'Croydon can be repaired, but you have to start now'
Christian Wilcox explains why he thinks Croydon can put its past problems behind it and how the community can be brought closer together
I have lived in Croydon...
Since birth. I'm Croydon born and raised, but went to uni at the age of 18 to study cybernetics (Google Project Cyborg). I came back a decade ago fleeing violent crime and have been here since.
I'm a Forestdale kinda guy, went to Trinity on a bursary (one-parent family), and over the past decade have mostly lived on the edge of Forestdale.
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I work for Croydon Voluntary Action and Croydon NHS at present. I do Labour Party work privately as well, but CVA and the NHS are obviously neutral.
The best thing about Croydon is...
The food. Around here it's incredible – this is why I wrote Cronx Cuisine. My own personal love affair with Croydon food helped me survive some horrific experiences whilst living here. So when I realised others faced the same challenges I wrote down what I had learnt.
The site is now approved by Croydon NHS. Yes, our food really is that good.
The worst thing about Croydon is... There are three key factors:
Low educational standards. I'm used to the sort of stuff you find in a university town. Croydon is nothing compared to what these university towns can churn out. We have to get our skills base back up to something more than hairdressing.
Decision making. The town has been in decline for 30 years. The same old managers using the same old tired 1980s formulas. These people keep getting employed, even though they aren't very good.
The crime. If it's not white collar it's violent street crime. It's all real, and typical of a town with zero prospects in it. Low wages, high prices for rent and mortgages, everyone is broke. And where there is poverty crime will happen.
Croydon can be repaired. But you have to deal with the above three factors to get it fixed. And it'll take a good 10 years to do it. Assuming you can start now.
My perfect day in Croydon would consist of...
A nice meal, a few jars, some good friends, and some top music. I'm disabled and I work, so R&R is important for me.
One thing people don't know about Croydon is...
Croydon can be repaired. So many ridicule Croydon and declare it a write-off.
I'm an engineer. We likes a fixer-upper we do. She isn't a write off.
The Croydon person/figure I most admire is...
Most of my experiences of Croydon leaders and managers have been negative, being honest about it. But Malcolm Wicks (former Labour MP for Croydon North) was pretty cool.
He had a sense of humour like mine, and had progressed right to the top of the pile through study and actually giving two-hoots about the locals.
My kind of person. He was no thief, exploiter, or corrupt manager.
He was a repair man. We need more like him.
If I was put in charge of Croydon for the day, I would...
You don't want to know how many managers I'd dismiss for incompetence.
Part of my work is politics, part of it is NHS, and part of it is charity. And if I had the right to hire and fire I'd purge this place.
And I guarantee they would not have a leg to stand on if they tried for an unfair dismissal claim.
Finally, if I could sum up Croydon in three words, they would be...
Must do better.
There is so much potential here. But you need to get the creators creating. And so far all we seem to have had is exploitation of said creators. So they leave, taking their skills and ideas with them.
It has to change