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Finsbury Park garden which ‘drove away crack cocaine and prostitutes’ is under threat

PUBLISHED: 13:33 22 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:41 22 February 2017

Paul Saunders in his Stroud Green Road rooftop community garden, Finsbury Park. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Paul Saunders in his Stroud Green Road rooftop community garden, Finsbury Park. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

A community garden that drove away crack cocaine and prostitutes is under threat – but no one will say who from.

Paul Sander in his Stroud Green Road rooftop community garden, Finsbury Park. Picture: Nigel SuttonPaul Sander in his Stroud Green Road rooftop community garden, Finsbury Park. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Landscape gardener Paul Saunders was last week enraged after an estate agent tried to remove his plants and beds from Tollington Park, Finsbury Park.

Mr Saunders set up the garden in his front yard in January last year to drive away lawlessness.

But Davies and Davies, an estate agent in nearby Stroud Green Road, tried to remove the equipment on behalf of a mystery freehold client, whose identity it would not disclose.

To make matters even more bizarre it is no longer dealing with the issue after encountering “hostility” from another tenant.

But Mr Saunders, 50, still fears the garden is under threat.

The yard, adjoined by about 10 flats, is owned by freeholders of the shops below. Mr Saunders, who claimed the shops support the garden scheme, said: “It will be an absolute disgrace if this is taken away and I will fight it. This is for the benefit of the community.

“We can’t have an unknown faceless ‘client’ removing it.”

Paul Saunders' Stroud Green Road rooftop community garden 'drove away prostitutes and crack cocaine'. Picture: Nigel SuttonPaul Saunders' Stroud Green Road rooftop community garden 'drove away prostitutes and crack cocaine'. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Mr Saunders recently moved to a new council flat in Highbury, but still feels part of the community in his old block.

For him, the garden is an important personal project: “I was attacked in Holloway Road six years ago. Someone bumped into me and I called him a w*****. He and two of his mates beat the hell out of me. It left me with epilepsy. I have seizures and no employer will touch me. Thankfully, Islington Council put me into this flat.

“I lived here for five years. But it was chock full of junkies and protitutes. It’s very secluded, so people would come here to score crack and heroin. Prostitutes would bring their clients and literally do their business here. With these people running around, it was a bit of a scary place.

“It’s why I set up this garden, using my skills as a landscape gardener. It had been neglected for years and years and this was almost gentrification of the yard.

“A bit of positive action worked as a lot of that negative stuff has moved away. Kids live here and it’s a place for them to come out. I am trying to get everyone involved and so far it has worked. People are talking to each other a bit more.”

Alina Kovaci, director of Davies and Davies, said: “We were assisting our client who wants to carry out repairs. We were acting on their behalf to remove it.

“Letters were hand-delivered to inform the residents and give them the opportunity to remove the equipment. However, we encountered hostility from one of the residents, at which point we decided it’s out of our remit and are no longer going to deal with this. It will be down to the freeholders to decide what happens next.”


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