'Rip-off' Streatham Common has two companies looking after its toilets
Taxpayers are being ripped off by inefficient management of Streatham Common, campaigners have claimed as they bid to take over the running of the park themselves.
Lambeth Council employs two different multinational corporations to look after the common, including servicing of the loos - Veolia is contracted to lock the toilets, while Balfour Beatty cleans them.
Streatham Common Co-operative (SCcoop), an initiative set up by members of the Friends of Streatham Common, said the council should stop outsourcing labour to multiple profit-driven private companies which rack up costly administrative overheads.
The Friends of Sreatham Common is a volunteer-run organisation with over 300 members and are asking for more staff, more money and the chance for more investment in their park.
Richard Payne, the group's chairman, said: "The current model is a big rip-off for the taxpayer. There's got to be a more efficient way of doing it.
"If you've got that much money, why were the toilets not open on kite day - one of the biggest community events of the year?"
Mr Payne, a software developer, calculated the council spends £407,204 on Streatham Common and the Rookery each year, but only a fraction finds its way to delivering services on the common.
He added: "We saw the opportunity to try and raise the profile of Streatham Common and the Rookery and get adequate funding - not just see services cut more."
The co-operative would employ a full-time manager based on the common, with the authority to get everything done.
Mr Payne said: "Currently, there is no-one visible to approach if there are problems."
He added: "No adults are allowed in the playground without children. However, this rule is broken every day because there is no-one there to supervise."
This would all change under a co-operative, Mr Payne explained: "Litter would be cleaned up by people on the common who are identifiable."
The new management would be there to enforce rules and a park watch scheme could be installed to help the community report concerns.
Mr Payne said: "The Co-operative council is about delivering services co-operatively in the community."
SCcoop aims to get as many people involved as possible. Anyone could buy a share for just £1, giving holders life membership and voting rights.
Management would include SCcoop members, representatives from Lambeth Council, community groups and other local stakeholders.
Emma Whittaker, who has lived in Streatham most of her life and is backing the campaign, said: "We need wardens on the park to clear up cans and bottles left by people drinking in the playground overnight."
"Lots of parents like to play with their children on the common, but at the moment it doesn't feel as clean and safe as it used to be."
Councillor Sally Prentice, cabinet member for culture and leisure at Lambeth Council, is behind the project.
She said: "Given the further budget reductions we need to manage our parks differently.
"I think the co-operative will deliver better value for the resources that we have."
Streatham residents have until October 18 to support the campaign by filling in the Co-operative Parks Questionaire at www.sccoop.org.uk.
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