‘The camera cannot record the overpowering smell of urine’

Welcome to Croydon: the sight that greets visitors when they arrive in the borough. Has anything changed after a year of our elected Mayor?

Inside Croydon receives news tips and photographs from loyal readers from across the borough, and we try to make good use of the material you present us with.

Yesterday, into the inbox of the Inside Croydon email came the following, with photos attached:

“There is a sign at the rear exit from East Croydon Station pointing the way to the Whitgift Centre via a pedestrian underpass.

“This is what greets them.

“These were taken on the morning of May 18, 2023.

“Fortunately, for you and your readers, the camera cannot record the overpowering smell of urine.

“We wrote to Mayor Jason Perry some months ago highlighting this mess.

“I eventually got a reply saying that it would be cleared up, monitored frequently and notices put up.

“My wife wrote as well a few weeks ago but has yet to receive a reply.

“There are frequently groups of people obviously living in the subway but none were visible today.

“We did suggest to the Mayor that perhaps the homeless people could be housed in some of the multitude of empty high-rise flats sprouting up in the area. This point was not addressed.

“It’s not a good impression for visitors to Croydon.”

What our loyal reader did not mention is that last month, Croydon residents’ Council Tax was increased by 15per cent by Mayor Perry.

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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
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20 Responses to ‘The camera cannot record the overpowering smell of urine’

  1. Dave West says:

    It’s been like that for a long time. They clear them out, clean up, put up notices and they’re back within weeks. Probably because all that’s happening is that they just move somewhere else because there is nowhere to go. No one is dealing with the underlying problem. Still, won’t have to put up with it for much longer – I use it to get from the bus stop to my gym which is closing to be replaced by another tower block with more expensive flats that don’t address the desperate housing need.

  2. Lewis White says:

    There was also a strong presence of human faeces among the piles of rubbish in the nearby underground car park, which piles of poo as far as I know were not part of a planned “waste artwork” created as part of the Croydon London Borough of Culture activities.

    If it were, they would have cleared it up afterwards.

    The rubbish and the excrement are just what Croydon needs to make it the edgiest borough in South London. Peckham, Brixton, Bermondsey and Deptford are now just so passee.

    Welcome to the reborn Fairfield Halls, and to Croydon, 2024 Capital of London Culture. Enjoy your concert.

  3. Karen Lewis says:

    I’m sure the 15% council tax rise that is being taken from Croydon residents is to hike up the salary of the mayor and the rest of his cronies

  4. Ian Kierans says:

    The Subway becomes a dead end when the Centre closes. It then becomes home to quite a few homeless people, a few are still there the next day under the covers sleeping. And it is dangerous to them and to others. The smells are due to it not being cleaned as often and higher usage. But nothing in comparison to West Croydon station. There the smell is not just of urine. the walk down the London road or sometimes up is more human fecal matter, vomit, skunk and urine. Defecating in the phone box is regular as is in doorways.
    I am amused at the new tower block and pretty open areas with modern planing troughs and seating. These lasted days in West Croydon and those Central areas will be the new congregatng spots as sure as bears like honey.

  5. derekthrower says:

    Has this inspired part time’s year of culture public relations campaign?
    “This is Croydon and you’re welcome to it”

  6. Sharon Masters says:

    The photograph at the top of the article demonstrates what happens when you have a planning policy focused on only (I) pissing off the tories in the suburbs (ii) trying to impress labour central office.

    This is what ex Cllr Paul Scott did for years whilst he mismanaged the planning committee to serve his own personal ends.

    The result is everything else, the difficult bits, got ignored. Look at the state of inner Croydon. Admittedly there were economic forces at play also – but good planning delivers the framework to build a way out. This is what Scott, with his self-serving agend, was so fuvking useless at. And he calls himself an ‘architect’?

    This is your epitaph in Croydon, Scott.

  7. Sureyes says:

    Maybe u can host them in your house.

    • Gary says:

      You are playing the same tune as Scott, ‘oh, you’ve got a big house’.

      Why not get over yourself and your small ideas and think about taking on the real issues. These are not refugees, these are people who live in our borough. Have you asked your politicians what they are doing about it? Have you volunteered to help? Have you put forward ideas?

      No. You frame the problem around your anger. Get over it.

  8. Dan Kelly says:

    There is something very wrong with some of these people. On a couple of occasions I have seen a man openly urinating in the Purley Cross underpass despite free facilities being available in Tesco.
    If the subway becomes a dead end when the Centre closes why doesn’t it have gates?

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Dan the facilities may be free but as soon as a homeless person aproaches they are moved on by security. There are others that do not bother to even go to Tesco or anywhere else as their bladder can only hold for a few rejections and piss off’s. I will check if there are gates next time – I have not seen them but may have missed them – not sure why they are not used if there are any.

      Most places in Central Croydon do not allow homeless inside, nor those that are known crack users and petty thieve’s. Many stores close entrances and limit them to two open at a time as they are struggling to keep up with the epidemic shoplifting.

      • Dan Kelly says:

        Maybe Tesco could show some community spirit and security escort them to and from the facilities. They seem do do very little. The hand sanitizer and trolley cleaning supplies are frequently out!
        Have you seen the state of some of the legitimate shoppers?

  9. Denise says:

    Croydon has become a dump I lived there for 58 years until 3 years ago it used to be a lovely town now its not fit to live in

  10. Alan John says:

    I actually think that the councillors are taking the piss.

  11. Lewis White says:

    Whilst most of the cardboard and a good deal of the other rubbish in the subway itself probably comes from the street sleepers, my sense is that a lot of the rubbish in the
    underground car park itself is fly tipped. There is a lot of volume there.

    A few months back, after attending a classical concert at the Fairfield, I emailed the Elected Mayor to draw his attention to the rubbish and faecal matter in the car park.

    I asked for it to be cleared up urgently, and also asked a question. or three……… “who is meant to be inspecting the car park for rubbish, how often, and who is meant to clear it up.

    I have had a holding reply, but as yet, no answer to my questions.

    The number of homeless people in Croydon must reflect the national housing situation, plus home break ups, drugs, problem drinking, depression, and a number of probably interrelated factors…. many to do with income, or lack of it.

    I often ponder about whether the council should accept that there is a homeless population who might not want to be housed? Many street sleepers I talk to say that hostels are dangerous places–the street is actually safer, if wet and very cold in winter.

    There is no doubt a bigger number who want to be housed, but are waiting for many months or years on a list with one of the charities whose purpose is to help.

    I then think about designing a “sleep pod” like a cross between a rigid tent and a giant Egyptian mummy, with a sleep chamber and a safe storage chamber, that could be set out at dusk from the back of a lorry. Made in hard wearing, easy to clean, rain proof but and warm recycled plastic.

    Locate these in certain places– like round the Town hall– and leave them there, for use by one street sleeper, or, pick the pods up next morning, take them away and sanitise them.

    Will the Council pay, and who will want to host such pods in their streets ? Only saints. Answers probably ..no and no-one. That is the reality.

    And what about loos?. Portable loos in a few places, as in an event likle a Festival.

    Who will pay for them to be provided and maintained ? No -one.

    Oh well, back to the virtul drawing board,

    Older readers of Inside Croydon will remember the large and cheap hostel institutions in various working parts of London, where tramps and strete sleepers could get a cubicle with bed for the night. They were run on military or institution style lines, by old fashioned superintendents.

    All of these buildings have gone, 10 or more years ao, some converted to luxury flats, some demolished and replaced with luxury flats.

    There seems a need for a more hostels, but they need to be safe, or street sleepers won’t use them,

    Or would my pods do the temp. task of a safe place to kip ?

  12. Kevin longhurst says:

    Sorry to say I’m ashamed of Croydon on what it has become

    • Ian Kierans says:

      The real shame is how a Public Authority administration brought iteself into disgusting disrepute to the extent that American Carpetbaggers looked more honest that these administrations. The crying shame is a Central Government kept feeding the wastrels and shamed itself as the most useless Conservative Government of all time in governing, conserving and protecting values of honesty and accountability in public office.

      HIstory will not look kindly on those culpable by their actions and inactions. That will be their legacy and they will continue to be reminded of this for generations.

  13. Steve Archer says:

    I live near East Croydon and for many years I have used that underpass to access the Whitgift Centre. It’s always been a bit grotty but over the past couple of years it has become unbearably filthy, smelly and frankly dangerous. I now make a long detour to avoid using it. The irony is that the Whitgift Centre has dozens and dozens of empty shops caused by planning blight and no doubt many other factors. Another large unit will be vacant in July when Nat West – the last remaining bank in the Whitgift – closes its doors for good. It seems to me a scandal that one or two of those empty units cannot be used to provide some sort of shelter and/or support for those homeless people who are living a life of shocking squalor in a borough which allows property developers to construct 50 storey apartment blocks, but doesn’t insist that they play their part in addressing Croydon’s chronic social problems. A homelessness levy on those developers, who are making millions from their grandiose building schemes, could be a first step in establishing a dedicated fund to tackle an issue which is making me feel ashamed to be a Croydon resident.

  14. Sasha says:

    This is a dreadful situation, I have been told that for some time neither Croydon council nor the Whitgift Centre want to claim ownership of the underpass so it is just left in squalor- it is a health hazard as is the old Alders car park which has needles and faeces in the stairwells, the borough should be ashamed. All very sad

    • Ian Kierans says:

      The underpass is the Council’s up to the entry into the actual centre. From there it is the Whitgift Foundation/Whitgift Centre’s.

      The council would like to pass the buck but it is a public path up to Whitgift freehold land and then private property. If the Council wished to deed ownership of that underpass it would be interesting to see what happens when the Whitgift started charging a toll to traffic on the Wellesley road – how Croydon Council react then – claim back ownership?

      Did someone forget underpasses when doing the street cleaning contracts or perhaps an intentional oversight?

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