Skanska create an unholy mess and leave Minster in the dark

Skanska has left this unholy mess around Croydon Minster for more than a month

After digging their trench and turning off the nearby streetlights, Skanska has left this Croydon Minster in this state for more than a month

The council’s lighting contractors are conducting a “consultation” of some residents in Croydon to discover how well the company is performing. Since they are carrying out the consultation themselves, no one expects the resultant report to be anything but glowing – unlike many of the Skanska street lights.

And according to Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader, Skanska has made an unholy mess around Croydon Minster.

It’s more than a month now since Skanska workers dug a trench around the side of the historic building. Since when, the lights around the churchyard have been switched off, leaving the public area deep in darkness each night. The issue was reported to both Skanska and Croydon Council, who are supposed to be monitoring the contractors’ work on behalf of the public. Neither organisation appears to have taken any action to remedy the situation over the course of the last six weeks.

The trench around Croydon Minster: Skanska appears to have moved into the waste landfill business

The trench around Croydon Minster: Skanska appears to have moved into the waste landfill business

Indeed, when the council received a second complaint, one month after the initial fault report, they issued this bog-standard response: “… our contractor Skanska who maintain the street lighting within the borough and aim to make repairs within four working days where possible, however some faults may be due to wider network issues such as electricity main faults, which can take up to 30 working days to be repaired by regional electricity supplier”.

According to the resident who filed the original complaint in early September, “The council official clearly hadn’t even bothered to read the latest complaint, which mentioned that the hole in the ground had been there for a month, and that the street lights were switched off.”

It was the previous Tory administration in charge of our council who entered the agreement which has saddled Croydon, together with Lewisham, with a 25-year, £79-million joint contract with Skanska for installation and maintenance of street lights and signage. Sources within the council say that Skanska won the deal at such a low price that they are no longer able to carry out necessary work in a financially viable manner – with the result that much of the work in Croydon is now done with minimum effort and costs.

“If the council refuses to manage and monitor Skanska’s work properly, then all we will have is millions of pounds of public money being squandered on sub-standard services and tatty-looking streets,” said the resident who has to make their way home past the Minster most evenings.

There is even a suggestion that Skanska may have started the work around the Minster without first getting proper permission from the Church of England, who own the building and the churchyard.

One aspect of any withheld permission could well be the style of lamp posts Skanska wants to impose on the area. The Minster is the jewel in the Old Town heritage area, one of Croydon’s last remaining significant buildings which were not bulldozed in the previous rush to redevelop the town in the 1960s. Until a month ago, the churchyard was lit from some replica-style Victorian-like lamp posts, in scale and suited to the surroundings.

Skanska at work: badly parked vans and barriers dumped across roads and pathways are a familiar sight across Croydon

Skanska at work: badly parked vans and barriers dumped across roads and pathways have become a familiar sight in Croydon

But Skanska appears to be determined to remove the  architecturally sympathetic street lights in the churchyard and to replace them with their job lot of cheap, tall and modern lamp posts.

According to Town Hall sources, “the delay is down to the ecclesiastical authorities not giving Skanska permission to continue the works they started, but it is hoped that this will be granted shortly”.

In the meantime, this link in the “Connected Croydon” pedestrian and cyclists’ route through from Church Street to Roman Way, South Croydon and Waddon, remains dark.

Inside Croydon would encourage its loyal reader to take part in the Skanska street lighting survey, here.

After all, it’s our money which is ultimately paying for the “survey”, so that Skanska can report back to their clients, the council, our council, about what a terrific job they have been doing.

You can also call 0800 028 5986 and a member of staff will input your answers for you. Less than half of the “survey” is about street lighting, with the majority (optional) of the questions concerning equalities policy, so it ought not take too long.

You can use that same phone number to contact Skanska directly with any complaints you may have, or email them at

And don’t worry: “Your feedback will be treated in confidence”, Skanska say.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Anthony Brooks, Broad Green, Croydon Council, Croydon Minster, Environment, Skanska, Street lighting, Waddon and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Skanska create an unholy mess and leave Minster in the dark

  1. croydonres says:

    I have this second phoned Skanska to ask them about the Croydon Minster scheme, and also why the new columns in high streets are so very large in diameter – mega- beefy in the extreme.
    Should get a call in the next day or two. I will let Inside Croydon know what they say.

  2. Jonathan Law says:

    Also why does it take so damn long after the lights are installed and working for the holes to be filled in and the blue barriers removed . Surely a team could go round days after the instal to fill in the holes.

  3. croydonres says:

    Update- Friday pm.

    I had a call back from “John” at Skanska. I was unable to answer his call, so he helpfully left a voice mail. John repeated why I had phoned them : Q 1–Why are the new tall lamp columns at Marlpit Lane Roundabout and Coulsdon Town Centre so OTT in terms of diameter? Q2– Why are they using similar columns in the Minster Conservation area and (3) what is happening at the Minster?

    He then responded on just one ! — number (3) in fact. The works are being held up by bones. Old bones. So the Ecclesiastical authorities need to give a licence to remove them.

    John also gave me the very helpful information that Skanska have been given a contract–only 19 years left !–to renew and run Croydon’s steet lighting. A year left on the install–then 18 blissful years looking after it. He seemed rather happy at the prospect.

    He then unfortunately forgot to give me his surname or direct extension number, so I couldn’t phone him back, but very helpfully then gave me the general 0800 number for Skanska Enquiries ! –the very number I had called on Thursday and — after quite a wait (being told by a charming selection of recorded voices that my call was really important to them, and really sorry for the wait while they try to connect me etc etc)— I had connected with a nice chap who took down my enquiry –my 3 Q’s..

    He had clearly done a really good job, because John read them out to me in full.

    I kicked myself for missing the call, and ability to talk to John person-to-person. It left me with a problem : No (sur) name– no direct phone number– so no way for me to get back to hm and ask for the answers to Q 1 and 2! Clever!

    This technique is of course Kafka as applied to UK local authorities in our times. Skanska are just doing the same, to stop irritating “Inside Croydon” readers phoning up to find out about the works.!

    Ho hum–I must just get back to the nice chap at Enquiries on Monday, and politely ask to be connected to “John”.

    If John is there, and not on hols., I will seek answers to Q 1 and 2, and will course get back to give you Update no 2.

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