Five new year resolutions for Croydon

By - Monday 5th January, 2015

Robert Ward sets out five resolutions for Croydon to stick to in 2015 to shake off that ‘gritty South London neighbourhood’ image

Photo by Gareth Williams and used under Creative Commons licence.

The world is full of people who have never set foot in Croydon. A blurred few seconds as the Gatwick Express swishes through East Croydon station is as near as most of humankind gets to up-close-and-personal with the Cronx. These folk judge us on reputation, which for Croydon is not flattering – an American magazine described us as a “gritty South London neighbourhood”, which pretty much sums up external perceptions. But is that fair?

Of course it isn’t, but that’s life. Croydon is a big place, diverse in all sorts of ways. It is home to a lot of people, twice as many as decent sized towns. There is room for all life in Croydon.

Somewhere there is a new story line for Croydon. You need to help create it.

And Croydon has lots to shout about. Excellent transport links (most trains do stop at East Croydon), close to both countryside and Central London. What’s more, we see investment in hotels, office space, housing and retail facilities, the basics that a thriving community needs. Yet we have been here before and have somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. What do we need to do this time?

It is only eight years since I stepped off one of those trains at East Croydon for the first time, although I have since found a branch of my family tree spent a good chunk of their lives in Croydon (a stone’s throw from the Brighton Road at the end of the 19th century if you must know) but left. So with a little knowledge here are my five suggestions for 2015.

  1. Have some confidence. Croydon is a good place to live and work. Don’t get all defensive if you hear someone say that it’s not. That’s their problem.
  2. Take pride in your surroundings. The rubbish on our streets is not deposited by anyone other than ourselves. Blaming someone else for dropping it or the council for not picking it up quickly enough is not being a responsible citizen. Crush cans and plastic bottles, collapse cardboard boxes, recycle food waste and don’t forget collection day. If you see someone dumping, get evidence and tell the council.
  3. Don’t be parochial. Making Croydon an even better place will create opportunities. Most will sensibly be filled by local people, but some will not. Croydon needs incomers. Equally Croydon has good people who will seize opportunities elsewhere, well done them.
  4. Treat change as an opportunity, not a threat. People say they want progress, but then resist change. The fact is new Croydon will be different. It won’t be just old Croydon, but ‘nicer’. There will be some changes that you won’t like, but there will be many more positives. Make the most of them, and get over the negatives.
  5. Get involved. We need a better Croydon strap line than ‘gritty South London neighbourhood’ but we have to make it happen, to experiment and see what works. So get out and get involved, be it Croydon Tech City or enjoying entertainment at the Fairfield, Matthews Yard, Croydon Radio or your local library. Somewhere there is a new story line for Croydon. You need to help create it.

It isn’t going to be easy but success is there for the taking. Good luck for 2015.

Robert Ward

Robert Ward

Engineer and project manager specialised in helping businesses make better strategic decisions and improve safety, quality and effectiveness. Conservative Party Councillor representing Selsdon and Addington Village on Croydon Council. He tweets as @moguloilman.

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  • Mario Creatura

    Hear hear Robert! The more people who get involved with shaping their community, and the more people who react positively to shape inevitable change, the far stronger Croydon (and Croydon’s reputation) will become.

  • Stephen Giles

    Super article and how right you are!

  • Sean Creighton

    Good aspirations, but as always there are winners and losers with change. The losers are usually the majority of local people many of whom will be forced to move elsewhere as high housing purchase prices and rents continue to rise. The main beneficiaries will be the developers and multiple landlords. We have to embrace change that benefits the majority – which will never happen through supporting the Tory Party, nor Labour that is signed up to continuing the Con/Dem austerity budget for at least a year.if elected in May.

  • Wesley Jordan Anthony Baker

    Really like this article, my favourite point is getting involved with events going on.

    I think a few other are…

    1. Stop referring to the town as a S**t hole, its a lazy description considering the amount of words we have in our language to describe things. Not to say you can’t express what isn’t great about the area but it doesn’t help.
    2. I’d love to see more people like myself taking pictures of the area when we have events like the world food market at Platform, the Rise gallery street art or the vast green areas like Wandle park then #croydon #cronx etc instead of just posting pics of people fighting on Thornton heath high street. We as a population need to put our best foot forward and have a great opportunity to show the world what its really like here.
    3.Explore the town so when someone refers to Exchange square you can say yh that nice square with the old pump house. I’ve spoken to people born in this town who didn’t know what I was talking about when I mentioned the Queens gardens.
    4. Explore the rest of London to appreciate what is great about our town/borough compared to other parts of the town and what we can maybe learn from other areas such as the types of projects communities can create. Seen some great stuff like the Canning town Caravansarai etc. We could possibly have areas like this.
    6. Be proud to be from Croydon and understand why through looking into the rich history of the area.
    7. Buy a ticket for Ambition festival and Beats and Eats, Ambition sounds like it could be something that just grows and grows. Beats and Eats is such a open event, you can bring your kids or your grandma, there’s food and its not locked down to one specific genre. This last point was a lil like point 2 lol.

    Thanks for writing this article Robert. I might be preaching to the wrong folk here as having met quite a few of you I know the readership would probably do all of these points but will be posting these points on my social media accounts.

  • Andrew Dickinson

    On my Green Croydon show on Monday 5th on Croydon Radio I had a mild rant at people getting involved in what’s going on and finding out what’s going on as last year I got fed up of hearing people say ‘I didn’t know this was going on’ or worse ‘There’s nothing going on’ scroll to 23 minutes in: