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 The Coulsdon West Blog
 
Cllr  Jeet  Bains
Cllr  Luke  Clancy
Cllr  Mario  Creatura
 

Helping our Furry Friends!
26/07/2017 13:55:00......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Last week the Croydon Advertiser reported a sad story of a beautiful greyhound cross that had been found dumped in a phone box on Chipstead Valley Road with a broken shoulder.

Severley dehydrated and shaken from his ordeal, the three year-old was thankfully noticed by a passer by who immediately called up Furry Friends - a phenomenal organisation based in Old Coulsdon.

The dog, now named Barry, has a great new foster home in Caterham where he is making a full recovery.

Barry was found in my ward, and given the incredible work that Furry Friends carries out locally, rescuing and finding homes for pets that have been abandoned by scurrilous owners, I thought the least I could do was donate £500 of my ward budget to help their sterling work.

My donation will go towards supporting the rescue of animals across Croydon, funding various consultations and check-ups, x-rays etc and will contribute to the vet bill of the charity.

I'll be visiting them in the coming month, but if you are able to support them then visit http://www.furryfriendsrescue.co.uk/donate/ to make a donation. Every little really does help.

 
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Speech on the Council's shocking Ofsted review
19/09/2017 16:03:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Last night I spoke in an Extraordinary Council Meeting about Labour's shocking dereliction of their most basic duty: keeping our most vulnerable chilren safe. You can read all about it online.

My speech starts about 29 minutes in, or you can read the transcript below.

'Thank you Madam Mayor. who is running this Council?

Cllr Newman is the Leader. Cllr Flemming is the lead councillor for children and social services. Both senior leaders in the Council. It’s not unreasonable to infer that when voters elected them they expected it to be them running the Council.

And yet on this shocking Ofsted report it’s apparently everyone’s fault but theirs. ‘It’s the Officers, they didn’t tell us’ – cried Cllr Newman on the radio last week.

Ofsted say that the service is inadequate on three damning counts. Worse than the scandal in Birmingham 18 months ago: ‘The local authority [THAT’S YOU] is too slow to take action, this means that some children are left in harmful situations for too long…’; ‘senior leaders [THAT’S ALSO YOU] know that services need to be better, but they have taken too long to take action to improve them’.

What do Cllrs Newman and Flemming say to that? ‘It’s not our fault Guv’!

Well then whose is it? Madam Mayor, who is running this Council?

Ofsted say they knew and did precious little about it. They have the gall to stand in this chamber and pretend that it’s not their responsibility – putting their fingers in their ears and hoping it all just goes away. Those children you’re neglecting try that trick councillor, but for them it doesn’t just go away.

You’re elected to be the Leader, the most senior member of this administration. But when Ofsted say ‘senior leaders’ are at fault conveniently that doesn’t apply to Cllr Newman or Cllr Flemming.

Lightning-quick to take credit when things go well, they run for the hills when the going gets tough. Is this Leadership?

Ofsted say the fault is yours. That’s not up for debate. Either you are the Leader of this Council, in which case Ofsted say you knew and are guilty of a shameful dereliction of your duties OR you aren’t running the Council, you didn’t know about it, in which case we have to ask: what’s the point of you being here at all? What on earth are Croydon taxpayers paying your salary for?

Whatever way you cut it, a change of leadership, the resignation of both Cllrs Newman and Flemming, is the only way that we can start to move past this tragic situation and begin to sort out this crisis.

I get that it’s tough to take responsibility when you’ve messed up. It’s not easy to be principled and have a backbone. And yet I hope you do the honourable thing councillors. The right thing for these vulnerable children, is to take ownership of your mistakes, stand aside and let one of your colleagues take the helm.

I come back to my original question, Madam Mayor: who is running this Council? Because if it is this Leader, then it’s high time we got a new one.'

 


 

Accessibility improvements for Coulsdon South station
15/09/2017 15:38:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Network Rail engineers are about to submit planning applications for lifts and other accessibility improvements at Coulsdon South station.

The improvements, which include a mixture of lifts, ramps and new footbridges, are being delivered as part of the Access for All programme, which is funded by the Department for Transport and administered by Network Rail, improving step-free access across the railway network. Together they are worth around £10m.

These improvements will make travelling by train much easier for people with reduced mobility, people with buggies, bags and bikes, and they will make a real difference to how people get around. Train travel should be for everyone, and while there are historic reasons as to why not all our stations are accessible, we remain focussed on making improvements to as many as we can.

Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South (Coulsdon South) has commented to the press: “It is great to see the work that Network Rail have been doing to improve the accessibility of our rail services. This means that it is becoming easier than ever before for people to utilise our excellent local connections for work and to stay connected to family and friends.”

Network Rail will be submitting designs in the autumn for planning determination by local authorities in 2018. Work will take place once permission has been received and designs are complete, with the schemes intended to be completed over the next two years.

You can see the plans here: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/who-we-are/publications-resources/our-plans-for-the-future/the-hendy-review/

 


 

Objection to huge Sutton green belt construction project
18/08/2017 17:58:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

I've been made aware of a huge scheme, 99 properties, that are to be constructed on green belt land to the north and rear of Grove Lane.

You can view the application on Sutton Council's planning portal using ref C2017/77362.

The application falls just outside the Croydon borough-boundary and into Sutton, so whilst I have no formal role or ability to refer it to their Planning Committee for refusal, I have still written in and objected - asking the three local councillors to do the same.

Here is my objection:

'I write as a Croydon Councillor to object to the published application ref C2017/77362 for 99 properties to be built on green belt land to the north and rear of Grove Lane. 

My ward of Coulsdon West directly borders Clockhouse ward and so I write with concern about the impact this will have on my ward and my residents.

Not only is the scale of this development out of keeping with the picturesque local area, enjoyed by many of my residents, but it is to be built on protected green belt in fields that are a natural habitat for a wide variety of wildlife - including horse grazing. 

The published planning documents claim that the development will not be seen by neighbouring properties. Many residents, particularly those already living in Grove Lane, have written to me protesting that this cannot be true given their proximity and the sheer scale of the intended design.

For my ward, I am particularly concerned about the increased pressure this scheme will place on Croydon's already groaning transport infrastructure. Coulsdon/Purley have a well-documented problem with congested roads and lengthy queues, particularly during peak commuter hours. Adding 99 houses to one site in Grove Lane will likely attract double the number of adult residents, implying a potential increase of some 200 resident-owned vehicles. With Coulsdon Town's parade of shops being so near, this will significantly increase the strain particularly on main roads such as Woodmansterne Road; Woodcote Grove Road and Smitham Downs Road.

This will in also negatively impact the already low-number of available parking spaces in Coulsdon Town.

Residents seeking to get into London terminal train stations will more than likely also increase pressure on our limited parking offer near to Coulsdon Town and Coulsdon South station, further adding to the already difficult journey many of my residents face on a daily basis.

For these reasons, I hope the three ward councillors will support my call for the Council Planning Committee to refuse the application.'

If you would like to object, you can email developmentcontrol@sutton.gov.uk. The three ward councillors are: moira.butt@sutton.gov.ukTim.Crowley@sutton.gov.uk and Amy.Haldane@sutton.gov.uk.

 


 

Who is your Croydon Hero?
16/08/2017 14:13:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Nominations are now open for the 2017 Mayor of Croydon Civic Awards!

These awards celebrate those in our community who through volunteering, campaigning, awareness raising or in some cases, by simply being there, are helping to make our borough a greater and happier place.

I would be very grateful for your support by promoting the awards as widely as possible. For information about award categories and to nominate online go to www.croydon.gov.uk/civicawards

If when reading the categories below, a person or group comes to mind, I would ask that you invest 10 minutes of your time to nominate them – recognition goes such a long way and we, like so many other councils, increasingly depend on the goodwill and commitment of those in our community who go that extra mile.

  • Volunteer of the year
  • Voluntary Group of the Year
  • Young Achiever of the Year
  • Contribution to Sport and Healthy Living
  • Don’t Mess with Croydon – Take Pride
  • Business in the Community
  • Fairer Croydon
  • Carer of the Year
  • Good Neighbour
  • Stronger Together

The nominations deadline is Friday 8 September and winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Hilton hotel on 17 October.

 


 

Questions on Knife Crime in Schools
16/08/2017 13:20:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

CQ069-17 from Councillor Mario Creatura to Councillor Hamida Ali

At full Council on Monday 26th June, I asked the Cabinet Member what the Administration was doing to combat the rise in reported knife crime in Croydon. I pointed out that those young people that go to the Croydon Congress, whose parents attend public meetings and who regularly engage with the authorities are not likely to be those that are caught up in gang and knife-related crime. That those disenfranchised from the establishment are the ones that are both hardest to reach and those most in need of engagement.

As part of the Mayor of London's recently published London Knife Crime Strategy, it's been reported in the local press that every secondary school in Croydon could get metal detectors installed at entrances in order to find concealed weapons.

I'd like answers to the following please:

1. How many incidents involved knives have taken place in secondary schools in Croydon since 2014?

2. How does that figure compare to knife-related crime that does not take place in our schools?

3. Does the Administration believe that metal-detectors are required in our secondary schools?

4. If it does, what is the mechanism by which the Council would enforce metal detectors at our secondary schools?

5. Is the Cabinet Member aware and able to provide the view of Croydon's police force on this suggestion?

Reply

1. How many incidents involved knives have taken place in secondary schools in Croydon since 2014?

The council works closely with schools and we do support them in dealing with knife related issues but information is not held on the number of incidents in school.

2. How does that figure compare to knife-related crime that does not take place in our schools?

Given the answer above no comparison can be made. HoweverTotal knife related crime is as follows Years 14/15 - 443, 15/16- 340, 16/17 -674. More detailed figures are attached

3. Does the Administration believe that metal-detectors are required in our secondary schools?

This is just one of a number of tactics that can be deployed to assist schools in tackling knife related issues. While metal detectors in schools can assist in ensuring safety, they are used at the school's invitation, in partnership with the police and in a targeted way based on intelligence and any operations must be approved by the relevant Chief Inspector. There is evidence that those who carry knives can go to some lengths to 'hide' them elsewhere including getting other people less likely to be searched to carry for them so arches can be useful in preventing this. And just because a knife may be carried into school, it does not necessarily follow that it is intended to be used in the school. As such, we would see arches as potentially augmenting the work we are doing in having a zero tolerance policy for illegal knives on our streets more broadly. If you would like more information Ch Insp Mike Spies is happy to help 0208 649 01 14.

4. If it does, what is the mechanism by which the Council would enforce metal detectors at our secondary schools?

Schools, working in partnership with their schools’ police officers are best placed to determine the best way to keep children and young people in their care safe based on local risk assessments made for each individual school. The Council does not have the power to enforce metal detector use in schools, but will continue to work in partnership with Head Teachers and governing bodies to ensure our young people are safe. The council is working closely with the police and other agencies to tackle serious youth violence in the round - and that includes a range of activity in addition to police enforcement tactics, including engaging with young people and their parents to raise awareness about the dangers of carrying a knife.

5. Is the Cabinet Member aware and able to provide the view of Croydon's police force on this suggestion?

This is clearly a question for the police and would encourage the councillor to raise this with police colleagues directly.

 


 

Car park costs and spiralling rents killing small businesses
26/07/2017 10:09:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Following the closure of Piccolino's cafe of St George's Walk, I've asked Cllr Mark Watson to answer the below questions. Our small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, and I want to ensure this Administration is being held to account for what it has and has not done to support them. This affects all our district centres, including Coulsdon Town Centre, so it's important to ensure our Council is doing all it can to help our entrepreneurs. 

I'll publish the answer as soon as it is received.

Popular local cafe Piccolino's Snack Bar on St George's Walk has recently announced they will be closing after nine years of trading due to spiraling rental costs. With that in mind, could the Cabinet Member please answer the following questions:

  1. In March this year the Cabinet Member publicised the discretionary rates relief scheme by helping MyPT, another business on St George's Walk. Can I ask what other businesses have, to date, received support from this initiative?
  2. Given the delays to the Westfield scheme, what does the Cabinet Member feel the impact will be on small businesses outside the development area such as St George's Walk?
  3. The owner of Piccolino's has stated that "a lot of shops around here have been taken by the baliffs because they have not been able to pay the rent". 
    1. Does the Cabinet Member agree with this assessment of the situation in St George's Walk? 
    2. It is a situation experienced by other district centres across the borough? If there are reports of struggling businesses, where and what do the Council believe are the reasons for it?
    3. What is the Cabinet Member's advice for those businesses struggling with high rents and high business rates bills?
  4. Mr Piccolino also stated that decreasing footfall due to the closure of the Fairfield Car Park has also contributed to the decline in trading.
    1. Since 2014, please detail how many car parks have either closed permanently or temporarily in the borough, in particular in the Town Centre.
    2. What is the average price for a motorist to park in Croydon Town Centre? What is the Administration's plan to bring down these costs to help increase footfall for small businesses?
    3. Many commuters from the south of the borough had parked in the Town Centre to travel into London, now put off by extortionate fees or lack of availability, causing misery for thousands of our residents. What is the Cabinet Member's advice to those residents about how to mitigate this impact on their day to day life and what will his Administration do to help improve this unacceptable situation?

 


 

Labour failing affordable housing pledge
06/07/2017 10:18:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

The 2014 Labour manifesto included a pledge to 'increase the proportion of affordable housing as a planning requirement of developers to a minimum of 30%'.

Croydon Council's own strategic policy document sets a target of 50% affordable housing in any development.

Indeed, Cllr Tony Newman, Labour Leader of Croydon Council has boasted many times that 'Croydon Labour is delivering 50% affordable housing'. Only it's not true.

I asked the Council for some information to get to the bottom of Cllr Newman's grandiose claim:

  • How many housing developments have been approved by the planning department and committee since the new administration took office in May 2014?
  • How many of those developments have had affordable housing of between 30 per cent and 50 per cent?
  • What percentage of those development have an affordable housing provision of between 30 per cent and 50 per cent?
  • How many developments approved since May 2014 have had any formal condition put upon them stipulating that 30-50 per cent affordable housing is required of them?

The reply I received was astonishing.

"In 2014 the affordable housing policy in the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies (adopted in 2013) was to negotiate up to 50% affordable housing on sites of 10 or more units, not all developments with a minimum requirement calculated using a financial model.

"This policy is being revised in the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies – Partial Review as the original policy and underlying model are not fit for purpose and as a result the Council is not currently able to maximise affordable housing. The new policy will still negotiate for up to 50% affordable housing on sites of 10 or more units but will also apply a fixed minimum requirement on sites across the borough of either 30% on site provision or 15% with either off-site provision or a commuted sum captured via a review mechanism."

So it appears their pledge is not worth the paper it's printed on. They say they want 50%, but when it comes to it the lowest they'll accept is 15%.

How many housing developments have Labour granted since they took office in 2014? 737. Of those, a mere 28 have some element of 'affordable housing'. That's less than 4%. 

Of the 737 approved, only 25 have between 30 and 50% affordable housing. Less than 3.5%. 

The Council also tells me that they have not put any formal condition on applications to stipulate they'd require 30-50% affordable, explaning it's instead secured through a s106 agreement.

For a Council boasting of its ability to construct 50% affordable housing, you'd think they'd have built a few more than they have to be able to backs up their boasts of success.

Sadly for our residents, many of whom are desperate to own their own homes, this is yet another example of spin over substance from our Labour Council.

While Cllr Newman and his Labour colleagues churn the propaganda machine and virtue-signal with a professional zeal unparalleled locally, the facts reveal an administration failing in its promises, failing its residents and misleading our borough.

With Labour's housing spokesperson recently revealing that they are refusing to build any more Council Homes, you have to ask yourself: do Croydon Labour really care about providing homes for our residents?

The evidence would suggest not.

 


 

Croydon Labour refuse to support London National Park City campaign
30/06/2017 15:57:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Yesterday Dan Raven-Ellison walked around London raising awareness of the excellent National Park City campaign: http://www.nationalparkcity.london/big_walk_around_london

It's a really important cause, for a few reasons why do take a look at this video: https://ravenellison.com/portfolio/london-national-park-city/

Earlier in the year, I asked Cllr Timothy Godfrey, Labour Cabinet Member in charge of parks, why his party had refused to support the campaign and asked them to get on board! Here was my question:

CQ012-17 from Councillor Mario Creatura to Councillor Timothy Godfrey

'Almost a year ago, every ward held by Croydon Conservatives declared their support for the 'Greater London National Park City' campaign: http://www.croydonconservatives.com/news_search_results_detail.asp?StoryNo=1541

London can become a National Park City once at least two-thirds (436) of London’s 654 wards, the Mayor of London and the London Assembly have declared their support. So far just 213 wards have.

Despite requesting that Croydon's 40 Labour councillors register their support, none have yet done so. I feel this is a terrible shame.

Could the Cabinet Member please explain their reason for ignoring Conservative calls for cross-party support on this campaign to date? Alternatively will the Cabinet Member endorse our calls that Croydon becomes the first full borough in London to declare its support? Members can do so using the http://www.nationalparkcity.london/ website.

Cllr Jason Perry, Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning & Regeneration, commented at the time: “Croydon is the most populated London borough and has over 120 parks and open spaces. We felt it vitally important to support this initiative that will protect and promote our precious green spaces for generations to come.” I hope all members of the Council agree with that sentiment, and that all Croydon Labour Councillors will be encouraged to get behind this important initiative.'

Cllr Godfrey replied some weeks later asserting that I was incorrect, that the administration did actually support the project. Read his reply and see if you agree...

Reply

'Councillor Creatura is inaccurate in suggesting that the administration is not in support of the Greater London National Park City campaign and similarly mistaken in calling for Croydon to be the first London borough to declare full support which was achieved in Islington and Ealing last year. As of February 2016, 220 voting wards out a total of 654 across the capital have declared their support via their local councillors.  In Croydon councillors from 10 wards have declared their support.

As you are aware the aims of the London National Park movement are :

  • All Londoners will have free and easy access to high-quality green space
  • Connect 100% of London’s children to nature
  • Make 51% of London physically green
  • Improve London’s air & water quality
  • Improve biodiversity and connectivity between habitats
  • Inspire the building of affordable homes green homes
  • Inspire new business activities
  • Promote London as a Green World City
  • Nurture a shared National Park City identity for Londoners

A strong policy context already exists to support these aims within the Croydon Local Plan.  Croydon also makes a significant contribution to the area of high quality green space within London with 25% of the borough being made up of recreational space and broad leaved woodland and a further 35% made up of residential garden space.  Theoretically making Croydon at least 60% green. 

Croydon therefore already exceeds the campaigns aspirations as a borough.

Council polices naturally align with those of the campaign as do those of Mayor Khan at the London Level. We warmly welcome Mayor Khan’s action to tackle air pollution.

We warmly welcome the campaign highlighting the importance of green infrastructure to London residents.

This mirrors our administrations founding of the borough group that brings together friends of parks, woodlands and green spaces across the borough. This ensures that the voice of all local parks are amplified and knowledge shared.

This administration believes that we need to improve the quality of our open space and the opportunities within those open spaces through ongoing investment in our Parks and Green Spaces across our borough. In this way we will be able to better support existing and new residents as this borough continues to grow.

This is all being achieved in the context of targeted cuts to Local Government. In Croydon that means that the Government has reduced our funding by 65.3% (cuts through to 2017) while continuing to fund other London boroughs more generously per head of population.'

Despite the claims of Cllr Godfrey, to date no Labour-held ward has declared their support for the campaign: http://www.nationalparkcity.london/ward_support 

 


 

Questions of Fire Safety in Council-owned blocks
29/06/2017 08:16:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

A question for Cllr Alison Butler, Labour Cabinet Member for Housing:

'In November 2016 global auditing company 'Mazars' supplied a 'Final Internal Audit Report' on 'Fire Safety (Housing Stock)'. This report is available on the Council website.

The paper was shared with the Executive Director (Place); the Director of District Centres and Regeneration; the Head of Planned Maintenance and the Surveying Manager.

The report investigated the following areas:

  • Management, Organisational and Legislative Requirements
  • Fire Risk Assessments
  • Remedial Works
  • Monitoring and Management Reporting

The Council owns approximately 11,000 blocks and yet the auditors found that 'no issues were identified as a result of the audit work undertaken and therefore no recommendations have been made'.

Can the Cabinet Member please tell me:

  1. Had the Cabinet Member seen this report and what actions resulted in its publication?
  2. How many buildings were physically inspected?
  3. How many fire risk assessment reports were checked? How many of these were verified as being up to date and how many corrective actions were identified?
  4. Given recent events, is the Cabinet Member satisfied with the auditors view that no improvements to processes or facilities are needed to improve the fire safety of Council-owned blocks?
  5. Does the Cabinet Member feel it is realistic that in 11,000 blocks there were no issues to report on and no recommendations that needed to be made?
  6. What changes to the current risk assessment and auditing processes will the Cabinet Member look to make after the tragic events of earlier this month?'

Reply received on 26th July:

Had the Cabinet Member seen this report and what actions resulted in its publication?

This is a report of the council’s internal systems and not an audit of our council stock. Audits are regularly carried out on all council processes and recommendations made are followed up by officers within the timescale set by the internal audit service.

Given recent events, is the Cabinet Member satisfied with the auditors view that no improvements to processes or facilities are needed to improve the fire safety of Council-owned blocks?

After the tragic fire at Grenfell the council has taken the steps of double checking all of its fire safety measures. We are working closely with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) to ensure we continue to meet their fire safety standards

Does the Cabinet Member feel it is realistic that in 11,000 blocks there were no issues to report on and no recommendations that needed to be made?

Mazars were commissioned to audit the councils fire risk assessment approach. This report is available on the council’s website. All of our blocks have fire risk assessments in place. We follow guidance from the London fire Brigade on the frequency and criteria of these inspections and as recommendations are made as a result of these assessments they are addressed.

What changes to the current risk assessment and auditing processes will the Cabinet Member look to make after the tragic events of earlier this month?

Since the Grenfell Tower fire, we have also commissioned an end to end audit of internal processes. We will review these findings and implement any recommendations.

 


 

Favouritism for Labour HQ repeat fly-postering?
27/06/2017 17:45:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

I've received an answer back from Cllr Ali who is the Cabinet Member responsible for Council Enforcement on a question about fly-postering procedure.

CQ032-17 from Councillor Mario Creatura to Councillor Hamida Ali

 Can the Cabinet Member please detail the following:

- How many cases of fly-postering have been reported to the Council by residents since May 2014?

- How many cases of fly-postering have been noted independently by officers since May 2014?

- How many of those are 'repeat offenders'?

- How many have resulted in a 'warning' visit from enforcement officers? Please divide these by those highlighted by residents and those noted by officers.

- How many of those have resulted in some form of formal enforcement? Please detail the action taken again dividing between those highlighted by residents and those noted by officers.

 Reply

1.    How many cases of fly-posting have been reported to the Council by residents since May 2014?

748 have been reported and removed across the service. Unfortunately the method of reporting and recording does not allow us to differentiate between residents and other sources.

2.    How many cases of fly-posting have been noted independently by officers since May 2014?

As above these figures cannot be separated as are recorded together. 748 fly post reports have been recorded since 2014.

3.    How many of those are 'repeat offenders'?

From our records we can find only 1 who could be deemed to be a repeat offender.

4.    How many have resulted in a 'warning' visit from enforcement officers? Please divide these by those highlighted by residents and those noted by officers.

The council do not generally visit organisations suspected of fly posting.  The first stage in the process is to try and contact who we think is responsible, advise them that what they are doing is illegal and ask that they remove the posters. This is successful in the vast majority of cases. If they refuse or we get evidence of further incidents the council would then issue a formal written warning.  Our records show that 4 Premises or businesses have received written warnings.

5.    How many of those have resulted in some form of formal enforcement? Please detail the action taken again dividing between those highlighted by residents and those noted by officers.

There has been 1 prosecuted, who were fined and ordered to pay a combined total of £10,230. The level of detail as to who reported the incidents has not been recorded (as a witness to the posters actually being up is not necessary for a prosecution unless a person sees the offender putting them up.)

This answer triggered a number of further questions that I have today submitted to the Council:

'In response to the answer given to CQ032-17 on the subject of fly-postering, the Cabinet Member reveals that using the Council's records they can find only one who could be deemed to be a repeat offender.

On 27th June 2016 I reported to Officers the repeated fly-postering of Croydon Town Centre by Ruskin House on Coombe Road - the HQ of the Croydon Labour Party. These posters were on the sides of buildings, phone boxes, walls and other non-sanctioned locations.The reply on 28th June ensured enforcement officers would look into this and would update me on 'what action is taken'.

On 8th July 2016 I reported to Officers that Ruskin House had yet again fly-postered Croydon Town Centre. That afternoon I was assured the 'NSO team to look at this and update you on what action they have taken'.

On 22nd February 2017 I yet again reported to Officers that Ruskin House had put up posters around Croydon Town Centre. I was assured on 27th February that this would be taken up and I'd be 'updated directly as this is an enforcement issue.' No update was provided.

On 11th March 2017 I reported to Officers that Ruskin House had put up yet more posters around Croydon Town Centre. A more substantive reply came on 13th March. The fly posters in 2016 were dealt with by way of a verbal warning. The individual person that this was issued to is no longer involved with Ruskin House so the Council told me they were unable to follow up with enforcement action. 

Ruskin House has now been issued with a written warning which, if breached, could result in a Community Protection Notice being issued. This would then make them liable to a fine or prosecution.  

My questions to the Cabinet Member are as follows:

1. Why is the system used to record instances of fly-postering not kept up to date accurately by Officers?

2. What processes will she be putting in place to ensure the accurate recording of information for the purposes of enforcement going forward?

3. Will the Cabinet Member ensure that 'Ruskin House' as opposed to an individual is noted as a 'repeat offender'?

4. Is it the practice of this administration to attribute an organisation's illegal fly-postering as the responsibility of an individual or of anyone representing that organisation?

5. Does the Cabinet Member believe Ruskin House has been given particularly special treatment and if so why does the she believe that is the case?

6. Should Ruskin House break the written warning, what does the Cabinet Member believe is proportionate enforcement action?

7. Does the Cabinet Member feel it is acceptable for political parties to fly-poster, sticker or spread other messages through illegal means?

8. Will the Cabinet Member commit to work with colleagues within her party to ensure that illegal political fly-postering will never again take place across our borough?

9. Can the Cabinet Member please estimate a cost for the removal of the Ruskin House posters and the Labour General Election fly-postering/stickers that she will be aware have been distributed across the borough?'

Reply received:

1. Why is the system used to record instances of fly-postering not kept up to date accurately by Officers?

In some cases the posters put up are permitted and are not classed as flyposting under the Town and Country Planning Act. The council has also changed reporting systems and is currently engaged in the roll out of a new database (CRM) to record some instances. Instances are not / were not recorded centrally due to the designation of different posters.

2. What processes will she be putting in place to ensure the accurate recording of information for the purposes of enforcement going forward?

The CRM system should be operational soon, however, repeat offenders can still be identified and issues addressed, especially where an evidential chain can be highlighted and used. Officers have used existing processes to identify several prolific fly posters and one was recently prosecuted and fined a substantial amount. https://wp.croydon.gov.uk/news/council-prosecutescompany-and-director-for-flyposting/

3. Will the Cabinet Member ensure that 'Ruskin House' as opposed to an individual is noted as a 'repeat offender'?

The legislation does not allow for that approach. A responsible person needs to be identified. A course of conduct observed and then dealt with accordingly.

4. Is it the practice of this administration to attribute an organisation's illegal fly-postering as the responsibility of an individual or of anyone representing that organisation?

It can be both or either.

5. Does the Cabinet Member believe Ruskin House has been given particularly special treatment and if so why does the she believe that is the case?

Officers are not allowed to give special treatment. They have been dealt with as any other person/organisation would be. The instances at Ruskin House have been noted.

6. Should Ruskin House break the written warning, what does the Cabinet Member believe is proportionate enforcement action?

It depends on the scenario. As the letter sent was a warning letter, the sanction for breaking it means that the next step may be the serving of a formal notice or a fine may be issued. However, as a warning letter has been sent in this instance, there is no reason to believe that the warning will be broken in the future.

7. Does the Cabinet Member feel it is acceptable for political parties to flyposter, sticker or spread other messages through illegal means?

Some temporary event advertising is permitted under the relevant legislation so a blanket statement cannot be made. That notwithstanding, with the best will in the world we cannot expect that every individual taking an interest in electoral politics will be fully conversant with the relevant legislation regarding stickers, for example.

8. Will the Cabinet Member commit to work with colleagues within her party to ensure that illegal political fly-postering will never again take place across our borough?

We will continue to work to address problems when they are brought to our attention. It is impossible, however, to ensure that it will never again take place.

9. Can the Cabinet Member please estimate a cost for the removal of the Ruskin House posters and the Labour General Election flypostering/stickers that she will be aware have been distributed across the borough?

The cost was negligible as most of the posters were taken down by Ruskin House after they were instructed to do so. 

 


 

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