A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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A day I hope I'll never have to re-live
09/08/2011 23:04:00


If I have the privilege of representing Croydon for years to come, I hope I never have to go through another day like today.

I was up early and into the town centre to see the damage for myself. I parked at the Town Hall and walked down the High Street then North End. There were lots of Council staff out cleaning up and damage to the shops along North End was pretty light. But once I got to West Croydon station, it was a different story. The police had cordoned off two stretches of London Road where the fire service was still trying to put out fires. Several buildings were burnt out shells and many of the businesses had been looted. Later in the day, I went down Church Road to see the remains of Reeves store, which survived the Luftwaffe but not last night's gangs, and up to New Addington to see the remains of the Co-op on Central Parade. It was a painful, emotional day. In all three locations, there was real - and understandable - anger from traders who felt that the police had protected the central shopping district but left them unprotected. You can see photos taken by my PA Jen here: http://tinyurl.com/4xwfdmn.

Along with the Leader of the Council, I was briefed by the police, fire service, British Transport Police and Council officers on their plans to ensure yesterday's disorder was not repeated today.

At lunchtime, the Prime Minister came to Croydon to see the damage for himself. His office asked me to get together local businessmen whose premises had been damaged and residents who had either been trapped in their homes or forced to evacuate to talk to him about their experiences and let him know what they would like him to do. He got a very clear message that we needed more police on our streets taking a more robust approach and if that didn't work more radical ideas such as using the army should be tried. He was able to reassure us that there will be 16,000 police officers on London's street tonight compared with 6,000 last night but of course that's too late for businesses like Reeves.

Later in the day, we also had a visit from Boris Johnson. He talked to local residents, police officers and firemen and to the Reeves family. He was visibly shocked by the devestation at Reeves Corner but struck the right optimistic note about our ability to rebuild.

In between these meetings, I did countless media interviews. I tried to reflect the real anger people have expressed to me, the desire to see people caught and properly punished, the need for more robust policing but also our gratitude to those who put their lives on the line last night and my pride at the many people in the town who want to help make things right.

That's was the one silver lining to what was otherwise a difficult day. If you want to help, you can register here.

Finally, the Met need our help to identify those responsible. You'll find lots of pictures here. If you know anyone, contact the police or call Crimestoppers, completely anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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Readers' Comments

On 09/08/2011 23:48:00 Nigel Parkin wrote:
Gavin, when I heard that Croydon was alight, the first thing I thought was.. not again. Secondly, how much it must be gut wrenching for you personally, and professionally. I recall how at Cambridge you used to bore us silly going on about how great London was, which was OK, and Croydon especially.. which baffled us.. :) If anyone were ever to suggest your love of Croydon was fake, well your scheme to come up with this fakeness must have started decades ago!

Good luck guys, we can beat the sods.

On 10/08/2011 02:04:00 Jayne Laville wrote:
I am horrified at the carnage and feel shell shocked that this has happened. To see Croydon burning from the view point in King Henry's Drive, New Addington was heartbreaking. It was awful. The whole sky was burning orange, it looked big and out of control.

Earlier that day a fire had been started in Applegarth, Fieldway and I had to call 999 for the fire brigade, it was a small fire and easily contained, as it was a lovely sunny afternoon. Walking back to my house a young lad laughed and told me to go to Croydon and and 'bag' myself a Richer sounds T.V ? I was totally unaware of the bombshell he had just dropped.

All of us are upset and outraged, my children were reduced to tears as they love the shops. With the sound of sirens and helicopters going well into the early hours of the morning we all just felt fear. The co-op has gone, alongside two flats. A woman and her baby had trouble getting out of their burning home, at 4am in the morning and her family on holiday she had to ring friends to help them escape the first floor flat above the co-op. The old man on the floor above her didn't escape. Tonight the community of New Addington came together to Central Parade. To stand alongside our local police, to help and support them, to protect our shops, our people. For 6 hours we lined the parade alongside the police and Riot police to send a clear message.

On 10/08/2011 06:43:00 Tony Martin wrote:
On Friday 3rd June I emailed you about your disgraceful comments in the Croydon Advertiser about Croydon's Police being too White.

Monday parts of Croydon and parts of Croydon's history were destroyed by violent mobs.

Would you not agree that reckless statements insinuating institutional Police racism contribute to ill feeling and resentment to the Police, the system and white people in general? Below is the email from 3/6/2011 which you still haven’t answered.

Dear Gavin Barwell MP

The Croydon Advertiser and Yourself believe that Croydon Police should be more representative of the racial makeup of the borough.

In which case would you agree that more than half of the news agents in Croydon should be white owned and run and that there should be no more than 2 non-white players in the England football team? Or do you consider racial quotas to be a one way deal?

In these times of savage cutbacks it is more important than ever that what police officers we have left are employed on a best person for the job basis. Please reply A.s.a.p. as I found you comment puzzling.

On 10/08/2011 07:28:00 Daniel Roe wrote:
Reeves has served Croydon for over 140 years. For over 140 years the firm has paid its taxes both to central and local government - both failed to deliver. Compensation is due. Work should start immediately - funded by the Council (with the help of the Mayor of London and the Government if necessary) - let's get Reeves back in business as soon as possible!
On 12/08/2011 18:26:00 Mrs Gwyneth Jeffery wrote:
not sure if this the right place.....are you able to inform as to how much protection Mayday Hospital (sorry forgotten their new title) was given on Monday night...being a life-long resident (65 years) I couldn't help thinking about Mayday at 3.00 am Tues morning and how anyone in A&E were feeling (assuming they were able to get there), this is not a criticism of anyone. I am assuming they were protected as I didn't hear of any issues in London Road, Mayday Road or Woodcroft Road relating to the hospital.

On 15/08/2011 02:48:00 lisa wrote:
How can you rebuild something that is so old with all that history ????? it will never be the same , my family go back 100s of years in croydon , i'm gutted, i live in perth oz now but my mum still lives there I've told her to stay home, get real with these youths thay have run a mock for to long now.
On 17/08/2011 08:55:00 Gavin wrote:
Mr Martin

I don't believe in quotas or positive disrimination. But the police are a little different to a football team or a newsagent. Could I refer to you the principles of good policing, which are believed to have been drawn up by the first Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police (see http://www.civitas.org.uk/pubs/policeNine.php), in particular principle 2 ("To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect") and principle 7 ("To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence"). These clearly recognise that in order to do their job the police need to reflect and to enjoy the confidence of the community they serve. So the Met needs to proactively encourage people from those parts of society which are currently under-represented to apply - whilst maintaining the principle that the best individual applicants are appointed - and it needs to engage with those groups to make sure it understands their concerns and has their support. If you want to see crime reduced, you should support such measures. But of course your actual agenda is not to reduce crime but to divide our community on the basis of race.




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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2019       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG