CLEAN-UP operations to be remove evidence of the 2011 riots from Reeves Corner have been branded an "abject failure". The criticism comes from Trevor Reeves, whose family's burning furniture store became the iconic image of the night of the riots three years ago today (Friday). Mr Reeves said this week he remained particularly concerned that fire-damaged shops opposite the family's remaining store were still a mess and unoccupied. But he said he was encouraged by positive signs from the new Labour council that it was pushing ahead with revitalisation of the Church Street/Reeves Corner area. He has been sent an e-mail by Councillor Toni Letts, the council's cabinet member for economic development, saying that works in Church Street will start in February next year, linking in with a planned two-week shutdown of the tram system in the town centre over the Easter holidays. Improvements will include painting and cleaning up 27 shop fronts, extending the tram platform in Church Street, providing murals on flank walls plus wider footpaths and more trees. Cllr Letts said a total of £450,000 was being reallocated from the North End and High Street regeneration budget to give Old Town "a higher quality of public realm". Mr Reeves said: "The previous administration abjectly failed. "There are things still here which remind people of the riots. "It would be nice if there was more pressure on removing the last scars of them from the area." He claimed businesses looking for money to improve had found themselves floundering under a mountain of paperwork which slowed everything down. Mr Reeves acknowledged said there had been some improvements, including the site of the burnt-out shop being transformed into a space which can be used for community events. But he also wants to see action to rid the area around Croydon Minster of antisocial behaviour. He believes this problem could be, at least partly, solved by lopping back trees and cutting back bushes so the church became more visible, creating more open space and encouraging people to visit the historic quarter. Mr Reeves added: "People doing bad things don't like open spaces and don't like light."
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