LAMBETH – TOUGH ON ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR / NEW UPPER NORWOOD STREET BINS TO BE TRIALLED / GUTTER CLEANING SCAM WARNING / HELPING RESIDENTS BETTER MANAGE THEIR MONEY / CROYDON GAIN RUNNER-UP PLACE IN NEW YEAR PARADE / BECOME A DEMENTIA FRIEND / SOUTHWARK LIBRARIES LAUNCH WINTER BOOK CHALLENGE
LAMBETH – TOUGH ON ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
Lambeth council issued almost a thousand fixed penalty notices in 2014 -and more than half were for littering.
Other offences tackled by the council included illegal street trading, spitting, breaches of regulations for skips and obstructing the highway.
More than a million pounds’ worth of housing benefit and tenancy fraud was tracked down and the council’s fraud and legal teams secured convictions, fines and jail sentences under a new law aimed at tackling tenancy fraud.
There was a 15 per cent reduction in rough sleeping in the borough but a huge increase in reports of begging and vagrancy in 2014 – up by 500 to 548 and the council issued the first criminal behaviour order against a persistent beggar.
Between April and December 2014, council, police and border agency officers dealt with offences that resulted in 32 arrests, over 150 warnings, 16 good neighbour agreements, 14 acceptable behaviour contracts, six ASBO or criminal behaviour orders.
14 people who had an average of 11 recorded crimes were removed to other EU countries.
Council Planning Enforcement officers tackled a wide range of problems from ‘beds in sheds’, unauthorised house conversions and extensions, houses being used for multiple occupancy and unauthorised shop fronts to the wrong type of windows and intrusive advertising hoardings.
In one case, the defendants were not only fined £26,000 and ordered to pay the council’s £7,000 costs, but under the Proceeds of Crime Act, were also ordered to pay back the money they had made breaching the terms of the notice (over £143,000) of which 37.5pc comes back to the council to be used for future planning enforcement activity.
Building control officers tackled a wide range of problems associated with unauthorised house conversions, extensions and structural alterations as well as houses being used for multiple occupancy.
They also dealt with the installation of windows, boilers and undertaking electrical works without consent, some of which are being pursued through enforcement action.
Council environmental health officers continue to ensure that houses in multiple occupation (HMO) are licensed in line with legislation and that private sector dwellings comply with statutory standards.
In total, 92 HMO licences were issued and 243 properties were brought up to Housing Act standard in 2014.
The Rogue Landlords Project, which is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, is tackling the poorest practice in the private rented sector and has succeeded in prohibiting the use of seven properties. (Source: Lambeth council press release.)
NEW UPPER NORWOOD STREET BINS TO BE TRIALLED
More than 150 locals have now joined Croydon Council’s crackdown on fly-tipping and rubbish in the borough.
From young parents to pensioners, people from across the borough have signed up to become community champions for the council’s Don’t Mess With Croydon – Take Pride campaign, say Croydon.
Since October alone, community champions have cleared 20 tonnes of waste, used 250 litres of paint to spruce up local areas, reported shop parades with litter problems and led litter-picking days.
The Don’t Mess With Croydon – Take Pride campaign is aimed at combining the help of volunteers with council action to encourage recycling and lead enforcement against the worst culprits.
Since launching the initiative last June, the council has:
- Issued around 150 fixed penalty notices of up to £80
- Carried out around 250 business licence inspections
- Cleared 85 per cent of reported fly-tipped waste within 48 hours
- Seen over 4,000 people report fly-tipping issues
A report will go to the council’s cabinet next Monday to give an update on the campaign’s progress and its plans for the New Year. This will include a six-month trial in Upper Norwood of street bins with separate sections for black bag rubbish and recyclable waste. This is aimed at discouraging residents who live in flats above shops from leaving black bags by lamp posts.
A “village-based” approach will also be trialled across the borough, where area enforcement officers, contractors and other council staff link together in dedicated areas and communicate with each other to deal with any mess in local communities. Environmental enforcement officers pursue fly-tipping and lead more complex investigations.
Other actions for 2015 include:
- Prosecutions for fly-tipping, including one scheduled for February
- A more streamlined computer system to process fly-tipping reports faster
- Around 100 extra street bins
- School art competitions promoting recycling and taking pride in CroydonCllr Stuart Collins, the council’s cabinet member for Clean and Green Croydon, said: “From teachers and artists to builders and singers, it’s wonderful that so many locals are taking pride in their borough and bolstering the work being done by our dedicated staff.
“On top of this fantastic support from volunteers, council officers across departments continue to crack down on fly-tipped rubbish through smarter working and enforcement action.”
For more information on the campaign or to join up, visit http://www.croydon.gov.uk/environment/dontmess/don’t-mess (Source: Croydon council press release)
GUTTER CLEANING SCAM WARNING
Bromley Trading Standards are warning residents to be alert to a rogue trader following an attempt to trick an 80-year-old resident into parting with £600.
The Orpington resident returned home early one evening in the first week of January to find a man on his property who said he was cleaning gutters in the area and could do his for £10. The resident agreed and the man said he would do the work the following day.
The next day the resident was out and received a call mid-morning from the trader to say he had removed the guttering and fascia from the property because it was rotten and it would cost £1,500 to replace. The consumer refused and the price was reduced to £600.
The victim reluctantly agreed as he thought the guttering would need to be put back up. He was told the work would be completed immediately and a courier would collect the cash later that evening.
But when he returned home an hour later he found there had been no evidence of the guttering having been removed at all. Later that evening he did get a call at the door but on the advice of his family this was ignored.
Cllr Tim Stevens, Executive Member for Public Protection and Safety said: “This was an outright attempt to trick someone into paying for work which was neither needed or indeed carried out at all. “We suspect the rogue was expecting the householder to return home after dark and therefore not have an opportunity to check the work had been carried out.
“The resident did the right thing by refusing to answer the door. If you or anyone you know is approached please call Bromley Trading Standards’ rapid response number straight away on 07903 852 090.” (Source: Bromley council press release)
HELPING RESIDENTS BETTER MANAGE THEIR MONEY
Croydon council say they will help more households to better manage their money by ensuring they are able to access a range of suitable financial services and products, which will enable them to live a more independent life.
“Central to this is supporting more and more residents to ‘go digital’ where paying bills and shopping online can save a household an estimated £560 a year compared with one that is offline” said a council spokesman.
“This includes using the council’s online services – My Account, where users can carry out council transactions such as council tax payment in one place, and the smartphone app My Croydon.
“The number of residents signed up currently stands at 60,000 – with the aim of hitting 80,000 by the end of March, which would mean half of Croydon’s households are using My Account.
“The overall approach will range from supporting residents to access a number of financial services such as bank accounts and insurance through to accessing training and employment.
“The council are to also ensure there are better alternatives to pay day lenders, by working with the local Credit Union to make it easier to access credit.
“In addition work will be undertaken to provide financial skills not only for those currently struggling with increasing bills but also for young people to educate them on the importance of household budgeting before they leave school” he added.
The measures are part of a financial inclusion paper going to cabinet on Monday, 19 January, which explores how the council will help people help themselves in managing their household budgets, the spokesman added.
“Key to this will be through further working with third parties such as local community organisations, for example Advice Services Croydon, an Age UK Croydon-led consortium that is supporting people with access to digital services.”
Cllr Mark Watson, cabinet member for safety and justice, said: “This work supports our wider welfare reform programme of providing support to our residents by helping them make their own financial choices and control their household budgets.
“Through working with charities and community groups, we plan to build on the support already available and reach out to more households.
“We’re also stepping up efforts to get more people to access council services online, as this makes it far easier for residents to manage their finances, and saves money too.
“This number is quickly increasing and we want to get half of our borough’s households using My Account by the end of March.”
CROYDON GAIN RUNNER-UP PLACE IN NEW YEAR PARADE
Croydon’s entry in the 2015 London New Year’s Day Parade gained a runner-up place and received a special award of £2,000 toward the Mayoral charities, Age UK and Macmillan Cancer.
Croydon’s interpretation of this year’s theme, London on the Move, saw 40 local people taking part, and was called We Are Croydon: Going Places.
In chilly temperatures and costumes designed and built by Brit School students, young members of Aspara Arts – a Croydon-based arts and heritage organisation – and local charity Sangeetha of the UK showcased the borough to a live audience of hundreds of thousands, and a global TV audience of millions.
They were among 8,500 performers who had travelled to London from across the world to walk, march and dance the 2.2-mile route from The Ritz, in Piccadilly, to Parliament Square, for the 29th outing of the annual jamboree.
In addition to 20 musicians, 20 others helped out or wore costumes representing iconic Croydon buildings such as the Clocktower; aeroplanes representing the first international airport; a couple of trams; and a 10-foot high tree (with a face and more than 100 international flags) representing the borough’s greenness and the many cultures that call Croydon “home”.
The Mayor of Croydon Cllr Manju Shahul-Hameed, said:.“Croydon participants – including the volunteers, talented artists and the community – did a great job in displaying and celebrating Croydon on the move.
“Their costumes, music and dance represented the ever-changing movement of our borough in terms of its transport, landscape and residents.
“Congratulations should go to the parade organisers, and best wishes to the thousands of performers from across the world, who participated. “Everyone had a wonderful day.” (Source: Croydon council press release.)
BECOME A DEMENTIA FRIEND
Over 4000 people in Bromley live with dementia and improving the care and experience of those with the condition.
Now Bromley council are supporting a national campaign by the Alzheimer’s Society and Public Health England to encourage people to become Dementia Friends and find out how it affects people and the little things we can all do to help those living with the disease.
Cllr Peter Fortune, chairman of the health and wellbeing board, said: “We are delighted to support this national campaign.
“As a council we fund and work closely with those in the field and improving the care and experience of those living with dementia is a key priority.
“Dementia Friends is about learning a little bit more about the condition and turning that understanding into action.”
If you are interested in becoming a Dementia Friend please go to the Dementia Friends website, www.dementiafriends.org.uk.
You can watch a short video and register for a free pack of information. (Source: Bromley council press release.)
SOUTHWARK LIBRARIES LAUNCH WINTER BOOK CHALLENGE
Southwark libraries have launched their winter book challenge with children and youths aged four to 17 being encouraged to read 10 books of their choice until Tuesday 31 March 2015, when the challenge ends.
To sign up, children must be members of Southwark Libraries. Each participant will receive a log book to record the books they’ve read, which comes with a foldout sticker sheet, as they will receive one sticker after completing each book.
To inspire children to read, the theme of the winter book challenge is diaries. A special booklist has been put together for each age group of participant around this theme that they may choose to borrow from the libraries.
A special launch event was held on Saturday 13 December at Dulwich Library, with children and special guest Steven Butler, author of The Diaries of Dennis the Menace, in attendance.
Cllr Dora Dixon-Fyle, cabinet member for adult care, arts and culture, said: “Our summer reading challenge was a massive success, and I hope with this challenge we can achieve the same positive results.
“Reading is such an important skill and our libraries have been very active, carrying out some fantastic work to encourage our younger residents to read regularly.”
During the challenge young people will be invited to attend author events and activities linked to the winter book challenge theme. All children who meet the challenge will receive awards. (Source: Southwark council press release)