Eltham Labour Party has been given a warning over flytipping after a councillor’s personal documents were found dumped by the side of its offices on Westmount Road.
Election posters and personal documents in the name of Peninsula ward councillor Chris Lloyd were found dumped on Greenvale Road, Eltham, by the side gate of the party’s constituency HQ.
Lloyd vehemently denies any involvement in the incident, and says he believes a “good Samaritan” left the items outside the party office after finding them in a previous home of his.
This website has seen correspondence which confirms Greenwich Council has written to the Eltham Labour Party to remind it of its responsibilities when dealing with rubbish after repeated complaints over items being left outside the office.
Eltham North, the council ward where the incident took place, faces a council by-election this Thursday, with the Conservatives aiming to regain a seat they lost to Labour in 2014.
The incident happened in August, when local resident Nick Craddy – who acts as an “environment champion” for the area – discovered piles of items left on Greenvale Road.
They included a bilingual election poster for Lloyd’s attempt to become the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, mid-Wales, in the 2010 general election.
Lloyd, who is originally from Knighton, a town in the constituency, came third in the election; a result he repeated in the Welsh Assembly election the following year, where he failed to unseat then-Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams. The former Greenwich University student was elected Peninsula councillor in 2014.
The items also included correspondence about a TV licence in Lloyd’s name, addressed to him at a student halls of residence in Deptford, as well as an induction pack for those halls.
Craddy told 853 he had spotted rubbish dumped on Greenvale Road “for quite a long time” after a tenant had moved into the flat above the Labour office.
But after Craddy arranged for the tenant to be supplied with recycling bins, the problem continued. He said he had spoken to people in the office, who “got sniffy” when he suggested they clean the rubbish up.
“One day, I walked down there, and lo and behold, there was a wodge of Welsh Labour posters out there,” he said.
‘I phoned [local Conservative councillor] Spencer Drury up, he came down with his camera, and we thought ‘gotcha’.
“Someone in the Labour office must have spotted us, because when I walked back from the shop after, there was a man taking it inside.
“The rubbish must have been there for 24, if not 48 hours.”
‘I’m not in the habit of leaving TV licences in the street’
Lloyd, who lives in Thamesmead, vehemently denies any involvement in how the items made their way to Eltham.
He told this website he believed someone who moved into an old address of his left the box there in an attempt to get his belongings back to him: “I used to live in a place in west Greenwich – I haven’t lived there for six years – and must have left a box of stuff in the attic.
“This person has tried to get it back to me, and it’s found its way to the Eltham Labour office. The day it was put out there, it was taken inside. But not before Cllr Drury walked by and got a picture.
“I had a call from someone in the Eltham office, telling me they came into work and found a box of my stuff. It was taken to the Greenwich office and it’s now in the boot of my car.”
Asked how the items were taken to Eltham when he lives in and represents a ward in the Greenwich & Woolwich constituency, he said: “Why it ended up in Eltham, I have no idea. I’m not in the habit of leaving old TV licences and bank statements in the street.”
The incident came as Greenwich Council launched a crackdown on flytipping in the borough. The council can now fine offenders £400 – a power first used in September on a trader based on Plumstead Road. Two more fines have been issued since, also in the Plumstead area.
More resources have also been put into street-cleaning services in Plumstead, Charlton and Abbey Wood.
Correspondence seen by this website states that a senior Greenwich Labour councillor gave council officers the name of an individual who it was believed had left the items at the side of the office.
But the individual concerned denied all knowledge of the incident, leaving council officers to conclude they had no evidence on which to take any further action beyond sending a letter to the Labour office and residents in the accommodation above “reminding them of their responsibilities in relation to managing their waste”.
Spencer Drury, who has been pursuing the incident since it took place, said the way it was handled cast doubt on the council’s ability to deal with those who dump rubbish.
He told 853: “The warning is fine if you’re consistent. But if every single person says ‘it wasn’t me, it was someone down the road’ – how will they fine anyone? If we all use that as an excuse, presumably you can’t fine anyone.”
What does Greenwich Council say?
A spokesperson for Greenwich Council said: “Back in the summer there were some incidences of flytipping and discarded waste around the Greenvale Road area of Eltham.
“At the time the Council wrote to local businesses and residents in the immediate area reminding them of how to dispose of waste correctly.
“We continue to regularly inspect the area and are pleased to report that there have been no further incidences of discarded waste that have come to our attention.
“No one local business/proprietor was singled out when the group of locals were written to at the time.”
Eltham Labour did not respond to a request for comment.
The row adds spice to a rare thing in Greenwich borough politics – a genuinely close by-election in Eltham North. While Labour seized two out of three seats in 2014 – their first ever success in the area – Eltham North voters backed Zac Goldsmith in May’s mayoral poll, and sided with leaving the European Union in June’s referendum.
The poll was called after Labour’s Wynn Davies – one of the few on the council to openly support Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election bid this summer, and by all accounts a hard-working councillor – moved out of the area due to a change in personal circumstances. This website understands he resisted pressure to stay in the seat and represent voters from his new home in Shropshire, avoiding the awkward poll.
Labour is standing popular local party stalwart Simon Peirce, who came fifth in 2014’s poll. The Tories have gone for youth in the shape of 22-year-old activist Charlie Davis. Ukip, who split the vote in 2014, have picked Lee-based Barbara Ray. The Liberal Democrats will be testing their hopes of a revival by fielding Sam Macaulay, who only joined the party in July.
But it’s the Greens who have raised eyebrows by fielding someone who stood as a Conservative candidate in the Glyndon by-election in May.
Matt Browne, who used to be involved with Tory thinktank Bright Blue, says he decided to jump ship after the EU referendum. “Over six years, as a very, very small cog in the Conservative machine, I saw that warm words weren’t enough,” he said. “On the grim morning of June 24th, I had definitive proof.”
Do a few dumped election posters matter?
While few will make as huge a political leap as Matt Browne, the ongoing consequences of the EU referendum will probably have a bigger impact on those who turn up to vote in Eltham North on Thursday than a row about some stuff dumped outside the Labour Party offices.
But you would expect the borough’s governing party to be a little bit more careful with its rubbish.
Thankfully for the residents of Greenvale Road, Nick Craddy (pictured above) remains an environment champion. The voluntary role sees him help pick up rubbish, liaise with the council and talk to neighbours about litter problems.
“I enjoy it – I’ve lived in this street for 30 years and I’ve spoken to neighbours I’ve never spoken to before. And once the street’s clean – it stays clean.”
And despite the embarrassment for Labour politicians, there has been a good result from all this – Craddy says the flytipping has stopped in Greenvale Road. “You could eat your dinner off the pavement now.”
Former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts, who left the council after accusations of bullying were made against him, represented the borough on a trip to Berlin this summer, with accommodation paid for as part of a taxpayer-funded town twinning scheme.
Roberts, who is now deputy chairman of a company which lobbies for property developers, joined current council leader Denise Hyland and five other councillors on the beano to Reinickendorf, west Berlin, in July.
Berlin taxpayers stumped up the £1,585 accommodation costs for the group’s three-day trip, which marked the 50th anniversary of the two boroughs being twinned. Greenwich taxpayers had paid for a German delegation to visit south-east London earlier in the year.
While Roberts stepped down from the council’s top job two years ago, he retains a close relationship with the current council leadership – despite his new role at Cratus Communications, a company which specialises in lobbying local authorities.
His final year in charge saw allegations that he threw a set of keys at a council cleaner, while a leaked voicemail revealed him threatening former deputy leader John Fahy with the loss of his cabinet position in a row over a half-marathon that benefited a charity Roberts had set up.
In addition two councillors stepped down from their jobs complaining of a “culture of bullying” in his Labour group. One of them, former planning chair Alex Grant, later went public with claims that councillors were threatened and intimidated over planning matters.
Despite all this, both Labour and Tory councillors united to award Roberts the freedom of the borough earlier this year.
Fireworks and a VIP dinner
The trip, which took place between 14-17 July, saw Roberts, Hyland, Roberts’ former deputy Peter Brooks (Glyndon ward), Norman Adams (Kidbrooke with Hornfair), Steve Offord (Abbey Wood), Chris Lloyd (Peninsula) and cabinet member Denise Scott-McDonald (Peninsula) treated to rooms at the four-star Hotel am Borgisturm in Tegel.
They were treated to a fireworks display on a lake to mark the relationship between the two councils, as well as a Saturday night stage show at the Friedrichstadtpalast theatre, in the centre of the German capital.
Roberts and the party also enjoyed a VIP dinner at the Tegel Harbour Festival, while they also attended a reception at Reinickendorf’s town hall.
One councillor, Chris Lloyd, tweeted about being presented with a medal.
Despite this clearly being a big deal in Reinickendorf, Greenwich did not announce the councillors’ trip to the media. Asked under England’s Freedom of Information Act about the councillors’ trip, Greenwich Council did not disclose Roberts’ attendance or the cost of the trip, although it did confirm the itinerary and pointed out each member of the party paid their own travel costs.
None of the councillors has disclosed the trip with Roberts on their register of interests, despite it being worth more than £100 each.
However, the trip was reported locally and officials in Reinickendorf released a photo showing Roberts with the party. They later confirmed the costs after a request made under Berlin’s state freedom of information laws.
Conflict of interests
Chris Roberts’ new employment as a lobbyist for developers opens up a possible conflict of interests, as Denise Hyland, Peter Brooks, Norman Adams and Steve Offord sit on the borough’s main planning committee, the grandly-titled Planning Board.
Hyland has been criticised for being the only council leader in London to be on such a committee, and earlier this month withdrew from a decision on a skate park in Charlton Park after objectors pointed out she had spoken in support of the scheme last year.
Roberts – who this website understands is still in regular contact with the council leadership – has recently been joined at Cratus Communications by Michael Stanworth, a former Labour Party organiser in Greenwich borough during his time in office.
The Cratus website recently published an article praising the views of another Roberts chum, Tony Pidgeley, the chairman of Berkeley Homes, which is behind the Royal Arsenal and Kidbrooke Village developments. Pidgeley was thanked in Roberts’ acceptance speech when he was given the freedom of the borough.
Greenwich taxpayers pay for return trips
While Greenwich taxpayers did not contribute directly to Roberts’ trip, they do fund accommodation costs when Reinickendorf councillors come to stay. In May, the council paid £4,140 for a Reinickendorf party to stay at the Hotel Ibis in Greenwich.
The delegation, which included Reinickendorf leader Hinrich Luehmann and its former chief executive Frank Zemke, were shown around the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich and attended the private Old Royal Naval College inauguration of mayor Olu Babatola, a bash that cost council taxpayers £20,000.
A month later, Zemke was given the freedom of Greenwich borough – the council’s highest honour – for “pioneering the exchange of officials and trainees, as well as other institutions from the two boroughs”.
The borough of Reinickendorf, named after a leafy suburb of Berlin, is clearly proud of its links with Greenwich. A Greenwich Promenade runs alongside Lake Tegel, while memorabilia from Greenwich is proudly displayed in its town hall. A Greenwich borough crest is also on display at the local rail station. Coincidentally, Reinickendorf’s next-door borough, Charlottenberg, has a similar arrangement with Lewisham.
But evidence of Greenwich’s pride is less easy to come by. Until recently, the only public commemoration was a small and poorly-maintained road in Eltham’s Avery Hill Park, Reinickendorf Avenue. But earlier this year, a “buddy bear” was presented to Greenwich by Reinickendorf. It now sits, looking slightly marooned, in General Gordon Square, Woolwich.
Town twinning started in Europe after the second world war, and was aimed at repairing damaged relationships between nations. With two of Greenwich’s twin towns – the other is Maribor, Slovenia – in European Union states, it’s possible that these agreements may grow in importance if Britain goes through with the vote to leave the EU. A third town, Tema in Ghana, has received assistance and recycled council equipment.
But trips like this one to Reinickendorf make the whole arrangement look like a private jolly. Furthermore, inviting a property developer’s lobbyist along for a subsidised break raises questions about the whole arrangement, and bigger questions about just how the council’s main planning committee works. But will anyone on the council be brave enough to ask them?