Shirley Library update

Following SPRA’s survey of members and the submission made to Council in response to the consultation, we can report some progress. The Committee was contacted by Cllr Olly Lewis (the Cabinet member for Libraries and Rob Hunt a lead Council officer) to discuss our report. On 15 March, a productive meeting by Zoom gave SPRA the opportunity to voice its views, seeking to protect a library on its current site within Shirley. We were also able to receive useful information about the libraries reorganisation.

In essence, the Council has devised four options, ranging from outright closure of the five branches at risk, to a proposal to seek outside contractors to run the Libraries, all with the aim of making a targeted £0.5m saving.  The Council’s Scrutiny Committee has since asked them to reduce the number of options from four possible to two preferred options, for consideration at the Cabinet meeting on 17 May.  If approved, these two options would then form the basis of the 2nd public consultation.  SPRA is unhappy with this approach. We believe all four options should be put to consultation to allow maximum transparency and feedback from the community and have said so.

We will post further updates here.

Let’s get Croydon growing!

Esther Mann from the John Whitgift Foundation has sent us the following about an exciting initiative …

“I work for a local Croydon education and care charity called the John Whitgift Foundation we have launched an exciting new campaign to make Croydon the UK’s greenest Borough, targeting over 400,000 residents, through a community gardening project called ‘Grow With John’.

“The campaign is named after the Founder of the charity, and is seeking to help showcase how affordable, accessible and enjoyable gardening can be to all ages, particularly the benefits to mental health and wellbeing which have been proven to be essential throughout the pandemic.

“The charity is giving away free seed packets to residents in Croydon to help start their growing journey, and also launched a microsite full of local community gardeners of all ages to inspire others at www.growwithjohn.org Beyond our Croydon community, gardening-heavyweights Alan Titchmarsh MBE and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are also supporting the ambitious campaign.”

William Wilks and The Wilderness garden – a roadshow with the RHS

We have had the following invitation …

MHA The Wilderness has organised an online event on Thursday 22nd April at 3.30pm with our friends from the Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) to celebrate our National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) projects and the Life of Rev William Wilks, former Secretary of the RHS, Vicar of Shirley and creator of the Wilderness garden.

If you would like to join our event, please register here for your free ticket: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mha-the-wilderness-roadshow-the-life-of-rev-william-wilks-with-the-rhs-tickets-148225677993

Please share the link and inform friends and family about this exciting opportunity from the Wilderness garden.

Important information: this free event will be broadcasted on zoom and you will need to register to this event in order to receive the zoom link. You will receive the unique zoom link the morning of the event.

Philip Ditton RIP

We were very sorry to learn of the death, on 26 February, of Philip Ditton. Philip had been a stalwart in SPRA, being at one time a member of the Committee, in between four-year periods as Editor and Chairman. We are grateful to his family for the invitation to attend his funeral remotely, and details are given below

A full tribute will be in the May issue of SPAN

The details of the live broadcast of Philip’s funeral are as follows:

Date & time: 7th April at 2.00pm

Website: https://obitus.com/ Username: buqu7271, Password: 641125

You can login to our website at any time to view a test connection (and we strongly recommend you do this) but you’ll only be able to view the Live Webcast approx. 5 mins before the service start time. Please be aware this is a public building and the timing of the Live webcast is semi-automated to allow for services running early or late – please use your discretion if you can see activities not applicable to the service you are here to watch.

Once the service has finished, it will take us up to 3 working days to get the 28-day Watch Again onto the website. 
In lieu of flowers, for those that wish to donate, we have set up a personalised giving page for Cancer Research UK, details below:

https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/philip-sidney-ditton

News about West Wickham High Street

Transport for London have written to local residents as follows

Review of West Wickham High Street Streetspace scheme

You might recall that last June we suspended some parking and loading bays along West Wickham High Street to support social distancing and create more space for people to walk safely.

The temporary barriers can be difficult to maintain so in early Spring we will replace them. We will temporarily extend the pavement with materials that can be removed later, should we need to do so. This would mean that pedestrians would have the space they need to safely social distance for as long as it is a requirement to do so.

We will soon need to consider whether the temporary changes we’ve made to West Wickham High Street should be kept permanently, or if the design should be altered or removed. If you have any feedback about the West Wickham High Street scheme please complete our online feedback form, which is accessible through our web page tfl.gov.uk/streetspace

Yours sincerely

Zoe Murphy

Local Communities and Partnerships

2021 Census – Support Centre

We have received the following from the organisers of the Census …

Census Contact Centre –       0800 141 2021

Census Language Helpline –  0800 587 2021

8am-8pm (Mon – Fri)

8am – 1pm (Saturdays)

Closed on Sundays

8am-8pm – Census weekend (21/22nd March)

Help available includes telephone completion, requesting paper copies, and accessible census questionnaires in large print and braille for example. For all general queries please call the number above.

Local Census Support Centres

Croydon Central Library ** – 0203 603 1140 (9am-6pm Mon – Fri)

Weatherill House**               – 0203 603 1140 (9am-6pm Mon – Fri)

** Due to current government restrictions, the Local Census Support Centres will be operating a telephone help service only. Appointments can be booked for help with completion over the phone. As government guidelines change, these centres may become available for face to face appointments. Any changes will be updated as they become available.

Metropolitan Police advice re catalytic converters

We have received the following from Inspector Simon Warnes

Dear residents, I have recently received correspondence with concerns surrounding the theft of catalytic converters. This crime type is increasing at a national level and is certainly starting to attract a lot more attention from government bodies. Throughout 2020 the total offences within London reached around 15,000 crimes. I am hoping I can give you a brief overview of what we are doing and offer some reassurance that we are making every effort to reduce these numbers and prosecute offenders.

Some of the offences do appear to be escalating to include threats, however these only account for a handful of crimes. Catalytic converters contain precious metals including palladium, rhodium and platinum. These all bear high value on the scrap metal market with the former two substantially more expensive than gold. Exhausts from hybrid cars contain much larger quantities of these precious metals with the Toyota Prius, Honda Jazz, Lexus RX models and the Toyota Auris being the most targeted vehicles.

These crimes are usually committed by a team of three with cloned plates from a genuine insured vehicle that is placed onto another like for like vehicle. The plates are frequently swapped after offences with some cars having up to five sets of cloned plates. The suspects are itinerant and will travel large distances across multiple London boroughs and county boundaries to commit their crimes. They are not confined to one specific area and there are many active teams.

To summarise what we are doing; I am overseeing Operation Basswood. This is a South Area (Bromley, Sutton & Croydon) initiative to target Catalytic Converter thefts and we are the only Met BCU to form a dedicated team. Our role is to focus on proactive and reactive investigations. Obviously this is difficult for me to go into details and specifics, but there are a variety of deployments ongoing using an array of covert and overt policing tactics. We are working closely with other boroughs within the Met but also external forces, particularly West Sussex, Surrey, Kent and the British Transport Police. Within South Area there have been 11 arrests over the past few months, with some offenders being sent to Crown Court for trial and convicted.

I have been disappointed with recent convictions including suspended sentences or community orders which don’t reflect the level of inconvenience and misery inflicted on victims, especially during the COVID19 pandemic. I will be looking to change our tactics to ensure the strongest possible outcome in future and to issue post-conviction orders to prevent reoffending. From a reactive point of view, we take ownership and oversight of every investigation. They are quality assured for any missed opportunities including local enquiries and CCTV/images. We have forged a strong working relationship with Toyota and they have provided funding and assistance towards local crime prevention initiatives.

We have also visited and inspected all of our local scrap metal dealers in partnership with the Council and the Environmental Agency. Crime prevention is difficult as the offending behaviour does seem more brazen and some offences have taken place in broad daylight in supermarket carparks. What we have seen is that vehicles with Catlocs fitted are rarely targeted and I would consider them a reasonably priced investment. We have received some high quality footage from home CCTV systems including Ring doorbell and these have enabled us to identify and convict suspects, so these are also another option including for your own home security and burglary prevention.

Always consider where you leave your vehicle and remain vigilant. I have seen numerous videos where suspects have abandoned their crimes when vehicles drive past or when they’ve been disturbed. I strongly discourage vigilante behaviour as these individuals do carry jack extension poles and there is a likelihood you may be injured. Be on the lookout, report any suspicious activity and don’t assume someone else has called the Police. The more information we receive the better and a photo, registration plate or description could be the last piece of the puzzle. If you have been a victim of this crime and it’s had a significant impact on your wellbeing, or you are a repeat victim I would like to hear from you. The team can be contacted at opbasswood@met.police.uk Please feel free to share this email address. But please also remember to call 999 if you do see suspicious activity or an offence in progress.

Scam warning from the Metropolitan Police

Please be aware of people knocking on your door, offering jet washing and gutter clearing services. There have been at least 2 incidents on East Way yesterday, whereby 3 white males 2 younger ones in their late teens and the older one in his 40s or 50s, all with an Irish accent have approached the home owners and offered their services for jet washing and gutter clearing.

These males have done the bare minimum, if anything at all. The flyers, which they hand out were stolen from a local cafe. These males state that they can only take cash.

Another comment has been received:
There are 2 young Irish guys jet washing a square metre of peoples drives then knocking on the door wanting to know if the resident wants the rest of the drive done, clearly unaware of the no cold calling regulations Dark green van Eire number plate 08 CW 914 we think! may be worth a warning to residents

Croydon Council consultation on spending

Members will know that the Council, having declared itself bankrupt, needed a strategy to balance its books. A consultation on priorities was launched late last year and closed in January. Those members who receive our email alerts to new items on our webpage (www.springparkra.co.uk) will have had details and the link to the consultation.

SPRA did not respond as a body, because the Executive Committee agreed that, in the short time available, consultation with our members was not feasible. Given the need for the Council to prioritise between children’s services, education, parks, adult social services, housing, the physical environment, waste collection and so on, our several thousand members will probably have widely differing priorities of their own. The Committee decided that we as a residents’ association could not second-guess members’ priorities in the time given.