Croydon Council is “sexing up” its official record of public meetings, apparently in a vain effort to make its controversial and inept mayor, Eddy Arram, look like less of a plonker than everyone knows him to be.
Yet even the combined writing skills of Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and Josef Goebbels would struggle to make the aggressive Ashburton councillor appear to be an impartial and well-measured chair of Town Hall meetings.
In the past, only the decisions of debates in the council chamber have been recorded in a neutral, matter-of-fact manner in the minutes, citing the precise words of any motion, thus keeping the council staff, or “officers” as they are grandiosely called, distanced from any political controversy as they transcribe their notes.
But the latest edition of the council’s minutes records Croydon’s partisan mayor stamping his feet like a spoilt three-year-old, in a tizzy fit about the local press not reporting his latest foreign jolly (undertaken at rate-payers’ expense, naturally).
So angry was Mayor Arram at his self-important visit being overlooked that he wrapped himself in the memory of the war dead in an appallingly unworthy fashion.
The official meeting minutes state:
“The Mayor expressed his disappointment that Croydon’s local newspapers failed to make any mention of the Mayors [sic] visit to Arnhem to remember those that paid the ultimate price for our freedom and the freedom for [sic] the people of Arnhem. The purpose of the memorial was ‘lest we forget’, and the local papers had forgotten.”
Croydon is twinned with Arnhem, the Dutch town which in September 1944 proved to have A Bridge Too Far as far as an ambitious allied airborne attack was concerned, with an estimated 17,000 casualties among British, Polish and American parachute and other troops. Visits between the civic worthies of Croydon and Arnhem have continued most years since the end of the Second World War, and Mayor Arram apparently enjoyed his all-expenses paid trip this year – although Inside Croydon remained uninformed of such an important event by the council’s Ministry of Truth.
And we were not the only ones.
A reporter from the Croydon Guardian stated that the council’s expensively staffed press department had somehow failed to inform the freebie newspaper of the overseas trip by the “impartial” mayor, who presumably was taking time out from his “day job”, that of a publicly funded assistant to Conservative MP Gavin Barwell. The paper, meanwhile, had managed to report on a charity cyclist going to Arnhem at their own cost.
Even Your Croydon, the council-funded Pravda (copyright Eric Pickles), did not report on the mayor’s trip abroad. Maybe even the council’s press office had, as Mayor Arram alleged, “forgotten”?
Of course, with the Mike Fisher-led council banning the recording of its meetings and, unlike other local authorities not shedding any light on the “democratic” process through webcasts, the minutes of the meetings could end up being the only official record.
It is as if the Conservatives in charge of Croydon Council have something to hide. And anyone who has seen Eddy Arram’s performances as mayor during 2012 would be inclined to agree.
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- Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon
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