This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 10/05/2018.
April 2018 in brief
Labour held Croydon Council in the local elections
A low-key campaign overshadowed by national and London politics came to an end on 3rd May, with the result becoming clear overnight. Labour won 41 of Croydon’s 70 councillors, with the Conservatives taking the remaining 29. The UKIP vote collapsed across the borough, while Lib Dem and Green spokespeople both claimed third-party status in Croydon. Council leader Tony Newman immediately set out plans to make Croydon “a living wage borough, not just a living wage council” in his victory speech, referring to measures that Croydon Labour wishes to take to encourage payment of the London Living Wage by more employers in Croydon.
A totem pole was erected in Wandle Park
The idea of a totem pole for Wandle Park began with a local resident who is also a council officer, who thought of creating art for the Wandle Arts Regeneration Project. Simon Maynard of Croydon Clayworks was the design leader and the finished work was sculpted from clay and glazed by young people from Croydon Youth Offending Service.
In Native American tradition, totem poles depict animals and mythological creatures who are regarded as guardian spirits or helpers. A totem pole is therefore a symbol of safety, protection and guidance for those who are near it.
More stabbings caused London briefly to have a higher murder rate than New York
As this comparison caused national comment, Croydon police investigated two stabbings in the Whitgift Centre on 6th April. Two seventeen year olds were later arrested in connection with these offences. Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones has made high-profile calls for a nationwide strategy to tackle the issue.
Croydon’s urban saffron farm closed
Croydon Saffron Central, the world’s largest urban saffron farm, was founded by Ally McKinlay in the summer of 2015 on the site formerly occupied by Taberner House on Park Lane, and closed on 7th April. Croydon’s name derives from ‘Croh-denu’, Anglo-Saxon for ‘valley of the crocus’, and the flowers were grown here in Roman times. For two-and-a-half years, crocus sativus, from which the spice saffron is derived, was grown in the town centre, featuring on ITV London news, London Live and on BBC Radio 4′s Food Programme.
Its twenty-four planters will now be re-used by the Our Green Mile initiative, which seeks to make West Croydon’s London Road more green. Some of its crocuses have also been donated to a sensory garden for young people with special needs. Nearly 40,000 of its corms (the bulbs from which new crocuses grow) have also been shared with community gardens and schools to create a borough-wide legacy.
Citiscape developers will pay for removal of Grenfell Tower-style cladding
In an unfolding story which has been closely followed by the Citizen’s Holly Bernstein, it was announced that a campaign run by local MPs Steve Reed and Sarah Jones had achieved agreement from Citiscape’s developers to replace dangerous cladding on the building at no cost to residents. A tribunal ruling in March had upheld FirstPort Property Services’ right to charge occupants £483,000 for the work, along with a service charge. The cladding was of a similar type to that involved in the Grenfell Tower tragedy of June 2017.
Six Croydon curry houses were named among the best in London
Six restaurants and takeaways in Croydon were named among the best curry houses in London, including one which has been open just eighteen months, Indian Paradise in Wickham Road, Shirley. Nominees in the Restaurant of the Year category for the south west of London also include Royal Tandoori, in Addington Road, Selsdon, and Asif Balti House, in The Broadway, off Croydon Road. Mazala, in Cherry Orchard Road, Croydon, has been nominated in the Takeaway of the Year category for the south west of London.
Kalpa, in St James’s Road, West Croydon, is among the finalists in the Team of the Year in London category and Karachi Cuisine, in London Road, Norbury, has been nominated in the Editor’s Choice Restaurant of the Year category. The nominees in the awards were voted for by their customers.
Crystal Palace announced plans to expand its Selhurst Park ground
The Croydon Advertiser reported that on Thursday 19th April, Croydon Council’s planning committee granted permission to Crystal Palace Football Club to redevelop its Selhurst Park ground, creating a new modern main stand. This will increase the Premier League club’s ground capacity from 26,000 to 34,000. The plans also include better facilities for disabled supporters, and other improvements to the ageing ground.
Croydon basked in the warmest April weather for 70 years
On Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th April, temperatures in Croydon reached 25 °C in a mini-heatwave. On the same days temperatures in Northolt, West London, reached 28 °C, the highest April temperatures recorded anywhere in the UK since 1949.
The television programme Black Mirror transformed St George’s Walk
St George’s Walk was used to film an episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror, created by Charlie Brooker. Recreations of the Chelsea Girl boutique and a retro-looking WHSmith, Pizza Hut and Wimpy were assembled for the episode, which is set in the 1980s.
Croydon Council unveiled a new-look town centre showing more planned high-rise development around East Croydon
Plans to build hundreds of homes in two new towers next to East Croydon station were approved by Croydon Council on 19th April and a digital projection of the appearance of the new towers was published in the Advertiser on 20th April.
Developers Menta and Redrow will create 445 new homes in twin 25 storey towers, Morello North and Morello South, on Cherry Orchard Road. The project will also involve completing the public bridge link to East Croydon station and into central Croydon for those living on the Addiscombe side of the tracks.