A fear of crime in Croydon is putting people off venturing out to bars and clubs at night, according to a bar owner of 10 years who has given up her business blaming the decline of the town centre.

In October 2022, Farrah and Roy Seda said goodbye to Dice Bar  – the leasehold was put on the market seven months before at £90,000 a year and was taken up by a new owner.

Farrah said the town centre has been declining in recent years, only made worse by Covid. 

She added that a fear of crime, along with a lack of options, means fewer people come into Croydon for a night out.

Farrah said: “We closed up due to the fact that the town centre was so bad, nobody was coming into the town centre – we had to make that very difficult decision.

"A lot of venues have shut down, some since Covid, and partly to do with the crime, nobody wants to come out.

“There are so many shops and venues that have closed down there is nowhere to go.

"People come into the town centre to eat then go home.”

Police figures show there were 5,504 crimes recorded in Croydon town centre between January and December in 2022.

The most common crime was theft, with 1,545 recorded followed by violence with 1,365 crimes recorded.

This was more than the previous two years, however, this is likely to be due to Covid restrictions.

In 2020 there was a total of 4,473 crimes recorded with 4,794 in 2021.

Farrah said when Dice Bar opened ten years ago Croydon was “booming”.

The bar has now been taken on by new owners with a post on Facebook promising a new look and “new vibes” after a makeover. 

There is no date for the reopening, with the post just promising it is “coming soon”.

The former owner added: “We decided to leave on the basis that the town centre was declining and we were not prepared to go under. Personally, I felt really sad, when we first opened it was booming.

“We have seen so many venues close down due to the fact they were not making enough money.”

She thinks more improvements need to be made to bring people back into the town centre and encourage more businesses to open.

She added that since Boxpark has opened many revellers head straight there drawing them away from the High Street.

However, Croydon councillor, Sean Fitzsimons, says that the idea of the town centre being unsafe is more a perception than reality.

He thinks things have improved in recent years and said people doing down the town on social media often don’t know the area.

He said: “I think sadly there is a lot of criticism of Croydon town centre on social media some which is driven by people who don’t know the area but pick up stories on the news about Croydon being a dangerous place.

“Personally, I think the town centre feels safer now than it did a couple of years ago, the number of police has increased.

“People are harking back to a golden age of 20 years ago when at that time people were saying they felt unsafe because of young people out enjoying themselves.

"Whatever the state of affairs there is always someone saying it is scary.”

Cllr Fitzsimons says that over the past 10 years, Crystal Crystal Palace has overtaken Croydon town centre as being the borough’s nightlife capital and thinks South Norwood is on its way to becoming a popular nighttime destination with a range of restaurants, bars and even a micro-pub.

He also suggested that inaction on redeveloping Croydon town centre also contributed to the decline in nightlife.

The Croydon Partnership, which combines Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Hammerson has so far failed to revamp Whitgift Centre and the surrounding town centre.

It dropped plans for a new £1.5 billion Westfield shopping centre in 2019  after plans had been in the pipeline for more than a decade.

Cllr Fitzsimons said: “We need the Croydon Partnership to get its act together. I think Croydon’s potential as a nightlife area is severely limited by the failure to do something to the town centre.”

Last month, using a clause in a contract, Croydon Council asked the Croydon Partnership, the joint venture combining Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Hammerson, to invest £4 million North End.

Daniel Grossett runs video game shop Playnation Games, which has been in Croydon for 20 years and runs evening events.

He agrees that Westfield being dropped has halted progress in the town centre.

He said: “I can’t help but feel they have allowed the allure of Westfield to stick around for ages when they should have moved on some time ago.

“A few years ago there was talk about Croydon being like the new Hoxton, but now the town feels like the movie set of a run-down town.

"I think Croydon would do well to start looking inward – the first thing you need to do is get independents and give them free advertising.”

The Conservative Mayor of Croydon, Jason Perry, said the regeneration of the town centre is a “key priority” for him.