Fresh from last month’s High Court success in overcoming the threat of legal action from the Qatari royal family, Ian Bone, the antiquated anarchist and co-founder of the South Norwood Tourist Board, was claiming another victory over Big Business this week.
Bone, and the SNTB, backed by local councillor Jane Avis, have managed to persuade a multi-million-pound media company to fulfill its public obligations to clear-up damaged fencing and hoardings next to the Sensible Garden, the carefully tended previously neglected scrap of land opposite the former Stanley Tech, which takes its name from one of the school’s most famous pupils, Captain Sensible.
And to celebrate this latest success, the SNTB has announced that it intends to add a new bench to the garden, to be named the Stormzy Seat, after another giant of the music business who attended what is now known as Harris Academy South Norwood.
Outdoor Plus are the West End-based corporation which used to trade as More O’Farrell, the company which manages advertising hoardings across the country. Now, their business portfolio has expanded and diversified into digital advertising.
When Stormzy launched his Brits-winning debut album 12 months ago, he hired poster space, opposite his old school, to send an inspirational message to the latest generation of pupils: “All my young black kings rise up man, this is our year”, it said in white type on a sombre black background.
But a fortnight ago, Bone decried the neglect of Outdoor Plus’s property next to the Sensible Garden.
“The place is a fucking tip,” he said.
With part of its fence broken, the Outdoor Plus site had become a dumping ground for fly-tippers, fast-food packages, and was attracting vermin.
“The builders’ rubble spilling through the broken fence has attracted tons more flyblown rubbish,” Bone complained, before negotiating with Dean Williams, at Outdoor Plus. At first, Outdoor Plus was reluctant to commit to the cost of a replacement fence and hiring a man with a van to clear the rubbish, which was beginning to accumulate on parts of the Sensible Garden.
The Sensible Garden was a bit of unused green space which the local community “reclaimed” four years ago, with some guerilla gardening, as volunteers did the spadework and others donated flowers and shrubs and staged a grand opening with the Captain as the guest of honour.
This week, before the snows came, Williams and Outdoor Plus fulfilled a commitment to replace the fence and clear the rubbish from the site. And a request, previously made to the Tourist Board to pay “a peppercorn rent” for having the temerity to make something useful out of the land where the garden is now, has been dropped.
Bone, as you might expect, was triumphant.
“Don’t fuck with the Tourist Board,” he told Inside Croydon in a non-exclusive interview.
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Ah! The good captain. Forty years back I used to see him occasionally in Emek Kebab in Whitehorse Lane. I’m sure it wasn’t him who painted ‘Captain Sensible is Super’ on the railway arch down the road.
Well done to Bone.