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.