March 2016 in brief

By - Wednesday 6th April, 2016

The news highlights for March 2016 in Croydon, compiled by the Citizen team

Confirmation that Fairfield Halls will close on 15th July for two years

The Croydon Advertiser reported at the end of February that the Fairfield Halls will close its doors for two years as its £30 million rebuild begins. Fairfield (Croydon) Ltd, the charity which operates the building, had dropped its opposition to the plans and its own proposals for a phased closure. £12 million of the project’s cost has been committed up front by the council, which says the remaining £18 million will be generated by selling newly-developed flats on the site. At time of going to press, a petition calling on the council to pursue a phased closure had passed 7,000 signatures.

Action to be taken against landlords who failed to sign up to new licensing scheme

Selective landlord licensing, promised by Croydon Labour before the 2014 election and introduced last year, has seen 25,385 registrations from 11,698 landlords. 23 landlords who have not signed up are now facing a potential £20,000 fine, prosecution and a risk that the council will take over their properties. The scheme sees landlords charged £750 for each property over a five year period.

By-election called in West Thornton after councillor resigns 

Labour councillor Emily Benn, who stood as the party’s candidate for parliament in Croydon South in 2015, said on social media that a new opportunity with her employer will soon require her to move to New York. Her immediate resignation meant the by-election was called to take place on the same day as the London elections on 5th May. West Thornton is a safe Labour ward, and the campaign is not expected to be intensive.

In an unrelated matter, Thornton Heath councillor Matthew Kyeremeh had the Labour whip withdrawn and was being urged to resign by colleagues after a family court ruling relating to his “fraudulent” deprivation of assets from his mentally-ill wife during their divorce, the Advertiser reported.

Investigation to be carried out into ‘bashment ban’

Last month’s Citizen news magazine featured Amy Pollard discussing the idea that some kind of unofficial ‘ban’ on certain kinds of music was being put in place by police. Further investigations by the Croydon Advertiser led to revelations including a leaked document that told night club owners not to play what ”this borough finds unacceptable forms of music”. These have resulted in Croydon Council, the local licensing authority, announcing that its scrutiny committee will be looking into the matter. The council pointed out that the police do not in fact have the legal authority to enforce such a policy.

Community groups could be asked to run local parks

Croydon Council has published proposals to end the outsourcing of park maintenance to private firms and instead invite community groups to play the same role. In a press release dated 22nd March, the ‘Better Parks’ plan was said to feature proposals to allow residents to lease council-run sports pitches, involving community groups in the running of council allotments, and creating an interactive map for residents to plan outdoor exercise. Councillor Timothy Godfrey promised a consultation soon, and said he was “looking forward to having this conversation with everyone who shares the council’s ambitions to improve our award-winning parks and open spaces even more”.

“Mealy-mouthed” tweet goes viral, sparks national and local response

Local man Matthew Doyle was arrested by police last month after posting a tweet in which he claimed to have “confronted” a Muslim woman about the terror attacks in Brussels. Referring to her alleged reply of “nothing to do with me” as “mealy-mouthed”, Doyle’s tweet went viral and was soon being mocked in national media and parodied on a poster in Croydon town centre. Doyle, who submitted articles to the Citizen in 2014, was arrested on 23rd March 2016 “on suspicion of inciting racial hatred via social media”. He was admitted to hospital by police “as a precaution”, and was eventually released after the Crown Prosecution Service told police that it was not going to charge him.

Long-time Croydonian and entertainer Ronnie Corbett passes away

Corbett, one half of the comedy double-act The Two Ronnies, died at Shirley Oaks Hospital aged 85 on 31st March. While born in Scotland, he spent much of his life in Croydon and was a great lover of the town, recently playing a role in the successful ‘Save the David Lean’ campaign after the small arthouse cinema was closed in 2011. He is already honoured as one of the three figures commemorated with metal statues behind Exchange Square, where flowers and four candles (a reference to The Two Ronnies‘ most famous sketch) were left the morning after his death.

The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen is a non-profit community news magazine for London's most populous borough.

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  • Anne Giles

    As far as the bashment ban is concerned, police may have done the right thing. Our black cleaner will not allow her daughter to any of those places where they play certain types of music. She says the words of the songs are inciting people to commit crimes and that many of those going to the clubs are taking drugs.

    • Harley S

      You are clearly speaking from a position of ignorance.

      You seem to think that by highlighting the view of your *black* cleaner (the view of one person), this somehow validates the actions of the police.

      Instead of speaking from a position of ignorance (you clearly know nothing about bashment) why don’t you share some hard evidence? I suspect you don’t have any. People who rely on generalisations to form their arguments are often exposed for their naivety.

      Can I suggest that you read the Croydon Advertiser, who have been pursuing this matter with rigour. Police action is highly questionable, to say the least, and their case was throw out by Croydon Licensing Committee.

      By the way, I hear that many middle class white boys (like my 17-year-old-son) are taking to bashment. I suspect that thought may leave you feeling dazed and confused.

      I’ve got just the tonic: put on some bashment music and have dance, but whatever you do resist the urge to commit crimes and take drugs. You’ll soon feel as right as rain.

      • Anne Giles

        Not only my cleaner, but the two lots of Afro-Caribbean families in our street. Their sons don’t appear to have any interest in clubbing at all. I always support the police and the Borough Commander recently thanked me for my support on this issue.