DECEMBER was all about the former van driver from Shirley - and the TV moment that changed his life forever...
BEN Haenow won the X Factor – and bagged himself a million-pound record deal in the process.
The 29-year-old from Shirley beat Fleur East in the final at Wembley Arena, romping home with more than 57 per cent of the public vote.
In the lead-up to the final, Ben played a homecoming gig in North End, in front of around 4,000 fans.
He told the Advertiser: "Playing in Croydon town centre is like a dream, I keep having to pinch myself.
"It's an honour to play back in Croydon. It's a town with a sense of community and we always back people who have done well from the area."
Ben first single, Something I Need, reached the Christmas number one spot the week after the final.
IN ITS first round of budget cuts, the new Labour council announced it was to close Purley swimming pool.
The authority said the facility was in a poor state and closing it would save around £1 million each year.
But residents and opposition politicians lined-up to slam the move, which would leave the south of the borough without a public pool.
Council leader Tony Newman said: "At a time when we are having to make very tough financial decisions we cannot justify the upkeep of Purley pool, a building which has been neglected over the years."
A SUPERMARKET which could lay claim to be the 'most dangerous' in Britain opened in East Croydon.
Tacked onto the side of the '50 pence' building, the Sainsbury's attracted criticism from many who said it looked ugly and was in an unsafe position, next to a busy road and tram interchange.
Addiscombe councillor Sean Fitzsimons, one of the most vocal critics of the plan, said: "It is in the wrong place and it is ugly.
"The NLA tower was a standalone iconic building that over the years has become a landmark. But this is a carbuncle on the building."
A SOUTH Croydon pub was forced to lose the landmarks which inspired its name.
Four eucalyptus trees at The Tree House, in Brighton Road, were pruned because their overhanging branches were "attacking" the building and passing buses.
Manager Megan Hartnett explained how one tree had grown lopsided and was pushing out the brickwork of one of the pub walls.
But, referring to the pub's name, she admitted: "It is a little bit like being called the bridge over the river and not having a river or a bridge.
"We are quite upset they are gone but two of them were causing problems. One was attacking the buses and it made quite a crash as they went past."
THE current Prime Minister and the man who wants to be next into Number 10 both visited Croydon this month.
David Cameron went to Harris City Academy Upper Norwood, to launch a new drive to improve maths and physics education while Ed Miliband – in his third trip to the borough in 2014 – visited East Croydon-based tech business dotmailer(crct).
QUOTES OF THE MONTH:
"I cook ham boiled in Coca-Cola. We had it last year and it was really good. I know it sounds disgusting but once you try it you won't be disappointed."
We could have picked any number of quotes from X Factor winner Ben Haenow – but ended up choosing his tip for a great festive dinner
"It's kind of crazy to think that's my little brother up there, he's so polished and professional and he's got the swagger to go with it now."
Alex Haenow on brother Ben
"We're not gonna turn it into the new Harrods."
Clive Coombes, the new man in charge of Croydon Village Outlet, didn't have quite such grand designs as his predecessor Marco Cash
"There are no names at the moment, it was just a playground flick. It was good for it to come off in the Premier League."
Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie on his inspired piece of skill during the match against Spurs