Black ‘Georgians’ at 18thC Studies Conference 4-6 January

The experience of Black ‘Georgians’ will be a major theme at January’s Annual Conference of the British Society for 18thC Studies (BSECS). There will also be a special plenary session ‘18th in the 21st century: Slavery).

 Black ‘Georgians’ panels (2)

Kathy Chater – Black Vagrants and the Poor Laws in the long eighteenth century

Sean Creighton – What do we know about Black ‘Georgians’ around Britain?

David Killingray – Black Christians in the Atlantic world 1760s-1830s

Fabian Tompsett – The Fernandez Family: From the Rio Pongo to schools in England

Arthur Torrington – Joseph Emidy, former slave and South West musician

The idea of the Black ‘Georgians’ Panel, and the sessions by Judith Bryan and Ross Martin (below) were developed following the discussion roundtable on Black Georgians at the January 2017 Conference – see

Black Speakers, Truths, Lies, and Fabulation panel

Judith Bryan –  “God of Thunder”: a demonstration of the uses of fact and fabulation in an historical novel

Mary-Antoinette Smith – White Lies/Black Truths: Othello, Oroonoko, and Equiano’s Unvarnished Tales in the Face of White Fabrications

Art Installation panel

 Fanny Coker and John Pinney: slavery on Nevis and in Bristol 

Ros Martin, artist/writer, filmmaker & producer, talk about about a  collaborative artist installation, a memorial tribute at Coker’s grave, and public reaction.

Other Panels

Brycchan Carey – Sterne, Sancho, and Shirna Cambo: The sentimental novel and the abolition of the slave trade. (In  The Sentimental Novel panel)

John P. Barrington – Religion, Race, and Revolution: Creating a Bi-Racial Church at Welsh Neck, South Carolina (Community and Identity: Church, Town, and Nation State panel)

Lissa Paul – The Truth? About Bussa’s 1816 Rebellion in Barbados (Siege, Mutiny, Rebellion, Invasion: The Sharp End of Military and Naval Engagement panel)

Ciara Conway – John O’Keeffe and the South Seas: Omai; or, a Trip round the World (1783) (Musical performance: Process and (Mal)practice panel)

‘Truths and Lies’

 BSECS 47th Annual Conference 2018:

 Oxford University

and to register click on registration image








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History events & news at 2 Dceember

Because I need to change the balance of my priorities in the coming year and release time to concentrate on growing commitments in Norbury and to work on history projects, this will be the last blog compilation on history events, news and issues. Future history postings will be in the form of JPEG images of events loaded onto this site, or devoted to single issues. Others will be forwarded to those who are linked to me on Facebook. So if you are not already a friend please consider adding yourself.

Tuesday 5 December. 7- 9pm. North East Labour Society Christmas Social

Guest folk band ‘Kiddars Luck’ and quiz

Bridge Hotel, Newcastle (next to the Castle)

Thursday 7 December – Saturday 24 February. Out of the shadows: World War I’s hidden voices,

Southern Voices. Opening times 9am-8pm Mon-Thurs and 9am-5pm Fri-Sat.

Manchester Central Library (First Floor), St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD

Thursday 7 December. 5.30pm. The intellectual culture of Conservatism after 1945

Talk at Modern British History Seminar at IHR, Senate House.

Saturday 9 December. 6-8.30pm. We Will Remember Them: Raising public awareness of Commonwealth Troops in WWI

Event at Black Cultural Archives, Windrush Square, Brixton

Further details and booking at

Wednesday 13 December 7.30pm ‘Oh Susannah!’ Pablo and Susannah Fanque

A short play about Pablo Fanque, the black Victorian circus proprietor and his wife Susannah who set up Circus Royal in Wood Street, Wakefield in 1841. Written by Joe Williams (Heritage Corner) and Deborah Sanderson (Urban Angels)

Wakefield Historical Society at the Elizabethan Gallery, Brook St, Wakefield. £5 to non-members on the door but email to book seats.

Tuesday 16 January. 6-8pm. Labour & Momentum: The left in Government?

History Acts event giving an opportunity for historians with an interest in left wing governments to engage with Momentum and Labour activists.

London University Senate House, Room G11-12, Malet Street, WC1E 7HU

For information contact Steffan Blayney or Guy Beckett

Saturday 17 February. 2-5pm. Labour Heritage West London History Day – Focus on oral history

Hammersmith Quaker Meeting House, Nigel Playfair Ave (off King St), London, W6 9JY

Saturday 16 June. 2-5pm. Labour Heritage AGM

St Pancras Church Hall, Lancing St, Euston, London, NW1 1NA

Things Can Only Get Worse?

John O’Farrell has just published the sequel to his 1998 best-selling comic memoir Things Can Only Get Better, called appropriately enough Things Can Only Get Worse? The book picks up where the original left off, recalling John’s political activism in Clapham, Battersea and beyond from the Labour landslide of 1997 right up to Brexit, Trump and the snap election of 2017. Along the way he stood for Parliament against Theresa May, used his comedy writing skills for the speeches of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair and was dubbed the sickest man in politics by the Daily Mail! He recounts his part in the local parents’ campaign for a new secondary school for Clapham which became Lambeth Academy.

Academic Jobs

  • Full-time Lectureship in Modern Gender and/or Race History at UCL. UCL History is advertising a post, tenable from 1 September 2018, for an historian working on the history of gender and/or race in the modern world.
  • Professor of Modern and Contemporary European History
  • Lectureship in the History of Iberia and the Iberian World, c.1450-c.1800

Go to:  There is a link on the page to the full details of the posts.

Negro Soldiers in  the American Civil War

New light shed at:

The Middle Passage
Article on Line

Teaching Guide on Jim Henson (Uncle Tom)

Henson is part of British Black History because he escaped to British Canada, visited Britain and Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin inspired by him had a big influence in Britain.

Women’s Political & Social Union Facebook


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Croydon events & news at 29 November

The future of these Croydon postings

Because I need to change the balance of my priorities in the coming year and release time to concentrate on growing commitments in Norbury and to work on history projects, this will be the last blog compilation on Croydon events, news and issues. Future Croydon postings will be in the form of JPEG images of events loaded onto this site, or devoted to single issues. Others will be forwarded to those who are linked to me on Facebook. So if you are not already a friend please consider adding yourself.

Tuesday 5 December. Croydon Hear Us AGM and Open Forum


Thursday 7 December. 10am-noon. Launch of Croydon Community Health Alliance

With sweeping changes to health and social care underway across the UK, the voluntary sector’s role in delivering preventative, people-led services is considered integral to the transformation agenda. The Croydon Community Health Alliance (CCHA) is being set up to ensure that all of the health and social care organisations in Croydon’s voluntary sector have the opportunity to be involved in programmes tackling inequalities and improving health and wellbeing outcomes across the borough. The  meeting will look at the  Outcomes Based Commissioning vision for One Croydon and the new Health & Wellbeing Strategy in development. You can find a draft terms of reference here. Membership will be discussed along with actions in 2018.

Please book your place on:

Events at Ruskin  House

23 Coombe Rd

Friday 1. 8pm. Poets Anonymous

£2 at 8pm.  All poets welcome.  See

Saturday 2. 7-11pm.  RNLI fund-raising gig 7pm – 11pm, £8/£5 (members). 

Country, Blue Grass etc.

Sunday 3 December . 8pm. Folk and Blues evening

Not quite St Andrew’s – Singers’ Night hopefully with Scottish music. £2

Saturday 9. 12noon-11.35pm. Xmas 4 Grenfell.

A day of culture, politics, food, creativity, discussion, education and lots of music in the evening to give solidarity to the people affected by the Grenfell tragedy.  Plus Santa’s grotto and kids’ games!  More info next week.

Sunday 10.  8pm. Folk and Blues Evening  Singers’ Night


Friday 15. 8pm.  XMAS Party & Disco.

Raffle & buffet.  Free

Saturday  16. 8pm.  Cinema Ruskin

’20 million Sweethearts’ (Dick Powell) 1934 and some rare wartime Warner cartoons.  £2 .

Sunday  17. 8pm.  Folk and Blues Evening

Commie Faggots and Singers’ Night. £2

Friday 22. 6pm. Pop-up Aladdin Panto

£10 / kids £5.  See

Thursday 28. 8.30pm. Jazz with Soft Winds

Standards, Latin, ballads and be-bop on sax, flute, clarinet, guitar and bass.  Free.

We’ve a long way to go before Westfield arrives

This is part one of two pieces Croydon Citizen is publishing by me on the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre.

Beware American property development invasion

This is a review by me of housing worker and activist  Glyn Robbins book warning about the American influence of UK housing policy and the invasion of American private renting property developers, and its manifestation in Croydon.

I have two copies of the book for sale. To purchase please email me at

GLL wins Leisure contract

The social enterprise GLL has just been awarded a 20 year contract to run Croydon’s leisure centres strating on 1 April, saving the Council Over £1m by 2021. It will involve:

  • a full refit of the gym facilities at South Norwood, Thornton Heath, Purley and Waddon
  • the introduction of new state-of-the-art gym and group exercise equipment
  • the development of outdoor tennis hubs and outdoor activity programmes.
  • help develop the planned New Addington centre
  • run approx. 30 football pitches and tennis courts in

It is signed up to pay the London Living Wage to its lowest paid staff, and to take part in Croydon Works to secure employment opportunities for local people.

GLL started off being developed from the leisure staff at Greenwich Council. It won the Wandsworth Library contract at the same time J. Laing won Croydon’s. It has played a controversial role in the planned run down of libraries in Lambeth by development healthy living and gum facilities with a residual library element.

It will take on the Old Ashburton Library community centre, which until then will be used by South Norwood based Deshi Arts. This looks like a martial arts organisation – there is only a skeleton website for it.

Could Sadiq Khan object to low level of affordable housing in Westfield scheme?

The answer is unlikely to be less given he has given the go ahead  for the monstrous 68 storey tower at 1 Lansdowne Rd.

That view is reinforced by the draft London Plan published today in which he continues the madness of allowing London to grow.

South Norwood to get new library

Plans for 2018 Literary Festival

Council compensation payments total in three years to 31 March 2017

A total of £5.9m was paid out by the Council between 1 April 104 and 31 March 2017 on accidents and damage.

Town Centre Public Space Protection Order starts  on 18 December

The Council has adopted  a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to control drinking on the street, Those consuming alcohol or in possession of a container of alcohol in the restricted spaces can be fined £80 on the spot. Those over the age of 18 can be prosecuted and if found guilty, fined up to £1,000. The area will cover North End, High Street and Wellesley Road near the Whitgift and Centrale Shopping Centres, Park Lane near the City Council office, as well as the area near East Croydon train station. This will not stop excessive drinking in pubs and clubs, with anti-social behaviour spilling out onto the streets. And it is likely to mean that the habitable street drinkers who cannot afford to  use pubs and bars will simply move elsewhere.

Schools are running down activities due to lack of funding

Council and Crystal Palace start talks on future of football stadium

Tayo Aluko receives standing ovation for Call Mr Robeson

Tayo Aluko received a standing ovation for his show Call mr Robeson organised by Croydon North Labour Party on Friday 24 November at Stanley Halls. Everyone who attended was given a copy of my pamphlet Politics & Culture. Paul Robeson in the UK.

Tayo is now taking a well earned break before a number of performances in Canada and the USA in February, and then around Britain from March to May along with his other show Just an Ordinary Lawyer.

Croydon History

  • Goering & Ribbentrop visit in 1937

  • Croydon’s Blue Plaques

  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

A programme on Croydon’s composer was shown on Sky Arts on Tuesday 28 November.

Not being a Sky subscriber (on principle), I did not see the programme. The press report suggests that it said he died penniless. It was normal to run benefit concerts for widows and children. His widow actually paid death duties. To keep up to date with news, information, etc about the composer see the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Network.

I gave a lunch time talk to Croydon Rotary about the composer yesterday.

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Hear Us Mental Health Talk and AGM – 5 December


Tuesday 5 December -1pm.

Croydon Voluntary Action, 82 London Road, West Croydon, CR0 2TB

To book go to:

Hear Us is Croydon’s Mental Health Service User Group which acts as a coordinating body to facilitate, and ensure service users involvement in, the planning, delivery and monitoring of mental health services in Croydon. Helping to improve the quality of the services commissioned and delivered in Croydon objectives

  1. To relieve the needs of people living in the London Borough of Croydon and surrounding areas who have mental health problems by provision of services and advice
  2. To advance education about mental health for the public benefit in the London borough of Croydon and surrounding areas with the object of creating awareness and reducing the stigma attached to mental health
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History events & news at 21 November

Thursday 23 November 23. 7pm. Dr Edward Wilson: Talk & Exhibition

Talk by Edward Wilson’s great-nephew, Dr David Wilson, launches an exhibition about the explorer’s life and travels.

Monckton Lecture Theatre, Grosvenor Wing, St George’s Hospital Medical School, Tooting

Dr Wilson, who trained at St. George’s Hospital, was the Assistant Surgeon and Zoologist on the Discovery Expedition (1901–04) – a large scale British exploration of the Antarctic regions. He was also Chief Scientist on the Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition (1910-12) where he perished alongside Captain Scott on the return journey from the South Pole in 1912.

Anne Strathie, who’s written two books about the Terra Nova expedition, will also give a talk.

Tickets cost £10 pp and via

Friday 24 to Sunday 26 November. 1pm-5pm. Dr Edward Wilson Exhibition

Grosvenor Wing, St George’s Hospital Medical School, Tooting

Monday 27 November. 7.30pm. ‘Past Present Future: what do we want from our High Street?’

Putney Society Meeting at the Community Church, Werter Road, London SW15 2LL

Putney High Street is the back bone of the community but is both a historic traffic route and the main retail hub.  Plans have come and gone, so the Putney Society Buildings Panel will examine the historical development of the High Street, the current challenges it faces and what plans are proposed by individual developers and agencies. The evening will finish with an open discussion: What do we want from our High Street?

All welcome, non-members as well as Putney Society members [Non-members £3 donation].

7 December – 24th February. World War I’s Hidden Voices Exhibitions

(1) From the Shadows of War and Empire; (2) The Poppy Retake

Manchester Central Library, St Peter’s Square, Manchester, M2 5PD

Opening times 9am-8pm Mon-Thurs and 9am-5pm Fri-Sat (Sunday closed)

10 February. World War I’s Hidden Voices Mini-Conference

Talks, workshops, films and discussion – full details to be announced

Seminar Talks at Institute of Historical Research

Senate House, MaletSt/Russell Square, London, WC1E 7HU

Monday. 27 November. 5.30pm. From Revolution to Labourism?: Orwell and the Left

John Newsinger at Socialist History Seminar

Wednesday 6 December. 5.15pm. The Campaign to Control Warfare: 1853-1914

James Crosland (Liverpool John Moores University) at War, Society And Culture Seminar

Monday 11 December. 5.15pm. The settlement of Islamic migrants in the Spanish Empire during the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Cecilia Tarruell (University of Oxford) at European History 1500-1800 Seminar

Monday 11 December. 5.30. A History of London’s Housing Crisis

Talk by Dave Hill at Socialist History Seminar

Tuesday 12 December. 5.30pm. Mission en route: African American Christian activity in Britain, 1750-1950

David Killingray (School of Advanced Study, University of London) at Christian Missions in Global History Seminar

Thursday 14 December. 5.30pm. Britain and Slavery: the legacies of LBS

Nick Draper (UCL) at Reconfiguring the British Nation, Empire, World 1600-2000 Seminar

The Chartist Demonstration 1848

The final mass Chartist demonstration in 1848 will be celebrated next year by Friends of Kennington Park. Former Kennington, now Croydon, resident Stefan Szczelkun  undertook a lot of work on the history of the Park especially the demonstration. His pamphlet can be purchased at

Stefan’s relevant videos mainly c2006 can be seen at:

MayDay Rooms Archive

MayDay Rooms is an active repository, resource and safe haven for social movements, experimental and marginal cultures and their histories. It is a collectively-run space at 88 Fleet St. It is based on different sources of funding. At the moment it has a considerable deficit. It offers free meeting space to unfunded groups that are involved in radical politically organising and/or promote radical self-education; but request donations.

The Cinema Museum faces closure

The site was formerly Lambeth workhouse, and Charlie Chaplain lived there for some time as a child with his impoverished mother and brother. The museum has previously tried to come to an arrangement to buy the building.

More than 16,000 people have signed a petition asking the NHS Trust to reconsider its sale. You can find out more about the situation in the Evening Standard. Follow this link to help the museum and sign their petition.

The West India Regiments 1795-1820

Tim Lockley, Professor of History and Director of the Humanities Research Centre at the University of Warwick, is currently engaged in a research project on the West India Regiments: black soldiers recruited to fight in the British Army in the Caribbean. He is looking in particular about medicine and race, and how military surgeons helped to fashion a discourse about black bodies.

A Tudor Exit From Europe – The relevance to BREXIT

‘Ultimately, if anything saved England’s commercial economy from decline in the long run, it was colonial products – tobacco, sugar and cotton – produced by African slaves in lands expropriated from the indigenous inhabitants of the new world. For this reason alone, the path which English commerce followed in the early modern period cannot provide a blueprint for the British economy in the post-Brexit years. If 1564 supplies some parallels to 2017, then the subsequent two centuries of commercial history are a poor guide for our own future.’

Songs of Struggle

Discussion inc. of Paul Robeson’s Joe Hill and the Weavers.

Cy Grant Plaque unveiling

Avril Nanton of Avril’s Walks and Talks has posted up a video of the unveiling on You Tube. It includes a minute or so by me.

Books, Journals and Articles

Reduced price books from

Joanna de Groot. Empire and History Writing in Britain c.1750-2012. (Manchester UP. Was £70; now £14.99)

The Letters of Richard Cobden. Vol 3: 1854-1859. Covers Crimean, Persian and Chinese Wars and his visit to the United States. (Oxford UP. Was £127.50; now £19.99)

Sue Wilkes. The Children History Forgot. Young workers of the Industrial Age. (Robert Hale. Was £20; now £9.99)e Letter sof Richard Cobden. Vol 3: 1854-1859. Covers Crimean, Persian and ChinseeWas £70; now £14.99)

  • Black Christians in Spanish Atlantic

Chloe Ireton. “They Are Blacks of the Caste of Black Christians”: Old Christian Black Blood in the Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century Iberian Atlantic 

Hundreds of Castilian free black men and women obtained royal travel licenses to cross the Atlantic in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries as black Old Christians. They settled across the Spanish Indies and developed trades as artisans, traders, sailors, healers, and small business owners, often becoming prominent and wealthy vecinos (residents).

  • The first generations of Africans in the Americas

Article by Doulgas Pice.

  • The War of 1812

Anastasia Garceau. The War of 1812: How is it Remembered?

  • US Civil War and Emancipation

Ed Ayers. The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America (WW Norton, October 2017).

  • The Battle of Hastings

Zareer Masani writes on the trial of Warren Hatsingas. (History Today. November)

  • Black slave hunters

John Broich discusses the sailors who fought against slavery. (History Today. December)

  • Cricket, Curry and cups of tea

Discussion by Shompa Lahiri on how Queen Victoria helped popularise Indian’s cultural influence in Britain. (BBC History. October)

  • The Walker Brothers and Their Legacy

The story of three black soldiers in World War One by Maria Downer and David Gleave. (Amazon. ISBN 9781974250325)

  • Britain at Work November/December newsletter

It’s almost 10 years since the Britain at Work project first began to record worker’s stories. The latest issue contains articles on. industrial action in the colonies in early 1900’s, 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, two interview extracts from the Britain at Work project, and Looking for Palestine by Najla Said (book review by Jan Pollock). The newsletter can be downloaded here:

Britain at Work London newsletter 29

  • Pakistan: A Failed State?

Tahir Kamran discusses how Jinnah’s vision for Pakistan has been usurped by the religious right. (History Today. September)

  • Michael X and the British War on Black Power

Article by Robin Bunce and Paul Field. (BBC History. October)

  • North East History Jubilee

North East Labour History Society has published a Jubilee edition (Vol 48) of its Journal. Articles include: its own history (including the North East Popular Politics Project*), picketing and photography in the Miners’ Strike, conscientious objectors, trade unionism and Methodism, the Yemeni seamen of South Sheilds, Joe Wilson, Harry Clasper, Thomas Wilson, Community Development Projects and Davey Hopper (Durham Miners leader). (*includes a short piece by me.)


Russian Revolution

  • Paul Mason reflects

Among the growing amount of material on the 100th Anniversary of the Russian revolution Paul Mason wrote a piece in the Guardian discussing how many working-class people would have been able to understand the parallels with the French Revolution as the events unfolded. He argues that a  century later, our ignorance may be our downfall.

In an essay critical of Mason David Vessey discusses the ‘fellow travellers’ of the 20s and 30s, like George Bernard Shaw and the Webbs. I think he has misunderstood what Mason has written.

  • Socialist History 52

is a special Revolution Anniversary issue with articles by Hakim Adi on the Revolution, Africa and the Diaspora;  Ronald Grigor Suny on An Empire to End Imperialism, and David Featherstone on Anti-Colonialism and the Contested Spaces of Community Internationalism.

  • Reactions and Impact

Socialist Society Occasional Publication 41 contains articles by Willie Thompson, Francis King, and others including on Lenin, Germany, Italy, Clare Zetkin, women poets, and Sigmund Freud.





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Croydon events & news at 20 November

Poetry anthology

Last few days to book for Call Mr Robeson show Friday 24 November.

You can book at

Papers for the Council meetings listed below can be accessed at

Sundays. 8pm. Ruskin Folk & Blues evenings

Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Rd. £2

Monday 20 November. 6.30pm. Cabinet meeting

Tuesday 21 November. 6.30pm. Scrutiny Health & Social Care Sub-Committee

Wednesday 22 November.  5pm. Rut Blees Luxemburg – Filet

Talk about the artist’s large-scale photographic works concerning the alteration of the city.

For further details see:

Thursday 23 November. 6.30pm. Licensing Sub-committee

Tuesday 28 November. 6pm. Cycle Forum

Tuesday 28 November. 6.30pm. Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-committee

Papers yet to be added to Council website

Thursday 30 November. 10am-1pm. London Youth ‘Tackling Youth Violence Forum’ meeting

Includes presentation from the Croydon Youth Offending team.

CVRA, 82 London Road, CR0 2TB

Wednesday 30 November. 5pm. Dustin Ericksen –  Naming Rights

Talk by artist on his Euston production and exhibition space which highlights economic and aesthetic contradictions.

‘Not-for-profit spaces as well as small commercial galleries have been affected by the ideological destruction of the welfare state and publicly supported cultural production.’

Part of Kingston School of Art programme

For further details as at 22 November talk.

Thursday 30 November. 5.30pm.Planning Committee

Papers yet to be added to Council website.

Saturday 2 December. Croydon Assembly – cancelled

The Assembly gathering scheduled for this date has been cancelled in favour of a joint public meeting with the National Union of Education on Saturday 24 February. That meeting will discuss the future of Education within the Borough, together with the coming national battle over wage demands for teachers and other public sector workers. NUE has been formed by the merger of the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. Meanwhile the Assembly planning group is working on producing a manifesto of what it wants Croydon political parties to commit themselves to in their manifestos for the local elections in May. If you want to take part in the process please contact me:

Wednesday 7 December. 5pm. Nils Norman – Dismal Garden

Talk by artist Nils Norman. Part of Kingston School of Art programme. For further details as at 22 November talk.

Wednesday 13 December. 10am-2pm. Meet Croydon gangs team: new tool for practitioners

An event to share crime prevention resources with voluntary groups working with young people. Croydon Gangs Team (part of the Croydon Youth Offending Service) has produced three workshop resources for voluntary and community groups to use looking at county line drug dealing, knife crime, and gangs. Book now at

CVA Resource Centre, 82 London Rd, CR0 2TB

The Whitgift Centre Revised Planning Approval and Debate

20% affordable housing challenges Mayor’s rules:

Tories claim they got Whitgift back on track:

Croydon seeks “urgent” extra funding to prevent families on Universal Credit being made homeless.

Croydon’s unemployed: 8,890 people (including those on Universal Credit)

Norbury Primary judged Good by Ofsted and Outstanding in Early Years

See details at

Five Years of Croydon Citizen

Two pre-fab towers proposed

Developers have applied for permission to build 38 and  44-storey blocks of 546 flats on the former Essex House site.






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Croydon grants new outline approval for Whitgift redevelopment

Although several Councillors expressed reservations about detailed aspects of the revised outline planning application for the Whitgift Centre submitted by the Westfield/Hammerson Croydon Partnership, the Planning Committee unanimously approved it on Tuesday 14 November.

Not enough detail

There was general concern that it was outline with much detail not spelt out. e.g. whether there will be 4 or 5 residential tower blocks, several proposals indicated minimum and maximum parameters. With so much detail yet to be submitted and assessed, the Committee set an important precedent. Instead of the usual practice of leaving the detailed approvals to the Planning Officers, the Committee will consider them.


Among the concerns expressed were the fact that there were no proposals for imaginative play facilities for children, about the idea of a hotel, the low level of ‘affordable’ housing (20% with a mechanism that might see that increase), the need for all employees in the centre to be paid London Living Wage, carbon emissions and air pollution given the number of car parking spaces to be provided, concern about the entry and exits for the retail car parking, reservations expressed by TfL about the strain on the public transport system, more thought needed to protect the views of St Michael’s Church as a heritage asset, the need to develop park and ride, the low level of proposed 3+ bed family homes, and cycling and cycle parking within the scheme.

Statement read to Committee

As one of three members of the public who had exercised their rights to speak to the Committee, I read out a joint statement with Andrew Kennedy and reported the main concern of Mark Samuel about TV etc reception mitigation as he could not attend the meeting. The text is set out below.

One of the points I raised was about the dangers of increased crime in the Town Centre during the construction phase. Steve Yewman of Westfield came up to me afterwards to say that was an important point which they were working on with the police and others.

Section 106 Agreement

As one Councillor said in the discussion ‘The devil is in the detail’. This is particularly true with the Section 106 agreement. It is vital that the Planning Committee sees the draft before it is finalised to satisfy themselves that everything that should be is covered and clearly worded with no ambiguities.


The meeting was webcast which can be seen at

Media Coverage

There was immediate media coverage e.g.

Text of statement

I am speaking on behalf of Andrew Kennedy and Mark Samuel and have taken into account the views of other objectors and other people.

The key issues are whether the details are sound, whether they address a series of major issues properly, and whether the result will be a complex of buildings and useages which will see a considerable improvement to the built environment and the attractiveness of the Town Centre. Two of the major issues  relate to the economic viability of providing reasonably priced homes for those in need, and the nature of the jobs that will be created.

The developer is seeking revised outline permission because it has got over enthusiastic about  buying up extra land. It is offering very little in the way of benefits to the  Town Centre. The location of the  residential units moves footfall, and therefore the focal point of the Town, away from North End onto what is really an urban motorway not a European boulevard.  North End should be our boulevard.

The developer hopes that approval will give it considerable flexible negotiating power with officers over the details with at present no agreed democratic public accountability and scrutiny.

A  much more imaginative approach would include:

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

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

(3)    providing a major public performance, art and meeting place and fountain e.g. at the junction of Galleria with a North-South route.

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

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

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

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

On behalf of Mark Samuel, an expert in analogue and digital reception who raised the issue on the 2014 scheme in relation to TV mitigation, will the Section 106/CIL agreement provide for the developer to pay the costs of mitigation measures which Mark would argue may have wider impact than the COA, including on the police whose analogue system is closing down.

The demolition and construction process will take the heart out of the Town Centre, with a major psychological impact which could result in insecurity and unrest. Crime could increase, or worse. The Partnership should contribute to the cost of policing and supporting  victims of crime through Section 106, CIL and planning conditions.

Finally under common law Committee members have to have open minds in considering applications. Your pre-existing party grouping support for the principle of this application should not pre-determine how you vote. Nor is the advice given by the officer about time constraints relevant. In deciding how to vote I have set out in my email to you three detailed options of rejection, deferment with some suggested conditions and approval with reserved matters being considered by this Committee. I welcome the Chair’s statement on this.






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