‘Croydon Council! Shame on you!’: protesters make their point

Taking to the streets: last night’s protest march raised attention to the state of council flats on Regina Road. Photo: Christopher Hope-Fitch

SANJANA IDNANI reports from South Norwood on the latest efforts by council tenants to secure decent living conditions for their families

Residents from across the borough took to the streets of South Norwood last night for a march and rally to protest the ongoing neglect and mismanagement of their homes by Croydon Council – four months after the “appalling” conditions endured by council tenants in blocks on Regina Road created a national scandal.

The mouldy, damp and dangerous state of the flats were exposed by ITV News in March, yet many tenants say that they and their families remain in unsafe conditions, claiming that they are not being listened to by the council and are still having to fight to get serious issues resolved.

Residents say that despite promises made on national television, 18 weeks later they are still waiting for a face-to-face meeting with the council leader, Hamida Ali.

What the council leader said four months ago

“When we ring up to talk to them, they don’t want to believe you, then they tell you that you’re lying,” one Regina Road Resident told Inside Croydon.

“They don’t come and fix your thing and if they do come and fix your thing, they’ll tell you have fixed it when they probably haven’t.”

Spray what you mean: protestors had acquired some interesting banners. Photo: Christopher Hope-Fitch

The solidarity march was organised by a coalition of community groups, the Regina Road Residents’ Support Group, the South Norwood Tourist Board and members of the South Norwood Community Kitchen.

As they marched from Regina Road down South Norwood High Street, protesters chanted “Croydon Council! Shame on you!” and “Justice for Regina Road!”

For banners, some had managed to “acquire” estate agents’ to let or for sale boards – of which there is no shortage in South Norwood – and spray painted over them with their slogans of support. Drivers in passing cars occasionally joined in by beeping their horns in time with the chants while the marchers played music to make their presence heard and to add to the community spirit.

Awkward: Cllr Carserides didn’t seem comfortable

Only one local councillor attended: Louis Carserides, the parliamentary aide to Steve Reed MP who was elected as a Labour ward councillor in May.

Carserides arrived at Regina Road for the march rendezvous, when he looked at times awkward and embarrassed, especially after one of the protestors gave him a banner to hold. Carserides did not join the solidarity march: “The shouts of ‘Shame on you!’ probably put him off,” according to one marcher.

Television news crews from ITV were again in attendance.

The residents and their supporters rallied at the end of the march on the green outside the flats, when speeches were made, with experiences shared and thanks given to those who had shown up.

One resident, Rebecca Williams, promised in her speech that “there will be more” protests as they continue to battle for their right to a safe home.

Signposted: Hamida Ali and contractors Axis have earned the anger of residents. Pic CHF

Williams said, “I waited three months to get my sink fixed. The washers were gone, so the water was just leaking out of the pipes. I waited for three months and then they came to fix that. When the guy left, the sink was still filled up with water.

“So, they called a plumber to fix that, and he then told me that they hadn’t replaced the washers which they said they had replaced, so I had to call back and get it done.

“Why should we have to live like that?”


Read more: Investigation finds systemic failure and incompetence in council
Read more: Only 10% of council housing repair jobs ever get checked
Read more: Ali accused of cover-up over findings on council flats scandal
Read more: Croydon shamed over ‘dangerous squalor’ in council flats

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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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Louis Carserides, Regina Road Residents' Support Group, South Norwood, South Norwood Community Kitchen, South Norwood Tourist Board and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to ‘Croydon Council! Shame on you!’: protesters make their point

  1. moyagordon says:

    The fact that the council leader hasn’t made this a priority shows how the people running the council must think nobody will care or listen to these council residents. We pay our council taxes believing they will be spent on providing safe council houses for families, and it plainly isn’t that way in Croydon. Of all the things Croydon Council has got wrong I find this the most shocking. More local people need to be made aware of this scandal.

  2. moyagordon says:

    OMG just watched the ITV interview with Hamida Ali. Chilling to hear the emotionless way she responds to the interviewer’s questions. I can see why Hamida Ali was chosen to take over from Newman and Negrini, she can expertly handle the fallout, she side steps difficult questions like Fred Astaire tap dances. I guess the reason she didn’t have time to call Fransroy was because she was in training for the ITV interview. Scary to think people who don’t care are running our council.

  3. John dale says:

    Why waste money on Brick by brick when it would be better spent on the flats and homes andother things like social services .

    • In many respects, John, you need to go back six or seven years to when the original pitch was made for Brick by Brick, and compare that to what was ultimately delivered. The two things are so far apart as to bear no resemblance to each other.

      BxB was an accountant’s clever response to the hoops and barriers central government has placed in the way of local authorities to either discourage them from building council homes, or seeing council homes flogged off at massive discounts under Thatcherite Right to Buy.

      An arm’s-length housing company dodged many of those rules. We were told that 50 per cent of Brick by Brick’s homes would be “affordable”. Those backing the scheme omitted to state that this 50 per cent affordable would be the least affordable kind of subsidised shared ownership homes, with very few homes for social rent – council homes – included in the mix. And then BxB failed to meet its 50 per cent affordable target, too.

      The money loaned to Brick by Brick was not necessarily “wasted”, as such, just really appallingly badly managed, with some schemes nearly three years overdue for completion. Longer build times mean much-increased costs, and dwindling income from non-existent sales.

      The sooner the government, local councils and the public abandon the obsession with home ownership, and local authorities and housing associations are allowed, once again, to build homes for social rent, the sooner we will resolve the housing crisis and house price inflation will be stemmed, too.

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