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Lillian Groves' killer John Page accused of threatening 13-year-old girl from New Addington

THE drug-driver who knocked down and killed schoolgirl Lillian Groves was back in court today accused of threatening a 13-year-old girl.
John Page, 37, shouted as he rode past the teenager's house in New Addington before running his finger across his throat as she looked out of the window, a court heard.
Page, who killed 14-year-old Lillian in 2010 while driving after smoking cannabis, appeared at Croydon Magistrates' Court today (Monday) charged with a public order offence.
He is alleged to have caused the 13-year-old, who can't be identified for legal reasons, 'harassment, alarm and distress'.
Joseph McKenna, prosecuting, told the court how Page cycled past the girl's house and shouted 'Oi' at 8.45pm on August 3.
The girl, who gave evidence from behind a screen, said: "When I stood by the window he was looking up at me. He pointed his right arm at me then he did a cutting motion across his throat. It made me feel scared.
Mr McKenna asked: "Were you able to make out who it was? Was it John Page?"
"Yes it was," she replied.
After Page, of Underwood, Fieldway, cycled away, the girl ran into her bathroom where her mother was taking a shower.
"All of sudden the shower curtain just flew back and my daughter was standing there screaming," she told the court.
"Her face was bright red and she was shaking from head to foot. All she kept saying was 'John, John, John'. It took me ten minutes to calm her down enough to tell me what had happened. I've never seen her like that before.
"It takes a really big man to threaten a 13-year-old girl. It's disgusting."
The court heard how the alleged incident stemmed from a "feud" between the two families.
Page, who denies the charge, says he was at home with his mother, his niece and her boyfriend at the time the alleged incident took place.
He said: "I was indoors watching television going about my usual day. I don't come out of my house very often at all."
Clearly referring to running down Lillian he added: "I was involved in something, so I stay indoors.
"I was involved in an accident a couple of years ago and since then I have suffered with going out in public and sleeping. I'm on medication and I'm undergoing further treatment."
When asked by Thalia Maragh, defending, what condition he suffers from, he replied: "Post traumatic distress. When I go outside I feel nervous and frightened a little bit. I feel people are looking at me and making comments. I very rarely go out at all."
Miss Maragh said: "What is your response to this allegation?"
Page replied: "It's total lies. I certainly wouldn't ever threaten a 13-year-old child for a start. It's a lie and that's all I can put it down to."
The trial was adjourned until Wednesday (November 21) because Page's mother, who has multiple sclerosis, was unable to attend court due to a "communications mix-up" with her son.
Page, a landscape gardener. was jailed for just eight months in July last year after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving.
He also admitted driving without insurance when he hit Lillian Groves outside her home in Headley Drive, New Addington, in June 2010.
Traces of cannabis were found in Page's blood and a half smoked joint with his DNA on it was discovered on the dashboard of the car he had been driving.
Following his sentence Lillian's family joined forces with the Advertiser to launch Lillian's Law, a campaign that has prompted changes to drug-driving legislation.

Lillian Groves' killer John Page accused of threatening 13-year-old girl from New Addington

Steve Reed and Andy Stranack trade blows ahead of Croydon Advertiser debate

TWO of the main contenders have already started trading blows ahead of the Advertiser's Croydon North by-election debate.
Labour's Steve Reed has written an open letter to Conservative Andy Stranack urging him to "come clean" about five issues "angering" his potential constituents.
But in a PR blunder the letter features a number of factual and grammatical errors.
Reed who, as leader of Lambeth Council, has had to fend off doubts about his local knowledge, asks whether his rival supports plans to build an incinerator in Waddon, when the facility is being built in Beddington Lane on the Croydon/Sutton border.
He then calls on Stranack to make it clear whether he backs plans to close South Norwood library, when it is the police station which looks set to close.
Aside from the errors, the letter is the latest sign that Labour sees the Conservatives as a threat.
Malcolm Wicks, who died in October, helped build the party a 16,000 majority but it appears Reed's campaign is concerned that his rival's local links and charity work may get traction with voters.
"Dear Andrew, you're a nice guy," the letter begins.
"You care about people and you've done excellent work with local charities.
"But you are the front man for David Cameron and his cronies on Croydon Council."
At the age of five doctors told Stranack he would never be able to walk because of his cerebral palsy. Within two years he had proved them wrong.
Reed's letter adds: "I know life has been a struggle for you at times, just as it has for many people in Croydon North today.
"But you are Cameron's man in this by-election. And people are saying 'We gave Cameron a chance (and) he's blown it'. That will be the message from the ballot box on November 29."
In his response to Reed, seen by the Advertiser, the Conservative candidate rejects being described as the Prime Minister's front man.
"I am absolutely clear that if elected my job will be to stand up for the interests of the people of Croydon North, not just do what my party tells me," he writes.
"The fact that you see yourself as the front man for Ed Miliband and the Labour Group on Croydon Council is further evidence that you're not the right person to take over from Malcolm Wicks. He would never have described himself on those terms."
In answer to the questions, Stranack said it was right to ask Lambeth Council to contribute more to running Upper Norwood Library, that he supported the Government's tax reforms and that youth unemployment, an issue consistently raised by Reed, was also higher than in other constituencies under Labour, just as it is now.
He side-stepped questions about the incinerator and South Norwood police station on the grounds of his opponents lack of local knowledge.
Reed and Stranack will be joined by Respect's Lee Jasper, Liberal Democrat Marisha Ray, UKIP's Winston McKenzie and Shasha Khan at what promises to be a lively debate tomorrow (Tuesday).
The event is being hosted by Gonville Academy, in Gonville Road, Thornton Heath, with doors opening at 6.45pm. The debate gets under way at 7.15pm.
There are just a handful of tickets left so to book your spot email gareth.davies@croydonadvertiser.co.uk with your address, contact details and a question you would like to put to the panel.

Steve Reed and Andy Stranack trade blows ahead of Croydon Advertiser debate

Geoff Thomas: Wilfried Zaha should choose England over Ivory Coast


FORMER Palace and England midfielder Geoff Thomas says Wilfried Zaha should choose to represent England at senior international level instead of Ivory Coast.

Thomas, who skippered Palace in the early 1990s and scored 35 goals in more than 200 appearances for the club, also believes Zaha has been on England's senior radar longer than people think.

"I've seen him play a couple of times this season against Cardiff City at home and Wolverhampton Wanderers away," Thomas said.

"At Wolves, I sat next to an England coach and it was obvious they had been tracking him for a while.

"He was the standout player that game and capped it off with two great goals out of nothing – that's the beauty of people like him - he's got potential to win a game by himself.

"I'd be surprised if he went down the Ivory Coast route because he's played at U19 and U21 levels with England.

"It's difficult to say at the moment because I'm sure the Ivory Coast are jumping up and down saying they want him as well.

"It's obviously his country of birth but he's been here since he was four years old, so I think what he's got to do is experience what's going on with the England camp and take what he feels in his heart.

"He can't have any regrets on the decision but to have a cap for any international country is special, so he's got to make sure he's doing everything for the right reasons."

There has been a lot of hype surrounding Zaha's call-up, not just because of his potential, but due to Palace's rise to the top of the Championship.

And Thomas thinks the pressure on him won't faze the youngster too much and he'll embrace the opportunity he had on Wednesday night to perform on the bigger stage more in the future.

"This is the test," he said. "People like Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen in the past were young kids wearing an England shirt and they just took it as a rite of passage.

"That's what good players do. They go on to a football pitch and they're not bothered who they're playing against or what shirt they've got on, they just want to play and show how good they are.

"From what I've seen of Wilf, I think he's in that category and has the ability to perform on any stage and the international stage is the next one up.

"He seems the sort of kid who knows where he's at and has confidence in his own ability but doesn't get carried away.

"People who are qualified have seen his potential, looked at him and seen he's a player for the future – you don't need to be an A licence coach to see that, all football fans can.

"A lot of my mates are Palace fans and he's the only name they've pretty much been talking about over the last year or so.

"I just hope he keeps learning, and being in the England camp is going to be a great help."

Zaha, himself, knows what can happen if you leave a club too early at a young age and Thomas believes he will fare differently to players who have moved on from Selhurst Park in the past.

John Bostock is the prime example, while Victor Moses has only just started playing at the highest possible level for Chelsea nearly three years after leaving Palace.

"I think Wilf is a credit to Palace behind the scenes with all the youngsters that are and that have been developed in the past," said Thomas.

"We've seen players who are still doing well in the Premier League. Some of them have moved too quick and it's taken a while for them to rise to their potential, and some have just disappeared.

"Victor Moses and Wayne Routledge have done it, so you just wonder who is next. Wilf has got the experience of what's happened to other players before him and he can learn from that.

"However, as soon as the big clubs come knocking on the door, it's the skill of the manager for keeping him motivated when you've got the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United looking."

Come January, Palace fans can expect the amount of speculation surrounding his future to intensify but Thomas says it would be in his best interests to help Palace win promotion rather than bench-warming for a big Premier League side.

"I think it's always easy for us to say his head won't be turned," he said. "It's down to his character and his experience of watching players at Palace leave too soon.

"If he went in January, he'll end up sat in somebody's squad rather than playing a major part in Palace's push for promotion.

"Fingers crossed, the club will be sitting in the position they're in now at the top. But I would say Wilf has all the cards in his hand right now and it's up to the people who advise him – hopefully that advice is the right advice at this stage of his career, then it's down to him."

And when looking at potential destinations for Zaha, should he decide to leave, Thomas highlighted one club in particular that has a good reputation with younger players playing under one of the best managers in the world.

"Manchester United signed Nick Powell from Crewe Alexandra and he's played a couple of games, but you can see he's a really good thinking and confident player," he said.

"I think at United, they're the sort of club who do nurture the players and not rush them through.

"If he went to another club, they might put him in straightaway and then it's a case of sink or swim then.

"Let's just see how he reacts after his England experience and then people might be talking differently about him."

Geoff Thomas was speaking exclusively to sports reporter Mark Ritson.

Geoff Thomas: Wilfried Zaha should choose England over Ivory Coast

Croydon Dinner Club exploring the borough's Restaurant Quarter


THE RESTAURANT Quarter has taken off in South Croydon, and the many dinner clubs in the borough are a key to its success.

One of the biggest dinner clubs in the south of the borough is the Croydon Dinner Club, which was set up by Christo Matthews, 26, this year.

Mr Matthews said: "I started the CDC because I wanted to get a group of people together to explore some restaurants in Croydon. I love eating out but don't often get the opportunity to explore new restaurants. Making the dinner club open and a form of social networking hub was the natural step, as food is all about sharing!

"I first had the idea in April. I had been to a dinner club in Purley but it was a lot less regular and I thought, this needs to be done in Croydon, we have great restaurants there.

"A friend then announced it on Twitter so I thought yeah OK, I'll do this. The first meeting we had there were 16 people and the most we've had has been about 32 so we have had a great response right from the beginning, with a lot of people coming to see what South Croydon restaurant's have to offer."

The group meets in different restaurants on the last Tuesday of every month and has tasted food from all over the world while staying in the same small area of the Restaurant Quarter.

Christo said: "We have three aims; to bring together Croydon residents, to sample the many fine restaurants of Croydon and to have a really good time."

So far the club has visited restaurants such as Malcolm John's Fish and Grill, Buenos Aires and Albert's Table.

Christo said: "I really believe in Croydon and would love the borough to step out of its own shadow in a way. People in the borough need to realise that they live among great people, and Croydon won't shed its negative image without residents trying to change things. I love meeting people and a lot of people that have come have said they didn't realise there were so many people in Croydon that you could have a good conversation with over dinner."

There is no membership and attendance is free but because it requires a booking at the restaurant, the events are all RSVP.

Each dinner has its own event page where you can RSVP. You can find out when the next CDC is by going to meetup.com/croydondinnerclub

Croydon Dinner Club exploring the borough's Restaurant Quarter

Croydon Central MP seeking urgent meeting with Jeremy Hunt over NHS Croydon overspend


GAVIN Barwell MP is to seek an urgent meeting with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in hope of persuading NHS Croydon board members to answer questions about the trust's £28 million overspend.

The Croydon Central MP said it was "unprecedented" that public officials, including the former chief executive and chairman, have refused to appear before an inquiry tasked with investigating what went wrong.

His criticism comes as David Fitze, chairman of the primary care trust's audit committee at the time, became the latest figure to snub the South West London joint health and overview scrutiny committee.

Last week, the Advertiser revealed former chairman Toni Letts, now vice-chairman and a Labour councillor, had joined former chief executive Caroline Taylor in refusing to give evidence.

Mr Barwell said: "It's not acceptable for anyone who held a senior executive or non-executive post to refuse to cooperate with the investigation.

"In fact, it's unprecedented. I will be raising it with the Secretary of State as soon as possible."

The lack of co-operation from key figures at NHS Croydon threatens the credibility of the scrutiny committee, set up by Croydon, Sutton, Wandsworth, Kingston and Richmond councils.

Cllr Fitze, a councillor for Fairfield ward, refused to appear before the committee following an accusation levelled by his predecessor John Power that he lacked the qualifications to be chairman of an audit committee.

Council leader Mike Fisher, who led calls for the inquiry to be set up, said he would speak to Cllr Fitze to "express the need for openness and accountability".

He added: "David is extremely transparent and accountable. I will see whether he can be persuaded to give evidence.

"But accountability is essential across the board. Top of the list in terms of who should appear is the chairman and particularly the chief executive, who continues to work in the NHS."

Labour leader Tony Newman said he would not try to persuade Cllr Letts to give evidence because he believes committee chairman Jason Cummings has already "made up his mind".

Cllr Cummings, a councillor for Heathfield ward, told the Advertiser last week the panel had little choice but to conclude that anyone who refuses to give evidence has "something to hide".

"I won't try to persuade Toni because I share her grave concerns about Cllr Cummings's outrageous comments and that he appears to have pre-judged his conclusions," said Cllr Newman.

NHS Croydon posted a surplus of £5 million in 2010/11 when it had in fact overspent by at least £23 million.

The committee has been unable to locate former director of finance Stephen O'Brien, whose extended periods of sick leave left interim deputy finance director Mark Phillips effectively in control of the finances.

An independent report by Ernst & Young found Mr Phillips made "unwarranted adjustments" to the agreement of balances while working "largely unsupervised", but the panel has been unable to contact him either.

Cllr Newman said that the absence of evidence from either of these figures meant the committee could not reach valid conclusions.

He added: "Without their evidence I don't see what would be gained from hearing from Toni."

Cllr Newman, vice-chairman of NHS Croydon at the time, has been invited to give evidence but has not yet appeared before the committee.

He said: "If it transpired there was something I could add then I would not rule out appearing."

The panel has held crisis talks behind close doors to work out what, if anything, it can do to encourage witnesses to give evidence. It has no power to compel people to attend and admits that a request for assistance sent to the Department of Health is likely to prove fruitless. Chairman Jason Cummings said: "We had a positive discussion in terms of where we are at and the options available to us. "We haven't given up hope of getting a couple more people to come along. "There are things going on behind the scenes to get these people to come and answer questions. "We have written to some of them with a list of questions to see if we can get some level of response. "Maybe they will be prepared to give a written response rather than risk appearing in person, in front of the media, where they might say something which puts them in a difficult position. "All we can do is push on and keep the pressure up." Internal auditors Deloitte and external auditors the Audit Commission, both of which missed the trust's financial irregularities, are due to give evidence before the committee next Monday (November 26). The panel hopes it will publish its findings and recommendations before Christmas.

Croydon Central MP seeking urgent meeting with Jeremy Hunt over NHS Croydon overspend

Shirley fishmonger wants life-sized statue of himself next to Croydon bench


A FISHMONGER from Shirley is hoping to follow the likes of Sir Winston Churchill and Eric Morecambe and see a life-sized statue built of himself.

A public vote was launched to find three characters to feature around a new bench in Croydon.

But it was unlikely the organisers had 26-year-old Darren Maskell from Shirley in mind.

He put his name down for a public vote and gathered backing from "hundreds" of supporters on Twitter and Facebook.

And now he is anxiously waiting to find out whether his own effigy will be built.

Other names in the frame included comic Ronnie Corbett, composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Addiscombe actor Dave Prowse, who played Darth Vader in Star Wars.

Darren told the Advertiser: "I was looking on Croydon Council's website and there was a voting form with suggested people.

"They put down Ronnie Corbett and other vague names linked to Croydon.

"He's [Ronnie Corbett] not even from Croydon, he lives in Croydon.

"So I suggested my own name and got lots of people to vote for me.

"When you see these statues to minor celebrities it doesn't mean much to people.

"But if there was a statue of somebody they didn't know at all then it would be a talking point."

Darren has lived in Shirley his entire life and was educated in the area at Monks Orchard Primary School, in The Glade, and Edenham High School, in Orchard Way.

The contest to create a bench with two-dimensional characters was launched by Sustrans, a national public art project, with support from the Big Lottery Fund and Croydon Council.

The life-sized portraits would be on a new cycle route, which is currently being developed, connecting Wandle Park to Lloyd Park via the town centre.

Darren said he would be simply "chuffed" if he was chosen. He added: "It would show that anybody could get a statue and it is not out of the realms of impossibility. You don't have to be a major celebrity to get one."

Sustrans says the three characters are currently being made, with an announcement on the winners to come early next year.

Shirley fishmonger wants life-sized statue of himself next to Croydon bench

Joint funeral held for Upper Norwood twin sisters


THE lonely funeral of twin sisters who probably starved to death has been held.

Reclusive Stephanie and Jacqueline Berry, 51, lay dead in their Beulah Hill flat for more than a month before being discovered.

They were found in separate bedrooms in their Upper Norwood home on March 26.

More than seven months later, on November 2, a service was held at Croydon Crematorium.

Although an inquest heard the pair had no family, it is understood mourners did attend.

The funeral was organised by Croydon Council.

Upper Norwood councillor Pat Ryan – who lived a few doors along from the sisters – said: "If I had known about the service then I would have gone along because they didn't have a soul in the world.

"They didn't have anybody – no relations, nobody. I knew one of them who used to walk up and down past my house.

"She was quiet, but would say hello. Some days she would be depressed, but most of the time she would give me the time of day.

"I'm exploring the possibility of having an independent inquiry, as I'm appalled that two females can be allowed to starve to death in the 21st century.

"It's absolutely ghastly. People are still very down about it."

Investigations into the Berry sisters' lifestyles revealed their utility bills had not been paid for months, an inquest was told in September.

They had no lighting, heating, water, computer or phones, and no obvious source of income, with a bank account virtually cleaned out.

They were not known to social services and their bodies were found in an advanced decomposed state. Croydon Coroner Dr Roy Palmer recorded an open verdict, explaining there was a "lack of any evidence in terms of establishing what they died of".

The council organised 64 funerals during the last financial year for those without relatives.

It is able to recover from the estate of the deceased any expenses that may have occurred in organising the funeral.

Joint funeral held for Upper Norwood twin sisters

TIA SHARP: Officers who missed Tia's body in grandmother's New Addington home will not face sack

TWO bungling police officers who failed to find Tia Sharp's body while they searched her grandmother's New Addington home will not face the sack, a Met source has revealed.
The constable and "supervising" sergeant – part of a team of officers who scoured the loft because sniffer dogs were not trained to – have received a "minor" telling off, despite the blunders making it harder for experts to establish the 12-year-old's cause of death.
Tia's remains were missed during three searches, which has since led to one of the officer's being pulled from specialist search duties. The first bungled search, two days after she went missing, delayed finding the body for five days.
A police source told the Advertiser: "It is the most minor form of discipline. This is at the bottom of the scale.
"It's like when you go to court, you can get life imprisonment or you can get an absolute discharge. It is a telling off but it's a minor one. Nobody's job is at threat."
The source added: "It strikes me as odd, that when a policeman makes a mistake people want to sack him, but when a news reader gets their lines wrong nobody complains.
"Part of frontline operations is you're going to make mistakes. The constable has been taken off [search] duties but I don't know what's happened to the supervising sergeant."
The source explained dogs were not taken into the loft, where the schoolgirl's body was found, because they are not trained to walk along the narrow joists and soft flooring typical of roof spaces. "Their feet would go straight through the floor," they said.
In August we reported how forensic pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton suspects the Met blunders will have "absolutely" contributed to a post-mortem's failure to find how and why Tia died, making it harder to prove she was murdered in court.
Despite anger within sections of the community over the bungles, New Addington councillor Tony Pearson said tougher disciplinary action against the officers is not necessary.
He said: "It will never change the investigation. It was difficult for everyone concerned and the key for the family is to make sure there is justice for Tia, not to have a witch hunt on individuals."
But changes have since been made to the force's official guidelines since her body was found in The Lindens roof space, wrapped in a sheet and plastic bag, on August 10.
A Met spokesman said: "Two officers, a PC and a PS [sergeant] have received words of advice.
"A number of organisational learning points were identified which will be taken forward with the aim of reducing any similar errors occurring in future."
Stuart Hazell, the boyfriend of Tia's grandmother Christine Sharp, has been charged with the schoolgirl's murder and will appear at the Old Bailey to enter a plea later this year. Christine Sharp remains on bail after being arrested on suspicion of murder.

TIA SHARP: Officers who missed Tia's body in grandmother's New Addington home will not face sack

Croydon North Decides: LIVE by-election debate

CANDIDATES from six of the political parties contesting the Croydon North by-election on November 29 are taking part in a live debate at Gonville Academy in Thornton Heath tonight (Tuesday). You can get involved by emailing me, leaving a comment below, or Tweeting me @Joanna_Till using the hashtag #CNDecides What follows below will be as accurate as possible a report of the debate, but quotes are not intended to be verbatim. For more information about the Croydon North Decides debate, click here

Croydon North Decides: LIVE by-election debate

Croydon barmaid was victim of Jack the Ripper, new book claims


JACK the Ripper murdered a young woman from Croydon the year before he was hanged for his sickening crimes, a new book audaciously claims.

Simon Webb, 50, author of Severin: A Tale Of Jack The Ripper, claims to have unmasked the identity of the anonymous late-19th century serial killer as a man who murdered Maud Marsh, of Longfellow Road, Croydon, in 1902.

Mr Webb's book claims George Chapman – hanged in 1903 for murdering a number of women including Marsh – is Jack the Ripper.

The book describes how Chapman owned a pub called The Crown in Borough High Street, London, where Marsh applied to become a barmaid because she could not find work in Croydon.

It claims Chapman seduced her before secretly filling her food and drink with a toxic substance called Antimony while the two continued a relationship.

Although Jack the Ripper's murders are thought to have taken place mostly around 1888, Webb says he came out of retirement to kill Marsh, who was in her early 20s.

Mr Webb, formerly of Waddon, who has been researching the book for a year, said: "Chapman just fits the bill.

"There are some ridiculous theories out there such as that it was Lewis Carroll or one of the monarchy's physicians. But these just don't stack up."

Early 20th century records of Old Bailey court hearings show Chapman was sentenced to death on March 19, 1903, for the murder of Marsh and was hanged in Wandsworth prison just weeks later on April 7.

During Chapman's trial, Webb says, Frederick Abberline, a detective on the Ripper case, became convinced Chapman was the man he had been hunting back in 1888.

The author's research also shows Chapman, a barber and surgeon before becoming a publican, had moved to Britain from Poland and was formerly known by the name Severin Klosowski.

Mr Webb, a librarian now living in Durham, who has written more than 20 books, said: "It's definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it's been an interesting project, and for someone who originally comes from Croydon, certainly interesting to think Jack The Ripper may have had such a link to the borough." Jack The Ripper was the name given to a notorious serial killer who struck in East London during the late 1880s. He is thought to have been responsible for at least 11 murders, though was never brought to justice for these crimes. Some historians dispute the murders were the work of one individual and suggest the crimes were unrelated. The precise abdominal mutilation of his victims – many of whom were prostitutes – led to speculation he might be a surgeon.

Severin: A Tale of Jack The Ripper is available only for Kindle for £1.96. Visit Langley Press Direct for more information.

Croydon barmaid was victim of Jack the Ripper, new book claims

Toys for Joy appeal 2012 launched by Croydon Advertiser


CHRISTMAS is coming and this week the Advertiser launches our annual Toys For Joy appeal to give sick children a December 25 to remember.

We need your help to collect as many toys as possible to donate to youngsters who have no choice but to spend the Yuletide in a hospital bed.

Today we call on our readers to donate new or nearly-new toys to Croydon University Hospital.

Mother-of-two Janice Sprouse has spent the past six weeks in and out of hospital with son Joel who suffers from the rare Femoral Hypoplasia and Unusual Facies syndrome.

The nine-year-old has already undergone 11 operations and must twice yearly have a growth rod operation on his back. Despite needing a wheelchair to get around, Joel has kept a smile on his face throughout every hospital stay.

He said: "It does get boring here and all the friends I have made have left now. I think the toy appeal will really cheer up the children that are here over Christmas."

His mother Janice, who has spent night and day with her son while in hospital, said: "It's very important that the children here are as happy as they can be. Christmas is about being at home and if that isn't possible then I'm sure the presents will cheer everyone up."

  • Donate your new and nearly new toys to the appeal. Toys can be for babies, toddlers or older children up to 17-years-old, but if you are wrapping your gifts please make sure you label who they are for, an approximate age and whether it is a boy or a girl. Bring the presents to 12-18 Lennard Road, Croydon.

Toys for Joy appeal 2012 launched by Croydon Advertiser

Coulsdon Christmas market could return for 2012


A BUSINESS leader is hoping a dash of community spirit can revive a festive tradition that fell foul of budget cuts.

Amanda Davis, chairman of the Coulsdon Business Partnership, is looking for volunteers to help revive the annual Christmas market, which failed to take place last year after the town centre manager was made redundant.

She hopes tables of festive stalls during December can help bring shoppers into the town and spread Christmas cheer.

Ms Davis, the owner of I Woman clothing store in Chipstead Valley Road, said: "It would bring a bit of community spirit and bring all the traders together.

"It is Christmas, and the time where everybody should come together and look after these things."

Croydon's town centre managers, including Coulsdon's Christine Samson, were made redundant in 2011 when Government funding was pulled.

Traders have given a warm welcome to the idea of a market comeback, and the shoppers that it might bring.

Angie Patel founded Pandora News in Brighton Road with her husband 30 years ago.

She said: "I think the market does bring a lot of people in; last year was not very good without it.

"I hope it would sell lots of different clothes, presents and things like that. Not sweets, because we sell them."

Alan Wright, owner of Express Copy in Chipstead Valley Road, said: "It would be great to see a Christmas market because it would make people more aware of Coulsdon.

"Last year was a bit of a shame, but now we are all very enthusiastic. It would give the place much more of a Christmas feel."

"We pay the same rates and do everything the same as Croydon, but sometimes we don't feel like we get an awful lot of support."

Terry Mitchell, owner of Barrington Dry Cleaners in Brighton Road, added: "We do need to get more people into Coulsdon."

Ms Davis said she was not yet sure of the scale of the market, but that she probably needs about five or six volunteers.

She hoped the festivities would start at the beginning of December, and was exploring the possibility of basing stalls in the Red Lion car park.

Ms Davis also helps organise Christmas lights, which town traders generally club together to fund. "Donations for the lights will be gratefully accepted," she added.

To volunteer to help call Ms Davis on 020 8763 1066.

Coulsdon Christmas market could return for 2012

Atkins Hope solicitors in Croydon named Family Law Firm of the Year


A COMMITMENT to safeguarding vulnerable children has led to Croydon-based solicitors Atkins Hope being named as Family Law Firm of the Year at prestigious national awards ceremony held in London.

The company, based in North End, won the award at the Family Law Awards 2012, having demonstrated the outstanding quality of the legal service it provides to clients and the high levels of teamwork within the firm and with other lawyers and professionals.

Atkins Hope solicitors in Croydon named Family Law Firm of the Year

Fairchildes Primary School rated outstanding by Ofsted


AN ORDINARY school doing extraordinary things is how inspectors have described Fairchildes Primary School after awarding it "outstanding" status in its latest Ofsted report.

And expressing her pride in the New Addington school's success, head teacher Ros Sandell said it was very much down to the team effort of pupils, staff and parents.

In moving up from "good" to "outstanding" Fairchildes gained the top status in all four elements of the inspectors' report – achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and management.

In glowing terms, the inspectors said: "The school's success is due to its strong focus on the needs of each pupil so that none is left behind.

"This is reflected in the strong leadership provided by the head teacher and the leadership team, as well as the governors who ensure the needs of every child are met."

The inspectors added: "Most teaching is outstanding and never less than good. Teachers provide activities and experiences which are fun, practical and inspiring."

The school also received praise for Year 6 pupils who do better in maths and English than their peers nationally; the excellent progress of disabled pupils and those with special educational needs who receive specialist teaching and support for the school's ambitions from parents and carers.

The report does suggest that more work needs to be done to improve pupils' writing skills in subjects other than English and maths.

Miss Sandell said there was a great enthusiasm for writing but staff were now working on translating the skills demonstrated in English classes to increasing the accuracy and fluency of work produced for the full range of subjects taught at the school.

Miss Sandell, who has been head of the 500-pupil school for eight years, said: "I am incredibly proud of what has been achieved.

"Our staff are magnificent and this has been a team effort."

Miss Sandell explained that one of the criticisms of the school in previous reports had been the attendance levels of pupils but this problem had been reversed and now over 96 per cent of the children were in school every day.

Much of that improvement was down, she said, to building up a stronger relationship between the school and parents, many of whom may have had unhappy experiences in their school days.

Miss Sandell said: "We wanted to make sure that parents knew how important it was for their children to come to school and they could see that by coming in themselves and working with us.

"There is nothing judgmental in our approach and we never apportion blame – it is about finding solutions."

She added: "The key for the children is to make learning fun and exciting and energise them so that they go into every class keen to learn. That is huge."

Fairchildes Primary School rated outstanding by Ofsted

Croydon Advertiser journalist overturns attempt to exclude press from court

THE trial of a man who threatened a 13-year-old girl could become a potentially landmark case on the issues of open justice and freedom of the press after the defence tried to ban an Advertiser journalist from the court room.
A barrister applied for our reporter to be excluded from the proceedings while defendant John Page's mother gave evidence because she felt "persecuted" by the stories written about her son.
After four hours of deliberation, involving magistrates, a district judge and a submission from reporter Gareth Davies the application was thrown out.
His tweets of events at Croydon Magistrates' Court today (Wednesday) prompted messages of support from journalists across the country, the Society of Editors and coverage by industry websites Press Gazette and Hold the Front Page.  
Page, 37, was jailed for eight months last year for causing death by careless driving after he ran down 14-year-old Lillian Groves outside her home.
Cannabis was found in Page's blood and a half-smoked joint was on his dashboard, but the lack of drug-driving conviction prompted the Advertiser, alongside Lillian's family, to launch a campaign calling for roadside testing devices and new legislation.
More than 20,000 people signed the petition for Lillian's Law, which led to new guidelines being included this year's Queen's Speech.
But barrister Thalia Maragh said her client felt this "heavy reporting" amounted to "persecution".
"The basis on which I make this application is that the presence of the press will adversely affect the administration of justice because it would prejudice the pursuit of the defendant's case," said Ms Maragh.
"What the witness has said is that she isn't prepared to give evidence when the press is sitting in court.
"It is my submission to the district judge and my understanding from Ms Page that the press coverage has been such that it amounts to persecution
"So much so that every time her son comes to court, this journalist is there. This case isn't related, yet he is here again."
Ms Page, who was in court to corroborate her son's claim that he was at home when he was accused of threatening the 13-year-old, who can't be named for legal reasons, refused an offer to appear in court behind a screen.
Gareth was asked whether he would be willing to accept a summary of her evidence but declined on the basis of open justice. His stance was supported by Joseph McKenna, prosecuting.
He said: "As far as I am aware, unless Leveson has ruled otherwise, we live in a country with a free press.
"The press has a perfect right to hear her evidence. If she doesn't want to give evidence that's a matter for her.
"She has been offered screens. The court has been as accommodating as it could be. She has turned that down.
"The court has the power to exclude the public, and by extension the press, but it should be exercised with care and only in exceptional circumstances."
Proceedings were then moved to a different court amid concern that if the defence outlined the reason for the application it would prejudice the district judge presiding over the case.
New magistrates sought guidance from a court clerk who said that excluding the press would be "an exceptional step to take".
The clerk cited the case of R v Richards (1998) where an 18-year-old witness in a murder trial refused to give evidence because she felt "uncomfortable" in the presence of the defendant's friends and family.
Mr McKenna pointed out that while the public gallery in that case had been cleared, the press were allowed to stay. The ruling, he added, had occurred before courts could offer witnesses special measures such as giving evidence from behind a screen.
Ms Maragh remained unmoved: "Ms Page wont enter the court while the journalist is sitting there. She told me that she didn't know how what she would say would be perceived by the journalist.
"If she takes too long to answer a question she is worried how it will be reported.
"It's not a question of stopping him reporting the case but how the quality of her evidence would be affected."
When Gareth gave his submission to the court he said he had never given cause for Page to feel persecuted and had not received a complaint from his family as a result of any of the stories he had written.
He added that the press had a long established right to attend and report on the courts and that, having already covered half of the trial, he would be unable to accurately report the defence if excluded.
The issue was also complicated by the presence of Lillian's mother, Natasha Groves, who attended court but left the public gallery voluntarily.
Rejecting the application, District Judge Robert Hunter said: "Justice in adult court is open justice.
"I can understand more readily how she can feel intimidated by ordinary members of the public but they have agreed to remain out of the court voluntarily. The press, as is their right, wish to observe and report the proceedings.
"What I have difficulty in seeing is how she would find the press intimidating or how anything of significance from what has already been reported is going to arise.
"Bearing in mind this is a discretion I have to exercise sparingly and given the reasons I have said I am not going to exclude the reporter from the Croydon Advertiser from this court."
Following the ruling Ms Page refused to give evidence. Her son, who lives with her in Underwood, Fieldway, was found guilty of an offence under section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986.
Page, who was not present in court, will be sentenced at Croydon Magistrates' Court on November 28.
- For the full story on the court case see this week's Croydon Advertiser out Friday (November 23)

Croydon Advertiser journalist overturns attempt to exclude press from court

Croydon doctors' surgeries to switch from premium numbers to local rate


PAYING more to call your doctor may soon be a thing of the past – more than a year after GPs were ordered to not let that situation happen.

The Old Coulsdon Medical Practice (OCMP) has switched from a premium 0845 to a local number, and the two practices in the South still using 0844 numbers are set to follow suit.

Their moves come 18 months after Government guidelines came into force saying calling surgeries should cost no more than calling a local number from a land line.

The 0844 and 0845 numbers tend to be more expensive, especially for patients using mobile phones or with call packages that do not include premium numbers.

Nigel Rea, vice-chairman of the Old Coulsdon Residents' Association, said: "[It was] irritating because a lot of us have free calls to 020 numbers and you had to pay while you were hanging on for them to answer.

"We were finding, for example, people were calling from work and they would find their office switchboard blocked outgoing calls to 0845 numbers, or if you called from a mobile phone then you are getting hit by double charges."

OCMP manager Richard Frier said the practice had ended its contract with the 0844 provider more than two years early due to patients paying more.

He added: "[We] have managed to keep many of the features that benefited both the practice and patients with regards to the management of their calls."

The Moorings Medical Practice in Kenley and Woodcote Group Practice, which has surgeries in Coulsdon and Purley, have said they will change to a local number very soon.

Dr Fiona Collins is a partner at The Moorings, which publishes only an 0844 number on its and NHS Choices' websites.

She said at the start of the month: "We had a meeting with our phone supplier two weeks ago and they are supplying us with a geographical number shortly.

"We will also have two new outgoing lines, to make it easier to call patients back."

Kes Howe is the IT manager at Woodcote Group Practice, which publishes an 0844 number on its website and an 0208 number on NHS Choices.

He said at the end of last month: "We are in negotiation with another telecommunication company to change our telephone system completely back to a geographical local number. The change will happen in the very near future."

A spokesman for Croydon Primary Care Trust said it "actively encourage[s]" GPs not to renew 0844 numbers when their telephone contracts expire.

She added: "We require them to put alternative and/or additional arrangements in place where they cannot terminate their contracts early."

Coulsdon resident Peter Appleford, however, said he appreciated the benefits of the 0844 system and its handling of a lot of calls.

He said: "If I need to see a GP I am not too worried about a phone-call being more expensive than another. Also, you got through to the person you need to speak to."

Croydon doctors' surgeries to switch from premium numbers to local rate

Is the internet key to the survival of Croydon businesses?

WHILE the internet is often accused of killing the high street, the capital's business leaders last week called on shopkeepers to get online or face decline. But does being part of the web distract from these shops' main point – their place in our local community? Lucie Potter discussed the issue with local traders... "WITHOUT the internet the business wouldn't survive."

Product and marketing manager Greg D'Addio at Cycling Made Easy in Coulsdon has no doubts about the importance of an online presence.

In fact, he is so convinced that he has spent the past year developing the electric bike store's website – aware that customers in a niche market will do extensive web research before buying.

"If we didn't have our website we would have to rely on just word of mouth. We're electric bike specialists, so what we do is quite specific," said Mr D'Addio.

"About two-thirds of our business comes from the internet," he added.

The most up-to-date research suggests 86 per cent of consumers browse online before going to a shop to make a purchase.

But not all traders are convinced about the web.

"The problem with the internet is that it's faceless," explained Keith Harris, the owner of Keith Harris Carpets and Flooring in Purley. "Our industry is a tactile one, people want to feel and touch our products."

Testament to Mr Harris's claims is the fact that 90 per cent of his business comes in the form of repeat custom.

And Gina Scott, the shop's office administrator, is a firm believer the internet is not the answer to high-street decline, and explained: "It's actually had a detrimental effect on the business.

"People come in and say that they have found it cheaper online."

Despite potential savings, she said internet shoppers who bought materials struggled later on when they needed their product to be fitted.

"We have a lovely display and it's a personal service that you get here," she added.

The personal service is one Peter Alford, owner of P&A Jewellers in Selsdon, believes is essential.

"I have no interest in it (the internet) at all," he said. "I have been here for 22 years and built up a local customer base, I prefer to have a local feel to it."

And Peter Skinner, owner of the nearby Selsdon Pet Centre added: "We're a local pet shop and people who use us are local and we hope that they know where we are."

But not all businesses were reluctant to embrace the world wide web – even if only trying to appeal to a local client base.

Selda and Alvin Burke have been running Eden Café in Selsdon for a year and plan to launch a website early next year in the hope of expanding the business into new areas.

The pair currently have a Facebook page but will use the website to advertise their outside catering service for birthdays, weddings and conferences.

Mrs Burke said: "Once we set up the website we will have a lot more people coming in, then we will need more space."

The London Assembly's economy committee is investigating measures to support the capital's struggling local high streets - including making better use of the internet - and is preparing to publish a report. Its chairman Andrew Dismore said last week: "Many high street shops complain that online shopping has taken away their business. Tackling empty shops is vital to London's economy and our report will focus on ways to help our high streets." Ideas on how shops could embrace the internet include providing free wifi to encourage 'multichannel retailing' and using empty high street shops as collection points for items ordered over the internet, which would encourage people back to the high street and boost business.

Is the internet key to the survival of Croydon businesses?

Kit Malthouse tells Croydon branch of Federation of Small Businesses: 'Your role is crucial'


SMALL businesses will play a crucial role in the recovery of country's economy, Kit Malthouse, the deputy mayor of London for business and enterprise told local firms last Thursday.

Mr Malthouse stressd the importance of small firms to London as he toured the We Mean Business exhibition organised by Croydon branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) at Fairfield Halls.

In its fourth year, the exhibition has become established as the major showcase for small companies in the borough.

This year around 120 companies, a record number, ran stalls at the exhibition. They ranged from financial and computer services companies to chocolatiers and security and insurance firms.

The opportunity for companies to show off what they had to offer was backed up by a programme for seminars looking at social networking, getting websites right and how to make the best out of networking.

Mr Malthouse told the Advertiser: "Around 80 per cent of people working in London work for small businesses."

And in many ways, he said, they were more important to the capital's economy than large companies.

Councillor Vidhi Mohan, Croydon Council's cabinet member for communities and economic development, praised the FSB for organising the exhibition.

He said: "This is a fantastic event which is really important to Croydon. It demonstrates what a superb offer of businesses we have here in the borough."

Jeremy Frost, chairman of the FSB's Croydon branch, described the exhibition as the most successful yet.

He said: "The number of companies running stands was 20 per cent up last year and we had around 1,000 visitors, more than we have had before. I think this has been a good day for Croydon's small business community."

Mr Frost added he welcomed Mr Malthouse's aims to work to cut red tape.

He said: "There is obviously a need for regulation but we would like more of a light touch."

Too much regulation, he said, discouraged small businesses from taking the risk of making decisions to expand and create more jobs.

Kit Malthouse tells Croydon branch of Federation of Small Businesses: 'Your role is crucial'

Upper Norwood hotel guests accused of urinating in residents' gardens

EXPANSION plans at a hotel whose patrons have been accused of urinating in residents' gardens are causing anger within the community. The historic Queens Hotel in Church Road, Upper Norwood, wants to create a four-storey front and side extension to provide an extra 25 bedrooms. But objectors claim the extension means coaches would not be able to turn inside, leading to the vehicles being parked in residential roads. Croydon Council has revealed 'more detailed transport analysis' is being carried out, while the applicant has also been asked for more in-depth drawings of parts of the scheme. Amanda Sciberras, chair of the Gipsy Hill Residents' Association, said there was a worry regarding traffic and parking issues. She explained: "The surrounding residential roads are subject to selfish parking by patrons of the hotel. "Private driveways have been obstructed on occasions, patrons have parked in private drives and on residents' front gardens. "The Queens Hotel hosts regular large events and residents of Fitzroy Gardens have also experienced their road and gardens being used as an overflow toilet by attendees. "The idea that this company wishes to increase the services it runs from Church Road is a cause of huge concern for people the residents and traders in the area." A spokesman for the Queens Hotel said: "The planning application before Croydon Council is for the reinstatement of a part of the hotel destroyed by fire. "Whilst the area of the extension has in recent years been used for coach parking, the site is extensive and there remains ample space for coach parking elsewhere, either in front of the hotel or in the large car park to the rear. "There is no need for guests to park off-site but the information submitted with the planning application demonstrates that there is ample available off-street parking if they do. "Coaches will continue to park on-site." The management says it has 'no records' of any neighbours complaining that guests park on their front gardens, on their private drives or urinate in their gardens, adding the hotel is well provided with toilets.

Upper Norwood hotel guests accused of urinating in residents' gardens

New Addington boxer Glenn Boden: 'I am ready'


GLENN BODEN says he's ready to establish himself as a major force when the popular lightweight makes his debut at the Effingham Park Hotel, near Crawley, at the end of November.

The talented 26-year-old from New Addington first laced the gloves at eight, and has racked up an impressive record during his time representing New Addington ABC, competing alongside gym mates Gareth Gardner and Steve Orford.

Both athletes have already established themselves as major stars in the Queensbury Boxing League, and now Boden, who has yet to taste defeat since leaving the amateur ranks after boxing on a number of smaller promotions in London, believes he has all the skills necessary to emulate their title success to become a champion in his own right.

"I'm really looking forward to making my debut in the league on November 24, and I really feel I'm ready to make a major impact on the shows' lightweight division," said Boden.

"I've been to a number of league shows at the Effingham Park Hotel and watched Gareth and Steve compete, and it's a fantastic venue and the shows are one of the best in the country.

"With it being filmed for British Eurosport, a good performance could see my fight televised which would be a big boost for my career and help build my profile.

"I think the Queensbury fans will really enjoy my style of boxing.

"I'm an aggressive power puncher, and my family have nicknamed me the little Ricky Hatton, so come fight night I'm going to make sure I produce the goods and throw my name into the mix for a title shot next year."

The show will be the final stop on the league's busy 2012 season of boxing, which has seen a number of Croydon-based boxers rise to prominence over the year on its events. And with the league's lightweight division wide open at the moment, Boden can look forward to an exciting 2013 if he can come through with the win.

For further information on the Edge Of Greatness event and see to see the full line-up of action, visit their website at www.queensburyboxing.co.uk

SUTTON-BASED boxer Lee Westley was victorious over Martyn Emmett last Friday in a second round stoppage.

The fighter, who trains out of Fight Knights Boxing Gym, Green Lane, Morden, travelled to Cheltenham for the bout and was a comfortable winner.

His record is now six wins out of six and he will be boxing again on Friday, December 7 in Tolworth on the WCBO show, where former world champion Tim Witherspoon will be doing an exhibition bout.

New Addington boxer Glenn Boden: 'I am ready'