First the council looked to ban the use of the word “riot”. Now the ruling group on Croydon Council seems intent on banning debate at the Town Hall, as local resident ANDREW RENDLE was saddened to discover at last night’s meeting
I’m a self-employed engineer from Woodside and as a Labour party member, I’ve taken an active interest in local politics and am a regular at various council meetings. Last night I joined around 15 others in the public gallery for a meeting of the full Croydon Council.
I had previously submitted a written question to Councillor Phil Thomas, but the answer to my oral supplementary resulted in what felt like a personal political attack as I was singled out as a Labour supporter and was accused of “undermining the council”.
[Editor's note: Councillor "Two Permits" Thomas is developing a bit of a track record for threatening anyone who dares question him at council meetings. Earlier this year, the big Welshman resorted to reporting one resident to the police because he did not like the nature of his questions over another failed policy initiative. So much for full and frank exchanges of views.]
Last night’s meeting then went from bad to worse, as the ruling Tory group spent so much time on planted questions and rambling answers that an important debate on the future of our libraries was filibustered out due to lack of time.
Did the Mayor, a senior Tory councillor but now supposed to be an impartial chairman of these meetings, really try to curtail debate on these vitally important issues by saying ” in the interests of getting home some time tonight”?
The opposition sought to curtail other parts of the meeting so the debate could take place, but that was voted down by the majority Tories.
There then followed an emergency debate regarding cuts in police numbers which was preceded by countless unfounded and muddled points of order from council leader Mike Fisher’s back benchers.
Thanks to the Mayor, this debate did take place, resulting in the Conservatives voting against the motion, which as far as I can see puts them in favour of police numbers being cut in Croydon. As press reports this week indicate, that is a process already underway, with the loss of six sergeants from the borough’s safer neighbourhood teams.
Last night democracy took a back seat. The Conservative tactics were those of a party running scared. This might be expected a few months before an election, but it is surprising to see with the next council elections years away.
As a lover of politics I agree with Voltaire’s famous quote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”. Regrettably under the present administration, it appears that that is no longer a resident’s right in Croydon.
- Inside Croydon: brought to you free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
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