Thank you! Readers pay Shirley women’s fine within hours

Inside Croydon readers come to the rescue of two young women hit with a harsh council fine – as Town Hall’s deputy leader claims he is powerless to intervene against decisions made by council officials and that he has lost the war against fly-tippers

Farhana Shefa and Gladis Bela, the young women from the Shrublands Estate who were fined by the council for putting their recycling out for collection, were today sending a huge thank you to generous readers of Inside Croydon for contributing to their crowdfund.

Just fine: Farhana Shefa (right) and Gladis Bela are grateful for the prompt and generous help of Inside Croydon readers

Part-time shopworker Shefa and student nurse Bela could not afford the possible £300 fixed penalties charged against them in two fines, which the council imposed on the young women for the single offence of putting a cardboard box out for a Veolia recycling collection.

But just a few hours after Inside Croydon reported the Shirley women’s plight and the “job’s worth” response from the council, this website’s readers had taken part in a virtual whip-round and raised enough to pay-off the fine, and with enough left over to meet the crowdfunding platform’s admin fees.

Today, Shefa said, “Thank you so much.

“To be honest, I didn’t think anyone would do such a thing for me. Thank you to all the people who donated. It truly means a lot. May god bless you all for your kind donations.”

And her friend Bela added, “I want to thank you all for helping me with this and I’m grateful that it got resolved this quickly. I hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Marzia Nicodemi, who helps run the nearby Shirley Community Centre, had helped and advised the women when they first received the fixed penalty notices, and she even tried to get help on their behalf from Stuart Collins, the council deputy leader and cabinet member responsible for the state of the borough’s streets.

But Collins claimed there was nothing he could do.

In correspondence with the community activist, Collins effectively conceded that the borough’s elected representatives are powerless and that it is the council’s paid employees and managers who decide how the borough is run.

Useless: Stuart Collins

“Sorry, I’m not allowed to intervene,” Collins told Nicodemi.

“The council will say we have zero tolerance towards littering and fly-tipping. With the state of the nations [sic] behaviour on these issues and the amount it costs councils clearing up it’s probably not going to change in the foreseeable future.”

Six years ago, when Labour was seeking to win control of the Town Hall, Collins campaigned at the local elections claiming that he would wage a battle against fly-tippers and get the borough’s streets clean again. “Clean Street Stu”, as he likes to be known, led the campaign with slogans and T-shirts.

Now, Collins is admitting that the war on fly-tipping is lost.

“No one is winning the war against fly-tippers or litterers. No one can. It needs humans to respect their planet,” Collins said.

Collins went on to claim that, “Croydon has caught and crushed more [fly-tipper] vehicles than any other borough in the country. It’s difficult for our enforcement team because they hear all sorts of excuses for leaving waste on the streets, so how are they supposed to know what’s genuine or not?

“Bottom line is before … thinking of disposing of waste keep it in your home until you have confirmed the rules and made arrangements to get it removed.”

About insidecroydon

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 Croydon Council, Fly tipping, Refuse collection, Shirley Community Centre Association, Shirley North, Stuart Collins and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Thank you! Readers pay Shirley women’s fine within hours

  1. Patrick Fallon says:

    The Council do not make recycling easy for certain residents. I don’t have a car by choice but the Council only allow cars to enter the Factory Lane recycling centre. I suspect they are using the pandemic as an excuse. I recycle anything that I cannot put in my bins at home and only take a small amount in my panniers on my bike. Why are they discriminating against pedestrians and cyclists?

    • Dan Maertens says:

      Because they can Patrick!

      Basically, like many organisations they are not really geared towards a proper consideration of any alternative transport solution for users of their facilities other than by car, despite rhetoric to the contrary. The arrangement at Factory Lane is primarily designed to filter vehicles one at a time through the site. There could easily be provision made to allow pedestrian and cycle access; it’s not difficult to arrange suitable protected crossing points to allow people on foot to access the segregated waste bins, and of course everyone has to get out of their vehicles in order to deposit and dispose of their waste with all of the current social distancing requirements in place. The sole difference is how people are allowed to access the facility – 4 wheels, 2 wheels, or 2 feet. I suspect that the real reason is related to a perception of ‘lack of demand’, and that someone has taken the decision to exclude pedestrians and cycle users for ‘safety’ reasons. Both are misguided, (in my view) and both are capable of a fix.

      You’re right, it feels like low level discrimination, it’s perverse, and in their ‘climate emergency’! You’d think that Croydon Council would welcome a change in policy – so come on Councillors Collins and King, your Council has told us that you’re ‘leading from the front’ (19th September 2019 press release ‘A sustainable future for Croydon’) so show us that you are!

  2. Lewis White says:

    I think that they probably don’t want to encourage car drivers to park nearby, and then walk the remaining few hundred metres to the recycling centre, or encourage people to drive and stop in a local street, while their passenger darts out, and nips into the recycling centre . I can appreciate that this would not be good for local residents who need all the available street parking space for their own parking needs, nor for the smooth flow of busy industrial roads like Factory Lane, if parking is allowed.

    However, to “design out” access by cyclists who want to transport their waste item or items by bike, to the recycling centre, seems very wrong..

    It surely must be possible to have a dedicated access gate at each centre, with some bike racks to alow bike owners to enter safely, park, lock their bike securely, then recycle or dispose of their waste items. ?

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