Croydon Council has issued a press release today which underlines that, even with support from the police and court action, it can take at least seven months for those using a council flat as a drug den, causing constant nuisance for their neighbours, to be evicted and for the home to be made available again for tenants who do not behave anti-socially.
The council’s anti-social behaviour enforcement team (yes, it has one of those) put the shutters up on 70 Alford Green in New Addington yesterday afternoon, just hours after Croydon magistrates agreed a formal closure order.
“We do not tolerate anti-social Croydon residents making their neighbours’ lives a misery, and we always take action if they refuse to change their ways,” Mark Watson, the cabinet member for communities, safety and justice, was supposed to have said, according to the council press release.
It is just the pace at which those decisions and legal action are taken which may cause many residents to question the council’s efficiency, or lack of it, when dealing with its public housing stock and its tenants.
Yesterday’s council action only came after many months of misery for neighbours, who complained about drug-taking, visitors who were drunk and abusive, fighting in the flat and communal areas, visitors at all hours regularly ringing neighbours’ buzzers to be let in, and noise, including loud music, shouting and swearing.
The council got the tenant to sign “an acceptable behaviour contract” as long ago as September this year. Apparently, the standard tenancy agreement is not enough for the council to be able to take prompt and decisive action.
Police attended the flat on several occasions in response to complaints about anti-social behaviour. “On one occasion several weeks ago they found crack pipes and needles and the tenant admitted having smoked crack in the house but denied using heroin,” the council stated.
But even the “stop behaving like an arsehole” contract was not enough for the recalcitrant council tenant to mend their ways. That agreement “was breached on several occasions which led to the council applying for the closure order,” the council’s press release today stated.
And now, the property – which could be a home for someone on the waiting list who really needs it – “will remain shut for three months”, the council said.
The council failed to state whether 70 Alford Green would be included in any publicity produced by ing, the image consultants hired at a costs of tens of thousands of pounds, to improve the borough’s reputation with international investors.
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