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RATS scavenge from piles of rubbish swarming with flies as filthy mattresses block the street and a dismembered pig’s head lies rotting in the gutter.
Welcome to Croydon, a leafy suburb in south London where the average house sells for over £400,000.
The garbage-infested borough has recently been dubbed the fly-tipping capital of Britain - and when the Sun visited, we could see why its reputation is being trashed.
The stench of discarded waste clogged the air on one of the hottest days of the year, as mounds of black bin liners containing old food and used nappies lay inches from people’s doorsteps.
Entire mattresses, wardrobes and broken fridges had been recklessly offloaded in residential areas, making it difficult to negotiate the pavement.
And these lay crumpled and stained alongside unwanted children’s toys, ancient DVDs and industrial bags filled with junk.
Residents have grown sick and tired of the dangerous eyesores, but say their pleas for the council to sort out the mess are falling on deaf ears.
Ken Burgess, 77, is Chair of the Central Parade Business Partnerships Group and has run Burgess Boy’s Pet Care Centre on New Addington’s bustling main road for 43 years.
He said: “It’s like living in Beirut here, it’s a total nightmare. Croydon has been used as a tip for longer than I care to remember, but it’s just getting worse and worse.
“Getting rid of the rubbish from the access road behind my business has become the bane of my life.
“People dump their stuff there all the time as it’s easy to get in and out and there’s no-one to stop them late at night.
“It’s generally everyday goods that people don’t want. They will find someone that will take it off their hands for a small fee, not realising those individuals will fly-tip it.
“You get all sorts dropped off here including asbestos, which is really dangerous.
“There is a council-run recycling centre close by but you have to pay to use it, so they would rather come here and dump their rubbish for free.
It seems like no-one can put a stop to fly-tipping but it is polluting the area and harming our businesses. They have to sort it out
“Eight years ago the business owners on Central Parade got together and cleared it all out.
“We also put gates up at either end to stop fly-tippers from driving down the access road and that worked for a few months.
"But we had to remove the gates in the end as people kept crashing into them and they were too expensive to maintain.
“The situation has deteriorated massively since then. We are hoping to get CCTV cameras installed and have it cleared in about six months, but council cuts are not helping our cause.
“The anti-social behaviour team is being disbanded and the amount of graffiti we are seeing keeps increasing.
"It seems like no-one can put a stop to fly-tipping but it is polluting the area and harming our businesses. They have to sort it out.”
'Desperate to leave'
Driver Tony Robinson, 63, has lived in Croydon since 1963 but says he is now desperate to leave the area as he is so sick of walking around an open tip.
He took us to a residential street where a huge mound of rubbish lied rotting in the heat next to the North Down recreation ground. He claims it has been there for years.
Tony said: “Fly-tipping has always been a problem in Croydon, but it’s got particularly bad in the past few years.
“People seem to leave rubbish everywhere nowadays. If they’ve got something they don’t want, they will just chuck it in the road.
I’ve had enough, honestly. As soon as I can I’m moving to somewhere nice, like Kent - I just can’t stand it anymore
Tony Robinson, Croydon resident
“Their attitude seems to be that it’s the council’s job to pick it up. But the rubbish in this spot has been here for two or three years now.
“It’s the biggest eyesore and has been reported so many times but no-one does anything about it.
“A pile of rubbish as big as this is dangerous and families with young children live along this street.
“Council cutbacks don’t help. When I was young, you would see council workers out and about all the time. Not anymore.
“I’ve had enough, honestly. As soon as I can I’m moving to somewhere nice, like Kent - I just can’t stand it anymore.”
'Rotting pigs head'
Shamrock Road in the Thornton Heath area of Croydon is another fly-tipping hotspot. It was here that a rotting pigs head was recently spotted lying on a black bin bag next to a discarded car tire.
When we visited, a sign attached to a lamp post told of £50,000 fines and 12 months in jail for anyone caught dumping, stating in capital letters: "THIS IS NOT A REFUSE SITE."
But the discarded bin bags full of used nappies we spotted suggested the warning was not being taken seriously.
Mechanic and father-of-two Hashmat Khushal, 34, works in a garage next to Shamrock Road. He said: “You see rubbish left in the street all the time - it’s smelly and it’s dangerous.
My kids, who are 10 and four, have to walk down that street and I am always worried about them picking something dirty up off the pavement
Hashmat Khushal, Croydon resident
“My kids, who are 10 and four, have to walk down that street and I am always worried about them picking something dirty up off the pavement.
“The worst thing is the mattresses they dump as they can block the road.
“The council should be taking care of it but they never come out in time. Every year they are putting our council tax up - what do they really do?”
Croydon Council insists it is taking action, including creating a fly-tipping app to allow people to report offences.
A ‘Don’t Mess with Croydon’ campaign was launched with residents offered a £100 reward for information to help them catch the perpetrators.
By 2020, a total of 220 people had been jailed for dumping rubbish illegally and thousands more were fined while 42 vehicles used by criminal fly-tippers were seized, according to the council.
A team of 380 street champions is said to patrol the borough, organising clean ups and litter picking.
In 2017, fly-tipper George Smith, then 40, was arrested for dumping three tonnes of building waste including rubble, wood and other building waste into a residential street from his flat-bed truck – a shocking incident that was captured on camera.
The smell is terrible, especially on a hot day, and it attracts flies that swarm all over the place
Yushekia Tracey, Croydon resident
And the Sun spoke to a man, who would not give his name, who said his white van was confiscated this year after he was accused of fly-tipping.
But the outraged residents we interviewed claimed it was obvious why Croydon has been named the worst fly-tipping spot in the UK, according to a study by Pink Storage - the findings of which the council disputes.
Domestic refuse collection has been outsourced to the private company, South London Waste Partnership, and there have been numerous complaints that they are not doing their job.
Mum-of-one Yushekia Tracey, 23, showed us a mound of bulging, black bin bags piled high in the garden of her semi-detached house.
She says it is "no surprise that property prices have increased by zero per cent in Croydon in the past 12 months" compared to two per cent in the rest of the UK.
She said: “If your bin is too full the council won’t take it, so you are left with all your rubbish, which is what you see here.
"I don’t want rubbish rotting in my garden, but what else can I do?
“The smell is terrible, especially on a hot day, and it attracts flies that swarm all over the place.
“There are rats running in and out of my garden and when the foxes get hold of the bin bags, the rubbish ends up all over the street.
Sometimes when you are going to the shops you can hardly walk as so much rubbish has been dumped on the side of the road. It’s awful
Beryl Kisser, Croydon resident
“Croydon is full of rodents, they are everywhere. We shouldn’t be forced to live like this, the binmen should be doing their jobs.
“They only come once every two weeks and if a single incorrect item is placed in the bin they will leave it un-emptied.
“That’s why people are dumping rubbish wherever they can – because they don’t want it piling up in their house.”
Mum-of-six Beryl Kisser, 55, added: “Sometimes when you are going to the shops you can hardly walk as so much rubbish has been dumped on the side of the road. It’s awful.
“I spoke to an estate agent the other day who told me he can’t get people to even look inside houses here, as the rubbish they see outside puts them off.
“The council needs to do its job. If only they would collect the bins regularly there probably wouldn’t be a pig’s head rotting down the road.”
A council spokesperson told The Sun: “While we don't accept the clear inaccuracies in this survey, we know that fly-tipping is an issue for many councils around the country, including Croydon.
"Illegal waste dumping is a blight on local communities and tackling and deterring this across the borough is a key priority for our Mayor.
“Fly-tipping is a criminal offence and residents are strongly encouraged to report illegal dumping in their local area for the council’s attention via our Love Clean Streets App.”
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