There is confusion over whether a house where a terror suspect lived is licensed or not to look after people with mental health issues, a Chronicle investigation can reveal.
Croydon council have investigated the house on Melfort Road where Steven Bishop, 40, lived prior to being arrested for plotting to blow up a mosque in a suicide mission.
The road which has become a haven for developers cashing in on buying up family homes and turning them in to houses of multi occupancy is also embroiled in a licensing debacle. The council bags £250 in licence fees for each room in a house turned in to a HMO.
The house where Bishop lived doesn’t have a HMO licence and it is also not licensed by the Care Quality Commission. However, Mr Bishop (pictured left) who was under the care of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust was placed at the address by Sutton Council.
When inspected in 2016, it was called the St Edwards Rehabilitation Home and provided long stay care for people with mental health under the age of 65.
The inspection was so damning the CQC decided to cancel the home’s registration and the evidence found should have meant the provider was no longer able to operate the service at this location.
The report says of the provider:
- failed to maintain a clean and safe environment. The building was in a very poor condition throughout. It had an unpleasant smell.
- failed to assess or mitigate risks to patients by potential ligature points and had no evacuation plan in the event of fire for the patient at the location.
- did not undertake proper risk assessments or update risk assessments following incidents to ensure the safety of patients.
- the unit was inadequately staffed. The service did not check references of new staff or do background checks on employment history or character.
- did not manage medicines according to policy or national guidance.
- did not properly monitor the physical health of the patient or produce care plans to address their healthcare needs.
Residents have told The Chronicle the property is continuing to be used as a care home.
One resident said: “ I will see an ambulance or police car in attendance at the property at least once a fortnight. Overall, the terrorist story has filled me with fear of not knowing who I’m living near.”
Another said: “It’s an absolute joke that vulnerable people are just being placed in unregistered accommodation. What checks have been carried out on the staff and owner by Sutton council? It beggars belief that Croydon council are unaware of this HMO which is essentially what it is.”
A council environmental health officer only visited the address after being alerted by The Chronicle.
The house has C2 planning permission for a residential home for people with mental health illnesses but is not currently licensed either with the CQC or with the council.
The property is now run by a company called Cognithan Rehab Services, who operate other care homes in London including one in South Norwood all which are licensed and have ‘good’ ratings with the CQC.
Staff provided the council with copies of various safety certificates and their fire risk assessment and advised they are in the process of getting CQC registration for this property which presently has three occupants.
The Chronicle contacted Cognithan for a comment. A spokesman for CQC said: “The provider does have a supported living service registered with us at that address, however the address of the property mentioned is not registered as a care home. There is a legal requirement for care homes to be registered.”
Melfort Road (pictured top left) is awash with HMOs. The latest application before planners is 93 Melfort Road for change of use from a six-bedroom HMO to an eight-bedroom HMO. So far there have been nine objections and growing.
The council said it would invoke Article 4, which is meant to make it harder for landlords to buy up period properties to convert them to HMOs as it removes permitted development rights.
Melfort Road campaigner Barbara Benjamin said: “It’s been almost two years since Thornton Heath Community Action Team asked for Article 4 to be introduced on an immediate basis. During this period I can say that Melfort Road has seen at least six HMOs with upwards of 80 people living in them. Croydon council is benefitting from exploiting this substandard type of tenure in Thornton Heath. They benefit from this but we don’t see any of the licensing fee being used back in our community.”
NEW STREET CLEANING REGIME NOT WORKING
Residents have complained that the new street cleaning regime has made street cleaning worse not better in Thornton Heath.
Streets which were cleaned twice a week are now only being cleaned once and a new grading system isn’t working, the latest Thornton Heath Community Action Team meeting was told.
There is now a standards definition of litter grades from A no litter or refuse to D heavily littered with significant accumulations. Veolia are meant to have 24 hours to bring a street back up to the required grade after receiving a notification. However the council doesn’t have enough monitoring officers.
Veolia bosses have also blamed HMOs for the proliferation of rubbish on Thornton Heath’s streets.
Graham Mitchell, who ran the Don’t Mess with Thornton Heath leaflet campaign, said:”My instinct is that there are numerous unregistered HMO’s and let properties. I know, because I find correspondence on the streets with multiple occupants at the same address but, when I check the register they aren’t let properties. I also think that there is subletting and room sharing going on and the number of bins can’t cope with the additional trash so people dump it all over the place.”
Our picture: shows fly-tipped clothing which has been dumped outside the Job Centre on Thornton Heath High Street for months.