Grassroots discontent over selection of deputy leader’s wife

Grassroots Croydon Conservatives are asking whether Councillor Helen Pollard was given preferential treatment by the local party’s leadership after she was nominated earlier this week to stand in Fairfield ward at the local elections in May.

Councillor Helen Pollard: did she have to look for Fairfield ward on a map?

Councillor Helen Pollard: did she have to look for Fairfield ward on a map?

Helen Pollard is married to the deputy leader of the Tories on Croydon Council, Tim Pollard.

Between the two of them, the Pollards received £67,354 for their part-time roles as Croydon councillors in the past year. But that all came under threat on Saturday when Helen Pollard failed to secure re-selection in the ultra-safe Heathfield ward, where she was first elected in 2006.

Yet just two days later, the wife of the Tories’ deputy leader was standing for selection again, successfully this time, in another relatively safe ward, Fairfield.

“How can she do that?” Inside Croydon’s loyal reader asked.

“Weren’t sitting councillors forbidden from applying for other wards by the leader, Mike Fisher, to avoid the unseemly game of musical chairs, with councillors scrabbling for nominations, which Labour went through last summer?

“That was certainly the rule that was applied firmly in 2010,” our mole outside the local Tories’ head office in Purley told us. But that was then, this is now.

At least one current councillor, Waddon’s Clare Hilley, the former rising star of the national Tory youth wing, is thought to have opted not to stand at the Town Hall elections on May 22 because she was forbidden from trying to use what is known as the “chicken run”, of seeking selection in another ward or seat with more secure election prospects.

Other Conservative councillors, including at least one cabinet member, are also understood to have been re-buffed in their enquiries about seeking selection elsewhere in the borough. But not Helen Pollard, who Katharine Street sources describe as an “unexceptional” councillor who “has risen without trace”.

“The thing is, however Helen Pollard ended up on the short-list in Fairfield,” our disillusioned source suggests, “some rules must have been broken. They’ve done her a massive favour. But why?”

Another local Tory has also raised similar questions over Helen Pollard’s Fairfield candidacy, pointing out that if she was disallowed from applying to other wards as a sitting councillor in Heathfield, then her application and short-listing in Fairfield must have all happened within less than 48 hours – thought to be impossible under the usually strictly observed Conservative Party procedures. It certainly did not give the Pollards much time to lobby the local members in Fairfield for their support.

Selsdon Man: beer-in-hand Boris Johnson addresses Croydon Tories earlier this week. Barely a hundred members turned up

Selsdon Man: beer-in-hand Boris Johnson addresses Croydon Tories earlier this week. Barely a hundred members turned up

There have been signs of simmering discontent among Croydon Conservative members. This is not only over the vast amounts which their councillors have awarded themselves in council “allowances” – backbencher Helen Pollard alone receives more than £21,000 without being a member of any significant council committees, nor with the sort of ward casework load which many councillors representing less privileged areas of the borough have to deal with – but also at the way the local leadership has handled the selection process.

No selections were made until after leader Mike Fisher got the council budget through. So far, three sitting councillors have been de-selected from the present Town Hall Tory “team”, plus the departures of Hilley, Ian Parker, the local party agent, and a handful of retirements, their places often being taken by the over-ambitious aides and dutiful placemen of Croydon Central MP Gavin Barfwell. 

One ward secretary of the local Conservatives resigned from his position at the end of February over the selections. Last week, it was suggested that the party’s leadership has such little faith in the abilities (or lack of them) of its candidates in one key ward, New Addington, that they preferred to put up a more articulate and less unreliable cabinet member as a guest for a discussion of the area, even on the unchallenging medium of Croydon Radio.

And regular activists among the dwindling Conservative membership are reportedly so disillusioned with their councillors and candidates that they have been reluctant to get fully involved with campaigning. Reports suggest that selection meetings are poorly attended, while barely 100 Conservative members paid their tenners earlier this week for a rally by the super nova of the Tories, Boris Johnson. Mind you, even Boris seemed barely bothered, turning up for the event more than an hour late.


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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 2014 council elections, 2015 General Election, Fairfield, Gavin Barwell MP, Heathfield, Helen Pollard, Mike Fisher, New Addington, Sanderstead, Tim Pollard, Tony Pearson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Grassroots discontent over selection of deputy leader’s wife

  1. britasjo says:

    £21,000 pa or £400 a week! Does anyone know how many hours a week this reject (quite some achievement to be a Tory reject) puts in to earn such a generous allowance, which at present comes with a pension entitlement, all paid for by the hard pressed “ratepayers” of Croydon?. What happened to value for money?

  2. There is no pension entitlement. There is no contract on hours of work required.

  3. Anne Giles says:

    Boris’s flight from France was delayed, which was why he arrived late. There were around 100 people in that room, but the room was absolutely full. It is not that large. No idea what he was doing in France, by the way.

  4. As a Heathfield Councillor the woman, along with the other two parasites, has done nothing to prevent the travellers from reappearing on Sunken Road. Good luck to Fairfield residents – let’s hope you don’t need anything sorting out in the next four years.

  5. Danny Stanzl says:

    As a Tory voter (unpopular on this site :o) )… there is no way this woman was the best candidate to represent Fairfield, in an exciting time for the Fairfield ward, this is a thoroughly disappointing person to represent Fairfield.

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