YMCA hits back

Hostel residents make and perform in music video.

Homeless people staying at the YMCA in Surbiton have hit back at their bad reputation and made their own song and music video to fight for youth justice.

The song 'Can’t see through the rain' was written by six residents and dozens of others appeared singing and dancing in the video, which was filmed on a double decker bus in the grounds of the Hawker Centre. The song was launched at the YMCA youth festival in Prague earlier this month.


Unfortunately folks, the YMCA doesn't really follow the principles upon which it was foundered "the improving of the spiritual condition of young men." In Surbiton, as in many other boroughs, it has become a formidable social landlord, buying up countless properties for the so-called homeless because it is funded to the hilt by taxpayers' money to house the problem tenants that nobody else wants.

Once upon a time, Surbiton's YMCA was a pleasant eating house , a relaxed coffee stop and an hotel where you would be glad to leave your granny who had come to visit you for the weekend - Not any more! And if you've had problems before trying to get hold of anyone to make a complaint about the noise, the intimidation or the foul language - you might be waiting a little longer as their Chief Executive Ian Green, a Councillor in Ealing is now its Mayor so is even less likely to want to deal with complaints while he continues to draw his 6 figure salary.

Ask them how many properties they own in Victoria Avenue (opposite the main building) and that might give you an idea of the money involved. And by the way, they own the WHOLE Victoria Road building - YES including Sainsbury's!

As one of the residents that attended tonight's hastily organised meeting by the Tory Parliamentary Candidate, Helen Whately, at Maple Infants School to "discuss" crime in Surbiton and, in particular, around the YMCA, may I first say how inappropriate I felt it was of Ms Whately to jump on the band wagon and dress a clear propaganda stunt as a meaningful forum for solving this problem. Shame on her for then telling us that the solution lay with the political party that would throw the most money at policing - surprise, surprise, the Tories - vote for me!

Utter rubbish of course. It seemed to me that the solution lay right on the YMCA's doorstep - with the police that are stationed there and with the YMCA itself. How much effort does it need for a police officer to occasionally walk out to the front entrance and silence or move on those residents and their friends who intimidate and cause a disturbance? And it's not rocket science that if you don't want these inconsiderate oiks to congregate and sit on the wall to smoke, drink or shout insults, the YMCA only has to install railings or jagged edges to deter them from sitting down.

It was appalling to hear that kids clubs have had to be evacuated because of scuffles at the YMCA. that people have been forced to cross the road to avoid being intimidated or abused, that a young mother was assaulted and verbally abused with no help from management and that missiles have regularly been thrown from the bedroom windows.

If the police and the YMCA cannot control this bad behaviour on their now shared premises, what faith can we have in them to sort it out anywhere else in town or to be partly responsible for encouraging further bad behaviour? Zero tolerance, not excuses.

Hello SurbiTom,

I was also at the meeting and would like to answer the points you have raised:

1. I agree that the Conservatives used the meeting for their own reasons.
2. I have concerns as well regarding children being around adults who cannot control themselves.
3. The police are not in residence all the time, but it strikes me that maybe the Y should employ it's own security (so if any of their management are reading this please consider).
4. Your ideas about people sitting outside have merit. The jagged edges of course would be a personal injury lawyers delight. Sure something could be used though.
5. People being intimidated, abused and assaulted. I have no doubt such things occur, but as you saw last night the lady who was assaulted did not report it. People have to tell the police. Believe me they will record such incidents and act if they can.

Sorry I didn't get to speak with you. At least you turned up to have your say unlike the 'cowards' of this forum who makes comments which they cannot back up. THEY had their chance last night. You heard that Sgt.Mann had read the comments. So if they are reading this I HOPE you can back up your words with proof. All of us must stick to facts. The Truth is greater than any lie ans it will be found out!

Still there is always the meeting at the YMCA.....

People dont report it because the support staff give them grief. I was emotionally abused and raped by a guy i got with in the ymca. I told support staff about things he was doing to me. Didnt tell my support officer he raped me because hes a man but i said to the female councillor that the first time i had sex i didnt have a choice. She didnt understand what i meant and just said well its happened now, just move on. Even now support know, they say forget about it and move on because i reported it after the second time he did it. Now i involved the police, the support are covering their backs saying he hasnt done anythong wrong and that i nevet reported anything at all. They have also been intimidating me with nasty looks and comments implying they do jot believe me. So i dropped charges hoping they would leave me alone and supoort are still bullying me. They tried to throw me over to Watford ymca with no one i know just to cover their backs. I have had to show them txt messages from a guy asking me to sleep with him and the support response was did you lead him on. Plus when i kept a door on the latch while in a mans room for safety reasons, the support worker came in and said he is shutting it again. They wont even let me keep myself safe. I have had enough

Hi Leslie,

Yes, I'm sure that not many of those that have made inaccurate, misleading or vile comments were in attendance last night - but as the meeting was a PR stunt by the Conservative candidate, I'm not sure it mattered anyway.

Still, I share your concerns about other (majority) users of the YMCA witnessing the bad behaviour - and a disgrace that the Y appears not to care about them and their peaceful enjoyment of the building and its facilities. It cartainly shocks me if the Y doesn't have security of their own, given that we were told last night 60% of the residents apparently have mental problems.

Unfortunately, the fact that so much crime goes unreported is the fault of the police and the police alone as far as I'm concerned. When it takes so long to report a crime, when you are treated like the perpetrator during an interview, when it takes ages for the police to respond if at all, and when no action is taken after reporting a crime - is it any wonder that people just don't bother these days? If crime really is "falling" as the statistics allege, why do we need so many more police or our gaols overflowing?

Not sure if you or I will be invited to the YMCA meeting - but it would be a breath of fresh air if they finally took some decisive action to resolve this problem rather than burying their heads in the sand as usual. This is not a new problem and its getting worse.

Regards, SurbiTom

Oh I think I will be invited. There is an old saying: "Better to have him pissing out of the tent than into it!" :)

PR Stunt...yes. It mattered as it showed the depth of concern.

The police do respond, but I can understand what you are saying. For the first 27 years of living in Surbiton I called the police only once for noise reasons when I lived on St.Mark's Hill. In the last 3+years in Victoria Avenue I have had to make over a dozen 999 calls for matters like drugs, drunks, violence, breaking down of doors, and threats against my family. On top of these were events related to my former neighbours. Got to such a stage that once upon returning home I was greeted by one saying "Thank god you're here!" His daughter had been hit by a brick thrown by a neighbour (they were so used to running from the law they didn't know what to do when it could help them). Funny enough later on he was accused (falsely) by his daughter of being a drug dealer and of raping her. My son was old enough to understand the word 'paedophile' being shouted in the street. In all that time I found the Police first class and believe me I saw them show great restraint. We must not give up on the police. Hopefully the Met Police new Commissioner will be someone like the Chief Constable of Essex (check him out)

Best wishes to you SurbiTom

Leslie, I admire the balanced approach that you are taking on this given what you have been through. I find your posts quite frightening - I live no more than half a mile away from you and am horrified to hear what is going on. I have lived in Surbiton for many years and have never experienced anything like that. I have always felt 100% safe walking anywhere at anytime (apart from perhaps outside the YMCA itself)

I guess that I must be a bit naive, but I never thought that there could be such bad problems in Surbiton - apart from outside the YMCA, the worst I have ever seen is a bit of 'argy bargy' at pub closing time, and even then only occasionally.

I actually feel a bit guilty now - I have often picked up my pace as I walk past the YMCA, hoping that it will not be my turn to be noticed and abused, but having to live with it on a day to day basis is in a totally different league.

I was not aware of the meeting this week, and do not approve of the fact that this problem is being used as a political point-scoring exercise, but I would very much like to be involved in any future meeting as I feel that bringing this situation under control is the single most important local issue facing Surbiton at the present time.

I try to start with a balanced view to most things. Doesn't always work for a lot of things of course. Still I will answer the points you've raised.
>Surbiton is safe as far as it can be. It could be better, but it could be alot worse.
>I walk around Kingston & Surbiton from about 3.45am 5-6 days a week. Only once in the last 6 years was that a problem. Last March I was mugged at the top of Villiers/Cranes Park. I wasn't harmed and it was all over very quickly. The culprits were three teenagers, one armed with a hammer. The police were great. Within 5 minutes of my 999 call they were there and they took me in a van to the Cambridge Estate area as that is where they thought the muggers had come from by my description. Before 10am a forensics officer came to my home. The fact that the muggers were not caught was not the polices fault. I tried to ID them via mugshots but no joy.
>Must admit I don't go into pubs as I don't drink. In fact unless I have to go out I do not after dark. Not because I'm scared but because there is no need for me to do so.
>Believe me if anyone abused a member of my family outside the YMCA they would have a complaint bought against them as I do not back off from a course of action once started.
>Got to admit the Conservative meeting was first known about on the Saturday before it happened. Their handout stated the local ward councillors had been invited. I can assure you from my own first hand knowledge that the first one of them knew about it was when a flyer was handed out at the Surbiton Festival.
>I did actually visit the YMCA to speak with their manager Paul Coates to identify myself. I strongly believe that this was the correct thing so I could learn more. Interesting fact was that despite it's reputation as an alleged crime hotspot no resident had been arrested for any offence at the Festival. I think this says something.
>The Conservative meeting (and I speak here as a member of the Liberal Democrats) started well and was very interesting. Sgt.Manns of the police made a very good statement and the YMCA managers were there as well. Was it "political"? Not at first, despite Helen Whately being the Tory PPC here. Only when she made a point about government spending on crime did she get a reaction from Barry Mahoney (St.Marks Lib Dem councillor). This was quickly resolved and the meeting proceeded with no further political points. I did speak with Helen Whately afterwards. A pleasant lady in my view, but I KNOW how much Edward Davey MP was involved with my own 'crack house' problems. In fact he was doing more behind the scenes than even I knew. Some here, now knowing my political affliation might say "well he would say that!" Well only recently I was described by one councillor as "difficult". That statement was true, because as I said earlier I don't back off. If something is wrong I make a point of saying so.....yes I am wrong more often than not....but you live and learn :)

Finally, before I bore you to death. Surbiton is safe. The main source of trouble is not the YMCA. That lies with those who need money for their drug habit. I admit before I moved in Victoria Avenue I went around with my eyes closed. Now I know what to look for, and I use that knowledge.....

Leslie, I am sorry to hear about the mugging – that must have been awful.

Fortunately, residents of the Cambridge Estate do not often get as far as Surbiton. I shudder whenever I drive past that place – the problems there make the YMCA look a positively friendly place.

Where do you think the Government Rehouse the people from the Y?

Of course they plant us smack bang onto the Estate!

Do you know how meny people I see on this Estate that I know from the YMCA?

I am sure you are right. I know it is a 'Nimby' attitude, but these people pose far less of a threat to me 1.5 miles away on the Cambridge Estate than they do in the middle of Surbiton.

People who buy or rent houses around the Cambridge Estate knew very well what they were getting themselves into - that place has been trouble for years, but they reaped the benefit of relatively cheap rents. Not so in Surbiton, where the YMCA used to provide short term refuge for those in need, not long term housing for those the council are having difficulty placing elsewhere.

Thanks for the comment. It was 'awful' but at least I got out of the situation in one piece. You have doubts about what you could have done and a few months later I spoke via email to a security expert I had heard on LBC. He said he would have done exactly what I did....nothing to provoke them. Funny enough if I had disarmed them (in my dreams!!) and the police had arrived then I would have been facing three witnesses against my own account. In relationship to the ongoing YMCA debate I didn't reveal before that the 3 muggers were all black. Should I hate all black teenagers because of those three? Should I hate all YMCA residents because some have caused trouble? No, I try to learn from all experiences. I am not going to be railroaded into taking a biased view against/for the YMCA because others say so. If they don't like it, fine. I took the trouble to find out more as advised. Certain forum members have already said they were at the Maple meeting...but they never said what they say here. I have to wonder why?

Not provoking is exactly the right thing to do in this situation. It is a shame, but a few lost possessions and nasty memories are much better than increasing any possibility of physical harm.

The problem is that people are beginning to avoid/hate teenagers (black or otherwise) because so many of them cause problems like this. The result is that teenagers become more isolated from the rest of the community, and more of them are likely to be drawn into the 'hoodie' culture.

Is the government was prepared to act and introduce real punishments for the teenagers that are involved in this sort of crime, things would improve rapidly. At the moment, the law seems to encourage crime as youths seek to add to their asbo collections.

100% agree.

Quotes from Leslie ..

“Surbiton is safe as far as it can be”

“Surbiton is safe. The main source of trouble is not the YMCA”

“The police were great. Within 5 minutes of my 999 call they were there and they took me in a van to the Cambridge Estate”

“The fact that the muggers were not caught was not the polices fault”

“I walk around Kingston & Surbiton from about 3.45am 5-6 days a week. Only once in the last 6 years was that a problem”

B[filtered word] what a 2 faced sid, you go to ONE meeting at the YMCA, meet the manager and the Cops and the sun shines out of their butts
Please don’t ever consider a role in life where you have to speak up for the public


Thank you St Marks Bible for your kind words......
The problem with you is that even when people give a factual report you criticise it.
People on this forum can only speak from their own experiences. Whether you like it or believe it is your problem.
Still at least you can report back to your superior now can't you!!!
Duh!! I am a member of the public.....
If you were at the meeting you would have learnt the police were interested in certain comments made on the forum. Then again....were you at the meeting.....maybe you didn't speak up.....Mmmmm...

‘2 faced’ leslie

These are your quotes only 2 Months ago

8 weeks ago — leslie

Is the Surbiton YMCA and it's residents responsible for the crime in the area. Not all of it I am certain, but there is enough 'activity' there for the police to be called out often.
Living in Victoria Avenue I know that the situation was bad when there was a drugs flat above me. Once three YMCA residents (drunk, or on some other substance) broke in the door on the main house. Why? Don't really know, but it could have been because they want some 'action' upstairs. The police were called and the residents upstairs identified them as being from the YMCA. I have seen plenty of people hanging around the entrance who ended up in the flat above.

Since the residents were evicted there has been no further trouble, although there is a 'recognisable element' entering and leaving the property opposite (YMCA owned?). I support Ed Davey is most things, but the residents of Surbiton need protection. Do we have to wait until there is a stabbing at the YMCA or one involving it's resident?

The ex-servicemen there need help, not as charity, but as a right. The homeless need help, but should behave so that they are offered permanent homes so they can live in peace with their neighbours. The drug addicts and alcoholics are from my own personal observations victims of their own stupidity. I have seen them begging....and then go to their bank ATM. They ask for change for tea or a fare.....but it goes on booze.
They demand rights, but do not respect the rights of others. Once on finding one coming through our side gate at 4am I refused to let them enter. They wanted to shout up to their friend on the first floor to be let in. I was threatened with having 'my head cut off.' The police came and theythe drunk said I had breached their right to see their friend. Not one brain cell registered that residents had the right to sleep, of peace and security.
The sooner these people wake up to themselves the better. Only they can help themselves. If you do it they laugh at you behind your back. If you want proof of how useless the schemes they are on are then take a trip to the London Road in Kingston. Go to the Futon shop end opposite Kingston Grammar School most weekdays after 1pm and you will see them there.....

Ah I love it when my quotes are used back on me, so let's go through them:-

"There is enough activity for the police to be called out often": True you often see police outside the YMCA and this was explained by Sgt Manns. Sometimes the police are there visiting their own staff when their office is occupied. Others times, because some residents are under 18 and reported sick the police are required to attend. If you want to know more about why and other reasons for their presence then ask Sgt Manns.

"Three YMCA residents...etc": True again. The three drunks were identified to the police as residents at the time the police were on scene by the occupants upstairs. People hanging around entrance were seen entering flat above for time to time. I explained this to Helen Whately. This is because there were drugs on sale there and like any good salesman they targeted their buyers. There are always weak people who will but drugs. At that time the priority was to remove a source of drugs and this was done. Of course they set up somewhere else no doubt. It has to be said that the people who were 'residents' are no longer there as there is a time limit to how long any one can stay there. No if you asked are the new residents looking for drugs I would have to say that I don't know as I cannot identify them as there isn't a problem above me. As there is no problem I have no record....

True again that certain people seen entering the flat above were seen across the road. This was reported to the police and the problem resolved.....You have to tell the police to solve a problem, not snipe for the sidelines!

True again to all statements later on. You can indeed to see people at the end of London Road most days. Also the people who threatened me were not from the YMCA. They and others can still be seen around Kingston & Surbiton, but they were not residents of the YMCA.....sorry if that doesn't suit your views but that is the case.

You see "Bible" I take the time to record and learn. I also visited the YMCA to see their manager. I also learnt the crime statistics for St.Mark's and Surbiton Hill wards. There is no 'hotspot' of crime, so I am not going to lie about it. I am not going to condemn new residents for what old residents did. The question is what can be done to improve matters even further. You can preach and condemn as much as you like, but you will not come out from the shadows to speak in public like I have. I could only speak from my own knowledge of factual events. Others at the meeting had their own first hand stories, but at least they were there.

So "Bible" keep asking. You see my quotes are from the truth not lies. Truth can be questioned over and over again, but lies will fall apart. Now report back to your superior!

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The above text has been deliberately disemvowelled as it is in breach of the Surbiton.com terms.

The parent comment posted by St Marks Bible Basher has been disemvowelled as it is in breach of Surbiton.com terms. The user in question has now been issued a public warning.

Surbiton.com webmaster

Well done. You have told me what I needed to know......

Wow, this is turning into a bit of a personal attack! Leslie has been one of the most consistent posters on here, and is clearly interested in understanding the problems at the YMCA.

However, some of his later comments have been somewhat alarming, especially this one:

"Interesting fact was that despite it's reputation as an alleged crime hotspot no resident had been arrested for any offence at the Festival. I think this says something"

So, no one from the YMCA got arrested on one busy Saturday in Surbiton? What does this say exactly? It sounds like those ridiculous moments when the organisers of the Notting Hill carnival congratulate themselves because there were no murders there this year!

We must not lose sight of the facts – The YMCA IS a crime hotspot and attracts a lot of low lifes to the town that would not come here otherwise. This problem is compounded by the fact that the YMCA is unable to exercise the appropriate amount of control over these residents once they are there. The institution is not equipped to take the type of people it is being asked to house.

There ARE other problems that are not caused by the YMCA or it’s residents, but I am sure that most people agree that closer regulation of the YMCA would make Surbiton feel a safer place.

Yes, I quite agree, this is not a forum for personal attacks but a channel through which we can all usefully contribute to the debate without resorting to the same type of behaviour those that live at the YMCA are usually accused of.

And quite simply, it seems to me that whether you have had a personal experience of crime or bad behaviour down the high street, opposite the YMCA or near to it, the fact remains that there is an obvious and sizeable congregation of louts right outside the YMCA that neither the police nor the YMCA seem able or willing to control. Whether they live there, are visiting or have friends there, need to smoke or have mental problems, is totally irrelevant.

If the police and the YMCA cannot even resolve the behaviour on their own doorstep, what hope have we that they will succeed to tackle crime or anti-social anywhere else in Surbiton - and can they really absolve themselves of blame for encouraging the situation (directly or otherwise) when they fail to send a clear message out that it is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated, period?

Remember YMCA, your whole raison d'etre was "the improving of the spiritual condition of young men" - you are failing to uphold the principle upon which you were founded and alienating the community around you - if you really care anymore, that is.


WOW this great, keep it up as its livening up this board

I must agree that I can also see the contradiction in Leslie’s posts. I saw one post of his that stated something like "don’t mess we me or you’d feel the force" and “ I will demand resignations” well something like that, but it seems at that meeting he ran to the front line with a sword, meet the enemy, drops the sword and ran away


Contradictions. Yes I can see how you think that. So let me put the record straight. Out of a scale of 1-10 ( 1=anti YMCA) I wrote my early comments from about a 4. That is now around 6. Why? Because I took up the challenge to go to the YMCA and see their manager. I also researched the crime figures myself. Now if you are asking whether I stand by my statements then and now, then the answer is yes. It is now clear to me that some of you did attend the meeting but did not speak up. I have to wonder why. I do like the bit about 'sword', 'enemy' etc....nice touch :)

leslie, some of us where too busy watching you make a fool of yourself!

Reply II: It is becoming clear that more people from this forum were at the Maple Infant School meeting than I thought. I know of one other because he said he was from the forum. He spoke well. If it was you then well done.

You might not like what I say. I at least got to talk with Helen Whately and the Police as myself.....

Ah yes. You see I don't mind making a 'fool of myself.' Better than sitting there and saying nothing after having so much to say elsewhere. Still you could had said I was wrong at the meeting. Maybe the next one perhaps?

Still, thanks you for your opinion. Taken onboard I assure you, but then again it was the first time I have said anything in public meeting. Who said 'and hopefully the last!'.....it won't be :)

Still next meeting I look forward to you getting up and announcing yourself as 'anonymous.' Come on let's be fair so I can criticise or applaud you (LOL)

Dear Leslie, with respect, you didn't say anything at the meeting that was “laudable". We intended to state our opinion on the ymca situation but you just droved on and on wasting time, then it was over. It was a lost cause, we thought that you where the one (as stated by yourself) on this thread to quote "force resignations’ etc and you simple did/say nothing

Mr and Mrs Evans

Dear Mr and Mrs Evans,

What I said at the meeting was factual. You should have stated your own opinion as there were red question forms available and Helen Whately ensured all where answered before she closed the meeting. If I am wrong to advise people on what to look for as regards drug house, or point out which type of probationers cannot stay at the YMCA..then I'll be wrong.

You are correct in stating that I did say I would "force resignations". Since I wrote that I have spoken to the YMCA manager and did my own research on the crime figures. Some things did not add up and if you recall the Sgt Manns gave his own account of crime in the area. If I had gone in there with both feet it would have been wrong. My own experience shows that you have to be 100% right and even then you can be frustrated. I will list two factual points below that other forum members will read. They come from a logbook I kept for legal action against my former upstairs neighbours who ran a crack house. I will use asterix where names are used. The CAD numbers are from the police. To those who think it would be easy to make this up as I went along the logbook was photocopied a regular intervals and accepted into evidence by a County Court judge:

The incident with 3 YMCA residents I have mentioned before in other entries. They will no longer be there as the YMCA has a policy about the time you can stay there.

10 OCT (2006) +8.30pm Sounds of step on the flat roof. People outside threatening to breakdown main door - somebody knocking on our door, then glass broken on main door. Called 999. Police came, but left soon after. Rang Kingston Police who said that plain clothes unit was on-scene. ****** outside explaining matter, as it seems 3 men, possibly from YMCA broke in. ******* not there!
(CAD #10210)

Another example of 'right' being on your side but nothing happening. The entry below was my wife's:
SEPT 26 (2006) 9.15am-came back from Waitrose-walking along Victoria Ave-met by ****-he was angry. Accused us of calling police & taking information. accused ******* stamping on the floor all day fro 5-8. Threatened to plaster pictures of ****** all around Surbiton with the words 'filth'. Threatened to 'shove cucumbers up ****** & ******* arses. Then he walked away, angrily.
(CAD #2398)
The police had no doubt who was responsible as my wife was a witness. They did not doubt her word but said nothing could be done as she was alone (her word against his) and that this person had mental problems. That day I had to be strong for her, but the next day whilst at work I was so angry for 10 minutes with myself that I left work and went to Kingston Police. I insisted on seeing a senior officers as I was not happy with the situation. The sergeant agreed with me which lead to another interview (CAD #3502). It took another 13 months to remove this piece of scum from above us. Here is still in Surbiton, but banned from the YMCA (he said that to his flatmates).

That is why I will not go off half-[filtered word] at any meeting with minimal facts. I did not disbelieve the lady at the meeting who said she had been assaulted. She was brave to stand up and give her account, but she had not reported it to the police. Some here will say it would have been a waste of time. From my own knowledge the police will record these incidents as part of their intelligence.

Sorry to go on, but many here think that just moaning about it will get something done. You have to produce the evidence. It's longwinded, annoying etc, but any solicitor will tell you the same. Heresay and rumours will not do. And unfortunately some entries make matters worse because believe it or not others (not members of surbiton.com) read them.

Also with due respect - it muct be remembered that this was principally a political stunt by the Tory candidate - there was no merit in the meeting she herself arranged other than to raise her profile and to jump on the anti-YMCA bandwagon.

Please therefore don't lose sight of the fact that there IS a problem that affects many in our community and which they have a right to insist is tackled and resolved. Personal remarks towards someone that has a slightly different opinion will not help see this problem addressed.

Direct your venom towards the real enemy!

To be fair (perish the thought) until Helen Whately mentioned government spending on the police it was not political. I thought people at the meeting put both sides into their places very quickly. But, yes it was to raise her profile.

"Direct your venom towards the real enemy!"

100% correct. Members of this forum have said things but they have to be backed up with evidence. A fundamental point of English Law is the right to see your accussor and to hear the evidence against you.
Keep saying things about the YMCA and it's residents which are not true and you undermine your own position.

Also those who attended the meeting say I spoke rubbish, looked foolish, and now it seems I hogged the meeting. Tell you what. The meeting to be arranged at the YMCA. I will go. I will sit there and say nothing for at least 30 minutes. Plenty of time for anyone from this forum to stand up and have their say.
At my own count there must have been at least 5 forum members at the meeting other than myself. One did speak, and spoke well. The others have used their own reasons/excuses for not speaking.......fair enough.

Sorry to hear of your experiences Leslie and I quite agree we should not give up on the police - but I'm not so sure a change of Commissioner at the Met will make much difference to the way things are run by Kingston's current Chief Constable. Still, I live in hope.

I wish you a peaceful and enjoyable weekend.


What a fantastic entry. This is full of 'fact' which can be researched by myself and others. For example:

1. Contacting the Chief Executive. I double checked just in case, but if you really want to contact him there are two routes via the Ealing Council website.
*No reason for him to forget Surbiton is there!*

2. On his declared interests he has two properties listed. One is Ealing W5 and one held as a trustee for the Conservatives in W13. Oh yes! He is a Conservative Councillor in Ealing, so if Kingston & SurbitonConservatives start getting on their high horse please feel free to point this out!!

3. There is a YMCA in Ealing (I think it is going to be/or is being rebuilt) as I read a little article about it. Of course this has to get through council committees. Interesting to note that nearby residents have 'rights' under the Human Rights Act 1998. Under Article 1 'protection of property' & Article 8 'respect for private and family life' In others words you have recourse to law if residents of the YMCA 'attack' your home, family or cause nuisance affecting your privacy.
Of course the Human Rights Act gives with one hand and taketh away with the other. The Act also protects the rights of the applicant and so back to square one!

4. Victoria Avenue. I believe I know one of their properties. Afterall they are a registered Housing Association (believe me as a housing association tenant myself I would not want to live there). This property is shall we say 'known' to the police. Last weekend we had a police presence on our property for over 5 hours after some unknown incident. The fact so many police were in the area eventually 'forced' one of those residents to speak with the officers. They do NOT like the police being around...enough said! I have no doubt this property will feature in the local news one day, and if owned by "sch....you know who" then the press will say so I believe.

Yes, it is a disgrace. I did not realise that the YMCA actually owned the houses in Victoria Avenue - I just assumed that it was individual landlords looking to make a quick buck by renting to the council so they could avoid decorating their properties to a reasonable level.

My question is why do they want to own these properties in a reasonably expensive area like central Surbiton? If they moved to Tolworth or Chessington* they could get twice as much property for their money and therefore get twice as much from the taxpayer for housing twice as many problem cases.

*Apologies to the people of Tolworth and Chessington - I was not suggesting the YMCA actually move in to blight your towns instead of Surbiton, merely using them as examples.

Thanks Leslie for your compliments regarding my entry.

With respect to why the YMCA owns properties in central Surbiton rather than others - quite simple really. It DOES own plenty of other property around the borough - but Surbiton, with its brilliant train service, pleasant surroundings and buzzing town centre (day & evening) is THE place to make a sound long-term investment in property - just like most of us have enjoyed in recent years!

Regrettably though, whilst we would all support the principles of the welfare state to give someone less fortunate than ourselves a hand up (as we may need it to do for us one day) there are those in society that abuse the system - and consequently plenty of "do-gooders" to jump on the bandwagon and to help them continue do so.

In pandering to many of these so-called "homeless" people who have no sense of responsibility, shame, respect or morals (but plenty of money for drink, drugs, cigs and £150 Nike trainers) the YMCA, like many other do-gooders, social workers, judges etc and of course the Gov't, is helping to perpetuate the problem, not resolve it. And whilst this is not a forum for political comment, it is interesting that Leslie mentions the political persuasions of the YMCA's Chief Exec. Next time you think the "New Tories" would be better than Labour at tackling this issue, just remember which team the Chief Exec of Surbiton's YMCA bats for!

I understand why the YMCA would invest in property, but surely they would be better to buy it and rent it out to families and professionals who actualy make use of the station/river etc. The profit could then be used to buy/rent properties in cheaper areas to house the needy residents.

A bit of a nimby attitude I know, but it certainly makes economic sense!

Simple solution to the problem of abusing the welfare state, stop taking drugs and get a job, sorted!


The above text has been deliberately disemvowelled as it is in breach of the Surbiton.com terms.


Was that supposed to deter me from going to the Davey/YMCA meeting and NOT shout CLOSE THE TIP? Davey and that YMCA director are in for a hard time!

The elderly lady at the closing scene wasn’t escorted of the bus by the plastic coppers, she was demanding to get off!

Worthless, useless, pointless!

Well I'm not a fan of rap, but this was a good song. It is these faces I want to see at the September meeting. It is YOU who I wish to see stand up and say that you the decent youngsters have had enough of the bad ruining the reputation of the YMCA. Do this in front of the MP, Councillors and residents of the neighbourhood and the press will report it.

I will listen and learn.

Hi Leslie,

Do you know when this September meeting is? And how do you get an invite? Or can anyone just rock up?



Hiya, As yet I don't know the exact date. Rumour is it is on the 17 September (time unknown). Tell you what I shall put my head over the trenches and ask. Will let you know....

When and even where is this being held?

Im gonna kick bottom!

and you are a middle class resident of Surbiton? Priceless, your comment says it all. Full of maturity. Well done...

What is all this 'middle class' stuff. If you are affected by crime then it doesn't matter if you are working, middle, upper or royal class. Oh yes, just in case you are wondering.....I'm working class.

Now we can identify the culprits responsible for bringing misery to middle class Surbiton!

Thats a little bit rotten dont you think. I must say i didn't think the video was that bad and as someone previously mentioned it is good to see that some are doing something proactive with their time. Well done to you.

"doing something proactive with their time"


I must say i have been watching this forum with great interest and i have found some of the comments made quite worrying.
I actuallly lived at the ymca in surbiton for 8 months last year. I wont go into the details regarding why however i must say that the picture being painted on this forum is far from the reality of what the people living there are actually like. I agree that back then there were a small handful of the 'White Lightening crowd' however lets not forget that out of 100 or so? might be more, folks living there this is not a huge amount. I would also like to add that whilst living at the ymca and like many other folks there i continued as i do now to work full time so not sure how valid the above generalisation is. Thanks for reading.

Is there an alternative term to.. quote .. "White Lightning" ?

Thank you for bringing something new to the table. Can you enlighten me to this "White Lightening crowd" please? Who are/were they and what did they do?

I agree that there has been some generalisation, but it only take 2-5 residents out of 122 to turn people against the innocent. More 'first hand' information from people such as yourself would be great!

** Ah! How innocent I am. White Lightening is a cider.....explains a little **

Very very unfair! If you throw enough rocks you will hit the innocent as well, then YOU become the problem. Keep your objections/points to facts.

Okay, it's not their fault. It's the fault of M&S for not employing a security guard to stop the petty thievery, the fault of South West Trains for not having transport police to stop the fraudulent collection and sales of travelcards, the fault of the police for not stopping the general begging that happens in Surbiton.

Of course it's not the entirety of the populace of the YMCA, but the minority speak louder than the majority.

On a good note, a look behind the YMCA last night and there isn't the kebab & KFC rubbish strewn out the windows anymore. In fact it looked somewhat peaceful. However, having some new residents who are handy with Windows Movie Maker doesn't make up for the absolute grief the local businesses and residents have had over the years with zero response from the YMCA themselves.

You can view with "forever optimism", however for some local residents they can remember the days you could actually use the facilities of the YMCA, the days before the words "white lightning brigade" became a daily occurence.

Oh, and by the way, if someone approaches you with paint covered overalls making out that the van "over there" has a flat tyre and he needs 90p for the bus ... he's just another scrounger and will be around the corner in a minute trying on the same routine again. Been doing this one for months now, however quite a good, inventive story. Shame it was a friends van that he was pointing at.

All true of course, but I think it is society's fault for not being tough enough on the offenders. If there WAS a transport police prescence at the station, and anyone caught selling used travelcards more than once WOULD get a hefty fine or custodial sentence then perhaps the problems would reduce.

Contrary to popular belief, these people are not all stupid - they do these things because they no they can get away with them and our society is too PC to stop them.

Ah yes! The man in the overalls came up to me once. He does seem genuine, but only a complete fool would give him money. But is he connected in anyway to the YMCA? We cannot use that as 'proof' because it will be challenged. Only solid first hand knowledge, evidence, Police CAD or Crime numbers should be used. The more times your points can be destroyed the more others will take no notice of you.

As for your other points. I am also fed up with the excuses "It's not my fault I had a tough life" - "It's not my fault, I've got nothing to do!" Of course there are new residents who will get the blame for previous residents actions, which is wrong. But if nothing seems to change then this will happen. The YMCA Management need to look at themselves, their residents, and their neighbours. Until this is done the public view of the YMCA will not change.

Any positive comments, anyone? Don't be haters.

I'm surprised and impressed that this video was put together (although the chorus gets a little annoying in my opinion). They were doing something productive, dare I suggest, something that involves skills one could put on a CV or resume...

I have yet to wander by the YMCA at night, but if I do I must say, these people don't look as horrible, scary, and criminal-like as this website typically suggests. They don't "look" homeless. Any other thoughts on this?

- Chelsea Blacker

I personally don't care if YMCA residents look homeless or not. All I am worried about is if they are going to mug me as I walk past or beg for money/cigarettes etc. These particular residents look fine but we all know there is a significant minority who are not.

I think most people on this site agree - this is not a witch-hunt against people who do not fit in with a middle class idyll, but a plea to stop allowing the minority of criminals that are housed in the YMCA intimidating and stealing from residents in the local area.

Not a bad effort ... although the continuity with the rapper in blue shirt was horrfic - one second there are three paddlers on the river, next there is a big motor cruiser, then back to paddlers, and back to motor cruiser.

Still, it'd be interesting if the local businesses and residents did a song themselves ... The Message

I love the bit in the article where it says:

'Passing police officers also agreed to feature in the video'


Surely some new lyrics to a version of this would be better:


I can just imagine Bible Basher prancing around in a sailor suit.

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