SMASHED windows, piles of rubbish and reports of drug dealing – this is the dishevelled hotel Croydon Council is urgently attempting to shut down for the good of the community.
The council wants to close the Gomers Hotel, in Warham Road South Croydon, after "persistent and serious antisocial behaviour" from the premises.
But at Croydon Magistrates' Court on Friday, the application for a closure order was adjourned to give the hotel's landlord Laurence Kite more time to seek legal advice. Representing Croydon Council, Sian Davis opposed the delay, saying the case was "urgent".
She said: "[Mr Kite] does not dispute that there has been persistent and serious anti-social behaviour from the property.
"The council has been in extensive consultation with [Mr Kite] about this matter. Certainly since last summer there have been numerous discussions with him.
"The council has been absolutely clear, certainly since last November, that if he does not take these steps it will be seeking a closure order, so there has been no doubt for the last couple of months that it has been seeking this step.
"It will have come as no surprise to him."
The premises are in a severe state of disrepair with a broken front door, glass and rubbish littering the front porch, and mess and internal damage visible through the windows.
Former burglar Nick Brown, who moved into the hotel after coming out of prison six months ago, told the Advertiser being behind bars was preferable.
He said: "The place has deteriorated and the council has built up a case and it is using the antisocial behaviour order.
"My son and daughter were here too but they have gone back to Margate. There is no water or heating. I am better off going back to prison."
Mr Brown said the mess in the front of the garden had been caused by "travellers", who temporarily parked there "a couple of months ago".
He added: "I can understand people not liking it, but what about my human rights?"
Neighbours we spoke to were too fearful of reprisals to give their names.
But one said: "There has been drug-taking there and we have got kids and we are quite afraid.
"The place has been like this for the best part of a year and in the space of the past few months it has got really bad. Many times they have stolen things from people's back gardens and properties – lead, for example."
Another nearby resident, who also asked not to be identified, said: "We just feel unsafe – there is a lot of noise and shouting. I do not know exactly how many people live there – it seems like quite a few."
A council spokesman said: "The council has never placed anyone in this hotel. The tenants in this hotel are private. At present, those who have existing tenancies at the hotel are remaining there while legal proceedings take place."
Editor's note: Croydon Council secured a three-month closure order on the hotel at Croydon Magistrates' Court on Thursday last week, after the Advertiser had gone to press. The order means no one will be able to enter the property. The council is making arrangements to clear the rubbish and broken glass left behind, and a spokesman said costs will be claimed back. Mr Kite, the hotel owner, was ordered to pay £6,683.60 in prosecution costs to the council. "We are very pleased to have finally secured this closure order," said Councillor Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety and public protection. "This hotel has been the cause of persistent anti-social behaviour and we have previously warned the owner about the need to take urgent action and bring this to a stop. "Sadly this did not happen, and we had no choice but to pursue this in the courts."