Vans seized by the council after they were connected to conducting illegal tipping may have been owned by groups of travellers who are suspected of dumping mounds of rubbish in Croydon’s parks and open spaces over the past three years.
Croydon Council’s press office issued a statement yesterday which provided details of four Ford Transits seized in recent weeks. They carefully avoided mentioning any links to traveller families. With the council and police involved in prosecutions against the van owners, there is a limit to what can be put into the public domain.
But a source who worked on the seizures told Inside Croydon: “We’re quite sure that at least three of the vans were owned by traveller families. And there are strong grounds to suspect that these are the same people responsible for the major dumping incidents on Purley Way and on Ashburton playing fields a while back.
“It’s what they do. They go door-to-door, take cash in hand for people’s old junk, builders’ waste and other rubbish, and then they just dump it before they move on to another illegal site.
“It’s cost the council tens of thousands of pounds to clear it up. Now it’s going to cost them a few thousand quid to replace their vans.”
The council claims it is cleaning Croydon’s streets of up to five truckloads of dumped house clearance rubbish every week. Legal clearance operators will have a licence from the Environment Agency, and they will pay fees to use official landfill and recycling facilities. Using an unlicensed operator can see the householder, as well as the offender, facing criminal charges with unlimited fines.
Previous enforcement action by the council and police has led to one prosecution in which a man jailed for six months last year for dumping 42 tons of waste in Waddon.
While he did not confirm our source’s account, council cabinet member Stuart Collins did comment publicly about what the vans had been used for.
“Four illegal fly-tipping businesses operating in Purley, Waddon, South Norwood and Broad Green had Transits seized. Don’t use those without licences,” the councillor said on Twitter.
“As long as companies have waste disposal licences, they are OK to use. Residents must check beforehand.”
Officially, the council has released some details of the van seizures, which was part of a joint operation with local police:
- On Saturday January 9, council officers impounded a Ford Transit found in The Colonnades car park in Purley Way, Waddon – it had no licence to carry waste but contained rubbish and leaflets advertising waste removal services.
- On Wednesday January 6, council officers and Croydon police seized a Ford Transit van in Crispin Crescent, Waddon. This Transit also had no waste carrying licence and was filled with house clearance rubbish. It could be crushed if no one comes forward to claim it – though what the council left unsaid is that anyone who does seek the vehicle’s return may face prosecution for operating a waste disposal service without a licence.
- On January 4, the council sent a Ford Transit flat-bed tipper for crushing, after its driver was caught without a valid waste licence taking old furniture along Albert Road, South Norwood, in December.
- Another Ford Transit was seized on December 17 in Purley Way for similar offences and will be sent for crushing this week.
In the formal council statement yesterday, Collins, the cabinet member for “clean and green Croydon”, said: “Even if you pay someone cash to get rid of waste and expect them to take it to the tip, you’re dicing with danger if your man with a van has no licence.
“Our Don’t Mess With Croydon campaign has scored some great prosecutions against people guilty of fly-tipping – this ongoing operation with the police goes one step further by targeting vehicles before the waste is dumped in the first place.”
The council’s dodgy app for reporting issues with fly tips now appears to be superseded by a phone line – if there’s anyone left at the council to staff it – on 020 8604 7000 and email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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