WHEN Thornton Heath’s historic Clock Tower was vandalised it was the last straw for residents who organised a clean up day.

In the council’s latest draft local plan the Clock Tower is described as a ‘landmark’ and that ‘its setting will be protected’.

However, this protection didn’t extend to removing graffiti from the historic Clock Tower because the words written in red ’Sheemz daubed over the 121 year old masonry weren’t considered offensive.

Since the anti graffiti team was axed in the wake of the council’s self inflicted financial troubles graffiti has become almost accepted by the authorities.

Trees, walls, a large rock which was placed at the Clock Tower by the council was also targeted with the words ‘Shan’ and benches installed as part of the regeneration tagged with “SAS Clocktower”.

Thornton Heath Community Action Team paid for a special graffiti removal solution and a mobile pressure washer to remove the majority of the graffiti from the landmark.

The other tags were also removed and volunteers bagged up litter and weeded overgrown raised beds. 

As the council prepares to make even more cuts including axing further Neighbourhood Safety Officer jobs it is unlikely that the graffiti problem will be addressed any time soon.

However, Croydon mayoral candidates Labour’s Val Shawcross and Cllr Jason Perry, the current leader of Croydon Conservatives have both separately pledged to reinstate the anti graffiti removal team axed by the current Labour administration if they are elected in May.

Local resident Cheryl Samuels said: “Well done everyone – the collective effort can be seen it looks so much better. Let’s hope the area is respected now.”

Over the past few years the Clock Tower has become a magnet for anti social behaviour with drinking, shouting and fights breaking out. Last May, during one all day session the Clocktower door was set fire.

THCAT vice chair Mohammed Mir, pictured removing graffiti said: “The team worked hard and we didn’t have to depend on council to make it happen.”

THCAT Committee member Barbara Benjamin said that more people need to get involved. Adding: “Even if they can only spare half an hour, it still makes a difference and shows the strength of the community”. 

To get involved email action@thorntonheath.net