May in brief


By - Thursday 4th June, 2015

The big stories of May, summarised in one place


Sarah Jones and Gavin Barwell.
Photo by Stephen Black, used with permission.

Croydon Central went to the wire on election night

While the country decided against a knife-edge result, the promised cliff-hanger in Croydon Central did not fail to materialise. At 4:30am on Friday 8th May, a partial recount was announced. Morning had broken before the final outcome in the battle between incumbent Conservative Gavin Barwell and Labour challenger Sarah Jones was clear: Croydon Central stayed Conservative by a majority of just 165 votes. Croydon South and Croydon North, the borough’s ‘safe’ seats, stayed in the hands of the Conservative and Labour Parties respectively. For more, see The Public Gallery on page 7.

A Norwood café failed the trendy test

A café in Norwood Junction found itself under threat for being unfashionable. Owner Rashid Hassine, who has run Café Basmaccio since 2006, was informed that his business was insufficiently ‘trendy and rustic’ but complained that when he presented a plan for re-design, this was ignored. Mr Hassine claims that London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. (LOROL) wishes him to sign a ‘tenancy at will’ agreement, under the terms of which he could be required to vacate the premises without notice.

London Road got a Croydon facelift

After many weeks during which buildings have been behind scaffolding and tarpaulins, residents of London Road began to see the difference as public realm improvement works make progress. The lower half of London Road in particular has many attractive buildings and was once a fine example of a late Victorian high street. Now its buildings are re-emerging, and many locals hope this is a sign of better times to come for this frequently-criticised stretch of central Croydon.

Croydon Council’s new Place Directorate flexed its muscles in Thornton Heath

The new directorate brings together previously disparate sections of local government to enable a more co-ordinated approach to planning and decision-making, under the leadership of Jo Negrini, previously Newham Council’s director of planning and credited with co-ordinating its regeneration in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic Games. The directorate is now engaged with local residents and business representatives, including the Thornton Heath Action Group, in work to develop a strategy for upgrading Thornton Heath High Street and Brigstock Road.

Swimming lessons for Purley schoolchildren still in hot water

Swimming lessons for children in the south of the borough faced a new threat, not long after Purley Pool was spared from closure. Now, the swimming pool at Thomas More school in Russell Hill Road, used by over 1,000 local schoolchildren each week for lessons, will close in September 2015 while the school assesses whether it has the funds to carry out necessary repairs. Headteacher Margaret Mulchrone announced that ‘investigations into structural repairs’ were needed and that the pool cannot remain open while the works are underway.

Metro Bank announced plans to bring its UK HQ to Croydon

Metro Bank is considering the new Ruskin Square development by East Croydon station as site for its UK HQ. Founded just five years ago, Metro Bank is reported to be in talks to take over the bulk of the first phase of Ruskin Square. The nine-acre site will eventually include 625 homes, 1.25 million sq ft of offices and 100,000 sq ft of shops, cafes and restaurants.

The Advertiser‘s Ian Austen received the Freedom of Croydon 

Croydon Advertiser reporter Ian Austen retired after 46 years and was given the freedom of Croydon to mark his long service to the local community. The politics journalist received a standing ovation at the council’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday 21st May and is now entitled, in his new role as freeman, to drive a herd of wild animals through Croydon whenever he wishes to do so. Austen’s retirement is not the only departure from the Advertiser, as editor Glenn Ebrey has announced he is moving on from the paper in June.

Croydon children were charged for learning to read 

Croydon Council apologised to 32 special needs pupils mistakenly charged a total of £50,000 for reading lessons over a period of three years between 2011 and 2014. Staff are combing records to find other families who may also have made payments. The parents of children referred to a specialist reading unit were charged £90 a week for the lessons until the parent of one child complained, claiming this breached the terms of the Education Act 1996 which entitles all children to free state education. Schools across Croydon have been requested to contact affected parents and notify them how to apply for a refund. It is not known how many pupils missed out on this support because their families were unable to pay.

TURF Projects to open Croydon’s second town centre art gallery

Pioneering local arts collective TURF Projects began renovating new premises in Keeley Road, central Croydon, which are to become the town centre’s second exciting art exhibition space. RISE Gallery in St George’s Walk, owned and curated by Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison, has already kicked off the area’s artistic renaissance with exhibitions including works by Banksy and Damien Hirst, as well as inviting the Femme Fierce street art collective to transform the area with stunning murals on walls and shop shutters. TURF, which has previously brought Croydonians a crazy golf art installation and put on shows at Matthew’s Yard, plans to open the space on 28th May with an inaugural show ‘Tru Luv’, about the ethical issues raised by displaying the intimate.

Armed robbery leads to car crash on Surrey Street

On 26th May, five people were arrested after an armed robbery of the post office on the High Street. The robbery, which the Croydon Advertiser reports took place at 9:10am, left two people in the post office with non-life-threatening injuries and led to a police pursuit. An unmarked car believed to be a police vehicle eventually rolled into Surrey Street after its driver left it unattended to pursue the suspects on foot. The car crashed into the Veginstead stall, injuring one stallholder. The three men who fled the post office and two further suspects have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

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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