Friday, September 21, 2007

Who is checking workers' safety in Croydon's construction industry?

On Wednesday, a third serious industrial incident took place in central Croydon in a matter of months. Wandering into Dingwall Road at lunchtime, the road was blocked by fire engines and police cars. It turns out that a mechanical digger fell into a basement during demolition work. The driver was badly shaken.

Back in June, a crane collapsed into the Croydon Park Hotel seriously injuring one man. And in April this year much of Croydon was closed to motorists when a large container almost fell from a crane by Croydon Flyover.

So that is three incidents in close succession, with impact on local residents and motorists - the terrible incident in Battersea last year shows the dangers involved. But above all, we have to be concerned for the safety of the construction workers in Croydon. What are the Health and Safety Executive doing? How is Croydon Council - particularly planning control - controlling developments and demolitions?

With the massive amount of development about to take place in Croydon in coming years, we need to get this sorted. I have raised this matter with leading members of Croydon Trades Council - their vigil after the last incident helped raise awareness, but now we need policy change.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Giving Lucy and Andrew a little space

The news that our Croydon MP Andrew Pelling is facing some difficulty is for some tempting to exploit politically. Not for me. I think it's very sad news and hope that Lucy is ok, and Andrew is getting the right advice. They've always been thoroughly decent to me and now they need some space. I look forward to fighting Andrew and Croydon Conservatives on policies and performance, not personal issues.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Last night at the Warehouse

Last night I managed to catch the last night of 'Vacant Possession' at the Warehouse Theatre, a new comedy that arrived in Croydon direct from delighting audiences at the Edinburgh Festival by Ray Brown, performed by Phillip Manikum and Jamie Smelt.

A gentle comedy, it is set in 1980s Yorkshire and deals with Sweeting, a self-made older man looking for attention and company, and Gary, a 30-something political activist and general dosser needing to move out of his mum's. There was some lovely characterisation and use of language, and it was a really sweet engaging play of the kind that works so well in the Warehouse's intimate space.

The play got nice reviews at Edinburgh, but sadly Geoffrey Wilkinson who played Sweeting died suddenly before the play made it down to Croydon. Manikum has made the part his own, and it's a fitting tribute to Geoffrey that the show did go on.

The play now moves on to the Hackney Empire then Yorkshire. Meanwhile the Warehouse has the world premiere of Some Kinda' Arizona this Friday, with the play on until 21 October.

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Croydon Gateway public inquiry set to open

Tomorrow sees the start of the long-awaited inquiry into planing permission and then the compulsory purchase order being sought by Arrowcroft so that they can build their Arena scheme in central Croydon, without any viable scheme to replace the Warehouse Theatre and against the background of increasing public opposition to the scheme.

Meanwhile the site owners, Stanhope Schroders, have unveiled a new name for their alternative scheme - Ruskin Square, after John Ruskin, the writer and social commentator with strong links to Croydon. Ruskin's parents are buried in Shirley and he spent much of his childhood here.

Local residents and Stanhope themselves are among those who will be objecting to Arrowcroft's council-backed CPO. Although the Warehouse Theatre is pleased that Arrowcroft is slowly coming round to a replacement theatre, it too is making its objections. Arrowcroft's scheme leaves the theatre without the home for three years, then promises an entirely inadequate and unfunded building subject to stringent requirements. If they change their mind, Arrowcroft keep the three million for their own purposes - a privilege not extended to Stanhope. Ken Frost has an analysis here.

The Inquiry starts tomorrow, Tuesday 17 September, at 10am at the Jury’s Hotel, 26 Wellesley Road, Croydon.

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