The deputy leader of the Labour group on Croydon Council has promised to “get in the face” of the owners of Coombe Farm, the private property set in the middle of Lloyd Park, over the growing piles of rubbish surrounding the building, even though the property belongs to a well-known donor to the local Labour Party.
Best-selling author Jean Ure wrote on Inside Croydon earlier this month about the frustration and anger of park users at the manner in which the land around Coombe Farm has been despoiled with piles of builders’ waste, general rubbish and even old cars since the building was taken over by AA Homes. Coombe Farm is currently used as accommodation for a number of homeless families, with AA Homes receiving generous fees from the councils concerned.
The company is run by Anwar Ansari.
Ansari was until recently the deputy chairman of Croydon Central Labour Party. Last year, Labour’s celebration of their Town Hall election victory was hosted at one of the properties in the town centre owned by one of Ansari’s various property companies.
If the piles of rubbish at Coombe Farm had been left anywhere else, then those responsible could face prosecution for fly-tipping. But despite repeated complaints over many months, Ure and other users of Lloyd Park had been told by council officials that there is nothing the authority can do about the mess because it is on private land.
Inside Croydon’s report brought the matter to the attention of Councillor Stuart Collins, the cabinet member responsible for making Croydon “the cleanest borough in London”, according to the 2014 Labour local election manifesto.
“It’s private land and councils have limited enforcement powers,” Collins told Inside Croydon. “We are getting in [the] owner’s face and will lobby MPs for greater powers.”
Collins promised to investigate. As good as his word, a day later he wrote on Twitter: “Investigated and found it is not a fly tip. Owner carrying out works, builders now been asked to clear during works, not at end.”
Asked to clarify, Collins added, “The owner of the land has said it will be cleared as a result of the council contacting him on my instruction. End of!”
More than a week after Collins’ pledge to have Coombe Farm cleaned up, and the piles of rubble and rubbish continue to grow and fester.
Meanwhile, Collins was announcing this week that the council had achieved a six-month custodial sentence for one fly-tipper caught in Croydon, with a “…further 30 to be named and shamed in June”.
Collins added: “Don’t Mess with Croydon.” Presumably unless you can get away with it on private land.
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