Croydon in 2012: Headlines in February
THIS is the second of our 12-part series looking back at the news stories that shaped Croydon in 2012.
We'll be looking back at ten of the most popular articles for each month of the year, as well as looking at 2012 in pictures via our most popular photo galleries, and seeing which items attracted the most comments.
The stories that follow are not necessarily listed in order of most-read.
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- A tram came off the tracks at East Croydon station in mid-February. The incident happened at about 6.30am, and no one was hurt. Tramlink services were suspended and roads in the area were closed. The incident was believed to have been caused by a faulty set of points.
- A Croydon pub was caught up in a racism row after publishing a picture of revellers apparently giving the Nazi salute on its Facebook page. The image from Lloyds No 1 Bar (The Milan Bar) was emblazoned with official Wetherspoon logos, and was uploaded two days before Holocaust Memorial Day. The freelance photographer who had taken the picture apologised, and said the fallout had been the worst moment of his life. He also wrote a letter of apology. The bar decided to stop using his services.
- February was the month when House of Reeves arsonist Gordon Thompson admitted burning down the furniture store during the rioting the summer before. The 33-year-old initially denied the charges but changed his plea during the trial, admitting burglary and arson being reckless whether life was endangered. In April he was jailed for 11 and a half years
- On February 13, Virgin Active in Croydon town centre was evacuated after a 'chemical incident'. It is understood the incident was triggered when a cleaner mixed some products together, which reacted to create a noxious gas. About 240 people had to leave the gym and Grant's shopping centre while emergency services in chemical suits checked the area, but no one was hurt.
- A member of the English Defence League said in February he had delivered leaflets to more than 600 homes urging them to object to plans to build a mosque in Purley. Frank Day was living in New Addington, six miles from the site, but said he was concerned over traffic issues. The application for a mosque was rejected by Croydon Council in March. The group lodged an appeal in May, but this was turned down by the Planning Inspectorate in December.
- Gary Hayward's mother Wendie spoke to the Croydon Advertiser to issue a desperate plea for help find those responsible for a savage attack on her son as he tried to protect his father. Gary, who is 29 and a father of three, sustained serious head injuries and still needs full-time care. No one has been charged in connection with the attack, which happened on Central Parade in New Addington on October 2 in 2011.
- Kwesi Appiah moved from Margate to Crystal Palace in February. The 22-year-old signed for the Eagles on transfer deadline day, and said he was proud to follow in boyhood hero Ian Wright's footsteps. He made his first appearance in Crystal Palace's 1-1 draw with Coventry in early March, and returned to Selhurst Park in October after a spell on loan to Aldershot Town.
- Is Croydon in Greater London or in Surrey? This is a question which continues to vex many. The answer, by the way, is Greater London - it ceased being part of Surrey in 1965. A Croydon Advertiser survey found more than six in ten people living in the south of the borough preferred to say they live in Surrey. This prompted a lengthy discussion online, with one commenter pointing out people could write 'Venus' on an address as postal regions are no longer used by Royal Mail. Labour Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone said he would look at holding a referendum if elected, while Conservative Boris Johnson said he would 'cross this bridge when he came to it', pointing out people in London have various advantages those living outside the capital don't have.
- In early February, then Croydon North MP Malcolm Wicks told the Croydon Advertiser that Croydoc directors who had allowed Dr Ravi Sondhi to run the out-of-hours service like his own bank account should never be allowed to hold NHS management positions again. Dr Sondhi withdrew more than £100,000 from Croydoc's accounts, as well as conning staff and patients at his own surgery out of £260,000. He failed to answer calls when on duty and ran the service from his home in Norfolk. Dr Sondi was suspended by the GMC, but will not face prosecution.
- In February we also brought you the story of James Naylor, who set up Croydon Tours to prove there's more to our borough than rioting, crime and the Croydon facelift. Mr Naylor takes people on guided tours of Croydon, showing off views, landmarks, notable spots and even locations where Peep Show was filmed. He also runs ghost tours of the borough.