May 2016 in brief

By - Monday 20th June, 2016

May’s news in brief, summarised for your convenience by the Citizen team

Photo by Croydon Bee Haven, used with permission.

Croydon became a haven for bees

The team that brought Saffron Central, the world’s largest urban saffron farm, to Croydon in 2015 is now using the space to create a haven for bees. With the support of Croydon Beekeepers Association and community volunteers, they have planted the site, formerly the location of Croydon’s council building, Taberner House, with bee-friendly plants such as sunflowers, borage, phacelia, cornflowers, poppies and nasturtiums and installed a bee hive. Local artists and children have been encouraged to provide bee-themed art for the site so that it becomes a beautiful community space. The goal of the project is to encourage Croydon’s bee population which is known to be in decline, and as Saffron Central was before it, to provide a focus for the people of Croydon to celebrate nature and heritage.

Investigation into possible overspending by Conservatives in Croydon Central during 2015′s general election ‘given more time’

Croydon Central’s Conservative MP Gavin Barwell remains one of the subjects of a continuing investigation into overspending during 2015′s general election campaign, as reported in the Croydon Guardian and Daily Mirror in May. A Channel 4 News investigation claims to have uncovered receipts that show that the Conservative Party spent money allocated as ‘campaigning funds’, which should have been assigned as ‘candidate spending’. It is alleged that the amounts spent in some key constituencies, including the super-marginal seat of Croydon Central, may have tipped the local candidate over their spending limit. Investigations by the Electoral Commission and the police are ongoing. Gavin Barwell held Croydon Central by 165 votes.

Conductors’ strikes continued to affect Southern Rail services 

The third in a series of strikes by conductors on Southern Rail took place on 18th May, following two previous days of action on 26th and 27th April. The RMT union opposes the creation of a new ‘on-board supervisor’ rule and plans for drivers to operate train doors. In response, Govia Thameslink asserts that there are no plans for job losses or pay cuts. Southern Rail has come under sustained criticism by passengers travelling throughout Croydon over the shortcomings of its commuter services into London Bridge station.

Croydon Advertiser reporter’s harassment order revoked

Chief reporter Gareth Davies had been given a ‘prevention of harassment’ order in 2014, but after a two year battle with the Metropolitan Police it was withdrawn in May. As reported in The Daily Telegraph, Davies had received the order from police for approaches to alleged fraudster Neelam Desai, who is alleged to have conned men out of large sums of money through an Asian marriage website. Davies, who has always insisted that his attempts to contact her were not harassment, welcomed the decision, and generally had a good May – he also won Weekly Reporter of the Year for the third year in a row at the Regional Press Awards.

Secretary of Croydon Labour suspended from national party over anti-Semitism allegation

David White, secretary of the Labour Party’s Croydon Central branch, was suspended by the national party after tweeting that comments by Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London and former Labour MP, were “largely accurate”. The widely-reported comments by Livingstone claimed that Hitler had been a Zionist prior to ‘going mad’ in the 1930s. David White was reported by This Is Local London as involved in co-ordinating campaigns for re-instatement by other party members across the country suspended over the same matter. He deleted the tweet on 28th April shortly after posting it.

Mr White, who has been a member of the Labour Party for 46 years, said that Ken Livingstone’s comment was not “in itself anti-Semitic” or intended to cause office. He added that “true instances of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism” must be opposed and rooted out.

Boxpark opening announced for September 2016

Croydon’s new Boxpark, London’s first dedicated street food and entertainment-led Boxpark development, announced that its site by East Croydon station is fully let but that the site will not open until September 2016 rather than in June as originally anticipated.

Key tenants on the site will be upmarket burger chain Meatliquor, the Breakfast Club, and Mexican food outlet Chilango. Local companies which will have a presence are: Yumn Brasserie, offering ‘a modern British menu with a twist’; the celebrated and successful local Cronx Brewery; Breadtree, offering authentic Italian bruscetta and pasta; independent café Mud; Vietnamese snacks from Viet Do An; and a small platters outlet from Wine and Deli, the founders of the Matthews-Yard-based burger operation BRGR&BEER.
Anarchist artist Jamie Reid wants £1 million mural to stay in Croydon

The Croydon Advertiser reported the view of Croydon-born artist Jamie Reid that his 40ft by 9ft punk mural, recently on display during the Short Sharp Shock exhibition of his work at RISE Gallery in St George’s Walk, should find a permanent home in Croydon.

The mural is created from cuttings and letters that the artist collected. It was inspired by resistance to capitalism and urban landscapes and has been in the Jamie Reid Archive since it was removed from a wall in Brixton in the 1980s.

Private collectors in the US have already offered Reid more than twice the work’s currently estimated £1million price tag, but he states that he would like it to remain close to its roots, in the place that he first established himself as an artist and where it could be seen in public and enjoyed. It has been suggested that the work could be be featured in the town’s cultural quarter which is set to include a redeveloped Croydon College and Fairfield Halls.
Art studio for people with mental health difficulties opens

On 10th May, Luciana Berger MP opened the newest branch of Studio Upstairs, an organisation run by qualified art psychotherapists. The new studio, based in Park Street in central Croydon, also features an on-site gallery and specialises in “the creation of visual art within a therapeutic, safe and social space”. The studio, the latest of several arts venues to have opened around the borough in the last year, has begun its programme with a series of life drawing classes.

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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