Council destroys jobs - all because of a dispute with a landlord 10/08/2019 12:17:00......Posted by Simon Brew
This is a shocking tale: On Tuesday 16th July (coincidentally (or was it?) on the day after the last full Council meeting till October), some heavy-handed security staff moved in on the Allders Village Outlet in George Street. Without any prior notice whatsoever, they changed the locks, barred any shop-staff from going inside, and actually assaulted a 72 year old member of staff by removing a key from him. Among the 20 shops affected by this is Bellamys, a very successful ice-cream and snack parlour. This family-run business has been totally ruined in their peak trading season of the summer school holidays, and the staff were barred from even retrieving personal possessions. They had a van legally parked in the Allders car park and this was removed to Chessington, which is where the enforcement officers apparently have a base.
All this has happened because the Council is in a dispute with the landlord of the Village Outlet, and they decided that the only way to resolve this was forcibly to take over the whole building - but what a way to do so! I find it totally incomprehensible that it wasn't possible for some sane negotiations to have ensured that, whatever the dispute between Council and the landlord, the businesses could have continued unaffected. As it is, many families are now on the breadline, and a tiny remant of the ice-cream store is now trading from a single stall outside Centrale. Utterly shameful..
I'm helping the family to try and find an alternative location and to protect their frozen stock and expensive machinery, which is now lying idle, but still needs daily maintenance. They will also be seeking some independent legal advice on how to obtain compensation.
Packed meeting in Sanderstead to launch DEMOC campaign 13/02/2020 08:29:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
I went to an abolutely PACKED meeting of well over 200 people at All Saints Sanderstead last night for the local launch of the DEMOC campaign (Campaign for a Democratically Elected Mayor for Croydon). The DEMOC chair Gerry Meredith-Smith spoke eloquently & passionately about how too much power was currently concentrated in the hands of the Council leader who was selected by a tiny band of 21 councillors from the majority party. He or she could therefore totally ignore the views of those living in 24 of the 28 wards of Croydon, and concentrate on winning hearts and minds in the 4 marginal wards - no-one else matters. By contrast a DEM would effectively replace the current leader and would be answerable to voters across the whole borough. This issue particularly relates to current planning policies which are SO unpopular all over the borough as they are used to justify the destruction of so many decent large family homes and their replacement by blocks of flats; in aggregate, these change the neighbourhood for ever.
We also heard speakers from local RAs and from Croydon South Labour party who strongly support this campaign. More details here: please sign up via www.democ.org.uk
Young Croydon seminar 07/02/2020 10:25:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
Earrlier this week, I went to a seminar at Crystal Palace FC which was organised by https://youngcroydon.org.uk/ . We heard some statistics about the background of a cohort of 60 local youngsters who had recently been in trouble with the authorities, and were the subject of a rigorous academic study. They shared depressingly familiar characteristics: 72% suffered from the absence of their own father in the family unit and a very high proportion came from generally deprived backgrounds, so it wasn't any surprise that they went off the rails.
At a recent service in the Purley Baptist Church, I heard about a mentoring scheme for troubled youngsters; I hesitated to volunteer because I felt that my own background and circumstances were so different from theirs that I might not be acceptable, but I was assured that this is not the case. I haven't yet put my toe in the water, but attending this seminar reminded me that I should try again - and I would encourage anyone else who is concerned about youngsters (as we should all be), to investigate this volunteering option.
Purley's Iron Horse project: Commemorative mugs on sale! 01/02/2020 18:56:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
As part of the celebrations for the installation of the Iron Horse in Purley's Rotary Field, a limited edition of 50 commemorative mugs was ordered and they have already sold out! A few more mugs as illustrated will be ordered in the next week or two, so please get in touch with me if you wish to purchase one; any profits will go to the Purley & Woodcote Residents' Association
Mayoral celebration of Purley's Iron Horse Sculpture 01/02/2020 18:21:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
Yesterday we were delighted to welcome the Mayor of Croydon who presided over the official opening ceremony for the magnificent 12m sculpture by Alan Potter which has been installed in Purley. The 12M cast iron structure is a full-size replica and commemorates the horse-drawn trains which in the early 1800s ran straight through Rotary Field carriying building materials, corn, coal and many other products all the way up to river docks at Wandsworth. By some accounts it was the world's first public railway (as opposed to railways built within mines for example), and a small section of the orignal track is still in place in the northwest corner of the field. The line of the original track can still be traced for a mile or two in both directions from Purley.
About 70 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, after which Christchurch Purley, which is just opposite Rotary Field, kindly hosted an excellent reception which was open to all. In the church foyer, there were about 300 miniature models of the sculpture on display; these had been painted by volunteers during community workshops back in the Summer. Some specially commissioned mugs were also on sale, as described in the next blog item.
Abandoned rentabike reported 29/01/2020 17:56:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
There's been an abandoned locked rental bicycle close to the junction of Godstone Rd & Foxley Hill Rd since before Christmas. I checked today on the LoveCleanstreets app to find that there are about 12 flytip reports in the immediate area, which are almost certainly about this bike... and yet it;'s still there!
I reported it today to a senior officer, so I'm hopeful that it will disappear soon...
Celebrating the Chinese new year of the Rat 29/01/2020 14:36:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
Last night I attended the Mayor's dinner to celebrate the Chinese new year which has just started, and we were treated to a splendid feast interspersed with many Chinese cultural activities. These ranged from an impressive elongated Lion which paraded all round Braithwaite Hall, some beautiful singing of opera pieces from West & East, and many excellent dancing displays. It was a pleasure to attend, and to know that at the same time, we were benefiting the Mayor's chosen charities for this year.
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day 27/01/2020 17:09:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
Earlier today I attended what has rightly become an annual event in the Town Hall to commemorate the Holocaust in WW2. 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the German Auschwitz concentration camp which is in Poland near Krakow, so it bore particular poignancy. However, the message we heard during the speeches, presentations was that sadly and incredibly, genocide did not end with the fall of the Nazis in 1945. It continued in Cambodia 1975-1979 (where I've also visited a tragic museum), also Rwanda in 1994, Bosnia in 1995, and shockingly continues to this day in Darfur in Sudan and elsewhere.
This year we heard an extremely moving account from Safet Vukalic who was brought up in Bosnia; his family was split up during the Bosnian conflict and he and many of his friends and relatives were imprisoned, tortured or died purely because of their religious beliefs. He urged us to challenge ideologies based on segmentation of people into different races, religions or any other totally inapprropriate classificlation, particularly when this then led to them being treated differently from others.
Only one week to the launch of the Iron Horse in Purley's Rotary Field 24/01/2020 17:59:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
If you live anywhere near Rotary Field, you can't have failed to notice the installation of a full-size 12m cast iron sculpture of a horse and two wagons. It celebrates a local branch of the Surrey Iron Railway which ran right through Rotary Field from 1805 - 1838, and of which a short fragment still remains in the northwest corner. It was one of the world's first railways, and was used, among other things, to enable horses to draw trains of up to five wagons full of building materials from quarries near Godstone & Merstham all the way to a river dock at Wandsworth.
The launch event with the Croydon Mayor in attendance is next Friday 31st January, and all are welcome. PLEASE register in advance via Eventbrite that you're coming so that we don't run out of food! Further detail are on the attached flyer.
Croydon Community Consortium (CCC) - an interesting meeting 24/01/2020 17:33:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
Last night I was at a well-attended meeting of the non-political CCC which arranges about 6 meetings per year at which popular community topics are aired.
We heard an interesting presentation about the Purley Food Hub registered charity, which is one of about 4 similar centres operating all over the Borough. Clients have typically fallen on hard times (as determined by Social Services, churches or other social institutions) because of family breakup or eviction, or temporary unemployment, and they receive three days' worth of meals for their complete family. I was re-assured to hear that on average most clients don't need to be supported for more than three visits, because their immediate problem has usually been resolved by the end of that time. The Purley Food Hub is always looking for volunteers to help with a variety of tasks, so please get in touch via email@example.com if you'd like to get involved.
We also participated in a long Council-sponsored discussion relating to "The Big Conversation", which was all about asking residents how they think the Borough should change between now and 2030. There was widespread dissatisfaction with the excessively long timescale of the conversation; most residents seemed to prefer the Council to concentrate on getting the basics such as emptying the bins done really well, long before worrying about how the Council might look in 10 years. There was also widespread dissatisfaction at the impact of the implementation of the Croydon Local Plan on many neighbourhoods all over the Borough.
The consultation is still open and there's a special website: www.bigconversation.croydon.gov.uk where there is much more information.
Pension committee - totally unnecessarily loss of £300,000. 08/01/2020 17:22:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
At yesterday's Pension Committee, we were told that owing to an administrative error, the Council's Pension Fund lost no less than £300k recently. There is an agreed cross-party policy that we should not invest in the tobacco industry, but it turns out that many millions of pounds were recently invested in the industry against the explicit instructions of the Committee. When the error was discovered, the transaction was reversed, and as a result, the net loss to the fund is some £300,000. The Pension fund is ultimately backed by Croydon taxpayers who have therefore each lost about £1.00 as a result of this "error" - some error.... How can this possibly be allowed to happen?
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