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 The Purley & Woodcote Blog
Cllr  Simon  Brew
Oni  Oviri
Cllr  Badsha  Quadir

Countdown to Christmas
24/12/2014 16:20:00......Posted by Simon Brew


It's been another busy month.

On 1 December, I returned from a short break visiting relatives in Germany, so unfortunately I just missed the last full Council meeting of the year. I gather from colleagues and the Croydon Advertiser that it was a fairly rowdy affair, partly because of Labour’s policy statement (which was subsequently withdrawn) that the usage of playing fields in some of Croydon’s schools would be reviewed. There are plenty of other blogs on this topic, so I’ll move on.

Later that week, I participated in a really useful and enjoyable training session arranged for members and reserve members of the Licensing Committee. We held a dummy application hearing for the fictional Bar-a-cuda club which wished to extend its hours of licensing. The case study was led by a practising QC who specialises in this field; it was built from several real life cases and incorporated some tricky issues for the committee to deal with, as well as lots of irrelevant material which we had by law to ignore. To make it even more challenging, members of the committee played various roles, as applicant, objector, rival business, committee member and several others. The evening was entertaining and instructive at the same time.

The next day, I attended my first planning committee meeting as a contributor; I was there to offer my support to some local residents who were concerned about some aspects of a Purley development. There are many common elements in the assessment of Licensing and Planning applications, and it was interesting to see how the legal framework and Croydon’s local policies are applied in practice.

The political composition of all Council committees, such as Licensing, Planning and Scrutiny is determined by the election results, so the ratio of seats allocated to each party broadly reflects the political makeup of the Council (which is currently Labour 40: Conservative 30). As the election approaches and particularly at weekends, most councillors spend a lot of time and effort out on the streets in their own wards and also in the Borough’s marginal wards, trying to persuade just a few hundred voters to accept their irresistible argument as to why they should vote for a particular party. It’s hard work, but then no-one ever entered politics for an easy ride (or for the rewards!). On 6 December as an example, I joined many Conservative colleagues out on the streets for four hours, and then helped to staff a Conservative stall at Coulsdon’s Yuletide festival in the High Street in the evening; it was a bitterly cold day and we were frozen stiff by the end, but the stalls selling hot food and drinks did a roaring trade!

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without pantomimes, and I greatly enjoyed this year’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; the latter were all played by adult actors who had dwarfism and they brought the story to life very effectively. The dashing prince was none other than Gareth Gates, and of course no cast is complete without a wicked witch and a male pantomime dame wearing ever more outlandish costumes. I haven’t been to a pantomime for about 40 years so it was fun to relive my (and my kids’) childhood again. Later that week, I also attended the Council's Christmas celebration event which included good misical and choral performances from some of Croydon's children.

The bad news of Purley Pool’s potential closure broke during w/c 8 December, so I and my Conservative colleagues launched a campaign and petition, which has already attracted over 1000 signatures; further details are in one of my earlier blogs. It was particularly unfortunate that this news broke just as the Purley Business Improvement District (BID) team heard that they had secured funding from the GLA to take the concept further. Croydon’s BID has been running successfully for several years and is one of the largest in the UK, so as a Purley councillor, I’m delighted that Purley now hopes to follow in its footsteps.

I did my usual two hours IT buddy stint at the Whifgift Foundation's Carer Support Centre in George Street on 11 December, and the next day all helpers were kindly invited to an enjoyable Christmas dinner with a difference - a carry-out curry which was delivered piping hot to the office! It was good to meet the other volunteers in an informal setting and to swap notes.

I was delivering Neighbourhood Watch leaflets recently and unfortunately slipped and sprained my ankle on some steps. I needed physiotherapy and bandages etc, but my wife also persuaded me to try acupuncture and I have to admit that I was impressed at the speed of my recovery using a combination of ancient and modern healing techniques… and it wasn’t painful!

There were just two Council meetings in the final full week before Christmas; one was a regular planning meeting while the other was a full Scrutiny meeting; the closure of Purley Pool was not explicitly on the agenda but it was inevitable that it would feature prominently in the debate, with a large number of Pool supporters patiently waiting in the wings for a chance to speak. Unlike full Council meetings, there is no official speaking slot in Scrutiny committee meetings for members of the public or indeed councillors who are not members of the committee, but the Labour chair Sean Fitzsimons gave Fred Wallis the chance to speak, and he did so eloquently. Of course I’m biased, but I think most independent observers would say that Fred had the better of the argument in his exchanges with the Labour Council leader Tony Newman.

Last week, I and two other councillors were invited to see the Council's secure CCTV centre in action on one of the busiest nights of the year, and it was interesting to see how the staff use about 90 remotely controlled cameras actively to monitor what's going on in the town centre. In one case we saw someone trying to hide something in his shoe after being ejected from a club and the CCTV staff were able to help the police to find vital evidence when they conducted a search of the suspect. We asked lots of questions and really appreciated the opportunity to hear at first hand about the challenges of keeping Croydon's streets safe for its citizens.

And so to Christmas, and a break from blogging..
.. but I’ll be back in the New Year, no doubt with plenty to say as the race towards the General Election hots up!

With best wishes for a Happy Christmas and New Year..

Simon Brew

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Purley needs YOU for an interesting Community project
27/02/2018 15:21:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

As one of Purley’s local councillors, I’m keen to launch a new initiative which is principally aimed at improving Rotary Field, and there are other local projects which also would benefit. There’s a Council-funded scheme which I hope will provide the required kick-start: it’s called Community Empowerment & Devolution (CED for short), and Purley is one of the three pilot wards which have been selected across the Borough – the others are South Norwood & New Addington.

Many local people and organisations including councillors, Purley Rotary, Purley BID (Business Improvement District), the PWRA, Purley Baptist Church, Christ Church and Purley Festival all agree that Purley’s local civic infrastructure badly needs improvement. Rotary Field is our only green space and the community is very grateful that it was donated by Rotary International in the 1920s, but it’s now obvious that it needs some TLC. Previous ideas have included making use of the derelict toilet block to establish a café and/or community shed, and we would like to make more imaginative use of the space we do have, though, for example, establishing some flower beds. There’s also scope for improving the range of the children’s equipment by installing a large rope pyramid climbing frame.

Apart from Rotary Field, Purley is home to another neglected relic of history: the Purley fountain, which sits outside the children’s library. It was commissioned in 1901 to celebrate the long reign of Queen Victoria; the fountain has been moved once or twice in its long life, and in the past it has operated as a fountain. It’s unloved and ignored in its current position, but it and Purley would benefit hugely if it were moved to a much more prominent position elsewhere in the gyratory, and made to operate again.

To make improvements to Purley such as those described above obviously requires money, but it’s actually more difficult to establish a viable management organisation. This needs to define the town’s priorities and a viable timeframe in consultation with local organisations, and then develop a plan to implement them. The CED scheme could provide up to £20,000 funding to get this organisation off the ground, but to do so, we need to find several local people to form a committee, and particularly to fill the key roles of manager, treasurer and secretary, and it’s possible that people could be paid for the time they devote to this project.

The purpose of this blog is to encourage a few individuals who are committed to Purley’s future to form a management committee to take this project forward. If you’re interested, please contact, or call me on 07803 618096.



Purley BID Board meeting
24/02/2018 18:53:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

Last week I attended another Purley BID Board meeting which was kindly hosted by Tesco. We heard of the good progress being made on many fronts as part of a long-running campaign to make Purley a destination of choice rather than just a place to commute to, from, or through. We heard of exciting new art projects and of other campaigns to increase Purley's profile across the board. We are trying to extend the hours of operation of the lifts now that they have been re-furbished as part of a £200k re-furbishment project, and this should be of great benefit to residents and businesses alike. 




Visit to Purley Mosque
23/02/2018 16:05:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

All over the country, mosques opened their doors last weekend to visitors and I was delighted to spend spent about an hour listening to an explanation of the key tenets of Islam, and seeking answers to several questions about it which have always puzzled me. It was an excellent opportunity for an informal chat with several leading members of the Muslim community, which of course includes my coleague Cllr Badsha Quadir. In case you're not aware, the mosque is in Whytecliffe Road South, opposite the network rail car park. 

Maybe some of the local churches could also organise open days in a similar style? 




Purley & Woodcote RA committee meeting
08/02/2018 21:35:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

It's always a pleasure to attend these committee meetings becasue they're a good opportunity to take the temperature of the local community, and to pick up vibes about issues which are or will soon become very important. 

At the last committee meeting we debated the likely impact of the Croydon Local Plan which is very likely to be accepted at the next full Council meeting on 27 February 2018. The three key Purley issues in the plan are the incorporation of the Purley Baptist Church development and the Purley Oaks Gypsy & Traveller site into the final plan, together with a much longer term (20 years?) possibility of up to 900 (yes 900!) flats on and around the Purley Tesco site. It's not at all clear where these 900 residents would park their cars while leaving spaces for Tesco shoppers. 

The voting members of the committee (not I) also decided whether they wished the PWRA to support, comment on or oppose various local developments which are currently going through the planning process. 



NWOW in Planning
07/02/2018 20:32:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

NWOW is short for New Ways Of Working for the Counil's Planning Department. I joined many representatives from Residents' Associations across the Borough at a recent meeting organised by the Council's planning department. They now process about 5000 planning applications per year and to keep the wheels turning, they have had to introduce several new processes. Applications are now processed and validated by the same officer rather than different departments as previously, and they will stop displaying notices on lampposts for every minor application, because it's now relatively easy for members of the public to get automatic notification of all relevant applications online. If anyone wants to know how to do this, pleae get in touch.



Holocaust Memorial Day 26 January
29/01/2018 15:24:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

I attended a moving event last week in the Town Hall Chamber where we heard several moving speeches commemorating this awful stain on humanity; the highlight, if that's the right word, was a presentation from a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, where so many Jews perished in their thousands. Her extraordinary ability to recount these awful events so many decades ago really brought home to me the horrors of those years... which sadly are being repeated even as I type this, in countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Myanmar. Sadly, it's beyone the scope of a Croydon politician to resolve these intractable conflicts, but we can at least support the peace efforts of others. 



Croydon Community Consortium meeting
24/01/2018 20:33:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

This is a little-publicised Croydon-wide Community Group which aims to distribute information about local events through meetings roughly every two months, and I attended the recent one at St Michaels' church, Poplar Walk. There were discussions about several planning issues and the 20MPH zones, but the main inspirational presentation was by Katie Rose, who is the principal organiser of the Festival of Peace which will be held during w/c 16 June 2018. There will be several concerts and other themed events in two of Croydon's parks and I'm sure the event will be massively popular.



Croydon Conference on causes/solutions for homelessness
20/01/2018 17:05:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

I was delighted to attend a conference yesterday which was sponsored by Evolve London, which is one of London's largest Housing Asssociations. We heard about a new iniative which aims to get people off the streets without pre-conditions, and then work with them to solve the underlying problems such as mental health, substance misuse or domestic violence which has probably casued them to be homeless in the first place. This is quite different from many other initiatives which usually require people to prove that they have solved their underlying problems before being accepted onto recovery programmes. However, if their problems are too serious in the first place, they'll never be able to take that first step.

I was really pleased to attend, and I suggested that Evolve might be able to acquire some old laptops from the Council, to help train their clients in basic office skills. I strongly support this excellent iniative. 



Purley Skyscraper "Mosaic Place " enquiry
18/01/2018 19:22:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

Following lobbying from Chris Philp MP, the Secretary of State Sajid Javid decided to "call in" the Purley Baptist Church planning application for the 17 storey skyscraper and an independent inspector was appointed to hear all the evidence afresh. The hearings took place across 6 intensive days: the Council & Church presented their application to him using the services of one of the best known planning barrister QCs in the country, while Chris Philp MP, seven local Residents' Associations (though not the PWRA), and dozens of local residents presented their case against the development. The inspector was even-handed, painstaking and courteous; he will now make a recommendation to the SoS who will make the final decision, but we're unlkely to hear any news till after the Local Elections on Thursday 3 May 2018, because of "Purdah" rules. 



Montpelier Rd / Kingsdown Ave development approved..over-development, and destruction of open land :-(
20/04/2017 22:10:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

Together with representatives from MAKRA, Chris Philp MP and about 60 concerned local residents, I attended Planning Committee this evening to speak against the appalling development of 34 dwellings which is planned at the junction of these two important roads. Between us we raised all the important issues:

·         Too much intensive development in an area already heavily congested and with inadequate parking.

·         Despite doing seven traffic surveys (which is apparently a record), the applicant failed to pick up the traffic congestion at the times when it really matters – rush hour and daytime parking

·         The dangerous junction, greatly exacerbated by siting one of the new buildings right on the corner

·         Serious loss of green space and play area, especially at the junction

·         Loss of 49 trees including the beautiful flowering cherries

·         Loss of the attractive views across the valley

·         Buildings on plots A & D1 are too tall for the area.

·         Design is to some extent a matter of taste, but many were appalled by the cubist design of some buildings which looked more like prison blocks than anything else.

·         Serious impact on some neighbours.

Sadly and predictably, the final vote was along Party lines, with the six Labour members (who all live nowhere near this site) voting in favour while the four Conservative councillors all voted against.

This is the first of many applications being submitted by the Council’s own development company Brick By Brick Ltd (BxB). One of the applicant speakers has a day job as a Council employee, so granting planning permission was perhaps a formality.

The outcome of this BxB planning application sends a strong warning that Labour councillors seem hell-bent on pushing through any and every intensive planning application, especially those in the South, which are sited far away from their own wards. 



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 Older Blog Posts
The Lord Roberts Post Office will re-open on 23 March :-)
Purley is identified as a "Dementia-friendly" town
WARNING: Council tax refund scam
How to object to the 20MPH zone – deadline 15 February 2017
20MPH speed limit across the South of the Borough?
Strong local opposition to plan for 34 dwellings at jct: Montpelier Rd/Kingsdown Avenue
Purley BID seeks an ambassador - interested?
Croydon's Digital Inclusion project and the Carer Support Centre
Busy Purley surgery this morning
Why so many tree stumps on Purley's streets?
34 new dwelling planned at junction Montpelier Rd / Kingsdown Avenue
Council meeting on 17/10: My speech on Local Plan's impact on Purley
"No thanks for Trick or Treat" poster
Fed Up with Trick or Treating at your front door?
Local Plan Consultation period is now open. Concern re proposed Gypsy & Traveller site at Purley Oaks.
Closed Fairfield Halls still owes £4500 to Croydon Dance Group
Purley Baptist Church development – Mayor of London requires changes.
Grass too long on roadside verges? Here's how to report it.
Ginger Bread House parking application approved
The new Montpelier Road Residents’ Association is formed
Croydon Local Plan update: a Gypsy & Traveller Site in Purley?
GOOD NEWS: Two Purley Car Park lifts to be restored
Possible new development at junction of Montpelier Rd & Kingsdown Avenue, Purley
Review of Croydon's ineffective licensing scheme for all private rented properties
All in a day's work...
Are some Council-owned sites in Purley earmarked for housing?
Impact of street trader licence fees
Purley BID holds very successful festival in the High Street
Royal Russell School hosts an unusual sports event
Traffic chaos at Purley Oaks Recycling Centre: petition to extend opening hours
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