Winter in brief

By - Thursday 23rd February, 2017

The big news stories of winter 2016-2017, summarised for your convenience by the Citizen team

Annual ‘Big Street Clean’ sees young Ahmadiyya Muslims tidy up Croydon on New Year’s Day

Young men from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) Croydon celebrated the start of 2017 by waking at the crack of dawn. After offering communal prayers for a prosperous year ahead and their usual morning prayer, they took to the streets, brooms and bin bags in hand, as part of the AMYA’s annual ‘Big Street Clean’.

The campaign is one of many charitable and community initiatives carried out by the AMYA across the winter break. The group also organised blood donation sessions, charity collections, children’s hospital and nursing home visits, and campaigns to bring food to homeless people.

ASLEF ballot could end rail strikes and disruption

An agreement reached with leaders of the train drivers’ union (full name Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) on 17th January is being put to members of the trade union, with voting ending on 16th February. Central to the agreement is a commitment by Southern Rail that except in ‘exceptional circumstances’, a second staff member will be on all trains on the network. This had been a point of contention at the heart of the industrial dispute, with ASLEF and fellow transport workers’ union the RMT objecting strongly to ‘driver-only operation’. The agreement came shortly after widespread outrage that twelve rush hour services from East Croydon were indefinitely removed from the timetable, with Southern citing ASLEF’s ‘ongoing overtime ban’ as the cause. The RMT, which represents twelve Southern drivers to ASLEF’s 937, was not part of the talks or the agreement.

One hour free parking to be restored in Croydon’s district centres

The restriction of free parking on district centre high streets sparked controversy last year but appeared to be a closed matter when the council reduced the last remaining one hour area, Coulsdon, to thirty minutes. Residents and businesses opposed to the changes claimed the reduced time made using local businesses unattractive and favoured chain supermarkets with their own dedicated car parks. Labour’s councillor Stuart King, cabinet member for transport and environment, wrote to residents’ groups to inform them of the decision’s reversal this year, which he said had been taken “at the first opportunity”, as parking charges are only reviewed once a year. A public consultation will be held before the changes go ahead, but opposition is not anticipated. One hour parking is expected to return in the late spring.

Commemoration of 150 years since Croydon Minster burned down

An exhibition, concert and talk marked the anniversary of the fire which destroyed what was then Croydon church in 1867. The blaze, caused by a gas heater, destroyed much of the old Saxon church. To see the Citizen’s online coverage of the commemorations, search ‘Croydon Citizen church fire 1867′.

Economic doubts over future of next stage of Menta scheme

Once billed as ‘the tallest building in Croydon’, the proposed 54-storey structure next to East Croydon station was granted planning permission in 2011. But the Croydon Advertiser reported that Craig Marks, CEO of Menta, has warned changing economic conditions in light of Brexit and the Trump presidency could mean the tower is never built. The Morello development, a separate scheme involving 300 homes that are meant to eventually sit next to the tower, is underway. Marks told the Advertiser that “we will be revisiting [the tower scheme] next year. We will have to consider what impact Brexit will have on housing demand as well as other world events”. On the other side of East Croydon station, HMRC have begun fitting out One Ruskin Square, all nine floors of which it leased for 25 years last year.

Croydon MPs vote to trigger Article 50

After a supreme court decision confirmed the right of the House of Commons to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (the process by which a state can formally begin to leave the European Union), speculation mounted as to how MPs would vote. While nationally there was scrutiny of the Conservative and Labour three-line whips to vote in favour of Article 50, closer to home Steve Reed (Labour), Gavin Barwell and Chris Philp (both Conservative) all voted with their parties and against the overall referendum result in Croydon.

The borough voted Remain in last June’s referendum, with 54.3% of the vote. All three men campaigned for a Remain vote then, and explained their decision in terms of the referendum being a national vote that overrode any local results, as well as their duty as politicians to respect the outcome. The European Union (Notification Of Withdrawal) Bill was passed by the House of Commons on Wednesday 8th February.

Consultation but no vote on ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ expansion

Croydon Council plans to expand the 20mph limit currently in place on residential roads in the north east of Croydon to the rest of the borough. Citing the safety benefits and the success of the limit where it has already been introduced, it intends to implement it in Coulsdon East, Coulsdon West, Croham, Fairfield, Fieldway, Heathfield, Kenley, New Addington, Norbury, Purley, Sanderstead, Selsdon and Ballards, Shirley, Waddon and West Thornton. A consultation is underway in these areas, but while local referendums were held before both previous rollouts of the scheme, this will not be the case for the new expansion. Opponents of the measure are complaining about a perceived ‘lack of democracy’, while those in favour argue the claimed safety benefits make a vote unnecessary.

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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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