Tuesday, 26 November 2013

All Croydonians should feel proud today

An artists impression of the scheme 
Like many Croydonians last night, I was delighted that the Westfield and Hammerson's £1 billion town centre regeneration project was approved at a special meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee. 

When the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson came to Croydon in January to announce the partnership between Westfield and Hammerson I was very excited as I knew that if this project was approved then it would provide the kick start for the Borough's much-needed regeneration. 

Croydon is a diverse town with the largest population in London and with an estimated 1.2 million people a year visiting the new retail hub, the local economy will benefit enormously from the increased footfall. 

For many years, Croydon has always been chosen by large businesses as the place to house their back office staff - rather than their shiny HQ, and last nights approval will encourage businesses to move to Croydon to launch and expand their operations in our town. 

With hundreds of new shops, cafes and restaurants being built this will create thousands of new jobs and regenerate the whole area. 

There are already many entrepreneurs across the Borough formulating ideas and launching businesses who have recognised that Croydon is a perfect town to invest in so lets hope that many more businesses follow suit so that all Croydonians can be proud of our town once again.

Click here to watch a video of how Croydon will be transformed by the redevelopment

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Reflections on Hammermet 2013

This year I attended Hammamet 2013, a conference organised by the British Council, enabling delegates to form new relationships and share insights into some of the major political, social and cultural issues arising in the UK, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Morocco.

It was my first time in North Africa and in a short space of time I gained a real insight into the challenges that face both the UK and North African region. It was fascinating to meet people from other countries with different political stances who told me their stories. Despite these differences, it became clear how similar we all were as many of the issues facing our countries overlap and we share common values, goals and aspirations for the future.

Hammamet focused on five key themes; trust and accountability between citizens and leaders; difference, diversity and dialogue; active citizenship; reforming the education system and arts, culture and innovation. It was co-chaired by Dr Atia Lawgali from Libya and Lord Lothian from the UK.

Over the course of the two days there were numerous examples of mutual agreement and understanding between delegates. I attended a session on reforming the education system and we all agreed that our respective education systems were archaic and that schools should focus on both knowledge and skills so that students would be equipped with skills that would help them travel through life.

I also felt rather ashamed that political systems across the world are designed to focus on providing solutions for problems that countries are facing now, rather than plan and provide direction for issues that countries will inevitably face in the future. It is clear that all of the countries present at Hammamet face a crisis of education that our respective leaders need to work together on to tackle and change for the better, if our countries are to thrive in the global competitive world. Moving forward, it is clear that there is a very crucial mentoring role for NGO's and companies to play in this area as the curriculum within the UK is constantly changing and requires external support and direction to ensure it keeps up with the standards of other leading nations.

But ultimately, as well as improving the policies and skills of each of our respective countries, Hammamet was really about partnerships and building relationships for the future. Every conversation that I had with fellow delegates was ultimately about building a stronger and prosperous world for the next generation.

If you turn on the TV and look at the news or pick up a newspaper, you will all too often see headlines and stories focussing on the divisions and negativity between countries and cultures across the world. But we all know, through conferences like the one that I attended, that the world is becoming a better place and that all countries have an exciting opportunity to move forward, with mutual support and exchange of ideas to build a better future.

I left Hammamet with a better understanding of our values and cultures and realised that my optimism and understanding must be shared so that others are inspired to get involved and make a difference.

Monday, 4 November 2013

November is Croydon Business Month

Croydon Council, in partnership with NatWest, Croydon Voluntary Action, business support agencies and colleges, is organising a series of seminars and events throughout November for business start-ups, micro and small businesses operating in the profit and not for profit sector.

Croydon Enterprise was set up in 2012 and is a group of private, public and third sector agencies whose task is to promote Croydon as London's most enterprising borough. This is an informal partnership that reports into the wider Croydon Skills and Employment Strategy Group coordinated by Croydon Council. 

To attend, click here to see the events list.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Conservative Achievements

When the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls welcomes the news that the UK economy has seen the fastest growth for three years, you know that Britain is on the right track! To add to the good Friday feeling vibe here is a summary of what the Conservatives have achieved since 2010…
  • Deficit cut by a third
  • 1 million more people employed
  • Crime down by more than 10% 
  • Car manufacturing up 10%
  • 25 million people's income tax cut
  • 1.4 million new private sector jobs created
  • More than 1.5 million apprenticeships created
  • Benefits capped
  • Net immigration down a third
  • Penny off the price of a pint
  • Freezing and cutting fuel duty
Remember that we're on the right track and that Labour is the same old Labour who have opposed EVERYTHING we have done to turn our economy around. 

By opposing every single measure the Conservatives have taken to turn the country around, Ed Miliband has shown what a weak leader he is who cannot stand up for hardworking people. 

Don't let him lie about our achievements and remember to remind everyone the damage that a Labour government would do to Britain. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Cutting national insurance will create more jobs

Today, I am delighted that the Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that the government will cut National Insurance by up to £2,000 from April for small businesses.

Around 99% of Britain's five million firms are SMEs that employ less than 250 people and 96% are micro-businesses with fewer than ten employees. These businesses contribute £1.5 trillion and form the  backbone of the UK economy. Two-in-three jobs are based in SMEs and in some places the figure is much higher.

Today's proposal will help to show that the Conservative's are on the side of small business and 450,000 small businesses will benefit from this policy.

These businesses form the lifeblood of our economy and their success will determine our success.

For more information please click here

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A Truly Conservative Conference for a Tory Majority

With a general election under two years away, Manchester 2013 will be remembered as a landmark conference, where the Conservative Party focussed not only on what it has to do for the country, but why it is doing it. In the conference hall and exhibition space, banners hung from the roof rafters reminding delegates of our record in office. We have cut income tax for 25 million people, capped welfare and created 1.4 million new private sector jobs. The message to members and to the wider public was simple, we are proud of our deficit reduction strategy and are on the side of hardworking people who play by the rules. 

It is very easy for the Labour Party to sit back and attack the ‘cost of living crisis – but the fact they ignore is that this very crisis was created by Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband with their ludicrous over-spending and poor management. The Conservatives are cleaning up the mess and opinion polls demonstrate that the public see that the tough decisions are working and also see that these decisions are being taken in the national interest for the good of the country. 

Under the direction of George Osborne and David Cameron, the British economy is growing at the fastest rate in the developed world. There have been huge savings made across all government departments, with welfare rebalanced to ensure it pays to work instead of spending a life on benefits. The private sector is growing fast, and more and more people are getting into work. Added to this, the Help to Buy scheme is designed to ensure more and more people can own their own home, carrying on a key policy implemented previously by the late Margaret Thatcher. 

As we head closer to a general election, Conservative Party members need to heed the words of Liam Fox who recently spoke at a Blue Collar Conservatives event saying, “We have got to have more faith in ourselves and be proud of what we have achieved and if we are proud of ourselves it shows.” 

The Conservative Party has a record of which we can be truly proud, now we need to make the case to voters in the lead up to 2015.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk 2013

At the start line wearing special t-shirts with my Grandma on

On Sunday, my family and I completed our memory walk for the Alzheimer's Society. 

A massive thank you to everyone who sponsored us as we raised just under £1,000 in total. We were walking in memory of my Grandma who died in February this year of Alzheimer's disease.

It was an amazing day and it didn't rain once!

We were very lucky to meet other people in our position who had lost loved ones to this terrible disease as it made you realise that you're not alone. 

Thanks again to everyone who sponsored us.

With our medals after finishing the memory walk!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Help me raise funds for the Alzheimer's Society

In three days time my family and I will be walking in memory of my Grandma who died from Alzheimer's disease in February. It was devastating for my family and I to watch someone you love die in this way. 

All of the money that we raise will go to the Alzheimer's Society as they support people affected by dementia as well as funding research into cause, cure, care and prevention of dementia. They aim to improve treatment for people today and search for a cure tomorrow.

Thanks to those who have already sponsored me and if you haven't then please do so here 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Waddon Leisure Centre Open Week – try out over 60 activities for FREE

From today until Sunday, Waddon Leisure Centre will be holding an open week where local residents can try out over 60 different activities free of charge!
A range of activities are available that are aimed at everyone in the community from pre-school age to over 60s and there are also some specialist activities for people with disabilities including Boccia, Multisports,Table Tennis, Sensory Soft Play and an Active Minds Relaxation session.

Make sure you get down there so that you don't miss out!

Exercise Monday – Classes including Kettleballs, Body Pump & Personal Trainer Taster Sessions

Testosterone Tuesday – For men and includes Insanity Circuits, Boxing & Spinathon

Womens Wednesday – For women and includes Power Plate Demos, Belly Dancing & Buggy Fit

Target Thursday – A host of activities for the over 50s and Disabled including Bowles, Table Tennis, Chair Exercises, Active Minds and Accessible Swimming 

Pre-school Friday - For 0-5 year olds and includes Soft Play & Bouncy Castle, Parents & Toddler Swimming Lessons

Party Saturday – Live DJ workouts, Boxing Mash Up, Little Kickers, Kids Big Day Bounce (0-8), Pool Party (8+)

Family Sunday – Young Cougars Basketball, Crystal Palace Kids Football, Funky Chicken Stage School, Mini Family Sports Day, Free Swim School Assessments

For the full timetable, please click here 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Boris welcomes Waddon's new leisure centre

Boris testing out the shoulder press

Yesterday morning the Waddon team were very proud to welcome the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson to test out what was on offer at the new leisure centre on the Purley Way in Waddon.

In January, the leisure centre was officially opened by Paralympian David Weir CBE, where local residents and school children came together to celebrate this wonderful occasion. 

Boris was delighted with the facilities on offer and tested out the shoulder press machine in the gym and also managed to play table tennis or as he calls it 'whiff-whaff'!

He said that he was very proud that the Conservative-run Council delivered on its promise to residents. 

Boris with the Waddon team outside the leisure centre

Monday, 12 August 2013

Walking in Memory of my Grandma

In February I lost my Grandma Joyce Rosina Froud to Alzheimer's. It was devastating for my family and I to watch someone you love die of this terrible disease.

In memory of my Grandma, my family and I are walking 10 miles on September 22nd, to raise much needed funds for the Alzheimer's Society. 
All of the money that we raise will help support people living with dementia and their families, so your donation will make a huge difference.
To support us please click here

Monday, 8 July 2013

Wandle Park Revival a Resounding Success

On Saturday, over 7,000 people attended the reopening of 123-year-old Wandle Park. It was an incredible day of fun, laughter and celebration and having worked alongside the local community in organising this day for the past six months I was very proud of what we had achieved.

The reinstatement of the River Wandle, new bandstand, new skate park, open-air gym, pavilion, community garden and ornamental bridge was made possible due to £3.5m of funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Mayor of London, Croydon Council and Barratt Homes. 

Wandle Park has also been made a Queen Elizabeth II 'field in trust' and as such is one of about 1,500 other open spaces around the country that has been given additional protection from any future redevelopment. 

Some 50 stalls and stages provided a wealth of entertainment for the crowds, and local real ale was served up by Croydon’s Cronx Brewery.

Talented bands and musicians on the main stage included local celtic folk favourites Homebrood, and the crowds were delighted by Hipsinc’s bellydancing performance.
During the day three plaques were unveiled at the new bandstand by The Mayor of Croydon. 

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Come to Wandle Park Revival Day on Saturday 6 July

Clare George-Hilley
Wandle Park

Over the past six months I have been working with local residents, schools and community groups across Waddon including Friends of Wandle Park to plan the official reopening of Wandle Park. I have been involved in this project from the outset and have been thrilled at the commitment of everyone involved in helping make these ideas become reality.

This local community day has been organised with families in mind and local school children are currently rehearsing their performances that they will share with us all on the day. A whole programme of activities including sports games and nature hikes will be taking place throughout the day alongside the main stage where live performances will occur and the animal children's farm.

Invitations have now gone out to residents across Waddon and I urge you all to join us to celebrate the official reopening of Wandle Park on Saturday 6th July, 11am-6pm as it will certainly be a community day for local residents to remember. We decided to name the day ‘Wandle Park Revival Day’ at it gives people a chance to come together and celebrate the revival of the park.

After the huge local support for the state-of-the-art leisure centre, I am sure Waddon residents will come together once again and give Wandle Park the kind of reopening it deserves.
I look forward to seeing you all there.
By Councillor Clare George-Hilley, Waddon, Croydon.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Become a School Governor Today

Aerodrome Primary School

Over the last five years I have been privileged to serve on the governing body of Aerodrome Primary School in Godwin Road (formerly Duppas Junior School) and have seen it progress considerably under the new leadership of Zoe and her team.

On Wednesday after an early morning governor’s meeting I shadowed Year 4 who were using their mathematical skills to solve some challenging puzzles and also helped some pupils read.I had a really enjoyable time with the class and I reminisced about my days at Regina Coeli. 

Being a governor is extremely rewarding and it is one of the UK’s largest voluntary groups with around 300,000 people contributing to developing and raising standards of achievements at more than 30,000 schools.

After successfully encouraging several friends to become governors I urge you also to become one as you can really make a difference.

For more information on how to become a school governor, please click here

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

New Wetland Habitat at Waddon Ponds

Friends and regular reads of my blog will know that Waddon Ponds is one of my favourite places to visit in Croydon.

I am delighted to announce that a new wetland habitat will be created at Waddon Ponds using £60,000 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Proposals include restoring the banks to the middle pond, planting native British plant species, building of duck houses and the creating of natural habitats for amphibians, invertebrates and wildfowl. 

This is excellent news as it will give Waddon Ponds a more natural feel and encourage different wildlife species to live there.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

South End Food Festival Serves up Croydon's Finest Cuisine

About to tuck into my lunch!
After meeting residents in Waddon this morning I had built up quite an appetite so decided to head to the annual South End food festival for lunch with my husband. Croydon’s South End area is home to some of the borough’s most exciting and enjoyable restaurants, offering tasty cuisines from around the world. That includes dishes from China, France, Greece, India, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Thailand and the UK.
This year’s event also included a main stage with live entertainment, which attracted a huge turnout from people inside and outside of the borough. Many families attended, including local MP Gavin Barwell whose son tried out the face painting alongside tasty sweets and treats
After spending an hour trying to decide which of the many stalls I was going to buy my lunch from, I finally made up my mind. My tasty treat for the day was a flame-grilled burger from Brasserie Vacherin, one of Malcolm John’s restaurants. If the rest of the menu is as good as the burgers, then I recommend you try it out!
Today’s festival was another reminder of the town’s strong community spirit and culture, that makes it such a popular place to live. Look around the smiling faces of the volunteers, the guests, the families and their children and you’ll see why Croydon is still an exciting and positive place to live and work. Our town is taking huge strides forward and we have every reason to be excited about the future.  

The Mayor of Croydon at the cook off!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

South End Food Festival on tomorrow

Over the past three weeks, people from across the borough have been participating and celebrating our rich, diverse and cultural history at the first Croydon Heritage Festival.

Tomorrow is the South End Food Festival, where restaurants will offer al fresco dining and stalls where visitors can sample the extraordinary range of food and drink on offer in Croydon's South End Restaurant Quarter. There will be entertainment from a main stage, roaming street theatre and plenty of activities for all ages.

A section of South End between Aberdeen Road and Spices Yard Car Park will be closed to traffic for this event taking place between 11am to 4pm.

For more information please click here  

Monday, 17 June 2013

Old Town Masterplan- Public Exhibition

Following up on the workshop held in March on The Old Town Masterplan, Croydon Council is inviting local residents to a public exhibition on initial ideas to help improve Croydon's Old Town.

At: Connected Croydon project Shop, 81 Church Street
On: Thursday 20th June, 5.30pm-9pm & Saturday 22nd June, 11am-3pm

I hope that many residents from Old Town and across Waddon attend as it provides an opportunity to view initial proposals for the area. Over the next 20 years, the master plan will guide the development of Old Town and guide how its historic places including Croydon Minster and Surrey Street and their setting can be preserved and enhanced. 

The master plan will also suggest how movement in, out and around the historic area could be better, for example by improving pedestrian and cyclist crossings over Roman Way.

The Old Town Masterplan will also guide £1.5m of investment from the Mayor of London for upgrading streets, buildings and public spaces in the area, as part of the wider Connected Croydon programme.