Towards a Green Croydon

Three weeks ago I was consulted by the Croydon Trades Union Council  (CTUC) about the outline of a proposal to Green Croydon sent to it by Labour Councillor Jamie Audsley (Bensham Ward). This was done because I had chaired the CTUC’s working party on the local economy in 2014, which submitted a detailed report to the Council which included support for the creation of green jobs.

Audsley has now put together an alliance of other Labour Councillors Nina Degrads – Upper Norwood, Muhammad Ali – Broad Green,  Janet Campbell – West Thornton, and Stephen Mann – Upper Norwood) along with Croydon Living Streets, Croydon XR, Croydon BME Forum, Crystal Palace Transition Town, Asian Resource Centre of Croydon, Mums for Lungs, Croydon Cycling Campaign, Peddle My Wheels, Thornton Heath Community Action Team, Croydon Covid-19 Mutual Aid, Sustainable Thornton Heath and Action Vision Zero.

In their joint letter they state:

‘This crisis has laid bare the fundamental connection between healthy, flourishing and productive communities and a thriving environment. Restoring nature and robust environmental protection will help build resilience and reduce the risk of future global health and economic shocks. Many have also found personal resilience through engagement with nature and experienced what a greener Croydon could be like. We’ve realised the importance of access to green space for our health, of safe and pleasant walking routes and perhaps even how cycling can reveal a host of new green spaces such as the Wandle Way or Whitehorse Meadow.’

The letter can be seen at:


The Initiative and the Climate Change Commission

I advised the CTUC to try and actively engage with the initiative, but it would need to be linked in with a role on the Climate Change Commission, on which there need to be more trade unionists. Among the many initiatives the trade unions and Croydon Assembly in Croydon took from 2014 was to support action on green issues.

CTUC opposed the Brick by Brick plan to build on the green space next to Ruskin House on the corner of Edridge Road. In line with this and other policies of the CTUC/Croydon Assembly in its work on the Croydon Local Plan I stressed the importance of such green spaces are important amenities which need to be protected from development The Local Plan should have a central theme of how neighbourhood housing and green space development and the expansion of housing and infrastructure can be implemented within the wider context of how they contribute to reducing climate change.

Issues That Need To Be Thought About

I wrote to Audsley commending him on the initiative and discussing a number of issues it would be worth him giving further thought to.

Borough of Culture 2023

I sent him my discussion paper on the Borough of Culture programming that environmental history of Croydon should be a theme.


Climate Change Commission

At that stage the plan seemed to be a separate initiative to the work of the Climate Change Commission which could well take on board much of the proposals or should at least contribute into it. The Audsley plan has now been sent to the Commission Chair. It will be interesting to see whether this is on agenda of the next virtual meeting being organised for July.

I suggested to him that the representation of trade unions on the Commission is very thin, and needs to be beefed up.

Brick by Brick Building On Green Spaces

I argued that if his plan is adopted by the Council there will be many people who will be very cynical about it, mainly because under Paul Scott Brick by Brick has or proposes to build on green spaces, like the one next to Ruskin House which the TUC opposed, and at Covington Way in Norbury Park Ward.

The Council will only be treated non-cynically if Tony Newman replaces Paul Scott by a member with genuine green credentials who will not sacrifice the environmental and well-being aspects of the Local Plan in order to drive the increase in the number of houses. If there is growing concern about Paul Scott’s grip and influence within the Labour Group then it is time for joint action of pressure on the Leader.

The Directly Elected Mayor Referendum

I suggested that the directly elected Mayor referendum threat is very much down to the reaction to Paul Scott’s approach on planning, forgetting that a directly elected Mayor is one unaccountable individual (see the row in Middlesbrough).

It appears that Labour is taking a very complacent attitude to the threat of a referendum. The ballot could well be won on a low poll, with large numbers of Labour voters staying away, because they do not see the relevance to them as they try to recover from the negative economic and social effects of the COVID crisis. If there is a directly elected Mayor then Councillors will be marginalised and less influential than they are under the current Executive Leader/Cabinet model.

Alongside a change in Cabinet member there will need to be a policy that makes it clear that Labour will no longer build on green spaces whether in the street, on estates, or on school sites (apart from any need for educational buildings in respect of the latter).


One of the reasons that there is so much blind adherence to support new housing schemes by Labour Councillors is their delusion that it is meeting local housing needs.

I pointed out to Jamie Audsley that the numerous apartment blocks being built are not solving the housing crisis. They are simply bringing more people into the Borough leaving large numbers especially in the North, New Addington and in multi-occupation across the Borough in inappropriate housing for their needs.  One of the lessons that appears to be emerging from the COVID crisis is that the more dense the population the more likely there is to be infection, as the figures for the North and Central wards show in comparison with most of the southern ones. The lack of adequate community green space in many blocks will not have made life easy for many people who do not have gardens.

The Green Recovery Plan will need to incorporate a housing strategy that moves away from tower blocks to housing with gardens, or smaller blocks with proper communal green space.

London Rd Study

I pointed out that the plan did not appear to take into account the London Rd study investigating environmental improvements. The risk now with the TfL budget problems is whether it will withdraw the funding for implementing the recommendations that emerge, which are very much in line with some of your proposals.

School Green Spaces

Another element for the plan could be a review of how schools with green spaces are/are not maximising the environmental and educational benefits so that plans to help them can be drawn up.

20mph Zones

The plan supports the 20 miles per hour Zones. I commented that these are the subject of much cynicism because they are not enforceable. They have been particularly broken during lockdown given fewer cars on the road. Physical measures to slow cars down (like chicanes and narrowing street entrances) are needed.


The plan emphasises encouraging cycling. I suggested that it  ignores the dangers cyclists cause to pedestrians, vehicle drivers and themselves through so many recklessly riding through red traffic lights, weaving in and out of traffic, and riding on pavements. If there is to be a significant increase there needs to be a compulsory training and licensing scheme, with each cycle having its own number plate.

As there are very hilly parts of Croydon like Norbury and Purley it is unrealistic to expect a large increase in cycling, apart from motor bikes. These areas require more single decker bus routes.

Retail Distribution Vehicles

There are issues that need to be addressed in the development of the plan. One of the lasting effects of the lockdown is likely to be the drop in people buying in shops and ordering on line instead, which simply increases the number of delivery vehicles on the roads, including the need to be parked where their drivers live in the residential streets. If Amazon proceeds with its proposed distribution depot on Purley Way, then the traffic problems there will be considerably aggravated.

Westfield Development

Another issue is the need for the Council to have a new planning strategy for the Town Centre, to which Audsley’s Plan can play a useful role. Meanwhile there needs to be behind the scenes discussion in the Labour Group about what should happen to the Whitgift site. Although I was the main objector to the original scheme at the CPO inquiry, I have made constructive suggestions since, including:

(a)    not building the tower blocks of apartments by spreading the flats across the top of the new building.

(b)   communal green space and gardens on the top.

(c)    housing the South London University campus.

Tree Planting

I pointed out that the main problem we have faced in Norbury about getting more trees planted along London Rd is the objection of TfL because of the utilities pipes and wires underneath. We still have not got any detailed sensible discussion about where planters could go, which also raises the problem of how they are to be kept watered.

Clear Air and Electric Vehicles

I drew attention to the problems with increases in electric vehicles. By switching people will continue to have a car as an essential without the guilt of contributing to air pollution in the streets. Lower income vehicle owners who cannot afford the new cars will be further finally penalised, or be forced to stop driving and have to use public transport. Pre-COVID this meant at peak time very crowded trains and buses. Post-COVID if there are future pandemics these people will be further severely disadvantaged.

The Tram System

The plan supports the idea of a train system along London Road. The Local Plan already envisages the extension of the tram system to Brixton. I pointed out that a number of Norbury residents have expressed doubts about whether  the tram system can be built long London Rd with major widening (including demolition of Housing and shops), if the trams are to be accommodated along with the vehicle traffic  which includes those delivering goods to shops, other businesses and residents.


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Croydon Update at 27 June


As lockdown eases we are seeing mass irresponsible selfish behaviour, particularly at Bournemouth: not just no social distancing but also the scale of of litter. This reminds us that litter = people, and Councils have an uphill struggle to cope.   Here in Croydon the key date of the next stage of easing is this coming Saturday, and many readers will be pleased that this means that among those re-opening are Oval Tavern and Boxpark. The Council’s funding support for creatives ends on Tuesday, and it has just started funding for apprenticeships for young people. The Asian Resource Centre Croydon & Big Local Broad Green have published a review about the experience of helping people during the crisis, and recommendations for recovery planning. The reported aim of Government to reduce Councils planning powers, the question arises as to whether Chris Philp will betray the campaigners for a directly elected mayor. On the planning front the Council Committee has rejected a block of flats for Purley, and is being asked next Thursday to support the Planners in rejecting a 60 care home. The threat to the St. Helier and Epsom Hospitals continues – so much for ‘Save Our NHS’ with final decisions to be take on 3 July.  Pensioners are also under threat again in relation to the triple lock.


Tuesday 30 June. Closing Date Re-COVID Grant For Creatives

Thursday 2 July. 6pm. Virtual Planning Committee

Wrenwood Court, 38 Hermitage Road, Kenley (extensions to create 8 apartments); 1 Addington Road (60 bed care home for the elderly); 170 Whitehorse Road (2 storey building for 8 flats); 10 Willett Road, Thornton Heath (new 5 storey building of 40 flats).

The Planners are proposing refusal of the care home application – see below.

Friday 3 July. Final Decisions on Future of St. Helier & Epson Hospitals

See below.

Saturday 4 July Oval Tavern And Boxpark To Re-open

COVID Crisis News

Partial London Road Cycle Lane

Work of the new segregated cycle lane and 20mph limit on part of London Rd starts on 29 June under the Croydon Streetspace initiative. Using funding from Transport for London the measures will run between St James’ Road and Thornton Heath Pond.

Grants To Fund Apprenticeships

Small and medium-sized Croydon companies wanting apprentices can now bid for a share of £200,000 to help more young people into work.

COVID-19 business support, advice and funding

Asian Resource Centre Croydon & Big Local Broad Green Publish Post-COVID Recovery Plan

In a report  highlighting the impact of Covid-19 on the local community, and revealing how issues of marginalisation were exacerbated during the Covid-19 lockdown, the ARCC and BGBL report says how befriending calls and a food bank service became “a real lifeline” over a three-month period from March to June.

Read the full report at

The ARCC is urging the Government to provide more support to BAME community organisations, and consult them on post-Covid-19 strategies.

The report highlights the importance of befriending, but also the wide range of difficulties involved and resistance to helping individuals be signposted to the Government’s shielded because of ’people being scared about what will happen to their benefits, or they might be permanently housebound as a result’, and ‘a potential distrust in government schemes even when help and support is being offered.’

It discusses the negative effects of self-isolation. ‘Research has suggested social isolation and loneliness is deadlier than heart disease, or the equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It is linked to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions including heart disease, obesity, anxiety and depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.

The charity recommends that the voluntary and community sectors are given leading and critical roles in working with communities on the ground through increased long-term commitment to funding into communities and charitable organisation.

‘Link makers are essential to include people who have limited or little access to technology and suffer digital exclusion.’

Planning – Will Philp Betray The Directly Elected Mayor Campaigners?

Having initiated the campaign for a directly elected Mayor over the discontent with Council planning decisions is Croydon South Conservative MP  Chris Philp going to betray them by failing oppose the Government plans to tear up much of the planning system. For further details and the petition see:

Other Croydon News

Council Hopes To Win Recycling Award

Croydon Council is up for a national award after boosting the borough’s recycling rate by the largest margin in London.

It  recycled 47% of all waste during the 2018/19 financial year, up 9.4% on the previous year.

Clearly there is much more than can be done, including recycling business waste. Increasing recycling should be part of  the emerging Croydon economic recovery plan.

£35.2m Croydon residential scheme to deliver 116 new homes

Optivo and Henley Construct, will be joint partners to develop a  £35.2m housing scheme on the site of a former industrial depot on Cherry Orchard Road. They plan a 9 storey development of 116 affordable homes, (1, 2 & 3 beds and duplexs).

Council Reject Purley Block

The Planning Committee  has refused permission for a 4 storey block of 23 flats in Pamisford Road, as too big for the area. One of the joint applicants is Optivo

Phoenix Pianos Platform on StageHub

Phoenix Pianos which had to take back the pianos from Fairfield Halls because BHLive had not paid for their rental has started an on-line performance platform at. The first performance by Oliver Poole of the Goldberg Variations can be previewed and the full version purchased on:

Threat to St. Helier and Epsom Hospitals Continues

For all the words about Saving Our NHS, the future of St Helier and Epsom Hospitals reminas under threat with the next set of decisions being taken on Friday 3 July.

The ‘Improving Healthcare Together’ Committees in Common (NHS Surrey Heartlands: covering Epsom and NHS South West London CCGs: covering Sutton & Merton) will make their final decision following the “Public Consultation”, effectively cut short in March by the Coronovirus crisis. The meeting will be live streamed (on Fri July 3rd) via Microsoft Team – Live Events. Papers for the meeting are  on:

Members of the public can submit questions in advance “relating to the agenda items” up to 12 midday on Wednesday 1 July by:

  • Emailing
  • Calling 020 3880 0271
  • Texting 07500 063 191

For background see

Croydon History

224 London Rd

Kake’s latest posting is on 224 London Rd

The historical background to Saffron Tower

Pensioners Triple Lock Under Threat Again

The National Pensioners Convention  General Secretary, Jan Shortt, has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to express our concerns around reports that the state pension ‘triple lock’ is under threat once again and to urge him to commit to protecting it.

The NPC asks pensioners to raise the issue with your MP.

The letter points out:

  • ‘Today’s younger generations will increasingly come to rely on the state pension as one of their main sources of income in their future retirement.’
  • ‘The gender pension gap is bigger than the gender pay gap.’
  • ‘There are currently 1.9 million pensioners living in poverty which is now rising after a period of stability.’
  • ‘C50,000 pensioners above the threshold for pension credit will be pushed into poverty due to the removal of the free TV licence agreement.’
  • ‘Life expectancy is falling too.’
  • ‘The average earnings (as of April 2020) are £26,156 pa, compared with a basic state pension of just £6,981 (pre-April 2016); £9,110.40 (post-April 2016).’
  • ‘There is an inequality between the schemes with the old scheme having only the basic element triple locked, whereas the whole of the new scheme receives the triple lock. Therefore, the oldest, most vulnerable pensioners have the least income and the gap widens every year.’
  • In ‘April 2019 the basic state pension increased by 2.6%. This meant a full basic state pension (pre-April 2016) rose by £3.25 a week to £129.20 for a single person and by £5.20 a week to £206.65 for a couple (where a wife relies on her husband’s contribution record). For millions of women this actually means an increase of just £1.95 a week on their state pension.’

The full letter is also available on ‘In The News’ section.


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BCA invited to join Windrush Cross Government Working Group

Black Cultural Archives has been invited by the Home Secretary to join the new Windrush Cross Government Working Group. The following statement by Dawn Hill, CBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees, has been issued by BCA.

‘We have accepted the invitation as part of our commitment to using our active voice for positive change in the spaces we occupy for our community. We will be represented by BCA’s Managing Director, Arike Oke.

The Working Group brings together stakeholders and community leaders with senior representatives from across the government. We have been called upon to:

  • Be a part of supporting and advising the government on the Windrush Scheme and associated work
  • Provide feedback and insights from our communities
  • Use our expertise and experience to assist in developing and delivering practical solutions
  • Engage in an open and honest dialogue on the issues impacting on our communities
  • Work in partnership to co-design and deliver an action plan setting out agreed programmes and projects, with clear outcomes.

We welcome the intention of the working group to hold government to account in implementing the recommendations of the reports and inquiries it has commissioned. This includes the Windrush Lessons Learned report, which makes recommendations for the reform of the Home Office processes and culture.

BCA’s involvement in the group is founded on the principle of positive action for change at policy level. We are optimistic that the working group will have the power to influence and that government will listen.

We are hopeful that the formation of this group is a positive step forward to a more just and equal society.’

Dawn Hill was one of the signatures to the letter from Chineke! And others to the Prime Minister’



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Chineke! And Other Cultural Leaders Call On Prime Minister To Act Not Review

In a powerful letter to the Prime Minister, Chi-chi Nwanoku of the Chineke! Foundation and others across the British cultural world, are calling for action not another BAME review .

The signatures are leading figures across the arts, including Julia Desbruslais, the Executive Director of the London Mozart Players who are based at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls based, Nicola Benedetti, Dawn Hill, the Joseph Brothers, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Julian Lloyd Weber, Arike Oke, Shirey Thompson and Willard White.

Review Pays Lip-Service

The Prime Minister’s ‘proposal for yet another government ‘fact-finding’ commission on Racial inequalities is simply paying lip service to a movement which is powerful and impactful but needs to see action, not just placatory words. The research has been done, we know the statistics and  that structural transformation is needed, so now it is time to take action and implement the recommendations.’

‘The world wide reaction’ to the murder of George Floyd  concerns people of all ethnicities, education and economic background who want a better, fairer world.’

Actions Needed

The signatories set out a list of actions that are needed including:

  • De-colonisation of the curriculum.
  • Commissioning and championing writers, performers and educators of British Black, Asian and ethnically diverse backgrounds including appointing them as curators.
  • Creating platforms and spaces in high-profile institutions for those who feel disenfranchised and unheard, encouraging them to speak out, express themselves and develop their creativity. Nurture and listen to artists who have felt rejected by those in power so that voices are valued.
  • Addressing the disproportionate effects of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and ethnically diverse communities.
  • Fighting racism within organisations and businesses.
  • Support and additional investment in cultural, especially BAME, activities.

The full text can be read here:


While this call for action is welcome, there needs to be a lot more discussion as to what needs to be done to put the ideas into practice in every arts and cultural organisation across Britain.

What Has BBC3 Been Doing Since October 2016?

Chi-chi Nwanoku and Shirley Thompson were participants in the BBC Radio 3 Diversity and Inclusion in Composition Conference held on 19 October 2016 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. The aim was to facilitate greater inclusion in classical music composition of composers and prospective composers from BAME communities. It explored:

  • the future development and excellence of classical music needs to be enriched by full engagement with the widest possible range of artistic and cultural perspectives,
  • how to boost opportunities for the next generation of composers,
  • how the industry can work better together to ensure inclusion and diversity of talent, given the under-representation of BAME composers in classical music, the conference.

BBC3 should be asked what decisions it took resulting from the Conference, and what has been done since to implement them. A key question is whether the issue has fallen off the agenda.

What are BH Live Planning For Fairfield Halls?

Although Fairfield Halls will remain closed for the rest of 2020, the managers BH Live have been putting together a programme for 2022. Despite the large BAME communities in the Borough and within easy travel distance to the Halls, the programme does not appear to reflect their cultural interests.  This does not bode well for  their contribution to the Borough of Culture programme in 2023.

My discussion on that programme can be seen here:

Note: Thanks to a reader for drawing my attention to the letter.

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Croydon Update 20 June


As lockdown eased last Monday Council leader Tony Newman has praised Croydon shoppers for adhering to social distancing. The Council has set up a new fund to help freelancers  working in the creative industries. Fairfield Halls will remain closed until next year, and Oval Tavern has raised funds to ensure its survival. Articles have been written on the emotional impact of COVID deaths on staff at Croydon University Hospital and on the problems facing  pregnant women during lockdown. CALAT and the Libraries are promoting on-line courses, crafts and other activities. Boxpark’s boss warns that 50% of retail and hospitality businesses will collapse. Croydon Park Hotel’s operators have gone into administration. Oval Tavern has raised money to ensure it survives. Westfield and Hammerson are starting to plan to convert empty retail space in other centres into offices so this might be part of their yet to be announced strategy for Croydon. As Surrey Opera celebrates its 50th Anniversary, it sadly reports the death of its supporter Stephen Harrow, who made a big contribution to the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Festival in 2012. Finally I report on the Council policy on Alcohol Impact Zones.

Tuesday 23 June. 6.30pm. Virtual meeting of the Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee

The agenda items are: Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Service update on the Covid-19 response; Children’s Improvement Plan Update; Children’s services response to COVID 19; discussion of the findings from the meeting and the expectations for Croydon’s children; and work programme.


Council Leader Praises Shoppers

In his weekly blog on the Council’s activities on the COVID crisis, Council Leader Tony Newman, praises the shoppers who have been out and about since the easing of lockdown on Monday.

‘There was a notable surge in shopper numbers on Monday, with people understandably excited to be shopping again. However, the best bit of feedback we received is that almost everyone is sticking to government rules on social distancing and patiently waiting their turn to be allowed into shops.

Most importantly, early feedback also shows people are shopping in their local small shops and district centres rather than getting in the car and driving further from home. This is really encouraging, as it’s good for shops across the borough and limits the continuing risk of Covid-19.

So let’s keep making sure that, if you do leave home to shop, shop locally, stay safe and follow the signs and Covid-19 advice. Health remains our number one priority both at home and around other people.’

The responsible queuing has been confirmed in

Council Sets Up New Fund To Help Freelancers and Creatives

A £25,000 fund has been set up to offering freelance artists, performers, musicians and other creative practitioners in Croydon grants of up to £1,000 and business support to help them during the crisis. The Council is working with the Croydon Creative Enterprise Zone and the Greater London Authority The online application process is open with bids assessed from Monday 22 June. The application window closes on Tuesday 30 June.

Fairfield Halls Stays Closed For Rest of Year

BHLive, the managers of Fairfield Halls have announced that they will not reopen until next year due to the COVID crisis.

However, they are continuing to announce the programme dates 2021.

The Emotional Impact of COVID Deaths

Dr Nnenna Osuji, medical director at Croydon University Hospital, discusses the despair of seeing Croydon families lose loved ones to coronavirus.

Problems of Pregnancy In Lockdown

Croydon teacher and Labour Party member Rowena writes on the problems facing pregnant women during lockdown.

Just imagine how difficult things will be for pregnant women living on their own.

Crime and Disorder Does Not Stop During Crisis

A young man was stabbed in Edridge Road, and a man was arrested over a violent bottle attack in Croydon

Croydon’s DSI London  Makes Facemasks

Croydon based DSI London, which makes the dresses for Strictly Come Dancing   has partnered with celebrities to make designer facemasks, with all profits going to Great Ormond St.

CALAT and Libraries On-Line

CALAT, the Council’s adult education operation, is offering on-line courses for the summer, while the Libraries offer on-line craft and other activities.

Boxpark’s Boss Warns Of Retail & Hospitality Collapse

Boxpark’s Roger Wade has told Property Week ‘that if landlords, tenants and government did not come together to address the rent crisis, up to 50% of retail and hospitality operators were in danger of going under.’

COVID Puts Croydon Park Hotel Into Administration

91 staff have been made redundant as Croydon Park Hotel goes into administration because of the COVID crisis.

The Council owns the freehold. Does this mean that it could turn the hotel into temporary accommodation saying large sums of money on paying landlords for such housing? If it remains empty what will be costs to the Council be in terms of security, maintenance and loss of rent from the hotel company?

Westfield and Hammerson Change Tack Elsewhere

According to The Times Westfield and Hammerson are favouring converting large House of Fraser retail stores at two of the centres into offices. Will this be the approach at Centrale and Whitgift?

Croydon Councillor Sean Fitzsimmons has tweeted that it makes sense for a radical overhaul of the Croydon Westfield plans.

Other News

Directly Elected Mayor – Be Careful  What You Wish For

The campaigners for a directly elected Mayor need to be careful what they wish for.  Influencing Mayors is much more difficult than influencing an Executive Leader/Cabinet administration. Have a look at what’s going on in Middlesbrough.

Just imagine if dynamic, visionary Paul Scott was elected as Labour  Mayor here in Croydon!!!

urrey Opera

Happy Birthday Surrey Opera

Croydon based Surrey Opera was 5O years old on 18 June.  No dinner, no production, the planned Don Giovanni at the Minack open air theatre postponed until 12 – 16 July next year. They are hoping that they may be able to perform a newly commissioned opera, Madeleinein November, or early next year at the Harlequin Theatre, Redhill.

Stephen Harrow Dies

Surrey Opera reports that one of its leading supporters, Stephen Harrow, sadly passed away on Sunday 5 April. ‘We extend condolences from all in Surrey Opera to his widow, Jenny. Stephen was instrumental in helping Jonathan set up the Samuel Coleridge Taylor Festival in 2012, especially helping run most of the monthly Recitals and special events, often contributing most generously towards expenses. Stephen had also already helped to sponsor our specially commissioned opera, Madeleine, for our 50th Anniversary.’

Stephen’s contribution to the Coleridge-Taylor Festival was enormous, and it was a pleasure to have collaborated with him at events and in thinking through what else could be done.

Croydon Jazz Musician Don Weller’s Obituary

The Guardian’s obituary put on its website on 9 June was printed in the 15 June edition.

Council’s Alcohol Impact Zones

It has probably escaped most of our attention that the Council has designated four areas as  Cumulative Impact Zones y in respect of off licences and shops and supermarkets selling alcohol off the premises:

  1. Along the Brighton Road; South End; High Street, George Street corridor, from the Royal Oak Centre on Brighton Road, Purley to the junction of George Street and Cherry Orchard Road in Central Croydon
  2. Along the London Road/Streatham High Road corridor, in 3 sections; from the junction of London Road and Tamworth Road in West Croydon to the j/w Canterbury Road; from the j/w Broughton Road to the j/w Melrose Avenue and; from the j/w Northborough Road to the borough boundary with London Borough of Lambeth
  3. Along the Brigstock Road and High Street, Thornton Heath corridor, from the junction of Brigstock Road and London Road in Thornton Heath to the junction of High Street, Thornton Heath and Whitehorse Lane
  4. Along the length of Central Parade, New Addington

The effect of the Zone Policy ‘is that where relevant representations are received on any new applications for a premises licence to sell alcohol off the premises, or on a material variation to an existing such premises licence there will be a presumption under the special policy that the application will be refused. A material variation would be, for example, an increase in permitted hours for the sale of alcohol or to add the sale of alcohol off the premises as a licensable activity to the premises licence.’ It is intended to be strict, and will only be overridden in genuinely exceptional circumstances.’

The details are contained in the report to the Licensing Sub-committee being held on-line on 23 June:

News and Reflections on Black History

Black Lives Protest in Park Hill

Croydon and The History Of Dubstep

including the arts.

I have posted reflections of aspects of black history on

and on


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Black History Now High On the Agenda

The world wide Black Lives Matters campaign following the murder of George Floyd, the toppling of the Colston statue in Bristol and the Oriel College decision to remove the Cecil Rhodes statue, and the ongoing Windrush Scandal, have ensured that multiple aspects of British Black History are high on the agenda along with the debate about how to deal with Britain’s colonial, slavery and Empire past. This is about ensuring that the real nature of British history is told not the whitewashed version.  Blog reader Martin Spafford, co-author for OCR Migration GCSE programme, has drawn my attention to seven simple things Runnymede Trust suggests to help embed histories of migration, Black British history and empire in the history curriculum

The Guardian newspaper is playing an increasingly important role in publishing relevant material and debate including

Letter from Marika Sherwood 15 June

Letter from me as a follow-up to Marika’s 17 June

(Interestingly this has been copied onto the website of Glouctershire Health Living and Learning.)

George Monbiot on Empire atrocities

John Harris on racists and British history

Afua Hircsh on the Tories plan to tackle racism

including the role of banks in slavery explicity drawing on the work of the British Slave-ownership project at UCL.

The work starting on Parliament’s statues and paintings of MPs connected with the slavery business.

A discussion between Bernardine Evastino and Amelia Gentleman on their books in The Review printed section today.

Yesterday’s commemoration of Emancipation in the United States reminds us of the support in Britain for the cause from the late 1830s, and ensuring that the then Government did not ally with the Confederacy. Then on Monday (22 June) there is the annual Windrush Commemoration Day.

Thoughts on Sadiq Khan’s Commission and the Dilemmas of History

I have posted three discussion pieces about London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s setting up a Commission to review statues etc in London, and whether he should be doing more. The other two are about the dilemmas thrown up in history about Baden-Powell and how we celebrate Black Rhodes and other scholars.

Web Resources

The Africanist Resource

The African Stories in Hull and East Yorkshire project, which explores and documents the stories of people of African descent in the Hull and East Yorkshire area, has set up an excellent resource The Africanist website which is a one-stop shop for a wealth of sites and other resources dealing with Black History.

Jeffrey Green’s Website Gets British Library Recognition

Jeff’s website has been taken on by the British Library as part of the national UK Web Archive. The open UK Web Archive can be seen at, and is accessible at Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin, Wales, Edinburgh and the British Library, and via The Africanist website. Recent additions to Jeff; site are guest postings by Rainer Lotz on the entertainer Josephine Morcashani, and Kathy Chater on the Audains, as well as Jeff on the underreserached history of black people’s participation in English social life in Victorian times.

The Audains

Kathy Chater has had a precis of the life of Ida Audain, a harpist, at the end of the 19thC published in the Dictionary of National Biography. Ida, her sister and her sister’s husband did occasional charity concerts organised by a black women called Julie Pelletier who lived in Brixton. Kathy is unable to find out much her about her as she was in Britain for only a few years between censuses. Any help would be appreciated.

 From Windrush to 1990s Brixton Hip-Hop

Windrush Day 2020 BCA events

 ‘70 Objeks & Tings’ Celebrating 70 Years of Caribbeans in the UK

Museumand, the Nottingham based Black History Museum Launching of the first instalment of a new book on Windrush Day 2020 to help everyone learn about Caribbean history, heritage and culture – and to tell the stories of members of the Windrush Generation around the UK and the amazing contributions they have made to life in Britain using everyday objects, to enable people to explore ‘aspects of their heritage and culture they may not have discovered before in a fun, intergenerational way, while giving those who lived it a chance to reminisce and retell their stories, keeping our tangible and intangible history alive and at the forefront of our minds.’

Future sections will be published, and a printed versin will be available of the complete book next year.

The first section of the book is all about food and explores some of the ingredients, recipes, dishes and snacks familiar to Caribbean families in the UK. The book also includes a flavour of Caribbean sayings, riddles and songs – with plenty of fun and informative ‘Did You Knows’.

Patrick Vernon comments that “70 Objeks and Tings is a fantastic resource as we celebrate national Windrush Day and the legacy of the Windrush Generation since the docking of the Empire Windrush on 22 June 1948. This book will provide fun and intergenerational dialogue with elders who have stories and narratives around these objects.”

You can read the first instalment of ’70 Objeks & Tings’ at

Windrush Stories at the British Library

Brixton Hip-Hop 1990s

Slavery and Black Atlantic Reading (in the USA)

The Development of Black Cultural Archives

The role of Black Cultural Archives will hopefully be considerably boosted by the current debate, leading to donations and funding which will underpin its sustainability. The Trustees have adopted a ten year strategy. It plans to archive the Black Lives Movement.

BCA Statement: Black Lives Matter

Archiving Black Lives Matter

BCA’s 10 Year Strategy

BCA Future Public Meeting Video

of what work and workplaces were like in the post- war years.

Black Lives Matters and Anti-Racism

The Britain@Work London team is collecting articles about work during lockdown describing in detail working in retail, rail and Royal Mail.’ The project’s on-going work is on hold because of COVID. It states ‘Black Lives Matter has now given us all the opportunity to change the way history is taught and a springboard to the lives of working-class anti-racist struggles back into the frame. This is what Britain at Work London’s book All in a Day’s Work (2015) tried to do by including a record of those struggles in west London, reclaiming the past for the present generation.’

Slavery and Colonialism in India late 1830s/early 1840s

‘Beginning in the late 1830s, a coalition of non-conformists, abolitionists, free traders, and disenchanted East India Company proprietors began to vocally challenge the exploitative policies of the colonial state in British India. Led by lecturer George Thompson, these reformers pursued a rhetorical strategy of associating groups who were converted into ‘mere tools’ by the Company abroad and the aristocracy at home. These monopolistic entities degraded Indian peasant cultivators, the British working classes, and princely sovereigns alike through forms of ‘virtual slavery’ that persisted in the post-Emancipation empire. In staging these protests, reformers ran up against an adversarial Board of Control and Court of Directors who obstructed their efforts to mobilize public opinion. Probing their agitation reveals the existence of a particularly combative strain of liberal imperialist thought that defied the political status quo.’

This is a summary of the essay at

COVID Archiving

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust is collecting material on COVID in Greater Manchester.

Jeff’s put my piece about the Audains on his website.  I’m waiting for one of Cyril’s descendants to come over from New Zealand – her mum (old, not entirely with it) has photos that I need – but that’s not going to happen soon.  I’m sorry the other descendant is so unco-operative.  We could have done something jointly.



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The Legacies of Slavery And The Hostile Environment

‘The shadows of the history of slavery follow us all.

The present moment demands that we maintain active

and informed dialogue on the roots of that history and

its manifold endurances.’

– Matthew Smith, the new Director of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership, 12 June 2020.

The Legacies of Under-Development

In 1940 the Labour MP Creech-Jones highlighted the economic and social problems of the West Indies in a House of Commons debate on the report of the West India Royal Commission, which exposed the poor living conditions on the islands. Members of the Commission argued that the resistance for the  for better and less restrictive lives, in the face of for the “labouring population, mere subsistence was increasingly problematic”. The conditions were the result of institutional barriers that sought to maintain the colonial power structure. The report was not published until 1945. However, in the 1940 debate Creech argued:

‘While it is said that the West Indians have been extremely loyal in the present crisis and that they have declared great readiness for sacrifices in order that British arms shall triumph in this war, nevertheless, there are indications that the bad conditions set out in the report have, in some respects, been deteriorating since. Already news has come from the West Indies of the imposition of restrictions on certain important economic work; certain social services are in danger of being whittled down. In one group of islands educational schemes are being held up and Colonial development plans are being abandoned. There are signs in British Guiana and British Honduras of economic planning being abandoned of works being slowed down, and in Jamaica of medical services being cut. I hope that the Colonial Secretary will see that the undertaking which he gave at the beginning of the war will be loyally observed in the respective territories of the West Indies—an undertaking which expressed the hope, at any rate, that so far as the social services and economic development plans of these Colonies are concerned there should be no restriction or cutting of expenditure for the maintenance of these things at their present standard.’

His colleague Leslie Haden-Guest added:

‘We are facing now the result of a few years of mismanagement, deterioration and demoralisation in the West Indies. The situation dates from the times of slavery. In every country which has experienced slavery—the Southern States of America, parts of Africa, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the slave problem has been particularly prevalent so far as its connection with Europeans and other parts of the world is concerned—there has been the social and economic demoralisation which there is at the present time in Jamaica.’

The Legacies of Slavery

The legacies of slavery underpin the current situation encapsulated in the death of George Floyd. The work of the Centre for  Legacies of British Slave-ownership has been playing an important role in developing our understanding. In their latest statement issued on 12 June the team says:

‘No one can deny the urgency and importance of this work. We look at the state racism evident in the Windrush scandal in the UK documented by Amelia Gentleman or the long history associated with the idea of a ‘hostile environment’ towards immigrants written about recently by Catherine Hall in the London Review of Books; we reflect on the gross inequalities revealed by the pandemic in which those of black or ethnic minority heritage are disproportionately blighted or killed by the illness; we see and hear the anger of many outraged by the persistent presence, across Britain, of memorialisations to those involved in the slave trade and slavery while efforts to commemorate those who were victims of slavery or fought against it have faced many blockages, as Nick Draper has recently discussed in History & Policy.’

‘Ours is an educational and research project building, with many others, a new understanding of the past and its life in the present. We are moving beyond a focus on slave-owners to document the lives of the enslaved – so far as possible to recognise the humanity and individuality which was denied them by slavery. This is a history which we have all been shaped by, albeit unequally: understanding that is a responsibility for all of us so that we may do things differently.’

The full statement can be read here:

LBS statement 12 June 2020 (1)

The project’s new Director Matthew Smith took post on 1 June and has issued a personal statement.

‘We cannot ignore the disproportional impact of the virus on Black and other ethnic communities in the UK and elsewhere. These shocking data have impelled serious consideration of the ways current health crises reflect larger historical legacies of oppression.

Against that backdrop we have experienced the eruption of a global protest movement in support of the human rights of principally Black and minority ethnic populations. …. The anger, pain, and determination for meaningful and symbolic change that Floyd’s death has sparked widely among communities from Minneapolis to Mexico, demands a reinvigorated discussion on racism and the powerful injustices that have defined humankind for centuries. It is both the brutality of racial violence and the everyday pressures of racial prejudice on Black and minority ethnic people that must be confronted.

At the heart of this discussion is the legacy of the bondage of Africans and their descendants who have for centuries been unfairly and violently marginalized. Awareness of this fact has provoked public action that reaches far into the past.’

Matthew Smith’s full statement can be read here:

Matthew Smith statement 12 June 2020

Other Discussion

Catherine Hall’s London Review of Books review of books on the Windrush and the hostile environment can be read here:

Former Centre Director Nick Draper’s article The fall of slavery: statues, symbols and social contention on History & Policy posted on 10 June can be read here:

Amelia Gentleman’s latest discussion on the Windrush Scandal The Windrush generation deserves justice – not video chats with the home secretary in The Guardian on Friday 12 June can be read at

Protest and the National Curriculum

David Olusoga is writing prolifically including History in the making about books about racism selling out as a statue of a slave trader is toppled –now is the time to finally address he teaching of black history in British schools in The Guardian Review on Saturday 13 June. It has not been posted on the paper’s website.  His closing two paragraphs state:

‘Little about the actions of the young people who pulled Colston from his pedestal and those who cheered him on his descent to the bottom of Bristol harbour, was random. Much of it was emblematic of a generation of young black Britons and their white friends and classmates who have educated themselves on the realities of the slave trade and slavery just as they have on the structural nature of racism.

They know that they cannot rely on the national curriculum to provide the history that we all need, not matter our race or ethnicity. They know how urgently we need a new curriculum that makes sense of our history, with all its dark chapters included. It is those stories, the ones we find it uncomfortable as well as the ones we celebrate, that have created the nation we have become. This, along with much else, is what has to change.’




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Croydon COVID-19 News 14 June

Lockdown Easing Starts Monday

As lockdown eases from Monday (15 June) Council Leader Tony Newman explains the measures the Council is taking to support staying safe:

‘In the town and district centres, new signage, pavement stencils and one-way systems for pedestrians will support you to maintain social distancing while navigating the town and waiting to enter shops. We’re also widening pavements in busy areas, giving people more room to pass each other.’

See also:

The Town Centre Shops Re-opening Monday

See list at:

Restrictions Lifting at Hospital

Restrictions on who can visit their loved ones in hospital will be gradually relaxed from Monday at Croydon University Hospital.

TFl Guidance on Face Coverings on Public Transport

April The Worst Month For COVID Deaths

Government provides Croydon extra £4 for caring for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Croydon Pharmacies Support Action on Domestic Violence

Croydon pharmacies have joined a council-run safety campaign to help support those experiencing domestic abuse.

Council support to give up smoking

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone over 16 years old is being offered one-to-one support from Croydon Live Well advisers during a focused 12-week stop smoking programme. 0800 019 8570 and

Croydon woman jailed for racist abuse of and spitting at two emergency workers.

Second COVID-19 Wave Fear

Rchale Flowers, the Director of Public Health wrned the Cabine meeting on 8 June that there ia risk for a second wave of CVID-19

Friends of Park Hill Annual General Meeting

Dependent on the COVID situation the Friends of Park Hill hope to run their postponed AGM on 19 September at 2om.  Subjects to be considered include: the lack of working/clean/safe public toilets; the children’s playground and the walled garden and community gardening

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Grenfell Tower Anniversary 14 June




Croydon Council Leader Tony Newman says:

‘On Sunday night Croydon Town Hall will be lit green to commemorate the third anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy.

We will remember those who lost their lives and their loved ones, and all those who were impacted by this terrible event.

Grenfell was a stark reminder of so many of the inequalities that have no place in modern society but still exist – and have been exacerbated by the health crisis we currently face.’


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Croydon, Black Lives Matters, Memorialisation and the Curriculum


The support for the Black Lives Matters and for improved Black and Colonial History understanding is growing in the Borough reflected in the call by Councillor Louise Woodley for slavery and colonial history to be added to the school curriculum. However, a culture war has begun over the  demand for the erasing of the Winston Churchill mural in the Town Centre.  It has been proposed that Stormzy be given a statue and Freeman status, and a statue to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. It is important that we all increase our knowledge of British Black and colonial history, so there is a list of books and pamphlets I have for sale.

Slavery and Britain’s colonial history should be added to the school curriculum

Councillor Louisa Woodley told a virtual meeting on Monday night (June 8) that she understands why thousands in London have been protesting in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

As a historian of Black Britain and Croydon I have written to Louisa to congratulate her and draw her attention to some practical problems, copied to Patsy Cummings, the BAME champion Councillor who led to the Windrush Generation events last year.

Tony Newman on Black Lives Matter

Council Leader Tony Newman has commented:

In Croydon we continue to stand in solidarity with our black community following the disgraceful killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

But as I said last week what matters most is action and locally we are determined to ensure that that this terrible incident, which has shocked and sickened people across the globe, is a powerful catalyst for lasting change.

We are proud to be recognised as a council that fights for equality and an organisation that is representative of our diverse community at the very highest levels, but it is not enough.

If we want a better and more equal future for everyone we must all work together now, right across our community, to achieve it.

And while all generations have a part to play, our young people are our future and they must be at the very heart of this debate.

With 93,000 under-18s, in Croydon we have always encouraged our young people to raise their voices. Through our Choose Your Future campaign we have united our borough in support of them, created positive opportunities for them and put them at the heart of local decision-making. Now more than ever, we need to hear from them.

We are planning to give the young people of Croydon a platform on Black Lives Matter, to hear about their concerns, hopes and dreams for a better and fairer future, and their voices will inform our action.

Whether it’s in person or online these conversations can and will happen – watch this space.

Should the Churchill Mural Go Or Stay?

Artist Joe O’Brien has started a petition for the removal of the Churchhill Mural in the Town Centre.

Hundreds of people have signed it

The petition can be signed at:

The artist behind a mural of Winston Churchill in Croydon town centre said he would be happy to see the street art replaced.

David Hollier painted the mural, which is made up quotes from the wartime Prime Minister’s diary, back in 2016.

It was funded by the RISE Gallery while Croydon Council gave permission for the mural to be painted on the privately owned building. Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison who ran the RISE Gallery said it was not intended to celebrate the war-time Prime Minister, but rather to spark debate.

There is also a counter petition, which has about 1,000 more signatures that O’Brien’s.

Statue and Freeman Status proposed for Thornton  Heath born Stormzy

Statue for Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Today’’ national Guardian newspaper had some suggestions for statues to prominent Black individuals in Britain inc. William Cuffay, Mary Seacole, Olive Morris, Claudia Jones and Croydon’s Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

It you want to know more about Coleridge-Taylor please see the Croydon based

and Jeffrey Green’s pamphlet – see below.


If we are to improve understanding of the real nature of  British history: class and race exploitation, suppression of civil rights, the myths of the Empire, etc then it is important that everyone learns more. This can be done by exploring the Internet, and reading.

As part of my bookselling I have the following titles for sale – and can re-order from my book wholesalers.

Paul Arnott. Windrush. A Ship Through Time.

Stephen Bourne:

Esther Bruce. A Black London Seamstress. Her Story 1912-1994.

Black Poppies. Britain’s Black Community and the Great War

Mother Country. Britain’s Black Community on the Home Front 1939-45

Sean Creighton:

Croydon’s Connections with the Slavery Business. In CNHSS Proceedings Vol. 20. Part 1. September 2017

John Archer. Battersea’s Black Progressive and Labour Activist 1863-1932

Jeffrey Green:

Black Americans in Victorian Britain

Coleridge-Taylor. A Centenary Celebration

Afua Hirsh. Brit. On Race, Identity and Belonging

Esi Edugyan. Washington Black. Novel set in Barbados based on a true story

Miranda Kaufmann. Black Tudors. The Untold Story

Jonathan King. Bill Miller. Black Labour Party Activist in Plymouth

Mirrorpix. Protest. Britain on the March (photos and explanations)

David Olusoga. Black and British. A Forgotten History.

Jamia Wilson. Young Gifted and Black. 52  Black Heroes from the Past and Present.  (For children)

Further details on price and delivery can be obtained from me at

My Black African & Caribbean History of Croydon before the Windrush pamphlet is out of print, but is available as a PDF, for which I will be charging – the money goes towards the next publications printing bills and research costs. I am currently finalising a pamphlet on the history from 1945-1979.

The State of Black British History

My review of the state of Black British History prior to the COVID crisis in four parts can be seen at

The Black Lives Matters campaign has potentially fundamentally made the whole issue much more urgent, and with much more support that appeared to be the case at the beginning of the year.



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