Robert King, who until last month was the chairman of a Conservative ward association and who stood for the Tories as their candidate at the last local elections in Croydon, will be a candidate for UKIP in Ashburton at the Town Hall elections on May 22.
A noted campaigner for the Tories in Addiscombe over many years, King resigned his position in his local party following the selection of Partha Chatterjee, David Harmes and Lisa Terry as Conservative candidates in that ward for the local elections.
As a prominent member of his local residents’ association, King had taken outspoken position against Croydon’s Conservative-run council’s plans to build 10,000 new homes in the town centre. King described the plans as “frankly barmy”. Croydon Conservatives’ attitudes towards those who speak out on behalf of local residents may be instructive.
King’s opposition to the building schemes put him in direct conflict with senior Conservative councillors, who are keen to gerrymander in the marginal Croydon Central constituency by building thousands of high-end, yuppie flats in the hope that they will attract more Tory voters to the area who will shore-up MP Gavin Barfwell’s majority in his parliamentary seat.
According to sources within the Croydon Conservative party, King is one of a number of long-term members who have been unhappy at the role played in the selections of council candidates and the campaign by Barfwell.
King will stand for UKIP in Ashburton along with David Aston and Robert Ball. In King’s old stomping ground of Addiscombe, UKIP is fielding just a single candidate, Peter Staveley, their local party’s chairman.
With the council elections being staged on the same day as the European parliament elections, Nigel Farage’s UKIP is hopeful of benefiting from an improved turnout of its supporters by getting a record number of councillors elected across the country.
As the “anti-politics political party”, UKIP may hold especial attraction for Croydon’s voters.
Ashburton is a long-standing Conservative ward. But bolstered with its new, ex-Tory candidate, UKIP could find extra traction, since the Conservatives recently dumped one of their sitting councillors in the ward when they de-selected Eddy Arram, who had topped the polls at council elections for nearly 30 years.
Disputes over selections continue to rumble among the local Tories. In Fairfield ward, Conservative members continue to be unhappy that Councillor Helen Pollard, after being de-selected in Heathfield, managed to get on to the selection shortlist with greater speed than Usain Bolt.
Current Tory councillors were supposed to be forbidden from embarking on the “chicken run” – seeking selection in notionally safer wards elsewhere in the borough. Helen Pollard, the wife of Croydon Conservatives’ deputy leader Tim Pollard, appeared on the Fairfield selection shortlist barely 48 hours after being dumped by her fellow party members in Heathfield.
“Tim went to Barwell and told him that without the council allowances that Helen was receiving, he wouldn’t be able to continue to do as much work for the party as he has been doing,” our Tory source suggested. The Pollards bank the grand total of £67,354 a year for their part-time roles as Croydon councillors.
In the event, the widely respected Councillor David Fitze, who has long worked with the NHS and YMCA in the borough, lost his position as a Conservative candidate in Fairfield, at the expense of Helen Pollard. Sources at the Town Hall on Monday for the latest full council meeting suggest that Fitze has been “furious” at the manner of his treatment by the local leadership.
Croydon’s Tories, led by florid-faced Mike Fisher, have delayed publishing any form of election manifesto for May 22, apparently because of the internal disputes and divisions. Following King’s defection to UKIP, Fisher and his cronies may now be wondering “Who’s next?”
Coming to Croydon
- Verdi’s Requiem, Fairfield Halls, Mar 29
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
- David Lean Cinema: 12 Years a Slave, Apr 3
- David Lean Cinema: The Great Beauty, Apr 10
- Norwood Society Talk: Crystal Palace, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Inside Llewyn Davis, Apr 17
- Opening of Marlpit Lane bowling and putting greens, Apr 17
- Arts and Crafts Market, Exchange Square, Apr 19
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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