Police officers from two jurisdictions and council officials from neighbouring boroughs have been busy dealing with complaints of damage to property, and what a local councillor has described as “a case of clear vandalism” as well as child safeguarding issues arising from the damage near a Coulsdon primary school.
There have been reports, unconfirmed by the Metropolitan Police, that the nuisance caused over several months in woods along How Lane prompted the arrest on Sunday of a man in his late 60s or early 70s.
A police officer was also observed yesterday on duty outside the man’s home on Cordrey Gardens, while the police also maintained a presence nearby on Deepfield Way later in the afternoon.
The man at the centre of the complaints is said to be notorious in the local area as a motoring lobbyist and political agitator, and someone who has been known to be an active member of Croydon Conservatives and of UKIP and, on occasion, both at the same time.
The police action is understood to have been in response at least in part to complaints from the local Conservative councillor, Mario Creatura.
Parents of young children attending Chipstead Valley Primary have been making complaints about the vandalism to the hedge along How Lane since last autumn. Someone has been cutting the hedge that runs along the boundary of the school and using the materials to deter or block cars parking there – causing children to be dropped off in the road, needlessly putting them at risk.
The Met and Surrey constabularies, and Croydon and Reigate councils, have all been involved as the incident runs along the Surrey-London boundary.
According to one eye-witness, “He has now cut enough of the hedge that passers-by can see into the schools.”
The man believed to be responsible is well-known locally and has been seen multiple times around the scene of the over-enthusiastic hedge-trimming.
One witness says that they saw as many as 20 police officers searching the nearby woods on Sunday, and that some officers suggested their investigation could take at least five days.
And in a post on the Croydon Conservatives website, failed parliamentary candidate-turned-lobbyist Creatura wrote, “A number of local parents have contacted me recently to alert me to the continuation of a troubling act of vandalism on How Lane.
“The hedge that runs along the lane and surrounds Chipstead Valley Primary School has repeatedly had chunks taken out of it, with it being placed along the edge of the road presumably to deter parking.
“When I was first made aware in September I went to look for myself – as well as the hedge remnants other detritus was mixed in including rusty chicken wire. This happened again in October and I’m told recently in January.
“How Lane is just over the Croydon borough border in Reigate, but multiple eyewitnesses tell me that the culprit lives in Coulsdon.
“I have alerted Surrey Police and the Coulsdon Town Safer Neighbourhood Team who are taking all appropriate steps. Surrey County councillors and Reigate borough councillors have also been made aware.
“Not only is this a case of clear vandalism, potentially hazardous to vehicles, and creates waste that could block our already struggling sewer system – but it also creates a child safeguarding issue with holes in the hedge meaning the field is there for all to see.
“It is completely unacceptable.”
Inside Croydon has contacted the prime suspect, but had received no response by the time of publication. The Metropolitan Police declined to comment at this time.
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