Lewisham Council has been using controversial bailiff firm County Enforcement to secure public land billed for development in New Cross – months after claims the company did not fit with “Lewisham values.”

The company was used to evict campaigners from the Tidemill garden in Deptford last October, with police investigating allegations of assault against residents and campaigners during the eviction.

County was involved in industrial disputes, including the UK miners’ strike in the 1980s.

A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “County left Besson Street on Wednesday 20 February. We are not using them for security purposes anywhere in the borough.”

The company had been used by Lewisham Council for around 20 years.

But John Hamilton, from Lewisham People Before Profit, said he was surprised to see a County security sign outside the hoardings in Besson Street yesterday.

“I was going past it. I have always been interested in the Besson Street since we tried to persuade the former mayor to build social housing on the site,” he said.

“I noticed the sign and recognised it from Tidemill.

“It sounds as though they [Lewisham Council] have been completely unfazed by using a union-busting firm for 20 years.

“Why haven’t they done any investigating into the firm they employ?”

This comes after cabinet member for housing, Cllr Paul Bell, said in December that County “will not be used again” by the council.

“Residents have pointed out to us that this is not a suitable organisation for workers’ rights and for Labour in terms of local government.

“They don’t fit with the values of Lewisham,” he said.

Public land at Besson Street is billed for development into 300 flats, a new GP surgery to replace the current Queen’s Road surgery, health centre, community space for the New Cross Gate Trust and an outdoor gym.

The Besson Street scheme is a joint venture between Lewisham Council and Grainger Plc who will manage the homes.

The scheme will only see 35 per cent of the flats let at London Living Rent – a type of affordable housing which is more expensive than social housing.

Lewisham Council has a target of 50 per cent affordable housing on all developments.