The underpass near the Croydon Flyover where a brutal rape took place in broad daylight last month has been suggested as a safe route to a new school for mothers and young children at a Croydon Council planning committee meeting in March.
The police last week appealed for witnesses to the sexual attack on a woman that took place in the pedestrian underpass from Southbridge Place at around 10.40am on April 18.
There have been nearly 50 rapes reported to police in Croydon since 2014.
The tunnels beneath the busy main roads on the approach to the Croydon Flyover and Roman Way in Waddon are regarded by many locals as a no-go zone – dirty, rarely swept and stinking of stale urine, they present a forbidding, hostile environment which effectively cuts off one part of the town for wary pedestrians.
“It’s like something out of A Clockwork Orange down there,” one local told Inside Croydon.
“You do feel as if you’re taking your life in your hands if you dare go down there at night time. Even in daylight, you can find yourself looking over your shoulder. Once in the tunnels, you’re isolated and trapped, with no where to go if someone were to attack you.”
The rape occurred in a stretch of underpass where there is no CCTV coverage.
The council says it has no plans to close any of the underpasses in central Croydon, though it does say it is looking again at security precautions.
Yet as recently as March, at the planning application for the Krishna Avanti primary free school to be built on Southbridge Place, the council’s planning department’s report to the committee stated: “There are good pedestrian links via numerous underpass routes beneath the flyover and roundabout between Old Town and Lower Combe Street.”
Although a ward councillor, Andrew Pelling, raised the issue of what he called the “sunken corridors under the flyover” as being “unsafe”, the committee, chaired by Paul Scott, decided to grant planning permission for the school with no recommendations for alternative, above-ground road crossings to be installed.
There were 46 rapes reported in Croydon between 2014 and 2016, according to Met Police statistics, 20 occurring last year.
In this latest attack, the police are seeking a man with bright blond hair. The suspect is described as white, 6ft tall, aged between 20 and 30 years, with very bright blond hair. He spoke with an eastern European accent and had blue eyes.
He was wearing a black tracksuit with a hood, black gloves and had put a bandana across his face.
Any witnesses or anyone with any information can call the investigation team on 07825 060255, or contact police via 101 or by Twitter @MetCC
To give information anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or crimestoppers-uk.org
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