Fairfield Halls Closure in July - for ever??
29/04/2016 17:55:00......Posted by Simon Brew
Together with several other Conservative councillors, I attended a packed public meeting of about 300 people at the Fairfield Halls on 6th April. It had been convened by the SaveOurFairfield Campaign (@saveourfairfld), and a series of experts in their fields gave convincing presentations on the current situation. The Labour Council leader Tony Newman and cabinet member Tim Godfrey had both been invited but neither turned up, and there was a poignantly empty chair on the stage where Cllr Godfrey should have sat.
Everyone agrees that the halls badly need refurbishment, so the issue is whether it’s better to keep the venue open and upgrade the facilities bit by bit (concert hall, then foyer, then theatre for example) or to close the entire site for two years (or more) while it is upgraded. Labour plans to close the venue on 15th July 2016 and hopes to reopen in September 2018, but at the meeting, we heard a long list of good reasons why a staged upgrade would be far preferable. The most important of these include:
· Many staff and apprentices and the loyal corps of volunteer stewards, some of whom have served for over 20 years, will be able to keep their jobs by switching roles within the site as the upgrade continues.
· Keeping the venue open maintains Fairfield in the public eye as a premier venue for Croydonians and visitors at a time when upheaval in the town is imminent due to the forthcoming Westfield Hammerson development.
· Access to professional performing arts facilities is maintained for the dozens of local groups and schools that currently use its facilities.
· The venue will maintain its position on the professional comedy, musical and theatrical touring circuits, thus avoiding the expense of having to re-establish itself after a 2year closure.
· Events are typically booked up to 18 months in advance, so new staff and a marketing team will need to be recruited no later than Christmas 2016 if the planned reopening date is to be maintained.
· As yet, there is no detail on timescale or an operational or business plan, or even a designated site operator.
· The expertise of the current venue operator and loyal staff, who between them have decades of experience in operating the site, will be maintained.
· At the time of writing, planning permission for the building works has not yet been granted, so it seems extremely premature to close the whole site so soon.
· Phased refurbishments are common in the industry, and have been completed successfully for example at Bristol, Newcastle and Eastbourne, so why not in Croydon?
Labour seems determined to close the venue completely for two years or more because they claim that it would cost an extra £5M and take longer to complete. I don’t deny that it might take longer and might cost a bit more to undertake a phased upgrade, but the important thing is that the venue would remain open, many jobs would be saved, and the continuity of bookings would generally be maintained. In any case, the total cost of closure and re-opening does not seem to have been fully or publicly costed, so all financial figures are open to variable interpretation, depending on the point you wish to make.
At the full Council meeting on 18th April, the Campaign presented two petitions containing a total of 11000 signatures which called for the upgrade works to be phased; there was a lively debate with four excellent speeches from Andy Hylton and my colleagues (and three more from Labour). At the end of the debate, Labour councillors voted to disregard the petition, even as boos echoed round the chamber. It remains to be seen whether the administration will take any notice of the strong expression of public feeling on this issue.
Cllr Simon Brew, April 2016
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Montpelier Rd / Kingsdown Ave development approved..over-development, and destruction of open land :-(
20/04/2017 22:10:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
Together with representatives from MAKRA, Chris Philp MP and about 60 concerned local residents, I attended Planning Committee this evening to speak against the appalling development of 34 dwellings which is planned at the junction of these two important roads. Between us we raised all the important issues:
· Too much intensive development in an area already heavily congested and with inadequate parking.
· Despite doing seven traffic surveys (which is apparently a record), the applicant failed to pick up the traffic congestion at the times when it really matters – rush hour and daytime parking
· The dangerous junction, greatly exacerbated by siting one of the new buildings right on the corner
· Serious loss of green space and play area, especially at the junction
· Loss of 49 trees including the beautiful flowering cherries
· Loss of the attractive views across the valley
· Buildings on plots A & D1 are too tall for the area.
· Design is to some extent a matter of taste, but many were appalled by the cubist design of some buildings which looked more like prison blocks than anything else.
· Serious impact on some neighbours.
Sadly and predictably, the final vote was along Party lines, with the six Labour members (who all live nowhere near this site) voting in favour while the four Conservative councillors all voted against.
This is the first of many applications being submitted by the Council’s own development company Brick By Brick Ltd (BxB). One of the applicant speakers has a day job as a Council employee, so granting planning permission was perhaps a formality.
The outcome of this BxB planning application sends a strong warning that Labour councillors seem hell-bent on pushing through any and every intensive planning application, especially those in the South, which are sited far away from their own wards.
Development threat to Sanderstead Road car park
29/03/2017 18:23:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
Here's the text of my objection letter to Newman Francis; the closing date for objections is 31st March. You can write to email@example.com
I attended the consultation event at Sanderstead United Reformed Church a few weeks ago to raise my concerns about the proposed development on the site of the shopper's car park on Sanderstead Road.
I join with my Sanderstead councillor colleagues Yvette Hopley and Tim Pollard in raising a number of concerns, the most significant being that you are proposing to remove about 30 parking spaces permanently (& no doubt all of them during building works); the seven remaining spaces will be totally insufficient for local demand. Most people who use this car park do so because of its convenience for the shops opposite, whose vey livelihood will be seriously affected if this development goes ahead.
Even worse, the proposed new development of 18-22 flats will apparently not have any car spaces at all on the grounds they are close to public transport. In spite of planners’ earnestly-held views, experience suggests that many occupiers WILL keep cars for recreational purposes and these cars WILL be parked in the already congested nearby streets. When the first half of the car park was sold off for development several years ago, the new build allowed 30% of occupiers to park; nothing has changed since then, so the new development should also have provision for 30% car parking.
The car park’s current size is proportionate and necessary to serve the residents who drive down from Sanderstead and the local area to use the facilities. Sanderstead is on a steep hill so there is a much greater propensity for residents to own cars in this area than in the flatter areas of Croydon. For the same reason, cycling is almost unknown.
I hope that you do take note of the residents, shops and other people who write urging you not to build on this much needed facility; you should consider the impact it would have on the residents of Sanderstead, Croham and Purley.
I also have significant concerns about the shadowing of one block by the other and the loss of privacy in the existing block, whose living and bedrooms will be heavily overlooked if this development goes ahead.
And finally, local groups believe that the car park was bequeathed by a resident to the people of Sanderstead for communal use and was merely passed on to the council as a custodian. The total loss of this public facility would therefore be a significant breach of good faith by the council.
The Lord Roberts Post Office will re-open on 23 March :-)
25/02/2017 16:33:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
You're probably aware the the Lord Roberts shop & Post Office on the Purley Webb estate closed in August 2016 when its lease expired. Since then many people have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get it re-opened, and I'm delighted that an opening date has now been announced: Thursday 23 March 2017. Even better, the Post Office will operate for extended hours, even including Sundays and offer a full range of services.
Purley is identified as a "Dementia-friendly" town
22/02/2017 12:35:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
I was delighted to read this article in the Guardian recently:
Purley is renowned as having a lot of care and nursing homes for the elederly (including one in which my mother lived till 2013), so there is a corresponding need for local shops to make special arrangements to cater for their needs. I'm pleased that the Purley Business Improvement Disrict (BID) and local shopkeepers are going the extra mile in this way. Thank you :-)
WARNING: Council tax refund scam
25/01/2017 11:45:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
A Croydon resident recently received a phone call from someone claiming to be calling on behalf of Croydon Council. He told the resident that she was owed a Council Tax refund dating back to 1993 and asked her for a payment of £79 over the telephone to help process the payment!
The resident asked him to put this in writing and he said that she would need to pay him before she was sent a claim form. Realising that this was a scam she hung up.
I'm delighted that this alert resident spotted that this was a scam.. - PLEASE BE CAREFUL, and alert any vulnerable friends and neighbours.
(Circulated from Trading Standards Department.)
How to object to the 20MPH zone – deadline 15 February 2017
20/01/2017 21:32:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
A number of people have asked how best to object to the 20 MPH zone. Every adult can send in one or more objections to the Council by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by NO LATER THAN 15 February 2017.
A sample objection for our Area 5 (South-West Croydon) is below. Please feel free to use any or all of the sample objections below, or of course you can write your own; in any case, you should refer to our Area number 5 and the Council's reference number which is PD/CH/A63.
If you feel that the 20MPH limit is also inappropriate across Areas 3 (Northwest Croydon) &/or Area 4 (Southeast Croydon), we recommend that you lodge a separate objection for each of these Areas; for Area 3 the reference is PD/CH/A61, and for Area 4 the reference is PD/CH/A62.
PD/CH/A63 – Area 5
I object to the 20 MPH speed limit on the following grounds:-
- At low speeds, vehicle pollution is greater, not less as stated in your documentation; vehicles take 50% longer to travel any distance at 20MPH than at 30MPH, so they dump nearly 50% more pollution into the surrounding air.
- Vehicles will consume more fuel per journey, thus adding to the costs of hard-pressed motorists.
- Low speed limits obviously mean that traffic travels more slowly; this tends to cause congestion, which itself is an additional cause of pollution.
- Essential traffic such as buses will also have to travel more slowly (& will therefore generate more pollution); the bus schedules may have to be adjusted to allow for increased journey times across the whole borough. This will increase TFL’s operating costs.
- This proposal does not cover the main A&B roads where the higher number of/ most serious accidents are, as evidenced by the www.crashmap.com website.
- It is totally unnecessary to restrict all roads in the Area to 20MPH at all hours of the day and night and seven days per week; there are for example many fewer accidents at times of light traffic (such as 0100-0700) and at weekends.
- Each Area costs £300K to implement (£1.5M for the whole scheme), so targeting specific hot spots is much better value for money.
- Many and probably most accidents are caused by bad driving and not by excess speed, so reducing the speed limit will have a minimal impact on accident statistics.
- The police at the first scrutiny meeting on 20MPH zones said they would not enforce it.
- If there is no (or minimal) enforcement of speed limits, pedestrians have a false sense of security.
Please acknowledge receipt of this objection.
(Your name and full address)
In addition, you may want to highlight the fact that many wide and well-lit through routes which are NOT A or B roads also face the 20MPH restriction. In Area 5 for example these include:
Purley Downs Road
Old Lodge Lane
You may also wish to highlight other through routes in other Areas which you know well.
Finally, please remember that the deadline for objections to ALL areas is 15th February 2017.
Cllr Simon Brew
Purley Ward, January 2017
20MPH speed limit across the South of the Borough?
05/01/2017 17:47:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
The Council has announced a consultation process for a proposal to impose a 20MPH zone on the whole of the South of the borough excluding a few trunk roads such as the Brighton & Godstone Roads. The consultation will run from 18th January – 15th February, and the results will be presented to the Labour-dominated Traffic Management Committee which will have the power to impose this scheme regardless of the wishes of the residents. This minimalist consultation process is in stark contrast to what happened in the two Northern areas, where voters were offered full YES/NO referendums on the subject. As it happened both Northern areas voted YES, but on a very low turnout and by an extremely small majority. I am strongly against blanket speed limits because:
· Lower speed limits would result in longer journey times and generally increase congestion; both these factors increase pollution.
· The 20MPH limit would apply 24/7 – surely this is a totally unnecessary speed restriction when roads are empty?
· The extension of this scheme to the South is budgeted to cost £900K – surely there are more pressing needs for Council finance than this scheme?
· The Police surely have more important priorities than trapping those exceeding a 20MPH limit
· British road casualty figures have been falling for years and our roads are already among the safest in the world.
· Most accidents are caused by bad driving, and not by speed itself.
Whatever your views, please ensure that you express them when the time comes; you should get a letter from the Council some time before 18th January.
Strong local opposition to plan for 34 dwellings at jct: Montpelier Rd/Kingsdown Avenue
05/01/2017 17:43:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
I am supporting the residents of Montpelier Road/Kingsdown Avenue in strongly opposing the planning application by the Council’s own development company Brick By Brick Ltd to build 21 flats in 4 & 6 storey blocks as well as 13 houses at the junction of the two roads. The plan includes building on the communal green which only last Summer hosted a successful community party and barbecue.
If you feel strongly about this issue, please write to email@example.com, quoting reference: 16/06031/FUL
Purley BID seeks an ambassador - interested?
14/12/2016 15:43:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
The Purley Business Improvement District (BID) is an association of all the businesses operating in the Purley Town Centre. They have agreed to pay a small levy on their business rates, and this generates a fund which pays for whatever extra services the businesses decide Purley needs. For example they may pay for extra street-cleaning or improved street signage or security services, and the BID organises events such as the successful food and drink festival which was held in June 2016.
To fulfil the role of monitoring what’s going on in the centre of Purley and to liaise with all its businesses, the BID wants to recruit someone into a part-time paid role as a Purley BID ambassador. The job might suit someone who has some time on their hands during the day and would enjoy this role of liaison between all the businesses and the BID management team, while keeping a close eye on what’s going on in the town.
If you’re interested, or know someone else who might be interested, please get in touch with the BID CEO: Simon Cripps firstname.lastname@example.org
Croydon's Digital Inclusion project and the Carer Support Centre
13/12/2016 17:31:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
I occasionally attend Council cabinet meetings which are chaired by the Labour leader Tony Newman because they’re a good opportunity to hear about what’s going on around the Borough, and to challenge some of the policy decisions. At last night’s meeting, for example we heard a discussion about how Labour plan to bring forward the consultation process for imposing 20MPH zones all over the centre and South of the Borough.
However, I was there last night wearing a different hat, because I and a colleague Andrew King had been invited to give short speeches on how we both act as IT buddies (or Digital Champions in the new jargon) at the Whitgift Carer Support centre (CSC) in George Street. Part funded by the Council and the Whitgift Foundation, this drop-in centre provides a fantastic free support service for carers looking after clients (who are usually relatives) with a wide variety of problems ranging from dementia and physical disabilities to mental health, and of all ages from youngsters to the elderly.
Carers can drop in 5 days a week for a cup of tea in a friendly environment; they can also book appointments with skilled professionals who can provide the detailed support they need to fulfill their carer role. This can be in areas such as obtaining the correct level of benefit payments or dealing with Alzheimers or diabetes; the centre also offers opportunities for relaxation through a choral group, a book club, a lunch club, playing cards, and many others.
Since it opened in 2013, the Centre has also offered an “IT Buddy” service, whereby carers can book a free one-on-one session with an IT buddy, so enabling them to get to grips with whichever piece of technology presents a challenge to them. Andrew King and I currently provide this service, and it is heartening to hear that our efforts are appreciated, to the extent that some carers come back to us for more… and more.. and more sessions.
The GO ON UK (GO ON CROYDON) Digital Inclusion project has been running for 12 months, aiming to improve the digital literacy of Croydon’s population at large; it’s especially targeted at those who struggle with the fact that so many services provided by public and private organisations are either only available online, or are available much more easily online. The list includes for example, Job-seekers’ allowance, reporting maintenance issues & graffiti, payment for Council services, applying for car tax, banking, travel… and of course Amazon.
The CSC was delighted that some of the Council’s retired IT kit was made available to them, and they are currently gearing up to provide an enhanced IT offering to carers, possibly including group IT sessions. None of these plans would be possible without access to the re-furbished kit being made available through the GO ON UK initiative.
If you know of a community-based organisation which would benefit from receipt of some refurbished IT kit, plus some help with setting up the support to go with it, please get in touch with me.
Simon Brew, Cllr Purley Ward, December 2016.
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