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.
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.
“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.”
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