A controversial bailiff company is still guarding Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford despite assurances the firm would no longer be employed by Lewisham Council in December.

Cabinet member for housing, Cllr Paul Bell, said County Enforcement “did not fit with Lewisham’s values” after residents highlighted the company, which was used to evict campaigners from the Tidemill garden in October, lists its involvement in breaking the miners’ strike in 1984-1985 on its website.

But the council is still using the company because of procurement delays, Cllr Bell explained.

Speaking at a full council meeting, resident Anne Caron-Delion asked Cllr Bell why security guards from the company were still guarding the site, and asked whether he was aware the company had filmed users of the garden two months before they were served with an eviction notice.

“County Enforcement specialise in covert surveillance and from June last year continually filmed local residents, volunteers and friends of Tidemill in the garden, such as at the Jamaican Independence Day celebration,” she said.

She also claimed three female residents had been assaulted by County Enforcement staff during the eviction.

“Others, myself included, were physically threatened for photographing and filming their behaviour,” she said.

Cllr Bell said County Enforcement were “not an appropriate company” for the council to hire.

“As I am from south Yorkshire, any attempt to undermine the union of mine workers, any attempt to undermine trade unions, I think is quite disgusting and abhorrent,” he said.

“When it comes to County Enforcement they have been used by the council for 20 years [but] they will not be used any more."

Of the Tidemill dispute and occupation by protesters, he added: “The people were asked to leave in August last year and it’s important to deliver on the manifesto we were elected on to build social housing for people. We have to move forward with this because otherwise we would build no homes.”

The bailiff company was still used around the garden because of delays with procuring a new security company, he said.

“We have a new contractor but the process is taking rather longer than I would have hoped and obviously we have had Christmas and New Year as well,” he said.

“I am as eager as you are to get a new security company that doesn’t have those appalling things listed on the website.”

He said he wasn’t aware the company had filmed residents ahead of the eviction, but was investigating the claims.

New security provisions will be in place in the coming weeks, according to Lewisham Council documents.

Campaigners occupied the garden from August to October last year, with the garden and Reginald House billed for demolition to make way for a 209-home development, 117 of which will be social homes.