News in brief May 2016

By - Wednesday 11th May, 2016

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

Fairfield campaigners protest decision at council meeting

The ‘Save Our Fairfield Halls’ campaign acquired more than 8,500 signatures on its petition for the council to pursue a phased closure of the Fairfield Halls for refurbishment rather than a two year total closure, prior to presenting the petition at the full council meeting on 18th April, which the campaigners did while singing. The group’s spokesperson, Andy Hylton, gave a two minute speech at the meeting, asking councillors to support the petition. Due to a technical fault, the live webcast of the meeting cut out during Hylton’s speech, returning for his final sentence. The campaigners criticised the “convenient” timing of this fault, as well as the Mayor of Croydon’s refusal to allow Hylton to deliver his speech again. The council then voted along party lines – Labour administration for, Conservative opposition against – to proceed with the two year full closure of the Fairfield Halls for major refurbishment.

Renewed fears of ‘Croydon cat killer’

South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (SNARL) said in a statement on Facebook that a decapitated cat, “well known in the area”, had been found by a bus driver in the garden of a London Road home. The Croydon Advertiser reported that SNARL, the RSPCA and the police are collecting bodies for an approved vet to examine. There is not yet any evidence that the dead cats have been deliberately killed, leading to speculation that the so-called ‘cat killer’ is finding cats already killed by cars, and then mutilating the bodies. Anyone with any information is asked to call the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018, SNARL on 0795 783 0490, or Detective Sergeant Andy Collin on 0208 649 0216.

Westfield-Hammerson development plans expanded

Plans for the town centre’s major shopping centre development, a £1.4 billion project, have been altered. The proposals would make the development larger and more visually intrusive than previously announced, partly to accomodate an IMAX cinema and partly due to a new five storey car park on top of the centre. The current Marks & Spencer store on the site would also be demolished and replaced. All delivery and works traffic would also use Wellesley Road to enter and exit the site, which could have a severe impact on town centre traffic. The Croydon Advertiser reported that Hammerson’s director of retail development said that the new plans would improve the retail offering of the site and enhance links to West Croydon. The proposals are available to be read in full on the Croydon Council website and can be found by searching for ‘16/01001/PRE Whitgift Centre’. At a meeting to discuss the plans with the council, Westfield head of development John Burton also confirmed that the name of the development would contain the word ‘Croydon’.

Matthews Yard celebrates fourth birthday

The popular venue off Surrey Street has faced a bumpy ride in recent years, at one point facing £100,000 of debts. Last month, founder Saif Bonar was proud to celebrate its fourth birthday on 23rd April. The coffee-shop-cum-bar-cum-restaurant-cum-community-hub has been a useful meeting point and launchpad for dozens of community projects in the last four years, including the Croydon Citizen. Operating on a concessions model as of last year, it is now home to a theatre, a burger bar, a café, and Croydon Radio.

X-Factor winner Ben Haenow returns to Croydon

The former van driver who won the 2014 series of the ITV music competition performed a homecoming gig at the Fairfield Halls on 19th April. Speaking to Citizen contributor Lauren Furey before the concert, Haenow expressed his awe at preparing to perform at the venue that he had been attending since he was a child. He also admitted that he had concerns over the two-year closure of the Fairfield, as well as the more permanent loss of other music venues including the Cartoon and Black Sheep Bar. Upbeat about his departure from Simon Cowell’s label Syco, he described it as “the springboard and the platform that I needed”, and was optimistic for the future. “It means the world to me”, he concluded, “to have my home town backing me”.

More tram services between Croydon and Wimbledon

The £30m Wimbledon Line Enhancement Programme resulted in an increase from eight tram services per hour to twelve from 5th April. An extra platform at Wimbledon station and 700m of new track between Mitcham Junction and Beddington Lane have enabled the upgrade, reported in the Croydon Guardian. The change is aimed at relieving congestion on buses and improving the cross-borough link between Croydon and Wimbledon town centres.

Anonymous artists tackle controversial local topics 

In mid April, a series of posters appeared in St George’s Walk providing a wry verbal and visual commentary on recent events in Croydon. The posters satirised controversies such as alleged racial discrimination against certain genres of music (known on Twitter as the #bashmentban), the alleged marginalisation of black music figures, and the outrage caused by a series of Islamophobic tweets sent by a local man, for which he was subsequently arrested, and juxtaposed quotes by members of the local community, statements by councillors and police, newspaper headlines and screen shots from social media. The identities of the poster designers are still unknown.

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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