Heathfield – reduction in access for public use of the grounds

SPRA has written to our Councillors as follows

Heathfield – a ‘phoney’ consultation?

Some of you may be aware that there are changes afoot at Heathfield. Somewhat ‘under the radar’ the Council launched a consultation about the lease of Heathfield House to a local private school, Cressey College.  This would appear be to the detriment of visitors to the gardens, and to the Ecology centre which operates there.  SPAN has featured Heathfield regularly (see August SPAN), as we know it receives many visits from Spring Park residents, even though it is outside our membership zone.

In particular, we understand the impact of the plan on visitors to the gardens will include closure of toilet facilities; to the Ecology centre: the loss of indoor space for nature study visits from Croydon schools and removal of storage space for exhibition, catering and bazaar equipment;  to the community : loss of a corporate venue for meetings and events.

Disability access for all groups will be affected by the removal of the only level route for wheelchairs to the rock garden.

A further concern for SPRA is the process of consultation over the plans. It is true that the statutory announcement was made via the Croydon Guardian in mid-June, with the consultation closing on 9 July.  Many Residents Associations including SPRA were thus unaware of the plan and unable to respond.

At a time of far-reaching changes required to offset the effects of the Council’s mismanagement of its finances, it is essential that consultations are open and transparent. We applaud the Council on achieving this so far in the reorganisation of the Libraries. It is very regrettable that the process with Heathfield House seems to have fallen so far short. This instance of poor communication deepens the lack of trust residents have in the Council, a lack which needs to be urgently reversed.

SPRA has written to our Ward Councillors and to our MP to express dissatisfaction over the process and with further questions about how much they were aware in advance of this proposal.

Footnote – see also letter on page XXXX

336 words

Calling all birdwatchers

We have been asked to alert members tothe following …

The British Trust for Ornithology and the behavioural science research group at Middlesex University have just started an online project where volunteers can submit observations of birds for research. I was wondering whether this might be a of interest to your community group?
The first aim of the project is to study how commonly different species in different areas of the UK eat human foods and litter instead of “natural” food like worms and insects. The second aim is to engage more people in birdwatching: a common barrier is that most citizen science projects require bird ID skills, so we designed this study in a way that bird names aren’t required at all. Our hope is that this will help to engage more people with nature and birds. 

https://mdxl.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cON8ssxLcI8T6Wq

Could you help us spread the word and distribute this among your group members please? The study will be open until 26th August and volunteers can participate as many times as they like.

GP data transfer

We have received the following …

GP Data transfer to national database (NHS Digital)

There is an important change underway.  From 1 September 2021, medical information held at GP level will be passed to a national database.   Data will be anonymised, so that it cannot be traced to individuals and will be used to improve health service provision, track health trends and aid research.

Individuals who do not wish to have their data moved to a national database, must fill in an opt-out form. Any information passed on after 1 Sept cannot be ‘retrieved’, so it is important to act quickly if you intend to opt out.

To find out more of the details and to access the opt-out forms go to

General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) – NHS Digital or speak to your local GP practice.

Philip Ditton RIP

We were very sorry to learn of the death, on 26 February, of Philip Ditton. Philip had been a stalwart in SPRA, being at one time a member of the Committee, in between four-year periods as Editor and Chairman. We are grateful to his family for the invitation to attend his funeral remotely, and details are given below

A full tribute will be in the May issue of SPAN

The details of the live broadcast of Philip’s funeral are as follows:

Date & time: 7th April at 2.00pm

Website: https://obitus.com/ Username: buqu7271, Password: 641125

You can login to our website at any time to view a test connection (and we strongly recommend you do this) but you’ll only be able to view the Live Webcast approx. 5 mins before the service start time. Please be aware this is a public building and the timing of the Live webcast is semi-automated to allow for services running early or late – please use your discretion if you can see activities not applicable to the service you are here to watch.

Once the service has finished, it will take us up to 3 working days to get the 28-day Watch Again onto the website. 
In lieu of flowers, for those that wish to donate, we have set up a personalised giving page for Cancer Research UK, details below:

https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/philip-sidney-ditton

Metropolitan Police advice re catalytic converters

We have received the following from Inspector Simon Warnes

Dear residents, I have recently received correspondence with concerns surrounding the theft of catalytic converters. This crime type is increasing at a national level and is certainly starting to attract a lot more attention from government bodies. Throughout 2020 the total offences within London reached around 15,000 crimes. I am hoping I can give you a brief overview of what we are doing and offer some reassurance that we are making every effort to reduce these numbers and prosecute offenders.

Some of the offences do appear to be escalating to include threats, however these only account for a handful of crimes. Catalytic converters contain precious metals including palladium, rhodium and platinum. These all bear high value on the scrap metal market with the former two substantially more expensive than gold. Exhausts from hybrid cars contain much larger quantities of these precious metals with the Toyota Prius, Honda Jazz, Lexus RX models and the Toyota Auris being the most targeted vehicles.

These crimes are usually committed by a team of three with cloned plates from a genuine insured vehicle that is placed onto another like for like vehicle. The plates are frequently swapped after offences with some cars having up to five sets of cloned plates. The suspects are itinerant and will travel large distances across multiple London boroughs and county boundaries to commit their crimes. They are not confined to one specific area and there are many active teams.

To summarise what we are doing; I am overseeing Operation Basswood. This is a South Area (Bromley, Sutton & Croydon) initiative to target Catalytic Converter thefts and we are the only Met BCU to form a dedicated team. Our role is to focus on proactive and reactive investigations. Obviously this is difficult for me to go into details and specifics, but there are a variety of deployments ongoing using an array of covert and overt policing tactics. We are working closely with other boroughs within the Met but also external forces, particularly West Sussex, Surrey, Kent and the British Transport Police. Within South Area there have been 11 arrests over the past few months, with some offenders being sent to Crown Court for trial and convicted.

I have been disappointed with recent convictions including suspended sentences or community orders which don’t reflect the level of inconvenience and misery inflicted on victims, especially during the COVID19 pandemic. I will be looking to change our tactics to ensure the strongest possible outcome in future and to issue post-conviction orders to prevent reoffending. From a reactive point of view, we take ownership and oversight of every investigation. They are quality assured for any missed opportunities including local enquiries and CCTV/images. We have forged a strong working relationship with Toyota and they have provided funding and assistance towards local crime prevention initiatives.

We have also visited and inspected all of our local scrap metal dealers in partnership with the Council and the Environmental Agency. Crime prevention is difficult as the offending behaviour does seem more brazen and some offences have taken place in broad daylight in supermarket carparks. What we have seen is that vehicles with Catlocs fitted are rarely targeted and I would consider them a reasonably priced investment. We have received some high quality footage from home CCTV systems including Ring doorbell and these have enabled us to identify and convict suspects, so these are also another option including for your own home security and burglary prevention.

Always consider where you leave your vehicle and remain vigilant. I have seen numerous videos where suspects have abandoned their crimes when vehicles drive past or when they’ve been disturbed. I strongly discourage vigilante behaviour as these individuals do carry jack extension poles and there is a likelihood you may be injured. Be on the lookout, report any suspicious activity and don’t assume someone else has called the Police. The more information we receive the better and a photo, registration plate or description could be the last piece of the puzzle. If you have been a victim of this crime and it’s had a significant impact on your wellbeing, or you are a repeat victim I would like to hear from you. The team can be contacted at opbasswood@met.police.uk Please feel free to share this email address. But please also remember to call 999 if you do see suspicious activity or an offence in progress.

Croydon Council contact details

CROYDON COUNCIL CONTACTS

At the recent SPRA AGM, residents were concerned about the difficulty of reaching Croydon Council departments and some had been advised that all communication had to be sent by email or contact made though the Council website. People were worried that this would exclude those who were not online (often the elderly) from raising their concerns.  Shirley South Councillor Scott Roche investigated this on our behalf and has been assured that everyone can still contact the Council by phone.   The following numbers are direct dials for the various departments:

General: 0208 726 6000

Bins and Recycling: 0208 726 6200

Housing Repairs for Council Homes: 0208 726 6101

Planning and building control: 0208 726 6800

Parking and Streets: 0208 726 7100

Highway Maintenance: 0208 255 2816

Please note that Council departments close at 4pm each day.