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 The Purley & Woodcote Blog
Cllr  Simon  Brew
Cllr  Oni  Oviri
Cllr  Badsha  Quadir

Countdown to Christmas
24/12/2014 16:20:00......Posted by Simon Brew


It's been another busy month.

On 1 December, I returned from a short break visiting relatives in Germany, so unfortunately I just missed the last full Council meeting of the year. I gather from colleagues and the Croydon Advertiser that it was a fairly rowdy affair, partly because of Labour’s policy statement (which was subsequently withdrawn) that the usage of playing fields in some of Croydon’s schools would be reviewed. There are plenty of other blogs on this topic, so I’ll move on.

Later that week, I participated in a really useful and enjoyable training session arranged for members and reserve members of the Licensing Committee. We held a dummy application hearing for the fictional Bar-a-cuda club which wished to extend its hours of licensing. The case study was led by a practising QC who specialises in this field; it was built from several real life cases and incorporated some tricky issues for the committee to deal with, as well as lots of irrelevant material which we had by law to ignore. To make it even more challenging, members of the committee played various roles, as applicant, objector, rival business, committee member and several others. The evening was entertaining and instructive at the same time.

The next day, I attended my first planning committee meeting as a contributor; I was there to offer my support to some local residents who were concerned about some aspects of a Purley development. There are many common elements in the assessment of Licensing and Planning applications, and it was interesting to see how the legal framework and Croydon’s local policies are applied in practice.

The political composition of all Council committees, such as Licensing, Planning and Scrutiny is determined by the election results, so the ratio of seats allocated to each party broadly reflects the political makeup of the Council (which is currently Labour 40: Conservative 30). As the election approaches and particularly at weekends, most councillors spend a lot of time and effort out on the streets in their own wards and also in the Borough’s marginal wards, trying to persuade just a few hundred voters to accept their irresistible argument as to why they should vote for a particular party. It’s hard work, but then no-one ever entered politics for an easy ride (or for the rewards!). On 6 December as an example, I joined many Conservative colleagues out on the streets for four hours, and then helped to staff a Conservative stall at Coulsdon’s Yuletide festival in the High Street in the evening; it was a bitterly cold day and we were frozen stiff by the end, but the stalls selling hot food and drinks did a roaring trade!

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without pantomimes, and I greatly enjoyed this year’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; the latter were all played by adult actors who had dwarfism and they brought the story to life very effectively. The dashing prince was none other than Gareth Gates, and of course no cast is complete without a wicked witch and a male pantomime dame wearing ever more outlandish costumes. I haven’t been to a pantomime for about 40 years so it was fun to relive my (and my kids’) childhood again. Later that week, I also attended the Council's Christmas celebration event which included good misical and choral performances from some of Croydon's children.

The bad news of Purley Pool’s potential closure broke during w/c 8 December, so I and my Conservative colleagues launched a campaign and petition, which has already attracted over 1000 signatures; further details are in one of my earlier blogs. It was particularly unfortunate that this news broke just as the Purley Business Improvement District (BID) team heard that they had secured funding from the GLA to take the concept further. Croydon’s BID has been running successfully for several years and is one of the largest in the UK, so as a Purley councillor, I’m delighted that Purley now hopes to follow in its footsteps.

I did my usual two hours IT buddy stint at the Whifgift Foundation's Carer Support Centre in George Street on 11 December, and the next day all helpers were kindly invited to an enjoyable Christmas dinner with a difference - a carry-out curry which was delivered piping hot to the office! It was good to meet the other volunteers in an informal setting and to swap notes.

I was delivering Neighbourhood Watch leaflets recently and unfortunately slipped and sprained my ankle on some steps. I needed physiotherapy and bandages etc, but my wife also persuaded me to try acupuncture and I have to admit that I was impressed at the speed of my recovery using a combination of ancient and modern healing techniques… and it wasn’t painful!

There were just two Council meetings in the final full week before Christmas; one was a regular planning meeting while the other was a full Scrutiny meeting; the closure of Purley Pool was not explicitly on the agenda but it was inevitable that it would feature prominently in the debate, with a large number of Pool supporters patiently waiting in the wings for a chance to speak. Unlike full Council meetings, there is no official speaking slot in Scrutiny committee meetings for members of the public or indeed councillors who are not members of the committee, but the Labour chair Sean Fitzsimons gave Fred Wallis the chance to speak, and he did so eloquently. Of course I’m biased, but I think most independent observers would say that Fred had the better of the argument in his exchanges with the Labour Council leader Tony Newman.

Last week, I and two other councillors were invited to see the Council's secure CCTV centre in action on one of the busiest nights of the year, and it was interesting to see how the staff use about 90 remotely controlled cameras actively to monitor what's going on in the town centre. In one case we saw someone trying to hide something in his shoe after being ejected from a club and the CCTV staff were able to help the police to find vital evidence when they conducted a search of the suspect. We asked lots of questions and really appreciated the opportunity to hear at first hand about the challenges of keeping Croydon's streets safe for its citizens.

And so to Christmas, and a break from blogging..
.. but I’ll be back in the New Year, no doubt with plenty to say as the race towards the General Election hots up!

With best wishes for a Happy Christmas and New Year..

Simon Brew

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 Other Blog Posts

A relatively quiet week...
14/01/2019 14:52:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

I had just three ward-related meetings last week (plus lots of phone calls).

On 8th January I attended the monthly PWRA committee meeting which was quieter than usual because there were fewer planning applications to discuss.

On 9th January I joined some local residents who were fuming about the fact that a planning application had been lodged over Christmas to demolish yet another large family house, this time in the Hartley Down area of Purley, and replace it with another block of nine flats with inadequate parking provision. We agreed all the reasons for objecting to this scheme, including substantial evidence of a local badger sett, and will lodge our objections in due course.

In the evening of 9th January, I attended a packed meeting of the Purley SNT (Safer Neighbourhood Team) Ward Panel, joining over 20 other local residents. The panel acts as an advisory body to the local Police, giving them a steer on what crimes and other local issues they should concentrate on, within the constraints of manpower and other directions from the Borough Commander and London Mayor. It was apparent that burglary was high on everyone's list, along with violence against the person and anti-social behaviour, and that 20MPH enforcement came a long way down the list. 



Repeated flooding of a council flat
07/01/2019 09:53:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

Last week I was asked to help with a flooding problem in a Council flat which was caused by the upstairs residents regularly letting the bath overflow. Apart from the obvious damage & inconvenience, there was a particular problem downstairs because the long-suffering resident had mental health problems and was not coping with the resultant stress. I asked Social Services to investigate what was going on upstairs, and Housing to expedite the repair of the damage downstairs.



Dangerous leafy paths in Winter
07/01/2019 09:35:00.......Posted by Simon Brew


At this time of the year, leafy footpaths are an obvious hazard for the elderly, especially in the hillier bits of the ward, so at one resident’s request, I’ve asked for the footpath between Oakwood Avenue & Selcroft Road to be cleared. It’s also easy for residents to report these issues report online via the Council’s website.



A distressing Adult Social Services issue
07/01/2019 09:30:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

For a few weeks, I’ve been dealing with the distressing case of an elderly lady who is bed-ridden following a stroke, and has been assessed as requiring four visits per day by social care professionals. When they’re not there and even sometimes when they are, her daughter has to step in, providing for absolutely all her personal needs every day of the year. The result is that the daughter’s quality of life is now at rock bottom, so I’ve arranged for a social services assessment of the daughter’s needs to see what extra support services can be provided for her. I’ve also strongly advised her to contact the Carer Support Centre in George Street, which is a fount of useful information as well as providing a very friendly and supportive environment.

As a separate issue, the daughter wants to move onto a new funding scheme called personal health budgeting, under which she receives cash payments which she can use to fund the services she needs at the times she needs them, and for her this would be a big improvement on the current system. My role has been to ask the Council and the funding body to speed up this process.



Access to local councillors
04/01/2019 09:44:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

Weare always trying to think of ways to make ourselves more accessible to local residents, so during the summer, we ran an experiment of also holding a monthly surgery at St Johns church Dale Road. Unfortunately we have discontinued this because of lack of demand, though we still hold monthly surgeries at our offices opposite Tesco, as advertised on the Council’s website. Many issues can be more easily dealt with by email for this who have access, while we’re always available to make home visits if this is required. Our contact details are always available on this website, which links to the Council's. 



Bangladeshi Victory day celebration
31/12/2018 11:08:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

Yesterday, it was a pleasure to attend a Bangladesh Victory day (Bejoy Debosh) celebration organised by the British Bangladeshi Society of Croydon. The occasion was the celebration of 47 years of independence from (West) Pakistan which followed a brutal civil war. The hosts were very hospitable to me and to the Mayor who had also been invited.

There were several interesting speeches which taught me a lot about the background to the conflict, but the emphasis now is on reconciiation with Pakistan and integration into the UK, while retaining Bangladeshi cultural identity. 



Problems with bulky waste collection
31/12/2018 09:48:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

Many residents are not aware that the Council offers a free collection up to three times per year of bulky waste such as white goods, furniture etc, and I strongly recommend its use.

A resident contacted me to complain that her bulky waste had not been collected as scheduled on 27 December. She reported the missed collection and was astounded to be told that it wasn’t collected because it was not “available for collection”. She had CCTV evidence that it WAS available, so it seems likely that disciplinary action will follow. Sadly I have to report that this is not the first case like this to come to my attention; I’m aware of four or five similar cases since the summer, including a non-collection of my own garden waste which was also falsely reported as not being available.



Whitgift Carer Support Centre Christmas Party
15/12/2018 20:54:00.......Posted by Simon Brew


I'm usually at the CSC in George Street on alternate Thursdays providing voluntary support to any carer with IT or mobile phone problems, but yesterday was different - it was their annual Christmas party! It was a pleasure to meet so many carers enjoying themselves in a relaxed atmosphere and with some excellent food laid on. It was also a pleasure to see the Centre manager and her daughter participating in an ABBA Karaoke session!



Planning subcommittee sensibly voted in favour of new children's cafe and play area
14/12/2018 20:38:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

Planning (sub)committees are usually quite a painful experience for Purley residents; they, supported by me or one of my colleagues, often appear at them to object to some totally inappropriate planning application, such as to demolish a large family house and replace it by a block of flats. 

Last Thursday was different. The planning officers had recommended refusal of a planning application for a change of use of the shop in Purley High Street right next to the Downlands Precinct. The application sought to merge the ex-Big Mike's restaurant with the ex-optician's shop to create a single premises which would be used for a mum's cafe and play area for children. The problem was that a shop and a cafe count as different use classes, and the officers were reluctant to allow the shop to be converted into a cafe because there are already several cafes in the High Street. I and the applicant argued that the shop and the ex-restaurant had both been empty for about five years, so it seemed pretty unlikely that anyone would come forward to take the shop as-is whereas a cafe and play area was something different and a very welcome addition to the High Street. There were absolutely no objections to this proposal, which was also supported both by Purley BID and by the PWRA. 

I was delighted that the members of the committee unanimously agreed with me and the applicant and decided to overturn the officer's refusal; we can now look forward to something new in the High Street which will in turn attract more footfall and thus encourage more trade in the High Street. 



Purley Rail Art project - now down to a small shortlist
10/12/2018 17:02:00.......Posted by Simon Brew

In the end we received no less that 23 entries for this project which was a very satisfying total. The artists live in all parts of the UK including one in Croydon, and they proposed a variety of artforms including sculpture, ceramics and mosiacs; many stressed how keen they were to involve the local community in the finalisation of the design.

We've now managed to whittle the applicants down to a small shortlist, and we hope to conduct final interviews before Christmas. 



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 Older Blog Posts
Surrey Iron Railway project: 22 expressions of interest!
Purley Christmas lights switch-on
Coulsdon's Dinner/dance at Coulsdon Manor Hotel
TWICE - a new organisation aiming to teach people how to deal better with their finances
The Queen's Award for Enterprise for International Trade goes to ... a Purley business :-)
Another busy day...
Purley Youth Project - a fantastic local charity
A Licensing Committee meeting
An enjoyable volunteer session at the Carer Support Centre, George Street
Labour forces shocking decision through Pension Committee
Cabinet meeting on 19 November.
Bins... bins.. bins
Important conference on engaging with London's many diverse communities
A new District Commissioner for Croydon Scouting
Any budding sculptors/sculptresses out there?
Celebration of 33% cut in Business rates
Full House for Croydon Communities Consortium (CCC) meeting
Remembrance Sunday - 100 years on
Referral of planning application for 55 Selcroft Rd 18/05009/FUL
More bin news - this time for Plough lane
Two surgeries this week...
NHS Continuing healthcare funding vs Social care funding
Problem with bins in Monahan Avenue, Cliff End, Godstone Road etc etc
Parking problems in Downlands Road Purley
Continuing use of mobile phones by drivers
Purley BID AGM
Purley Youth Project - a fantastic local charity
Rat-infested rubbish in Russell Hill Parade (behind Foxley Hatch) FINALLY removed
Purley & Woodcote RA committee meeting
IT support for SE Cancer Help centre
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