CROYDON IN CRISIS: Volunteers, residents and even councillors have been ignored by officials, as council staff have turned a patch of open space into a dump. EXCLUSIVE by KEN LEE, our Town Hall reporter
Croydon’s part-time Mayor has his work cut out if he is to deliver on his election promise to get tough on fly-tippers with enforcement action. Because one of the worst offenders for fly-tipping in Old Town is… Croydon Council itself.
Residents and community volunteers in Waddon have accused the council of using the Old Town Youth Club as dumping ground for almost five years – and denying all responsibility when brought to account.
The complaints of Waddon ward Labour councillors – when Labour had control of the Town Hall – have been ignored.
Residents and youth workers have been frustrated and in despair as van after van – often in the council’s very own livery – have driven up to Duppas Hill Terrace and unloaded a range of rubbish right next to one of the few youth clubs still operating in the borough.
“As you can see from our emails,” one resident told Inside Croydon, “we have tried numerous times to get them to clear the site, but nothing seems to get done, just more rubbish being dumped.”
The Old Town Youth Club has a patch of waste ground alongside it, where an electricity sub-station once stood.
The latest chain of emails with council officials was in April, when a senior officer said then that the rubbish would be removed “as quickly as possible”. That was on April 27.
The discarded old beds, mattresses, fridges, sofas, tyres, chairs (loads of chairs), concrete slabs and broken up plasterboard – all the kind of items that usually make up illegal fly-tips – are all to be found there, just a few feet away from the entrance to what is formally known as the Charles Major Centre.
Some of the materials left next to the youth centre look as if they might be the result of the council clearing vacated council homes of furnishings left behind by the last tenant. There is also a reasonable caution that some of the boards dumped by the youth club might contain asbestos.
According to locals, there’s even “dozens” of relatively new filing cabinets dumped there.
The filing cabinets’ previous home had been in the council offices in Fisher’s Folly itself, but the cabinets were disposed of by the spendthrift council when they rented out some of the surplus office space in the building (which some people still persist in calling Bernard Weatherill House).
“I did send in a complaint to the environmental department, and have spoken to a couple of people who have come and gone into the premises, dumping stuff, and they always say, they are getting in a skip to clear it. But it never happens,” according one angry resident.
The council does not even dispute that it has been using the site as a dump.
According to an email from a senior council official, “This site was returned to the council by [UK Power Networks] following its decommissioning and was identified as a site that could be used for the council to store items from various projects and has been used as such for the five years or so.”
In the email, which has been seen by Inside Croydon, the official did concede, “It now sounds as if this is not being used in an acceptable fashion and I will therefore arrange for the area to be tidied up and rubbish removed as quickly as possible and make sure that this is used in a more appropriate manner moving forward.”
That was two months ago. The council chief executive, Katherine Kerswell, was copied in to the correspondence.
But still nothing has been done.
When Jason Perry was seeking people’s votes to become Croydon’s first elected Mayor, he said, “Residents deserve to feel proud of the borough as they walk down the street.”
And Perry promised, “The council will clean up Croydon and ensure services are carried out as they should be. This will include improving street cleaning and refuse collection
through effective contract management and enforcement against fly-tippers.”
Though, evidently, that is not the case if they are Croydon Council fly-tippers getting rid of a load of unwanted office furniture from the cash-strapped council.
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