Minutes of our first meeting of 2020

Please see below the minutes of our first meeting of 2020 which was held on 7th January at Thornton Heath Library.  You might like to put the date of the next meeting on 26th February from 7-8.30pm in your diary now.  The venue will be confirmed later.

Chris Milton (THCAT Secretary)

1. Welcome, Apologies, H&S
Liz from the Library gave a Health and Safety briefing and told members about the library’s facilities.
Linda welcomed everyone to the meeting, especially those attending for the first time.  She passed around a tub of chocolates to celebrate the New Year.
Apologies: Emma Rowland, Nadine Wilkinson, Alison Butler, Deidrie, Margaret Daly, Suzie Woos and Heidi Tompson.
2. THCAT Code of Conduct
Code of Conduct of Thornton Heath Community Action Team Members (including in emails and the Facebook group)

a.  All members of Thornton Heath Community Action Team must conduct themselves in a way that does not cause offence to others or bring THCAT into disrepute. 

b.  Members must treat others with respect and must not make remarks or carry out actions that are racist, sexist or derogatory.

c. Members must allow others to speak without interruption or other inappropriate behaviour.

d.  Members must be aware of the agenda and time limits of the meeting, keeping their contributions to the point.

e. Members must be sensitive to the needs of those who may not be used to speaking in public or whose first language is not English.
f.  Members who feel that this Code of Conduct has been breached should raise the matter with the Chair at the earliest opportunity, for the Chair to take appropriate action, including removal from meetings and/or membership of THCAT.
Linda asked everyone to read through the Code of Conduct and offer any comments.  She said that we were not immediately asking people to sign them but we may well do in the future.  She also stated that “Members” may be replaced with participants.  The general feeling was the Code was appropriate. 
Rev Derrick suggested that point f. should say “the Chair or event leader” as Linda may not be present at all events. 

3. Discussion re Good and Bad Points of Veolia Service
Linda welcomed the team from Veolia led by Andrea Lowe, Senior Contract Manager who had come to discuss positives and issues with the service and how we can support each other to make improvements.  Linda asked members to start with their comments on positives about the service.
Mohammed – 2 houses on his road had missed bin collections.  He has informed Stuart Collins.  What action should we and Veolia take?
Veolia – Don’t go to Stuart Collins as it will not appear as missed on their system.  Go through the Council website or call centre.
Mohammed – there was an 18 minute wait on the phone which costs people too much time and money.  People cannot speak to the Council.
Danielle (from the Council) – Calls to the call centre are done on priority.  Adult Social Care and Children’s services calls are prioritised and may take longer.  You can use “My Account” online to flag up the Council and the Contractor.
Gaëtane – The High Street is much cleaner than it used to be.
Christina – Her street is better kept but there are fox problems.
Barbara – Cleaning is better in Melfort Road and staff are more motivated.
Veolia – Bulk waste collections are now free.  Originally there was a long delay but it is now down to weeks. 
Comments – Many members did not know about this.  It needs to be better advertised.
Further Positive Comments –

  • The front-line staff are heroes.
  • Veolia is a London Living Wage Employer.
  • Heidi’s son loves the bin lorry and was shown it by the local crew.

Bin Collection
Q – Why are bins not put back when they have been emptied?
Danielle – Bins need to be presented at the property boundary and should be returned to where they were left.  There is a gallery of pictures on the recycling section of the Council website of how to present the bins as close to the boundary as possible.  They ask for them to be inside the property.
Comments –

  • If they are left inside the property they are not always taken.
  • some properties with small frontages, presenting the bins inside the property completely blocks the path out.
  • In Pridham Road residents have to put the bins outside.They have no complaints except that the bins are sometimes stolen and other people sometimes use them.
  • The binmen lift the bins over the boundary wall or sometimes come in for them. 

Chetna – In her street there is not generally a problem but for the last few weeks the bins have been left everywhere and have been broken or damaged.
Veolia – Let them know which road this is and they will look into it.
Comments - It was good to get a printed bin collection timetable this time.
Bin provision
A local property which is divided into 2 flats has only 1 set of bins and has been told they are not entitled to sets.
Danielle – If there are 2 separate properties they should have 2 sets of bins.  If the property has not been declared as split by the landlord there may be an issue with Council tax.  Bins can be ordered online through “Mt Account”.
Veolia – Give them the address and they will look into it.
Marley – How does bin provision relate to HMO’s?
Danielle – It is done on a case by case basis.  The Council is working with the Landlord Licensing Scheme to try to improve this.  They have a small team but are working on it as fast as they can.  HMO residents should report problems to their Landlord or to the Council.
Street Sweeping
Cedric – Brook Road does not seem to be cleaned to a high enough standard.
Veolia – We sweep to a grade A though this is not easy because of parked vehicles.  It is maintained to grade B meaning there can be some litter accumulation.
Linda – concluded that the service seems patchy.
Veolia – There are 110 staff in the Borough.  Sweeping is done at least weekly in Thornton Heath.  There are constant inductions and lots of training. Operatives are moved around the area. 
Veolia -This is the 3rd worst Borough in London for flytipping.  Reports are up and tonight there are 60 live flytips including 9-10 mattresses.  There are 4 crews working on flytipping in the North of the Borough.
Andrea – Grangewood Park is constantly flytipped with builder’s rubble etc. This week there were lots of children’s toys dumped.  People just keep doing it because there is no punishment.
Linda – What prevention measures are taken?
Danielle – Evidence goes to my team and the NSO’s can fine people.
Andrea – There are not many fines.
Danielle – It is very difficult to get evidence.
Selhurst Resident – Having to produce evidence is problematic.  We were told we might have to go to court.  It is very intimidating and people fear reprisals.
Danielle – Report evidence but do not remove it so that the NSO’s can see it.  Veolia cannot take flytips from private land.  They try to use CCTV cameras but this takes time.  There has to be evidence to prosecute and they can prosecute from car licence plates.
Cynthia – Why is there so much flytipping?
Danielle – Because it is such a large Borough and because people drive out from inner London to flytip here.
Cedric – Did not agree.  It is also cultural.  In Florida, for example, it is normal to put things on the street and they will be collected.  In this mixed community some people do not understand not to do this.  Not everyone speaks the language or understands the rules.
Q – Why do vans drive past flytips that have not yet been reported?
Veolia – Operatives prioritise what is on their list, eg. dead animals have to be collected in 2 hours.  They pick up 2-3 times what is recorded.  They have a legal maximum weight they can carry and have to leave things to empty at the depot before taking more.
Linda – There is often lots of mess left when flytips are collected.
Veolia – They are instructed to clear around the tips.  Report instances via the app so that the appropriate crews can be picked up on this.
Lynne – More incentive is needed to encourage recycling.
Danielle – Croydon recycles 47% of waste. It is the 6th Best London Borough.
Daisy – More litter bins are needed on the streets including recycling bins.
Danielle – On-street recycling bins become too contaminated so the waste cannot be recycled.  If you think there are not enough bins on a particular street, contact the Council’s Administrative Waste Services.
Marley – There are no recycling facilities in the tower block she lives in.  There used to be giant bins but they have been taken away.  Most rubbish goes out of the windows.
Danielle – Contact your Landlord or Housing Association.
Marley – It is a Council block!
Council Website and Leaflets
Pete – The Council’s reporting website is very clunky and needs to be easier to navigate eg. a drop-down menu with street names.
Cynthia – There is a problem with only one language being used on the website and on printed leaflets.
Could there be a new campaign like “Keep Britain Tidy” for Thornton Heath this year?  It needs a relaunch as people stop noticing.
Danielle – There are 145 languages spoken in the Borough so the cost makes printing in different languages unfeasible.  The Council is always looking for new campaigns and is receptive to suggestions.
Mohammed – There must surely be about 5 languages that would cover most people? Hospitals and surgeries do use different languages.  
Rowena - Could there be downloadable leaflets in different languages?
Linda – One of the benefits of the THCAT Street Action project has been neighbours talking to each other so they have been able to explain to people who do not know how to recycle etc.
Linda – Is there anything Veolia and the Council want us to do?
Danielle – Use the app to report missed bins, flytips etc.
4. Action against Council plan to dispose of land adjacent to Heath Lodge in Grangewood Park
Andrea – As discussed at the last meeting, the Council was planning to sell off a strip of land in Grangewood Park together with Heath Lodge. On Boxing Day there was an advert in a local paper re disposal of the land and the lodge.   A petition was started by the Friends of Grangewood Park and people were asked to object to the Council.  The petition collected nearly 3,000 signatures in a short time and the Council has announced that the sale of the land and the lodge will not go ahead.
The meeting gave enthusiastic applause.
The Council will discuss what people would like to see done with the Lodge.  They intend to set up a Heath Lodge Action Group to develop a plan and hold a meeting with the public and the Councillors to discuss it.  For further information check the Friends of Grangewood Park Facebook Page or join their mailing list.  E-mail: Friendsofgrangewoodpark@yahoo.co.uk.
The Lodge has been empty since 2006.  If the community wants to take it on, there will need to be a thorough business plan to apply for funding which will need to be sustainable.  The Council will be consulting over the next couple of months.
Grangewood and Whitehorse Residents’ Association  are going ahead with a meeting to discuss this issue on Thursday 9th January at 7pm at St. Alban Church Hall.
5. New Government Funding for Thornton Heath High Street
A press report stated that Thornton Heath High Street has been selected as one of 20 pilots to receive investment from a new government High Streets Fund.  Andrea has investigated and found that there is no cash but advice and support in kind from industry leaders and experts with knowledge of how to turn High Streets around.
Each High Street chosen will receive a bespoke report following a 1 day diagnostic visit.  The pilots may receive extra support.
Cedric – Has it been announced that this is not money, just advice?
Daisy – Does it include Brigstock Road or just the High Street?
Andrea – There is Regeneration Team meeting at the end of the month so we may know more by the next meeting.  It is an opportunity for traders to take training and improve.
Cynthia – This seems negative.  The area was poor before but now it will be nationally known to be poor.
Geoffrey – This feels like a novelty project.
Linda – Is there any news yet about the planning appeal for the Adult Casino?  No.
6. THCAT Social
Vân asked if members would be interested in a social evening at Fireaway Pizza, Brigstock Road.  Several members were interested so Vân agreed to book an available date and let everyone know.  It will be on Thursday 23 January from 7.30pm.
7. Updates
a) Ward Panel Meetings

  • Bensham Manor Graham Mitchell The meeting was held just before Xmas at the Salvation Army.  Key points were:
    • The crack house on Melfort Road.  It should have an HMO licence which the Council is considering withdrawing.  Notice to quit has been served. Police have visited the property several times and are following up.
      • There is no chance of getting goods back after burglaries or thefts.
      • They have arrested a drug dealer from the alley behind Steve Reed’s office.
      • They have also arrested a burglar who will get 3-4 years.
    • – Originally there were to have been an extra 20 NSO’s to make 60 but this did not happen because of costs.  They are no longer accredited so powers have been lost.  Only the Police can enforce the Public Protection Zone but they do not have the time so it is effectively useless.
    • Priorities Going Forward
      • Deal with the Crack House
      • Make the Police more visible around the ward.


  • Thornton Heath Ward – Andrea Perry In relation to the Tesco drinkers, we learned that the NSO’s are not accredited so enforcement against street drinking falls to the Police.  They want the No Drinking Zone removed.

Linda – Keep reporting to the police via 101 so that they have the statistics even if you think nothing will be done.  Posting on Facebook is NOT reporting.
b) Thornton Heath Sustainability Group – The next meeting takes place on Sun 12 JAN, 5-7 at ASKI.  The group will be looking at a wide range of issues, including plastics.
c) Ambassador House

  • There is graffiti damage to the “art gallery” which the lead artist is going to refresh
  • The old Flora Sandes pub is to become New Energy Gym and Des from the gym explained that hopefully opening will be by the end of February.  They are interested in opening 24/7 but they are concerned about staff safety if only one is on duty overnight.
  • Work should be done on plants and planters at the end of March.Timberland are part-funding this.  There will be a meeting re safety and maintenance.
  • Vân and Bare Face are to meet with council departments re finishing the murals.
  • The Amazon advertising mural has been removed.

d) Library – Liz informed us that Croydon libraries are now part of the London Libraries consortium which allows us to use many other libraries and order books from them.  A library app is being made available.
8. Date of Next Meeting
Wednesday 26th February, 7-8.30pm, venue to be confirmed.
CWM (21.1.2020)