Philip Ditton RIP – an error

We are very sorry that an error has been made – April’s issue of SPAN states, on page 47, that Philip Ditton’s funeral is at 3 o’clock on April 7.

This is wrong; the time of the funeral is in fact 2 o’clock.

We apologise for this mistake and are sorry for any inconvenience to which SPAN readers may have been put by it

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 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:

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: 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:

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

Yours sincerely

Zoe Murphy

Local Communities and Partnerships

Libraries consultation – SPRA response


1.1. This document outlines the immediate and short-term response of Spring Park Residents Association (SPRA) following the announcement of Croydon Council’s Section 114 notice and the subsequent publication of its Recovery Plan.  The Plan proposed a short list of 5 Branch Libraries to close (among them Shirley). The Council’s Public consultation, launched in early January, offered individuals the opportunity to provide feedback on the plans.  As a community organisation with membership of over 2000 households in Shirley, representing approximately two-thirds of the total in Spring Park, SPRA’s voice is one which deserves to be heard.

1.2 As an Association, SPRA recognises the financial crisis facing the Council and its need to make substantial savings.  At the same time, as a membership organisation with responsibility to Shirley residents, SPRA is obliged to take the views of members on Library closure and to reflect those to the Council in its response. Gathering this information was done by asking members to complete an online and printed survey. In constructing the survey SPRA had no pre-conceived view of the survey results, nor did it have a preferred position. In addition to encouraging SPRA members to respond to its own survey it encouraged them to respond to the Council’s own survey.  It also provided information via its SPAN magazine to facilitate members in completing the survey.

1.3 In parallel with this, the Association’s Library Closure Working Group was set up to gather information, research possible alternatives to full library closure, and take further soundings amongst interested parties in the Shirley community. In these tasks it is grateful for the role played by the Council, its officers, our Councillors and MP in providing information concerning the library service and offering webinars to explore possibilities.  Outcomes from this work are listed below.


Details of the SPRA survey construction, methodology and take-up are shown in the attached, together with detailed results. The headline findings of the survey are as follows :

  • 205 surveys were completed by SPRA members representing 10% of the total SPRA membership. (an additional 24 respondents were not SPRA members, though all but five of these were Shirley residents)
  • 95% of people of all respondents indicated they did not want to ‘lose’ the Library.
  • 8 out of 10 people wanted the Library to remain as it currently is, on the current site.
  • Nearly 9 in every 10 respondents indicated they would be happy for the Library to become part of a ‘Shared community amenity’, on the current site.
  • More than one in three (38%) of those responding to the survey said they would be prepared for the Library to form part of a newly developed facility (with the possibility of outside investment and a residential element), on the current site.


3.1  SPRA decided to facilitate the setting up of a ‘Friends of Shirley Library’ Group, with the objective of bringing together all those individuals and community groups with a desire to seek solutions to avoid removal of a library facility in Shirley. Though SPRA is not a formal member of this new group it has supported it by co-opting to it a member of the SPRA Library Working Group.

The Friends group is at an early stage in its work. At present it is actively pursuing possible plans to relocate the Library to a site different from the current one, as well as seeking funding and enlisting volunteers.

3.2  In addition, the SPRA Libraries Working Group is examining information on the existing Library building. The Council-provided data suggests that the building may not be a long-term option to house the Library facility (whatever future form that might take) owing to its age and state of repair. 

Shirley lacks a coherent high street, with shops being scattered along Wickham Road.  However, the Library building is regarded by Shirley’s residents as a lone community focal point, and the ‘heart’ of the neighbourhood, standing as it does at the main crossroads. SPRA feels that for the wholesale replacement of the Library as the ‘hub’ of the community, by a block of flats alone would be very much to the detriment of residents.

The building has some architectural merit, being in the art deco style. Bearing in mind these latter points in the site’s favour, SPRA believes it is important to explore all avenues for the retention of the current building or if this is not possible, to look at developing a library facility on the current site.


SPRA has noted the views expressed in its survey regarding the importance of retaining a library in some format on the current site.  It believes the survey results are broadly representative of the views of the wider community. SPRA therefore



The Friends of Shirley Library will continue its work, currently focussed on finding an alternative site for a Library.  Consequently, SPRA




The survey questions were compiled with the aim of encouraging high engagement and completion rates, with a limited number of questions and binary responses. The objective was to yield quantitative data based on a number of possible future scenarios for Shirley Library.

The four questions asked respondents to state their views/preferences on ‘no change’ (Q1), ‘Library as part of shared community facility’ (Q2), ‘Library as part of a newly developed, shared community facility with a possible residential element’ (Q3), and ‘close down the library’ (Q4). 

Questions 1-3 were based on a library being based on the current site.


The survey was made available online via SurveyMonkey and published in SPRA’s monthly membership magazine in February.  It was also promoted on social media and on SPRA’s website.  There was a small participation in the survey from non-SPRA members and non-Shirley residents -questions 5 and 6 of survey asked for such information and the figures are shown in the findings below.

The online survey launched from 18 January, while the SPAN version was available from 28 January. Statistics show responses received to 7 March.

There were 205 completed surveys from SPRA members (representing 10% of total SPRA membership).  A further 24 were received from other Shirley residents who are non-members.

Survey questions:

Q1          I want the Library and the facilities it offers to remain in its current form. YES/NO

Q2          I want the Library to continue on the current site, as part of a shared community access venue. YES/NO

Q3          I want the Library to continue on the current site, as part of a shared community access venue, in a newly developed facility which might involve outside investors potentially seeking to incorporate a residential element.  YES/NO

Q4          I am prepared to lose Shirley Library as I accept that the Council needs to make budget cuts.       YES/NO

Q5          I am a SPRA Member.  YES/NO

Q6          I am a Shirley resident.  YES/NO

Survey results (all respondents)

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.

March clean-up cancelled by the Council

Michael Wilson has sent the following message

” I have just been communicating with Croydon Council and learnt that the first date after which it is possible to carry out a SPRA Clean Up is 29 March. This would mean that the Clean Up scheduled for 20 March cannot now take place.  I have therefore prepared a short note and marked up the next Clean Up as 17 April. Hopefully, provided there is no problem with the lifting of the restrictions, and the progress of the vaccination programme is OK this will actually take place. However, I will keep you updated if there is any change.

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 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