Lewisham Council confirmed it has not started using the controversial bailiff company it used to evict campaigners from the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden again, but is paying back money owed.  

Concerns were raised after the council’s accounts showed up payments to County Enforcement in April of more than £6,000. 

In 2018, campaigners occupied Tidemill Garden for two months in an attempt to prevent it from being demolished, along with Reginald House, to make way for more than 200 new homes.  

The council used County Enforcement, which was also involved in the UK’s miners’ strike in the 1980s, to evict the protesters in October 2018 at a cost of £105,000.  

But two months later Lewisham announced that it would no longer contract the company, which it had been using for about 20 years.  

At the time, Councillor Paul Bell – the now cabinet member for housing – said the company “shouldn’t have been used” in the eviction, with the council changing the security company at Tidemill within weeks. 

He said the company didn’t “fit with the values of Lewisham”.  

After concerns were raised about payments to the company in April, a spokesperson for the council said they related to money owed from a job in 2018, when the council hired County Enforcement to secure a building a rogue landlord had been using as an unlicensed HMO.  

A spokesperson for the Lewisham Council said: “These payments relate to a historic legal case going back to 2013, after the courts decided to grant a possession order in favour of Lewisham in relation to an unlicensed House of Multiple Occupation owned by a rogue landlord.  

“County Enforcement, who were still working in Lewisham at this point in September 2018, were instructed to secure the building after they could take possession on our behalf.  

“The company secured the premises for us, ensuring it was no longer accessible. 

“We sold the building in March this year and over £100,000 owed to Lewisham has been recovered, money we can invest in the borough.  

“We have now begun to settle the outstanding bills from County Enforcement for this work.  

“The costs of selling the property, including all costs of security and enforcement action to the date of completion, have been recovered by us from the proceeds of sale and at no cost to the people of Lewisham.”

Campaigners Save Reginald Save Tidemill have released a trailer for their upcoming documentary, The Battle for Deptford, about the history of events.

It can be viewed here.