People can now report environmental problems via their smart phones, with Croydon council’s new free app.
The app, called My Croydon, is available for both Apple and Android devices and supports the council’s ongoing Keep it Clean campaign.
It can be used to tell the council quickly and easily about some of the most commonly reported issues, from fly-tipping and pot holes to graffiti, blocked drains and abandoned vehicles.
It can be found on the Apple and Android stores or via links on the council’s website at www.croydon.gov.uk/app.
“People simply select the problem they’d like to report, take a photo of it and confirm its location” said a council spokesman.
“We do the rest. “Issues are logged and passed onto the relevant contractor and if they aren’t resolved within the council’s agreed timescales the problem can be re-reported through the app as a reminder.”
The development comes alongside an investment by the council of almost £100k of additional funding for prevention and enforcement work to tackle fly-tipping.
Cabinet member for highways and environmental services, Cllr Phil Thomas, said: “This new app is a really simple and easy-to-use service which will make it even easier for people to report problems so that we can put them right.
“We’re keen to encourage everyone to support us in our clean-up work and this is another example of how we’re protecting front line services by reducing costs.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
HOUSEHOLDERS WARNED ABOUT ROGUE TREE SURGEONS……..
Recent bad weather has seen rogue tree surgeons taking advantage of vulnerable customers worried that high winds could bring down trees, causing injury and damage to property.
Croydon’s trading standards team, after learning of an elderly victim who fell foul of one company’s sharp practice, is warning residents to be aware of the possibility of contractors acting unscrupulously.
A 73-year-old Selsdon woman, concerned about a tree on her property, responded to a flyer left at her address. She called the company and asked for an estimate for the removal of a small tree.
When tree surgeons arrived at her home, they refused to quote a price but proceeded to cut down and remove the tree before demanding she pay a fee of £1,200 in cash, saying payment by cheque was not acceptable. The work had taken less than two hours to complete.
Shocked and intimidated by the demand for cash, she told the contractor that she did not keep such sums in the house. His immediate response was to tell her that he would take her to her building society in order that she could withdraw the cash.
On hearing the details of the transaction, the building society cashier advised her to report the matter to trading standards.
Cllr Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Sadly, there are contractors and traders out there who are all too willing to rapidly take advantage of any situation, such as the high rainfall and gale-force winds we’ve been experiencing of late.
“Before employing a contractor to carry out any work, it’s always advisable to get more than one estimate for the work needed.
“Ideally, three quotes should be obtained from reputable traders, and the best place to find a list of reputable traders is on the TrustMark website.”
TrustMark – www.trustmark.org.uk – provides consumers with an impartial assessment of local tradespeople operating to government-endorsed standards. (Source: Croydon council press release)
……..AS A CONMAN GARDENER CAUGHT RED-HANDED WITH ELDERLY VICTIM
The actions of an alert Upper Norwood resident saved his 83-year-old neighbour from being conned out of thousands of pounds and resulted in the prosecution of a callous fraudster.
The fraudster, from Stourport-on-Severn in Worcestershire, appeared at Croydon crown court and pleaded guilty to three counts of aggressive trading practices under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
He was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, ordered to perform 100 hours of unpaid work, and to pay his victim £3,100 compensation, costs of £5,000 (to be paid within six months) and an £80 victim surcharge.
The court was told that the suspicions of the Upper Norwood resident had been aroused, and he became fearful that his elderly neighbour was being conned by a garden contractor.
A phone call brought police to his neighbour’s house where they found the man, who they suspected of being a rogue trader, and called in Croydon council’s trading standards team, which specialises in such fraud investigations.
Conversations revealed that the elderly resident, who had been a victim of a previous large fraud, had been visited by the fraudster on at least three occasions over the course of the year.
A kind and trusting man, he agreed to whatever work had been suggested, some of which was unnecessary, including the power washing of his roof, a method of cleaning described by a surveyor as having a detrimental effect on the condition of the roof tiles.
Having been paid a total of more than £3,000 during the first two visits, the man returned to extract more money from his victim, taking advantage of his trusting nature and poor memory, by claiming he needed to finish the earlier jobs.
The victim could not remember what had been done, and the man had not provided a schedule of works to which he could refer.
The neighbour who called the police had persuaded the victim to cancel cheques for a further sum of more than £4,000 before they reached the fraudster’s bank account.
Cllr Simon Hoar, cabinet member for consumer protection, said: “This is a great result for our trading standards team, and the total bill of £8,180 that the man now faces is bigger than the amount which he tried to con from the victim.
“This case highlights how important it is for all Croydon residents to look out for their neighbours, particularly those who might be vulnerable by virtue of their age or living situation.”
Anybody with concerns about traders operating in their neighbourhood should call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506. (Source: Croydon council press release).
LAMBETH RESIDENTS TO CHOOSE HOW TAX ON DEVELOPERS IS SPENT LOCALLY
Lambeth council’s cabinet has agreed that local people and communities will have a greater say in how millions of pounds raised from developers will be used.
The current estimated development income across the whole of the Lambeth over the next 17 years is approximately £90 million.
The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a new charge that local authorities can raise from developers to pay towards infrastructure like schools, parks and transport. CIL rates are based on land values and other economic factors.
Lambeth’s cabinet has agreed that 25 per cent of available CIL receipts are to be allocated as neighbourhood funding – more than the government recommended rate of 15 pc.
Co-operative Local Investment Plans (CLIPs) will be prepared so local people will collaborate on how to make the best use of the money in their neighbourhood.
And the boundary of each CLIP will be defined to make sure the whole of the borough is covered. Major redevelopments are around Waterloo and Vauxhall.
A council spokesperson said: “This decision means that not only do communities stand to gain from development in terms of jobs and homes, they have a greater role in deciding how the CIL money is spent. “It means people can really shape their own neighbourhoods.”
The Lambeth CIL is expected to come into force later this year. (Source: Lambeth council press release)
LACK OF COUNCIL ACTION ON FLY TIPPING A ‘SCANDAL’ – MP
Responding to figures released by the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs showing that there were 11,150 incidents of fly-tipping in Croydon in 2012-13 but no council prosecutions during that period and action taken in just 0.98pc of cases, Croydon North MP Steve Reed said:
“It is scandalous that Croydon North residents are forced to wade through litter and dumped rubbish while our Tory-run council sits back and does nothing.
“Croydon charges one of the highest levels of council tax in London and yet basic services are sub-standard.
“We need a council prepared to crack down hard on fly-tippers by prosecuting them through the courts instead of pretending this problem doesn’t exist and letting our streets fill up with filth.”
A statement from Mr Reed’s office said the level of action taken by Croydon council falls well short of that in neighbouring outer London boroughs, with Labour-run Merton taking action in almost half of all fly-tipping incidents compared to less than 1pc in Tory-run Croydon. (Press release from Steve Reed’s office dated December 17th)
ACTION PLANNED ON CROYDON’S TOP FIFTEEN FLY-TIP ‘GROT-SPOTS’
People living close to 15 of the borough’s worst ‘grot-spots’ will soon see the results of their new clamp-down on fly-tipping, say Croydon council.
A Croydon council statement said: “Piled-up bin bags, dumped mattresses and discarded builders’ waste should soon be a thing of the past those living in the target areas.
“The council’s new investment of £100k will be used to find creative ways of dealing with a problem that is among many residents’ top priorities.
“Increased enforcement patrols, new CCTV cameras, better signs, new bins and security gates, and visits to local businesses are all part of the new package of measures.
When the effectiveness of these solutions has been assessed, the best of them will be copied elsewhere.
“The sites chosen for initial trials include neighbourhood recycling sites, small shopping parades, private service roads and residential streets. They are:
– Parchmore Road
– Granville Gardens
– St Helen’s Crescent
– Norbury Avenue
– Tylecroft Road
– Colliers Water Lane
– Bensham Manor Road
– Central Parade
– Latham’s Way
– Hathaway Road
– Nova Road
– Meadow View Road
– Oval Road
– Princess Road
– Zion Place
“Croydon spends hundreds of thousands of pounds every year picking up bulky rubbish which has been illegally tipped around the borough. “The new investment is designed to reduce this expense in the long term.”
Cllr Phil Thomas, cabinet member for highways and environmental services, said: “Fly-tipping has a high cost, both in terms of its being a drain on local taxpayers and its environmental impact.
“The council has to clean up thousands of incidents every year and this has to stop. “When it does happen it’s those responsible who should be the ones who are have to pay.“ (Source: Croydon council press release also dated December 17th)
UNDER-AGE SALES LEADS TO LICENSING CRACKDOWN
Bromley council has reviewed the alcohol licences of three businesses following a request by trading standards after they were caught selling alcohol to a 15-year-old girl.
Trading standards officers carried out the test purchase operations in August last year using the under-age girl who was sold a bottle of wine from each of Jerry’s at 69 High Street Penge, Swami News trading as Sunny’s at 119 High Street Penge and Kent House Off Licence at 198 Kent House Road Beckenham.
All three businesses were warned that further sales of alcohol to under age children would be likely to put their businesses in jeopardy of losing their alcohol licences.
Each business was required to adopt additional conditions recommended by the trading standards application. These included a ‘Challenge 25’ policy to ensure that anyone wanting to buy alcohol but looking under 25 would be required to produce identification.
Other conditions included keeping a refusal register and ensuring staff were appropriately trained.
In addition, Sunny’s off-licence volunteered to stop selling high strength beer and cider to discourage street drinking in the Penge area – a designated alcohol exclusion zone.
Executive member for public protection and safety Tim Stevens said: “We work with small businesses to ensure they fulfil their obligations as licence holders and in these cases all the businesses had been previously warned about the test purchase operations.
“Trading standards in Bromley also provide accredited training for small businesses who sell age restricted products and we will be insisting that all staff from these premises attend and pass the test before they are allowed to sell alcohol.”
(The Licensing Act 2003 sets out a series of objectives which a licensing authority is required to promote. These are:
prevention of crime and disorder
prevention of public nuisance
protection of children from harm
The ‘protection of children from harm’ includes preventing the sale and supply of alcohol to children. The law sets out the framework that aims to achieve this objective.
The premises licence holder, the designated premises supervisor (who must be a personal licence holder), any other personal licence holders and staff within on-licensed and off-licensed premises should all be aware of their obligations under the Licensing Act 2003 relating to the prevention of sales of alcohol to children.
It is the premises licence holder and designated premises supervisor’s responsibility to keep within the law and to have systems in place that will act as a ‘due diligence’ defence to an allegation that a sale of alcohol has taken place to an individual under the minimum legal age.
A trader who sells alcohol to an individual who is under 18 could be prosecuted and receive a fine of up to £5,000. A personal licence to sell alcohol could be at risk. The premises licence can be reviewed which could lead to it being suspended or revoked. Where persistent sales of alcohol to underage individuals take place, the premises licence holder could receive a fine of up to £20,000 or a premises closure notice could be issued.) (Source: Bromley council press release)
NIGHTCLUB’S LICENCE REVOKED AFTER THREE REVIEWS
A number of violent incidents occurred at the club when it reopened in
September 2013 after a lengthy closure following a review earlier in the
year, said a Bromley council statement.
“The seriousness of these incidents led police to apply for a further
review of the licence – the third since the opening of a nightclub on the
site in January 2010.
“The committee heard evidence from police that the club ‘had a tendency to
downplay’ and not report incidents as they occurred.
“There were issues with the training of staff, and the management did not fully comply with conditions, some of which they themselves had suggested.
“The licence holder, Adrian Pollock, denied management had failed and said that progress had been made, including the installation of upgraded CCTV.
“The club, he argued, should not be held to account for the inadequacies of the security firm they employed, and suggested that allegations of assault were ‘not high’ compared to an average London nightclub.
“The sub-committee concluded that, despite the efforts of the licence holder
and the staff, there was a long-standing problem of drink-related violence
at the premises and not enough was being done to prevent the supply of
alcohol to those who already had too much to drink.
“The committee accepted police evidence that there had been a failure of management, which the club refuted.”
Cllr Tim Stevens, Chairman of the licensing sub-committee, said: “After weighing up all the evidence, we were satisfied that the licence holder and staff had not dealt with the serious issues of crime and disorder arising at the premises.
“Further, there have been breaches of the conditions of the licence that were imposed at the last review.
“There was no alternative but to revoke the licence.”
The licence holder had 21 days from the decision to appeal. (Source: Bromley council press release)
RESIDENT ADMITS BENEFITS ‘FIDDLE’
A Biggin Hill resident who failed to declare a ‘substantial’ criminal injuries compensation he received has been sentenced at Bromley magistrates court.
TThe man pleaded guilty to defrauding Bromley council out of £12,184 in housing and council tax benefits for the period August 2011 and January 2013.
Anonymous information received led to an investigation that showed he had failed to declare he had received a substantial amount in a criminal injuries compensation pay out.
He received a three year conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £110 costs. As well as having a criminal record, he will be required to pay back the whole of the overpayment. (Source: Bromley council press release)
ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR COSTS FAMILY THEIR HOUSING ASSOCIATION HOME
Persistent antisocial behaviour has led to a family being evicted from their home.
Croydon council and Croydon police’s antisocial behaviour teams worked with Amicus Horizon Housing Association to secure the three-month closure order at 13 Freelands Avenue in Monks Hill.
The council and police gave evidence that there had been a history of criminal incidents and anti-social behaviour at the address since a woman and her extended family moved there in April 2012.
It started off as low-level nuisance, such as parties and late-night noise, but, by October 2013, there was a surge in antisocial activity and a step up in the number of calls made to police regarding the address.
During this month large groups of young men attended the estate, with police called to disperse them on several occasions.
The family fled the property not long after this in fear for their safety, but returned intermittently to the estate causing further trouble each time.
PC Fred Morgan, of the Croydon police antisocial behaviour team, said: “This household was at the heart of some serious antisocial behaviour in the Monks Hill area over the past few months.
“Despite numerous attempts to engage with the family, they refused to improve their behaviour and even became aggressive towards the people that were trying to help them.”
Cabinet member for community safety, Cllr Simon Hoar, said: “The police and council’s antisocial behaviour teams worked closely with Amicus Horizon to quickly obtain a closure order on the address.
“This has already resulted in a dramatic fall in the number of calls regarding antisocial behaviour in the area.
“This sends a clear message that acts of persistent and serious anti-social behaviour will be dealt with swiftly and very decisively.”
The application was heard at Camberwell Green magistrates’ court following two adjournments when it went ahead uncontested by the occupier.
The order expires on Sunday 23 March 2014. The landlord, Amicus Horizon, has commenced possession proceedings on the property.
Full costs were also awarded, totalling £5,160. (Source: Croydon council press release)
SLOWING DOWN FOR SCHOOLS
Children’s safety is the focus of a council pilot scheme that will see 20mph zones introduced around a number of borough schools.
The £200,000 project will encourage drivers to slow down on short stretches of road outside schools. The restrictions will be limited to certain times of the day, indicated to drivers by electronic signs.
A number of new zebra crossings are also being proposed as part of the Transport for London-funded scheme.
Before any of the work is carried out, the council will be seeking the views of schools, parents and local residents.
By making it safer to walk to school the council is also aiming to get more children walking or cycling as part of a healthy lifestyle.
The selected schools are largely amongst those which have identified, in their formal travel plans, the speed of nearby traffic as being a problem. The council has also done its own surveys to identify suitable locations where this approach is likely to prove effective.
Cllr Phil Thomas, cabinet member for highways and environmental services, said: “Road safety is an important issue, and this new money gives us the opportunity to invest in long-term measures that will reduce the risk of accidents outside schools.
“Most drivers are aware of how the chances of serious injuries to children are significantly reduced by cutting speed. However, it’s not always obvious when a school might be nearby, so these zones will act as a reminder to slow down and take more care.”
The locations chosen for the project are:
Ark Oval – Cherry Orchard Road
Chipstead Valley – Chipstead Valley Road
Harris Academy Purley – Pampisford Road
Monks Orchard Primary – The Glade
Regina Coeli -Pampisford Road
St Thomas Becket – Birchanger Road
Wolsey Junior – King Henry’s Drive (Source: Croydon council press release)
CIVIC AWARDS TO RECOGNISE CROYDON’S VOLUNTEER CHAMPS
Residents are being invited by the council to nominate those people and groups who they believe are the best of Croydon’s army of volunteers and civic champions.
The annual Croydon community civic awards showcase the outstanding efforts made by some of the many thousands of local people who give up their time to help others.
Judges will be looking for examples of volunteering that significantly benefits other people and sets a benchmark for excellence, both locally and nationally.
Categories for the 2014 awards are:
• Volunteer of the Year
• Personal Achievement Award
• Lifetime Achievement Award
• Young Volunteer of the Year
• Carer of the Year
• Fundraiser of the Year
• Employees of the Year
• Voluntary Group of the Year
• Civic life Award
The shortlisting process will take into account the level of need being addressed and how volunteers have overcome obstacles to make a difference.
Previous winners have included Frederick Clarke, founder of ‘Mighty Men of Valour’, former youth parliament member, Javell Nelson, and Croydon Radio, the online station which provides a voice for numerous local voluntary groups.
Cllr Vidhi Mohan, cabinet member for communities and economic development, said: “Every year we have a tough job picking out the finalists from a strong list of nominations. “It’s even harder to choose the winners.
“But it’s time well spent because it’s important to provide recognition to people who dedicate so much of their time, energy and enthusiasm to good causes. “I’m looking forward to seeing who gets put forward this year.”
Anyone can make a nomination before the closing date of March 31st.
Three finalists in each category will be invited to a ceremony on June 19th.
Full details are available at www.croydon.gov.uk/civicawards (Source: Croydon council press release)
RESIDENT FINED £300 FOR NOISE NUISANCE
An Anerley resident has been prosecuted for causing a noise nuisance by playing loud amplified music at home.
The resident, from Thicket Road, was fined £300 + £15 victim surcharge and ordered to pay £300 in costs after he attended Bromley magistrates court and pleaded guilty to four counts of breaching a noise abatement notice issued by Bromley council.
The court heard that despite being served with an abatement notice in January 2012, music continued to be played at an unacceptable level from his property and that this was witnessed by the council’s noise officers.
Bromley council says it currently deals with around 4,000 reports of excessive noise nuisance every year. Residents affected by a noise nuisance can seek advice and report problems via the Council’s websitewww.bromley.gov.uk or by calling 0300 303 8657. (Source: Bromley council press release)