Mrs Thrale & Dr Johnson 10 July

Mrs Thrale

Cassie’s talk in the Wandsworth Heritage Festival in June 2012 at the Furzedown Project, which I organised, with Professor Penny Corfield chairing, was first rate. Cassie was then a PhD student at Leeds University. I was delighted to put Tooting History Society in touch with Cassie last year.

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Croydon events & news at 25 June

Tuesday 26 June. 6pm. Cycle Forum at Town Hall

On Saturday a young cyclist was riding along using his mobile. Another went through pedestrian red lights just missing someone about the cross. This kind of stupid behaviour is typical of too many cyclists, who did seem to have any sense of the danger they cause to themselves and others. Yet the role of the Cycle Forum is to influence the Council to give more preferential treatment to cyclists. There is no Pedestrians Forum. Pedestrians are a considerably larger proportion of the Croydon population than cyclists, and who are third place on road systems to cars and cyclists. The new Chair of the Cycle Forum is Councillor Clive Fraser, a cyclist himself. Time for the Forum to back licencing cyclists with compulsory training,

Tuesday 26 June. 6.30pm . Streets, Environment & Homes Scrutiny Sub-committee at Town Hall

It will discuss with relevant representatives the impact of the new rail timetable. What a fiasco today. Two trains to St Albans cancelled between 9am and 10am this morning.

Planning -“It’s about quality not quantity,”

At last some sanity from a Labour Councillor on Planning from someone who has long experience with planning matters as a former worker with Lambeth Council,  Clive Fraser. It is particularly important because he is the Labour Councillor Group’s Chief Whip. His refusing to support the Planning Chairman Paul Scott, is a reminder that the Planning Committee is a semi-judicial decision maker, and members of either party group should not be subject to a Party whip on how they vote. He stressed that  “the intensification’ proposed by the expansion of the Queens Hotel ‘is not supported by public transport”. Labour MP Steve Reed had  opposed the application. Meanwhile his colleague Sarah Jones backed rejection of an application in Addiscombe Rd, but the Committee approved it.

Full details Inside Croydon.

Thursday 28 June. 6.30pm. Planning Sub-committee at Town Hall

Applications to be considered: 59 Norbury Crescent, MacDonalds on Purley Way, I will be speaking on behalf of Love Norbury’s Planning Committee as objector to 59 Norbury Crescent.

Well-being in the Built Environment

Ian Marvin of the Constructing Excellence Croydon Club organised a discussion about well-being n the built environment to discuss what the issues were facing Croyodndon. Details of the discussion will be posted on the new blog site he has set up. It is intended as a forum for ideas and discussions about the future development in the physical environment of Croydon. In particular there is an emphasis on the sensory experiences of residents, visitors and those who work here. As a moderated open platform contributions are welcome from all interested individuals and organisations. If you wish to get in touch please write to

/Why we no longer love department stores

The BBC discusses the decline of department stores at

Andrew Kennedy comments on Historic Croydon Facebook:

House of Fraser store in Croydon is NOT on the list of closures. That would have been a blow. Here is a BBC report on why we have fallen out of love with department stores. The nimble will survive and John Lewis is leading the way. Look out Debenhams though. Not good for our North End.

Hammerson is experiencing problems. The start of work on extending Brent Cross is delayed by six months, while  in Birmingham its is facing gang violence at one of tits centres

M&S announces strategic tie-up with Microsoft

Andrew Kennedy comments: ‘Just one of the pointers that are relevant to the future of town centres like Croydon and how it should be affecting shopping centre design. I would not be surprised to see further changes in the Westfield design and further closures on North End such as for Debenhams. There are tough times ahead and some bold moves and imagination are required. How about a theme park to replace it?’

Croydon Council’s scrutiny committee has warned that the town centre’s “current road network will not cope with the large increase in car usage” as a result of the opening of the Westfield supermall, and that there needs to be significant expansion of the tram network, linking with trains and the Docklands Light Railway to provide better connectivity with Brixton, Lewisham and Peckham.

See Inside Croydon

New social lettings agency helps residents avoid homelessness

The Council is trialling a one-year scheme to support those at risk of being unable to maintain a tenancy, offering them training and matching them with responsible landlords.


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Kennington Chartism Day 7 July


Further details at

Includes  Chartist Question Time: Panel discussion on the legacy of the Chartist movement in the politics of today with Journalist and activist Paul Mason

I will be running a bookstall at this event.


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Croydon Citizen June news

CC June

The June print issue of Croydon Citizen is now available.

It contains my articles on:

  • Do Croydon’s children and young people have enough space at home?
  • Croydon’s Credit Union: a co-operative alternative to loan sharks

Plus a full diary of June events in Croydon, plus Sam Ali’s piece on Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and the civil rights movement, David Morgan’s discussion on whether Mendelssohn played the organ at Croydon Minister, and much more.

There is also a book review of Norbury’s Eric Sanders autobiography Secret Operations about growing up in Vienna, and having to leave because of the Nazis, coming to Britain where he worked supporting Jewish refugees from the Nazis before serving in the army and then special operations Executive, and after the war becoming a teacher. You can see more details of this and his two part novel Mazes at

I will pass through to Eric any orders for these books, if you email me at

Myra Rademacher – new intern

The latest American Universities intern scheme for a news reporter is Myra Rademacher. It will enable her to learn her trade ‘in a cutting edge citizen journalism environment – and, of course – a fascinating town!’ From Oregon she is studying for her degree in Agricultural Communication.

If you’ve got a story, tip, or event that she should cover, please email her at

Tom Black – goodbye

Tom Black, one of the founders of Croydon Citizen is leaving on 1 July. For the last 4 years, he has been its only full-time person on the ground, managing distribution, design, finance admin, sales and account management as well as any editing not done by the rest of the team; basically handling all of the administration and core production work that actually keeps the Citizen going.  Tom is leaving to pursuing his writing and acting ambitions as well as work on his own publishing company, alternate history specialist Sea Lion Press.

Cassie – new production editor

For the past 3 months Tom has been gradually handing his role to the new production editor, Cassie Whittell. Cassie was project manager and main organiser of the Croydon Literary Festival. She is a very experienced production editor in the magazine industry.

Read the Citizen on the web

You can read the Citizen on the web and sign up to receive an email alert when new articles are posted up.

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Croydon events & news at 15 June

Wednesday 20 June. 9.30am. Public Transport Liaison Committee Town Hall 

Topics: Mayor’s Transport Strategy, TfL Bus Review 2018, minimising noise at Thornton Heath bus garage, bus issues in Norbury, capacity of bus routes 166, 434, 463 & 633, diversion of 130 bus route, bus access to Heathrow, GTR May timetable changes, West Croydon transfer of Overground services, Crystal Palace stadium impact on services, cashless trams and hopper fares, upgrading rail ticket machines. Updates on train station skipping update, Growth Zone, replacement of Blackhorse Lane and Addiscombe Park bridges.

Council Chamber, Town Hall

Access to papers at

Wednesday 20 June. Well-being in the Built Environment debate

Further details and to book go to:

Thursday 21 June. 6.30pm. Planning Committee, Town Hall

Applications: 126 Foxley Lane, 4 Rectory Park, Queen’s Hotel (122 Church Rd), St James Hall (Little Roke Ave), 59 Addington Rd and 114 Addiscombe Rd.

Access to papers at:

Thursday 21 June. 7.30pm. Peace movements in Croydon

Dan Frost (PhD student) and I will be giving talks on aspects of peace movements in Croydon, as part of the Peace Festival.

Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Rd

You can read Dan’s article on the student occupation of the Croydon College of Art in 1968 at

Saturday 23 June 1-4pm. Friends of Norbury Park Fun Day

Free activities in Norbury Park, such as:  Treasure Hunt,   Art activities,  Story Time,   Tree spotting,  Quiz, Allotment tour,  Park walk,  Wishing tree, Table top sale, history display plus more

I will be leading a walk around the Park talking about its history and the ideas for its improvement. I will also be running a bookstall.

 Tuesday 26 June. 6pm. Cycling Forum. 6pm. Town Hall

Thursday 28 June. 6.30 – 9pm. RUBBISH! – Refuse, recycling and fly-tipping in Croydon

Croydon Communities Consortium.

St Michael’s Church Hall, Poplar Walk

To ensure a seat book at:

Campaign for Beddington Nature Reserve

Significant steps may see Westfield actually happen

New bins to be introduced from September

New recycling bins are being introduced from September in the hope it will help hit a 50 per cent recycling target. 240-litre wheelie bins will be provided for mixed paper and card, as well as a new 180-litre wheelie bin for general rubbish.

Existing bins will instead be used for recycling glass, plastic packaging, cans and cartons, and some residents will have access to council-branded bags so those with limited outdoor space – such as flats above shops – can recycle more easily.

Development News

  • Is backlash against tower blocks beginning – at last?

  • Brick by Brick firm to be standalone company

Government funding for street homelessness

Croydon’s high violence against the person crime level

Interview Chief Superintendent

Steve Reed. MP and Nuclear Power Stations

’Thank you for your email outlining your concerns about possible deals being agreed by the Government with private companies to build new nuclear power plants.

I have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy setting out your concerns about this matter and asking for a response. I will write back to you once I have received a reply from the Minister.

On the matter more generally, we support the development of nuclear power as part of the energy mix for Britain’s low carbon future and to create thousands of jobs – but not at any price.

We believe that the current plans for Hinkley Point C are a bad deal for British billpayers – with no guarantees that Hinkley would deliver power when we need it.

With all coal power plants scheduled to come offline by 2025 and all but one of Britain nuclear power stations scheduled to close by 2030, the UK faces a power crunch if alternative plans aren’t put in place in time.

It is time for the government to look for a plan B as it is clear that there is no credible plan to deliver on our infrastructure needs and climate change commitments.

In the meantime, if there is any other issue that you wish to raise with me then please do not hesitate to write to me and I will be happy to help in any way I can.

(Email to blog editor 13 June)


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History events & news at 15 June

NHS 70

Windrush Day magazine

Previously listed dates: details at

To Wednesday 25 July. Harry Jacob’s photographs exhibition

Monday 18 June. 8pm. ADA – how Lord Byron’s daughter became the patron saint of computing

Thursday June 21. 7.30pm.  Campaigning for peace in Croydon 1816-1960s

Saturday  7 July. 11am-4pm. Kennington Chartist Project 1848-2018

Tuesday 10 July. 7pm. A Funny Thing Happened on The Road to Utopia: North East History and The Art of The Political Playwright

New dates

Wednesday 20 June. 2pm. Socialists, Suffragists, Pacifists and Cyclists! The Last Clarion House

This short film is a mix of oral testimonies and archive footage made by the Clapham Film Unit and local volunteers

Working Class Movement Library, Salford

Saturday 23 June. 10.30 am-1pm. Votes for Women: Guided Walk

A walk featuring sites linked to the women’s suffrage campaign in Merton and Wimbledon, starting at Merton Park Tram Stop and ending at the Museum of Wimbledon.

Booking/Information: Tel, 020 8545 3239 or email:

Tuesday 26 June. 6.30pm. NHS at 70: Heare’s Health; the NHS on film

National Film Theatre, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT

Friday 29 June. 8pm. Corporal Ted Foster, Hero of Wandsworth

Talk by Neil Robson on the Streatham WWI hero and dustman who won the VC. To find out more about his fascinating story.

Wandsworth Historical Society, following AGM.

Friends’ Meeting House, Wandsworth High Street, opposite the Town Hall.

Saturday 30 June. 2-5 pm. A suffragette garden party

Staged in the grounds of Dorset Hall, the former home of suffragette Rose Lamartine Yates and including a series of talks by suffrage historians and afternoon tea:

Sunday 1 July. 10.30am-1.30pm. WASP Birthday/Windrush March Past

West Indian Association of Service Personnel (WASP) HQ, 161-167 Clapham Manor Street, London, SW4 6DB

Monday 9 July. Closing date for applications for Autograph Curatorial Project Manager.

28 July. 1.30pm. Annual John Burns Walk

I will be leading the annual John Burns walk for Battersea & Wandsworth TUC. The emphasis will be on women involved in his life and the suffragette campaign against him as a Cabinet member. It will be followed by activities at TUC’s Workers’ Beer Co pub The Bread and Roses in Clapham Manor St.

Starts at entrance to Battersea Rise cemetery – Battersea Rise/Bolinngbroke Rd.

To 4 November.  11am-5pm. Black Dolls: the Power of Representation

An exhibition exploring Black dolls and their impact on childhood and beyond – from the controversial Golliwogs of the past to today’s Black Barbies. Come along and discover what life was like for Black children growing up in Britain through the ages!

The National Caribbean Heritage Museum with and at

The National Trust Museum of Childhood, Sudbury Hall,

Main Road, Sudbury, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 5HT.


Voting for Change

150 years of radical movements, 1819 to 1969 

Joint project of Working Class Movement Library, Salford, and People’s History Museum, Manchester


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Croydon’s retail crisis and other news

Council to hit homeless who do not accept support

Contrast this with the practical help provide by the Salvation Army.

As retail store chains collapse Council Leader welcomes new hope for Westfield Centre

But John Lewis is only coming because it has negotiated a 5 year rent free period. Westfield must be desperate, while partner Hammerson is avoiding for the time being the closure of the House of Fraser store in Centrale.

What is the future of retail units?

It is clear that the future of retail  shopping units is in a head long dive. Whether Westfield’s proposed units will be filled remains to be seen. Croydon already has too many retail units. Yet the Council continues to approve other developers proposed retail units on the ground floors of their schemes.  It is time for a review of what alternative uses can be put to ground floors of new housing blocks, e.g. community facilities for the residents; play facilities for their children; token rentals to community and voluntary organisations. A review is also needed of what the growing empty shops in district centres and what other uses they can be put to.

Meanwhile poor management and maintenance sees another national chain store TK Maxx fall foul of health rules.

Boots does not pay London Living Wage

38 Degrees campaign is asking for people to sign its petition urging Boots to pay at least the London Living Wage.

As the Council is a LLW supporting authority it should be discussing with Croydon TUC and Croydon Citizens UK what actions can be taken locally to put pressure on Boots including for Westfield to require it to be at least a LLW employer as a condition of letting it rent a unit in the proposed Westfield Centre.

What Next for Boxpark?

The debate about the financial state of Boxpark has been taken up by Eater London

If you have not already done so, please read my discussion pieces on Croydon Citizen.

Boxpark’s Roger Wade did email me about these articles with a view to meeting up, but then decided that it would be better to do side at a Meet the Developer public discussion meeting he was hoping to arrange with Croydon Citizen. No news on progress as yet.

Croydon housing affordability – house prices 12 times average salary

Council loses 140 homes to Right to Buy

In 2017 Croydon Council lost 140 homes for renting to tenants exercising their right to buy (RTB).

Inside Croydon has chosen to use this as a stick to criticise the Council, despite the fact that the Council cannot stop RTB, and tenants see it as sensible to buy as they may in the future be able to sell at a much higher price.

Croydon Local Elections 1968

Postgraduate student Dan Frost writes about the Croydon local elections 50 years ago.

Dan and I will be giving talks on peace movements in Croydon on 21 June at 7.30pm at Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Rd.

Primary School Rolls

In response to the following Freedom of Information request I sent the Council ‘ How many children are on roll in all the primary schools in Croydon by type of school: local authority, church/faith, Academy, Free School, independent?’ the Council has replied: 

‘The information required can be found in the document titled ‘Local authority and regional tables: SFR28/2017 via the weblink below.  Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 therefore applies, ‘Information reasonably accessible to the applicant by other means’. This acts as an exemption notice.  Section 21 is an absolute exemption and therefore does not require the public interests balancing test to be applied.

The next update – January 2018 – will be published towards the end of June and you will be able to access the data via the above weblink.’

Children with education, health and care statements

 I also asked: How many children have SEND or education, health and care statements, by each category? The Council has replied:

‘The DfE publishes annual data which sets out the number of EHC Plans, and historically Statements of SEN maintained by every Local Authority in England this dataset is known as the SEN2 return and is available to the public.  The link can be found below. Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 therefore applies, ‘Information reasonably accessible to the applicant by other means’. This acts as an exemption notice.  Section 21 is an absolute exemption and therefore does not require the public interests balancing test to be applied.

Croydon Council currently maintains 2600 EHC Plans (January 2018) and 0 Statements of SEN’

In response to the question ‘How many children are currently being assessed for education, health and care plans?, the Council says 125.

I further asked:  ‘What is the minimum, average and maximum time taken to assess each application for a plan?’ The reply:

‘Croydon completes 95% of EHC Plans within the 20 week deadlines.  Your request asks for maximum and minimum timescales, 5% of plans are completed within a timescale that exceeds 20 weeks and is within 4 weeks of this deadline.’

The full reply is at

The problem facing schools with the time it takes to process statements means that schools have to try and provide the support the children need from elsewhere in the budget, until a plan is approved and money allocated to implement it.

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