in Selhurst by-election

If Labour loses the Selhurst by-election it will only mean one less seat in its majority over the Tories. Some voters may therefore see voting Green as an opportunity  to express the growing disenchantment with the Labour administration’s top-down, pro-developer, arrogant, and non-listening style of leadership.

DVLA rules limit Council action against fly tippers

The Council has recently been successful in court against a fly-tipper as a result of the act being photographed and put on social media. http://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/Fly-tipper-fined-neighbour-exposed-crime-Facebook/story-26008255-detail/story.html.

However, not all fly-tipping incidents result in the ability to convict. On 12 September last year two fridges were dumped in broad daylight in Norbury’s stretch of London Rd outside a shop by two men who were recorded on CCTV and witnessed by more than one person working in the shops. Challenged they then moved them outside another one. The men were followed by a passer by and challenged while one of the shop workers took their vehicle registration.

A Council Environmental Enforcement Officer took witness statements and saw the CCTV footage. However the Council has not been able to process the incident to court.

‘Unfortunately our enquiries did not lead us to person responsible for this incident. We were very restricted in regards to the vehicle registration given as we were not permitted to carry out a DVLA check as there was no evidence to suggest the actual vehicle was used to fly-tip the fridges. In addition to this one of our main witnesses to the incident decided that they did not wish to give evidence and their statement had to be withdrawn.’

The battle with fly-tippers continues – see http://news.croydon.gov.uk/fly-tippers-dump-two-tonnes-of-waste-in-croydon

Croydon Disconnected

This facebook group posts photos of Croydon’s past and present. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1422186184715139

Reed demands better deal for Croydon’s renters

Croydon North MP Steve Reed has demanded a better deal for people who rent private flats.  Speaking in the House of Commons he asked the Tory Housing Minister why the Government won’t act against rip-off lettings agents.

Mr Reed referred to research conducted by the Labour Party in Croydon North that showed renters are being clobbered with multiple fees that in some cases total more than £1,000.  Croydon North has one of the highest levels of people renting from private landlords in London.

Labour’s Steve Reed told Parliament: “a survey conducted in Croydon North showed some letting agents charging registration fees as high as £500, hundreds more in finder’s fees and hundreds more for simply handling the deposit.”  He then asked: “Why are the Government not standing up for hard-pressed renters against rip-off letting agents?”

Croydon Councils’ consultation on introducing  register of landlords ends on 2 March: https://www.croydon.gov.uk/housing/privatehousing/selective-licensing

For backround go to https://seancreighton1947.wordpress.com and search ‘landlords’.

Croydon Voter Registration up-date

Following an email I sent to him asking about the effects of National Voter Registration Day on 5 February and what further plans he had to increase voter registration,  Croydon’s Electoral Returning Officer (and CEO) Nathan Elvery has sent me the following information.

‘On National Voter Registration Day the registration levels at local level remained constant as the campaign was aimed at national on-line registration and the completion of paper applications, the final results of which have not yet  filtered  back to us at local level. What I can tell you is that at national level some 166,140 online applications were received on the government registration portal on National Voter Registration Day which is indeed encouraging.

In my role as Electoral Returning officer I have a statutory duty in ensuring the electoral registers are as complete and accurate as possible and that levels of completeness and accuracy do not decline under Individual Electoral Registration (IER). With the move to IER it is not possible to accurately provide a figure on non-registration.  However, research has shown that a number of groups are less likely to register to vote than others, for example, students and young people, some BAME groups and recent home-movers. It is to these groups that will be concentrating much of our efforts in the run up to the deadline for receiving applications for registration for the general election which is Monday 20 April 2015.

There will be time for those not currently registered to register and  non-registered electors will be contacted and provided with all the necessary information for them to register by the Monday 20 April deadline.

We have been and continue to identify non-registered electors as follows:

  • We have worked in conjunction with DFPTV to produce an electoral registration commercial that ran at the Community Roadshow event held in the Whitgift Shopping Centre 12-18 January 2015.
  • With regard to the election registration deadline of the 20 April we are taking steps to encourage as many potential electors as possible to register well before the deadline. One of the initiatives will be to send a household confirmation letter to all properties confirming current elector details and what action to take if anyone at the property is not currently registered.
  • Plans are in place to give extensive coverage to IER via the council’s communication channels to encourage potential electors to register on-line.
  • As a further reminder to potential electors all poll cards for the election will be sent to be received by registered electors by no later than Friday 10 April. This will alert anyone not receiving a poll card to register well before the 20 April deadline.   In addition, void properties, with no current electors will also have a poll card delivered, informing anyone resident at the property to take the necessary steps to register in time to vote at the election.
  • The JC Decaux boards will be used during the run up to the election reminding people to register to vote and how to register to vote on a borough wide basis.
  • The Council is intending to host the Operation Black Vote Registration bus for a day. Operation Black Vote will be working with Bite the Ballot, the Youth Vote project; Operation Disability Vote and the British Chinese Project, which aims to increase the number of voters of Chinese origin.’
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About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly, and am a member of the latter's Environment Forum. I am a member of the 5 Norbury Residents Associations Joint Planning Committee, and a Governor of Norbury Manor Primary School. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and advise the North East People's History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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