TOWN HALL PROJECT “ON TRACK”
Artist’s impression of the new Lambeth town hall development in Brixton
Lambeth council’s new town hall project has reached the 12-month mark, with building work progressing rapidly on the landmark site on Brixton Hill, say the council.
“A year after demolition work started an the site the £68million scheme remains on target for completion of the refurbished Town Hall by the end of the year – with the new civic offices and customer service centre following closely in February next year” said a spokesperson.
“Lambeth town hall is undergoing essential repairs and restoration, in line with the council’s obligations to maintain the Grade-II listed building.
“It is scheduled to reopen in December this year. The programme of work includes long-term investment in the Edwardian building, protecting its historic features and making it more open and accessible to residents and staff.
“The project will also reduce Lambeth council’s core office buildings from 14 to two, saving at least £4.5m a year.
“The new civic centre, which is being built from scratch and is taking shape a little further up Brixton Hill from the town hall, is set to open early next year. “The design supports more efficient working and will significant reduce running costs.
“The town hall scheme will also feature 219 new homes for rent and sale, of which 47 per cent will be affordable, including the recently completed Wynne Road project.
“It will also double the area available to encourage and support local businesses and start-ups, an energy efficient civic building with customer centre and council offices, new landscaped public areas, a new cycle hub with changing/shower facilities and a public café.” (Source: Lambeth council’s Love Lambeth website)
SCAFFOLDING SCAMMERS STING RESIDENT FOR £2,000
Residents are being warned by the council’s trading standards team to be alert to cold callers demanding money for “urgent” roof repairs.
The scam has come to light this week after one elderly female victim, from the Park Hill area, received such a call when a man knocked at her front door claiming that the roof of her next-door neighbour was in urgent need of repair, requiring scaffolding to be erected.
A short while later, the resident received a phone call from a man calling himself David. He claimed that her roof, too, was in need of urgent work, and that a cash down-payment was required to erect the scaffolding to enable the work to begin.
His manner was extremely persuasive, and he gave what seemed to be plausible detail as to the condition of the two rooves and the work required to repair them. He convinced the householder to withdraw £2,000 from her bank, which she handed to the original man when he returned to her home a short time later.
Her suspicions were aroused when a further £4,000 was demanded in a second phone call from “David”. Before withdrawing the cash, she spoke to her neighbour and was told that he had arranged no repairs to his roof and knew nothing about the situation.
Alarmed, she called the police who, in turn, notified the trading standards team. She was advised not to proceed and certainly not to hand over any more money.
The incident is being investigated by the police and trading standards.
Andy Opie, the council’s director of safety, said: “This was a nasty attempt to part a trusting older resident with thousands of pounds of her life savings. Thankfully, she realised that something wasn’t quite right and the attempt to get more money from her failed.
“I’d urge all residents to be aware that cold-hearted fraudsters like this are operating locally, and say that, under no circumstances should they be persuaded by cold callers to hand over any sort of payment whatsoever, be it cash, cheque or money transfer.
“The chances are that, once handed over, the money will never be seen again.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
ANERLEY RESIDENT JAILED FOR COUNCIL TAX FRAUD
A 45 year-old Anerley man has been jailed for 30 weeks after pleading guilty to claiming council tax benefit / support when in fact he had capital over the prescribed limit, in the form of another property which he was renting out.
Benefit assessors referred the case to Bromley council’s fraud team after they became suspicious that he may not have declared his correct income details.
The man denied that he solely owned the property he lived in and another in Casewick Road in Lewisham. He provided a prepared statement via his solicitor and refused to answer any other questions.
His prepared statement stated that he owned approximately 30 per cent of the properties and made no gain from renting one out.
The man had received £6,719.60 in Council Tax Benefit/Support between the period 25 August 2008 to 1 April 2017. The full amount has been repaid.
He pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance and a trial date was set but on the day of the trial he changed his plea to guilty on all three charges and was sentenced to 30 weeks imprisonment and ordered to pay £2,000 in prosecution costs.
A council spokesperson said: “We welcome this result and the custodial sentence as it sends a clear message that fraud committed by these cheats will not be tolerated.
“This authority has a zero tolerance to fraud. “Those who claim allowances, such as council tax support, to which they are not entitled, are committing fraud that represents a loss of income to Bromley council. “It is a waste of public funds meant for those in genuine need.”
Anyone with information about a suspected benefit fraud should contact (in strict confidence) the Fraud Hotline on 0800 169 6975 or [email protected]
The council has also launched an anti-fraud App, which is a quick and easy way residents can report their suspicions. Visit www.bromley.gov.uk/fraud for information about downloading the App to your mobile device. (Source: Bromley council press release)
TOWN-CENTRE STORE ADMITS FOOD SAFETY OFFENCES “Some products’ gnawed packaging had been “repaired” with adhesive tape and returned to the shop shelves for sale”
A Croydon town-centre branch of a national store chain has admitted five food safety offences and two breaches of health and safety at work regulations.
Croydon Crown Court was told, on Tuesday (23), that charges were brought against the company after Croydon council food safety officers received a complaint from a member of the public who reported that she had seen evidence of a rodent infestation on the shopfloor.
On visiting the store, the officers discovered an out-of-control infestation. The shop was dirty and littered with mouse droppings; food on display was gnawed and there were rodent urine and faeces over packaging and products. Some products’ gnawed packaging had been “repaired” with adhesive tape and returned to the shop shelves for sale.
Officers consulted with the store management who agreed to immediately cease the sale of food.
The basement and storage areas were also found to be contaminated with mouse droppings, while some areas were in darkness with very poor visibility. The goods lift was found to be out of commission, leaving staff members having to manually carry goods up to the shopfloor. No risk assessment had been carried out for this activity.
Additionally, there was no hot water, inadequate heating and poor housekeeping, which resulted in stock being left in a haphazard and dangerous manner.
The case was adjourned for sentencing until September.
Andy Opie, the council’s director of safety, said: “It’s shocking that a large, well-established town-centre store can let matters of food safety and the well-being of its staff slip to such a degree.
“Such was the store management’s level of complacency toward these matters, the health of shoppers, from contaminated food, and of staff, by the Health & Safety Act offences, was put at risk.
“Thanks to the diligence of our food safety team, the rodent infestation has been eradicated and the company has taken the necessary actions to put right the health and safety measures.”
Guilty pleas were entered to the following charges.
Food safety offences
1 Failed to ensure that the premises were kept in a clean condition in that the shopfloor and warehouse were littered with mouse urine and droppings, and gnawed food packaging. Contrary to Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 Annex II, chapter I, paragraph 1.
2 Failed to maintain a food safety management system for keeping food safe at all times. Contrary to Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 Annex II, article 5, paragraph 1.
3 Failed to adequately control pests in that there was a mouse infestation throughout the premises. Contrary to Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 Annex II, chapter IX, paragraph 4.
4 Failed to ensure the external structure of the premises were adequately pest-proofed, resulting in a heavy mouse infestation. Contrary to Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 Annex II, chapter I, paragraph 2 (c).
5 Failed to protect food from contamination in that there was evidence that food contaminated with mouse droppings, and food packaging and the contents had been gnawed by mice. Contrary to Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 Annex II, chapter IX, paragraph 3.
Health and safety offences
6 Failed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees while at work, namely poor safe systems of work. Contrary to the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, section 2.
7 Failed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to employees and review significant changes of the risks to employees. Contrary to the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulation 3, 1 (a) and 3(b). (Source: Croydon council press release)