Only “frantic calls” to the local MP and councillors managed to get the police to stand down from “horrifying scenes” in New Addington this morning, as a council official colluded with staff from Brick by Brick to have residents removed from a public space in Warbank Crescent.
Brick by Brick is the council-owned, loss-making development firm that has borrowed £200million from the borough since 2015, and been a significant factor in the financial crisis at the council.
Brick by Brick wants to use the Warbank Crescent communal space for three car parking bays for electric vehicles.
The Warbank Crescent communal space is shared by 10 families, mostly council tenants, who use the space for play and other activities, as only a few of them have access to gardens. During the pandemic lockdown, the communal space has provided an essential playspace for local children.
Today, the Warbank Crescent residents had some seating and furniture in the space, ready for a community engagement meeting with councillors tomorrow. Residents and eye-witnesses allege that the residents’ property was removed, damaged or destroyed by the council staff and builders. The officials even removed a kids’ paddling pool.
Scott Ainsworth-Payne, the chair of the local residents’ association, was present with another witness when the situation escalated rapidly this morning. Some suggest that the police may have been summoned in advance of the Brick by Brick builders’ arrival.
“The builders had come to destroy the much-loved and well-used communal area,” Ainsworth-Payne said.
“Both myself and Adam Rest of NARA were on-site negotiating with the contractors, police and council. Not one resident had caused risk to council staff or the builders, yet multiple police units turned up with a custody van.
“While the police acted fairly and did not carry out the enforcement, it’s still deeply distressing to feel like you are considered a risk or as a criminal.
“Council staff seized and destroyed residents outdoor furniture that was still wanted.”
Ainsworth-Payne described the situation as “horrifying scenes” and said that this had caused significant distress to the residents.
Calls were made to Sarah Jones MP, New Addington’s new councillor, Kola Agboola, and even council leader Hamida Ali, after which the police were stood down and the builders left.
“This is the result of more than four years of work by Croydon Council and Brick by Brick which has resulted in serious impact on the mental health of residents here, not to mention the massive impact on their living conditions,” Ainsworth-Payne said.
Read more: Homes England called in to check Brick by Brick sale value
Read more: Brick by Brick to get second £10m loan to avoid going bust
Read more: New Addington residents call for halt on Brick by Brick plans
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