An online petition has garnered over 1,000 signatures to save the graffiti removal team from being axed to counter spiralling council debt.

Local residents have rallied to support the council’s Environment Response Team which has asked for help saving their jobs after it was revealed that the council intends to cut 200 staff in response to the £62.7million black hole caused by extra spending and reduced income during the covid-19 lockdown. 

Amanda Saunders who started the online petition on says: “I know they are making cuts to all the little people but none of the overpaid workers that are high up, but this isn’t just reducing the team it’s closing the WHOLE department.”

The council’s £220,000 per year chief exec, Jo Negrini, wrote to staff confirming that she will be seeking to make 15 per cent cuts. According to an FOI by the Tax Payers Alliance at least three of the council’s executive officers are on salaries of more than £200,000 and a total of 10 take home more than £100,000

The council spends £385,000 a year removing graffiti in Croydon and accepts on its own web site that graffiti: “…can cause residents to lose pride in their area, and make a neighbourhood feel unsafe.”

Thornton Heath Community Action team member Gaetane Jones, who regularly does cleaning sweeps in her spare time around the High Street said: “I have made so many reports to his team over the years. Their response was always amazingly fast and reliable. Tags, racist slogans, all cleaned up within a day or two.

“Croydon Council might view the removal of graffiti as cosmetic so non-essential but in North Croydon, it is everything but. The defacing of property is not only offensive visually, it affects residents’ mental health too.”

She is urging the community to lobby councillors and MP Steve Reed as their support could make all the difference.

A recent report by the The Institute for Fiscal Studies on the resilience of local authorities based on the coronavirus crisis, revealed that Croydon’s mountain of debt, reduced reserves and increased expenditure on social services –made it one of the country’s least-prepared. The council was served another blow in June when the operator running the £31.4m Croydon Park Hotel it purchased in 2018, with the aim of generating £1m revenue, went in to administration.