Town Hall reporter KEN LEE reveals how, as they were patting themselves on the back over a fly tipping ‘collar’, the council was deliberately withholding one essential detail
Inside Croydon has discovered that the serial fly tipping in Waddon which led to a conviction and £2,000 fine, and which was triumphantly publicised this week by Croydon Council, in fact all took place on a Brick by Brick development site which was not properly secured.
The council’s press office released the news on Thursday, including the name of the criminal tipper, his address, the type of vehicle he had used, and a full report of the council operation using CCTV cameras that snared him.
What they failed to mention, conveniently, was that the garages on Thorneloe Gardens which the fly tipper used to dump his rubbish is a development site being run by Brick by Brick.
Although the developers may have initially secured the site with locks on access gates, there were few, if any, other security measures. Once the locks were cut off, the site was open to abuse by fly tippers. It was only reports from concerned residents living nearby – and who have had the Brick by Brick development imposed on them against their wishes – that alerted the council to the criminal activity.
This raises a number of questions regarding Brick by Brick’s competency. It is just the latest adverse report about flawed security and safety measures used on sites being run by Brick by Brick.
On Friday, Inside Croydon reported how work had begun on another Brick by Brick site, at Drummond Road in the town centre, without the required Health and Safety Executive signage for pedestrians, nor the installation of road crossings which had been agreed as part of the planning permission for the site. Then, only questions raised by a concerned resident about the safety standards on the site led to Brick by Brick hurriedly trying to correct the apparent oversights.
Likewise, at Thorneloe Gardens, it was not Brick by Brick which alerted the local authority to the way its development site was being fly tipped.
Chris McEvoy, the council official in charge of leading enviro-crime prosecutions, said, “We responded very quickly once we realised the guys kept coming back and put in CCTV as soon as we could. We gave our contact details to witness who called us when they returned.”
It is understood that the “witness” was a Waddon resident, and not any employees or contractors of Brick by Brick.
“We also went there proactively on the off-chance of catching them [the fly tipper] in action,” McEvoy said.
Brick by Brick is the brainchild of council chief exec Jo “We’re Not Stupid” Negrini. It was formed as a house-building company by Labour-controlled Croydon Council in 2015. Despite having access to more than £100million of council funding, Brick by Brick has yet to complete a single home. More than half of the properties being built by Brick by Brick, using publicly owned property and public finance, are to go for private sale.
Brick by Brick is also responsible for the £30million refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls (which is running 15 months late and an estimated £10million over budget) and the New Addington Leisure Centre (which was due to open in 2018, now won’t be finished until 2020, and is costing £6million more than the initial £18million budget).
Given the slow delivery of any homes by Brick by Brick, and the growing evidence of safety, security and other issues around its sites, which are often in too-close proximity to existing residents’ homes, closer scrutiny may be needed over the appointment by Negrini of the council’s development executive, Colm Lacey, as the building company’s (barely) managing director, and his and his staff’s competence, or lack thereof.
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