Mayor condemned for ‘cruel’ treatment of street homeless

When other local authorities are looking to provide ‘warm banks’ for the poor and winter shelters for the homeless, Croydon’s cash-strapped council is seizing vulnerable people’s possessions in their effort to tidy up their swanky offices. By STEVEN DOWNES

No Access Croydon: the council has seized a homeless person’s few possessions to try to deny them somewhere dry to bed down at nights

Tory Jason Perry’s council has this week shown the full force of what “compassionate Conservatism” looks like.

Officials working for the Perry-led council have seized a homeless person’s few belongings, including bedding and clothing, in their effort to “clean-up” the reception area of the local authority’s offices.

There was a time when Tories, such as Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London, accompanied on a tour of Croydon by gobby councillor Mario Creatura, regarded the sight of a homeless person as a matter for giggles and in-jokes. The best that can be said is that on that occasion, at least they left the poor soul unharmed.

But these days, the council is accused of going out of its way to criminalise the vulnerable while removing shelter from them during winter.

The council’s move has been condemned as “cruel” by charity workers and Labour councillors, who highlight that it has occurred just as Perry, the borough’s £81,000 per year Mayor, is cutting all grants to the local voluntary sector that does so much to support Croydon’s most vulnerable.

Laughing matter: Tories, including Mario Creatura, giggling as they passed a homeless person in Croydon in 2014. Boris Johnson was in Oxford’s Bullingdon Club, whose members were notorious for burning £20 notes in front of the homeless

On Thursday this week, the council put up a notice on the shiny plate glass windows of Fisher’s Folly, addressed, somewhat pompously, “To the occupiers of the front entrance area of Bernard Weatherill House, 8 Mint Walk, Croydon…”.

It reads: “The London Borough of Croydon is the freehold owner of this property. You are occupying the land without any consent licence or authority and as such your occupation constitutes trespass.”

The council’s notice claims that they have made “several attempts” to offer support, claiming that these efforts have been “refused”.

“The council has no choice…”, really? “…but to take formal steps to recover vacant possession of the property,” the notice says.

These “formal steps” include removing the homeless person’s few possessions, potentially leaving the person without their bedding overnight.

“These possessions may be collected the next business day from Access Croydon 9am-4pm,” the notice’s anonymous author wrote. No one had put their name to it, nor provided any contact phone number or email address for the victim of this latest act of council callousness, or charity workers assisting them, to pursue the matter.

Sign of the Tory times: the council’s pompous notice stuck up at Fisher’s Folly this week

“Please note that you have no right to occupy the land and therefore urge you to collect your possessions and vacate the area voluntarily.”

The area in question is a largely unused platform along from the entrance to the council’s public reception area.

It provides a dry, covered spot, not far from where the Croydon Nightwatch charity runs its daily soup kitchens in what’s left of Queen’s Gardens. Over the course of the summer, the area has become the bedding down place for two, possibly more, people.

According to charity volunteers familiar with the situation, at least one of the rough sleepers is what is known in councilspeak as NRPF – no recourse to public funds. The charity workers say that, contrary to the platitudes in the paper notice stuck to the windows of their warm offices, the council has refused to provide any support for this person.

Shocked after seeing the notice outside Fisher’s Folly himself, Councillor Stuart King, the leader of the Labour group at the Town Hall, told Inside Croydon, “It is wholly wrong for the council, under Mayor Perry’s direction, to target so cruelly the street homeless on his doorstep.

“Meanwhile, charities working to prevent and tackle homelessness are losing their funding following the Mayor’s unpopular and controversial decision to axe the Community Fund.

“Once again the Mayor is showing he has the wrong priorities.”

Heartless: someone working in this £150m office building ordered the seizing of a homeless person’s possessions

Some of the homeless sleeping outside the council offices have been receiving help from the South Norwood Community Kitchen.

Emma Gardiner, community organiser at SNCK, said, “The reason so many of the street homeless people we support bed down outside Bernard Weatherill House is because Croydon is failing in its responsibilities to rough sleepers.

“Instead of putting up signs that criminalise marginalised people, Croydon must take action to ensure that everyone in the borough has access to decent, safe accommodation, regardless of immigration status.

“If Croydon Council wants to hide their embarrassment at having homeless people sleeping outside their building, then they should house them, not nick their stuff and destroy it.”

Council staff, too, have been horrified by the heartless tone of the council’s notice, and the actions sanctioned by senior officials. One council staffer said, “We share the concerns. Our hands have been tied by politicians and senior managers.

“Budget cuts are the excuse for a drastic reduction in what [support] we can offer.”

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
This entry was posted in Bernard Weatherill House, Charity, Community associations, Croydon Council, Croydon Nightwatch, Housing, Mayor Jason Perry, Property, South Norwood Community Kitchen, Stuart King and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Mayor condemned for ‘cruel’ treatment of street homeless

  1. Leslie Parry says:

    Budgetary cuts does give licence for persecution of the vulnerable and homeless! What next banishing local charities such as Nightwatch and others giving food and support in this area. As local politicians you have a duty to help, support and find solutions for these people.

  2. Sarah Bird says:

    The council have a statutory duty to help ,especially those suffering Abuse. Is this not ,what the council staff are employed at great expense to do? The Law is very clear.

  3. Michelle says:

    Greed the RICH are getting Richer and the Poor are getting Poorer this is a disgrace

  4. Part-time plastic Perry is stealing these people’s possessions and throwing them out on the street when there’s Brick by Brick homes lying empty. That’s what happens when you vote Conservative

  5. derekthrower says:

    Stealing desperate people’s possessions. Couldn’t an iota of sense be displayed to liaise with those trying to help the homeless in Croydon to come to a better resolution of this matter than threatening and placing more stress on vulnerable people. Co-operation and helpfulness on this matter doesn’t cost anything to the Council, but clearly it’s too costly for this authority and Mayor.

  6. Dave Russell says:

    I wonder what Jason Perry’s reaction would be if someone stole his possessions and told him he could recover them the next day.
    I have not the slightest doubt that he would call the police, and they would presumably respond to the theft because he is such an “important” person.

  7. Lewis White says:

    Especially if he only had a rucksack containing the handful of possessions he was not wearing, or sleeping in.

  8. Colin Cooper says:

    Whilst deploying these actions, please remember we are in this financial situation thanks to the Labour Party Council, you know the ones saying how awful this is!

    • So nothing to do with 12 years of Tory-imposed austerity (which wasn’t necessary and did not work), nor their disastrous handling of covid, nor their disastrous crashing of the economy? And that’s before we get to discuss the impact that Brexit has had on all aspects of society…

      • Sarah Gills says:

        Exactly. While the Labour Party were awful for the council, I’m not convinced it would have been much better under the Tories as the fundamental issue of not enough money would remain.

  9. Sarah Gills says:

    The council have a legal obligation to help people who present as homeless. Much like central government, budget cuts have allowed full-blown cruelty to be accepted. I think the council has made it even less obvious where to go if you needed emergency accommodation out of office hours by making the door less obvious.

  10. Dave Russell says:

    “These possessions maybe [sic] collected the next business day from Access Croydon 9am-4pm”, but the writer didn’t have the intelligence to say where “Access Croydon” is.
    Furthermore if the possessions were removed (i.e. stolen) on a Friday their owner would be deprived of them until Monday or Tuesday.
    Trespass is (mostly) a Civil offence to be dealt with in a Civil Court, if they feel that strongly about it. I would expect a Court to regard the location as public property, and throw out any case as time wasting.
    Alleging trespass does not give anyone the right to take (i.e. steal) another person’s property, let alone dispose of it after 7 days. If an “official” found a gold watch on Council (i.e. public) property would they expect to dispose of it after 7 days? The value of the item is irrelevant.
    Whoever is delegated to remove such property should think carefully about the legality and the morality of what they are being told to do, and consider refusing.

  11. Lewis White says:

    Thanks for reprinting the 2014 picture of Boris and Mario, emerging from a Croydon pedestrian underpass.

    Were they just pleased and bashful respectively that a Croydon photographer would want to take their photo, or was it a bit of a laugh or un peu embarrassant to suddenly encounter the homeless chap and his doggie?

    I wonder what Prince William or Prince Harry would have done ?

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