Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Hopley Appointed as Croydon’s New Mayor

Last night Croydon citizens were informed that the new Mayor through 2013-2014 will be Yvette Hopley, a Councillor in Sanderstead.

Speaking with journalists as she donned the historic ceremonial robes, Ms Hopley said that it was a "great honour and great privilege" to be appointed as the borough’s first citizen.

Speaking to the audience at the ceremony last night, Hopley said, "It is a great honour and a great privilege to stand before you here as Mayor of Croydon. It is the largest London borough and I am extremely proud to be the borough's first citizen.”

She continued, "Turning to the future, as a council and councillors we have been through difficult times and I know we have had to make some very difficult and challenging decision but I do feel confident we have a great future here in Croydon.”

Hopley succeeds the borough’s current Mayor Eddy Arram.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Croydon MPs Line UP to Back Gay Marriage

Croydon's united gay marriage front
As Westminster prepares for another vote on the gay marriage Bill this week, The Croydon Gazette takes a look behind the scenes at the debate that is dividing parties and communities across the country but represented on a united level of support from Croydon’s three MPs.

There have been resignations; claims of mass fallouts within political parties and with church leaders, but Croydon’s senior elected officials have chosen a united front on gay marriage. What’s most interesting about this approach is that it is proactive rather than reactive, with the MPs in question actively building public support for the legislation by appearing on radio and TV shows to promote the benefits it can bring to society.

Croydon North MP Steve Reed has been a public advocate of the legislation, "For gay men like me, young and coming to terms with their sexuality, things were difficult," he said in an interview with gay community news site Pink News.

Writing on his public blog, Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell said, “Many of the people who object most strongly to same sex marriage are also the most passionate advocates of marriage as a force for good in our society. If marriage is such a good thing, why wouldn't we want to extend it to same sex couples?"

Croydon South MP Richard Ottoway claimed that he had received over 200 letters on the issue, some making some very significant and passionate points which swayed him to officially announce he was publicly in support of the legislation in January this year.

It is indeed rare that three leading politicians from different political parties should come together and agree and promote an issue such as this. But with three leaders dominating the media headlines for their support of gay marriage, the borough of Croydon is sending out a tolerant and gay friendly message to London and the rest of the country.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Matthews Yard Kick-starts Croydon’s Digital Revolution

Working hard for Croydon's future: Matthews Yard workspace
Amidst the grey buildings and tall office blocks deep inside the town of Croydon lies an innovative hub of technology, art and media which is developing a significant online following – it’s name is Matthews Yard. To local politicians, dignitaries and influencers, this exciting hive of activity doesn’t simply represent Croydon’s future, it defines it. So how is Matthews Yard changing Croydon’s image? And why are local people so keen to support it? The Croydon Gazette ventured into the heart of Old Town Croydon to find out.

Described by its owners as Croydon’s ‘Hidden Gem’, Matthews Yard is the kind of connected café you’d expect to find in central London’s Shoreditch area, equipped with internet, printing and offices services and good quality cappuccinos. When our reporter visited the venue last Wednesday, what was most surprising was the mixture of people enjoying, relaxing and interacting there. The community and customers that enjoy the services and surrounding of Matthews Yard aren’t all a bunch of youngsters in baggy jeans, in fact pay a visit any day of the week and you’ll find OAPs, MPs, politicians from all parties and all walks of life.

The site is one of a growing number of social venues providing customers with a mix of coffee and culture, hosting cookery competitions, theatre productions, community meetings and the extremely popular Croydon Radio channel. Pop onto Twitter and you’ll see numerous users interacting with or discussing their weekly and sometimes daily visits to Matthews Yard.

But the secret sauce behind this thrilling addition to our vibrant town centre lies and its target market, a hub of innovation made available to anyone and for anyone. For Croydon residents, Matthews Yard offers the prospect of an ethical connected café, providing discounts for members of the community services and workers in the local NHS hospital. The production studio offers local community groups access to a 70-seat capacity theatre, a co-working lounge for businesses, residents and community groups to meet, interact and go about their businesses and an impressive selection of alcoholic beverages to relax and unwind over after a hard days work.

Open to the community - Matthews Yard

It’s no wonder then why so many of Croydon’s political class have decided it’s time to get involved and support such a forward looking community project. Log on to Croydon Radio, download a podcast and you’ll find every elected official from every political colour chipping in and contributing to community debate.

The Croydon Gazette was particularly impressed with the selection of cakes and treats available to accompany the coffee at Matthews Yard, which we hope and presume were homemade by the smiling volunteers who staff the café bar.

However, Croydon’s digital future rests in the hands of the residents, Matthews Yard needs a strong flow of customer support to keep the good work and critical environment it provides running well. So the next time you’re in Croydon town centre and you fancy a coffee, think twice before you pick a mega-chain café and go wandering down Surrey Street and see what our reporter saw last Wednesday. Invest in Croydon by supporting the services it offers. Matthews Yard is indeed the gem in the heart of our town, but we all have a duty to support it.

New Addington Shows Resolve in Tia Sharp Tragedy

New Addington Grief - The community has been shaken by Tia's murder
The tragic murder of schoolgirl Tia Sharp has shocked and appalled a community in one of South London’s largest estates, but on a visit to the area The Croydon Gazette found a close-knit community working to rebuild the innocence of the streets and boosted by the conviction and life sentence of evil killer Stuart Hazell.

The London Borough of Croydon is well known in the media as the concrete jungle due to its recognisable terrain of grey building blocks constructed during the 1960s through various  regeneration initiatives. But the town is also equally famous for its large and established housing estates which span miles across the hillside and act as homes for many families large and small. But it is the New Addington estate which is most easily recognisable due to its relentless press coverage around the disappearance and murder enquiry of 12 year old Tia Sharpe, an investigation which has torn apart a family and left a once close knit community in tatters.

The details of the case have shocked the nation, with members of the press and public becoming physically ill at some of the sickening images they have seen on screen during the murder trial of Tia’s step-grandfather, Stuart Hazell. It is these depraved images and the revelations that Hazell had an interest in child pornography that have led to increased tensions in the once quiet estate of New Addington. Thankfully the trial and conviction of Hazell has provided justice for Tia’s family and the community in New Addington, who are keen to rebuild their lives and restore the reputation of the area once and for all.

Although largely an isolated community, New Addington has developed a significant level of independence in recent years. The estate is equipped with a large library, several major youth clubs, its own leisure centre, shopping areas and a church for worship. The estate is surrounded by several green fields and in recent years has been equipped with better bus services and more crucially a proper tram link for members of the public to use for work and socialising.

Innocence: Tia was loved by the community
Local residents who live in New Addington have told The Croydon Gazette that when the trial first began there was a notable additional Police presence in the local area. Although there have been no formal reports one local woman who has a young family has said that even after Hazell’s arrest, she is anxious to let her children play in the street after dark. “Even though the Police did a good job you still feel worried the innocence of the area has been damaged,” she told our reporter.

Local politicians have however stood tall behind the community, and worked with local people to improve morale and unite grieving families who have been left both shocked and frightened by the events of last summer.

Jason, 57 who works in waste management and has lived in one of New Addington’s smart terraced houses told us, “We’re always in the papers for one reason or another but you could see everyone here was out looking for Tia and we’ll help each other get through this.” These words ring true, not just with our reporter but with the rest of the country and for this reason alone you know that New Addington is already on its way to recovery.

New Addington has for many years suffered from a negative reputation and the Tia Sharp tragedy has compounded this challenge. But speak to local people in this loving, caring community where families and friends lookout for each other and you can see that New Addington will recover and rebuild itself.