Labour poised to take control of council as Tories blame UKIP

VOTE 2014 logoWe will be reporting live through the night on the local election results in Croydon, and we welcome your comments by email and Twitter.

Keep checking back every 30min or so for updates and additions – latest news will be at the top of the page

9am: And so, after an 11-hour stint, we are going to call it a day on our coverage of the election count, leaving the final word to Conservative Councillor Dudley Mead.

Mead somehow managed to fight off the challenge of UKIP and has been re-elected in Selsdon and Ballards alongside Gavin Barwell’s office assistant, Sara Bashford, and Phil Thomas, the only council cabinet member ever to quote Inside Croydon in the Town Hall chamber as an objective, reliable and informative source publication.

Tory leader Mike Fisher: facing a stormy meeting tonight

Tory leader Mike Fisher: facing a stormy meeting tonight

There are several ward results still to come in, including the recount going on over Ashburton, where Labour look set to gain at least two seats, and overall seem heading for a new council with a 40-seat to 30 majority.

Having been declared a winner in Selsdon and Ballards, Mead, in his victory speech, said, “Let’s just get this over and done with.” 

8.55am: Mike Fisher, the leader of the Croydon Conservatives… well, he is for the time-being. He still hasn’t responded to Inside Croydon’s question about whether he intends to resign following his party’s defeat in the Town Hall election.

But Fisher faces a group meeting tonight where his fate will be determined. Since it was his own councillors who rejected his application as a candidate for the Croydon South parliamentary seat six months ago, he may find he has a tough task on his hands to retain the generous tax-payer-funded allowances for the position of opposition group leader. Fisher quit his civil service job some time ago to be a full-time politician.

“This does not look like being the best of days for us,” Fisher said, before going on to bleat about UKIP.

“I’ve been in Croydon for a long time; I’m not going any where. My view is that if the group wants me to stay on as leader, I will be happy to accept and go on to hold Labour to account,” said the man who has spent eight years presiding over one of the most unaccountable local authorities in London.

There are Conservative members who are already being critical of their party’s leadership’s strategy of blaming UKIP for their defeat.

Patrick Ratnaraja, who stood as a Tory candidate in West Thornton, said, “There is no point in just blaming UKIP for losing control of the council. The people of Croydon have not voted for us.

“It is time to ask ‘where did we go wrong?’ instead of blaming other parties,” Ratnaraja said.

“Why did the voters vote for UKIP rather than voting for us? How are we going to help Gavin win? These are the questions the Tories should ask themselves.

“The Conservative Party is not a party for just white, middle-class posh male voters any more. It is a party for all of us.”

  • We welcome your election-day pictures and information, your comments and your observations, which you can email to us at inside.croydon@btinternet.com or via Twitter @InsideCroydon, using the generic hashtag #LE14

8.35am: Croham hold for Conservatives.

Councillors Maria Gatland, Michael Neal and Jason Perry are returned, having dealt with the Green Party’s challenge in the Croydon South ward.

8.25am: According to Lambeth South MP Steve Reed OBE on Twitter, Labour is confirmed as a three-seat gain in Waddon ward. That means that Tory front-bencher Simon Hoar, a supporter of fracking and incinerators, is off the council.

Andrew Pelling: former MP makes return to elected office

Andrew Pelling: former MP makes return to elected office

The Labour trio of Joy Prince, Robert Canning and Andrew Pelling are elected as councillors. For former Conservative Pelling, it is a return to elected office four years after he lost his seat as MP for Croydon Central. Pelling was a Tory councillor from 1982 to 2005, having been leader of the Conservative group for three years before he was elected to parliament in 2005.

8am: So, 10 hours after starting this…

Purley ward result announced. Conservative hold. Councillors Badsha Quadir and Donald Speakman returned, Simon Brew elected for the first time.

Shirley ward result: Conservative hold.

Three seats, including that of the Croydon Tories leader Mike Fisher, who in his (pyrrhic) victory speech, blames the public for daring to vote for UKIP rather than voting for his party, as he clearly thinks they are supposed to do.

Looking somewhat red-faced, though clearly very much wide awake, Fisher makes no mention of the question put to him by Inside Croydon more than an hour and a half earlier, seeking to discover whether he will resign as local Tory leader.

7.50am: BBC reports that the Liberal Democrats have held Sutton, contradicting their reports from the early hours. Indeed, in the end it was not even close. Given the kicking Nick Clegg’s party has been getting elsewhere, this is an impressive performance under difficult circumstances.

Closer to home, Woodside ward result declared as Labour hold. Three seats: Councillors Tony Newman and Paul Scott returned, Hamida Ali elected for the first time.

Newman hails “a historic victory for Labour in Croydon”.

Tony Newman claims victory for Labour in the council elections and pledges to clean-up the borough

Tony Newman claims victory for Labour in the council elections and pledges to clean-up the borough

He said, “We have focused on the lack of jobs and the lack of housing as well as putting in the London Living Wage – priorities for the people of Croydon.

“We are bringing back decency and honesty to politics, against the negativity of our opponents.”

Fairfield ward result declared as a Conservative hold.

Labour had thought they might have a chance with the town centre ward, duly largely to the rapidly changing demographics. But Tory Councillors Vidhi Mohan and Susan Winborn returned and Helen Pollard, after being dumped by her previous ward of Heathfield, gets another four years on the council.

7.40am: Recount for Ashburton ward.

This is the first cloud in Labour’s night at the count so far, with a possibility that they will not manage to gain all three seats in what was once regarded as a rock-solid Conservative ward. 

It seems that things may be very close between the third and fourth candidates…

Meanwhile, Addiscombe results have been declared as a Labour hold of three seats.

The MP for the Whitgift Foundation

The MP for the Whitgift Foundation

This will come as a blow to Gavin Barwell, the MP for the Whitgift Foundation who had spent a good deal of his time and effort over the previous months on orchestrating his party’s campaign in Addiscombe, to the point of recruiting the candidates and causing the defection from the party of senior activists. Instead, Councillors Mark Watson, Sean Fitzsimons and Patricia Hay-Justice have frustrated Barwell’s wishes and will serve another four years.

Interesting conversation ahead of the count with another senior Labour councillor from the north of the borough last night about the frustrations of being in opposition, and in opposition to Mike Fisher’s Croydon Tories.

“I don’t know what I could do if the Tories won again,” the councillor said.

“They block us doing anything for the people of our ward, refuse to spend any money in our ward, yet manage to divert funds to the south of the borough.”

Meanwhile, 70 minutes after Inside Croydon called the result as a Labour win, Labour leader Tony Newman has declared that Labour has won the council.

We have sent a text to Inside Croydon’s newest contributor, Mike Fisher, the leader of the Conservatives who has run the council for the last eight years. Given that Fisher was recently rejected by his owncouncil  colleagues as a potential candidate for the Croydon South parliamentary seat, we asked him: “Do you intend to resign as group leader?”

The text was sent at 6.33am. There has yet to be any response. Has he gone to bed? Is he feeling unwell?

7.15am: South Norwood result. Labour hold three seats. And UKIP’s Winston McKenzie’s #featherruffle proves to be a bit less of a ruffle than he made out to David Dimbleby overnight in another spectacularly ill-judged public appearance.

Councillors Jane Avis, Kathy Bee and Wayne Lawlor, all Labour shadow cabinet members, have been re-elected.

Avis Jane, Labour Party: 2,211
Bee Katharine, Labour Party: 2,303
Brown Robert, Liberal Democrats: 314
Cope Jonathan, Conservative Party: 909
Ellis Andy, Green Party: 486
Jones Graham, Green Party: 494
Lawlor Wayne, Labour Party: 1,971
McKenzie Winston, UKIP: 480
O`Flynn Matthew, Conservative Party: 739
Regan Jonathan, Liberal Democrats: 177
Reid Annette, UKIP: 437
Reid Kimberley, Liberal Democrats: 220
Seyforth James, Green Party: 359
Slayford Barry, UKIP: 437
St James Rosina, Conservative Party: 731

Waiting on the final part of the count for key wards this morning

Waiting on the final part of the count for key wards this morning

Poor old Winston polled fewer than 500 votes in a ward where the Tories for once avoided the embarrassment of finishing behind UKIP. So the Conservatives don’t have that excuse for their defeat in South Norwood.

6.40am: You wait hours for a ward result, and then three come along together. Bensham Manor: Labour hold three seats.

Again, this is far removed from a Farage “earthquake”, and nor is it a Winston McKenzie #featherruffle.

Re-elected is the Labour deputy leader Alison Butler, with Humayun Kabir and Jamie Audsley returned for the ward for the first time.

Audsley James, Labour Party: 2,134
Butler Alison, Labour Party: 2,121
Jones Sam, Green Party: 379
Kabir Humayun, Labour Party: 1,940
Matin Talukdar, Conservative Party: 480
Muller Dirk, UKIP: 378
Samuel Victoria, Green Party: 278
Smith Robert, Conservative Party: 588
Stevenson Ben, Communist: 55
Taylor Roger, Conservative Party: 579
Viney Stephen, Liberal Democrats: 117
Walsh Brendan, Green Party: 302

6.35am: Kenley result. Conservative hold three seats.

No great surprises here. Councillors Jan Buttinger, Steve Hollands and Steve “Three Jobs” O’Connell all hold their seats, though it is worth noting that Buttinger polled 2,272 votes this time, down from 4,170 votes in 2010, and O’Connell and Hollands were both down by nearly 2,000 votes, while the UKIPers polled 800 or less.

Abdey Olive, Liberal Democrats: 238
Buttinger Janice, Conservative Party: 2,272
Catto Angela, Liberal Democrats: 271
Croos Mary-Romoline, Labour Party: 636
Dixon Ian, Green Party: 327
Dixon-King Anneka, Green Party: 336
Hollands Steven, Conservative Party: 2,123
Hooper David, UKIP: 803
Knight James, Liberal Democrats: 217
Manton Paul, UKIP: 714
O`Connell Stephen, Conservative Party: 2,111
Robson Lynnda, UKIP: 728
Voute Tom, Green Party: 265
Ward Sarah, Labour Party Candidate: 678
Williams Christopher, Labour Party: 675

6.20am: Fieldway is confirmed as a Labour hold for Carole Bonner and Simon Hall, and as the Conservative party officials drift away from the count looking most disconsolate, Inside Croydon is prepared to call the results with Labour set to gain all three seats in Waddon, plus gain three more in the previously safe Tory ward of Ashburton, and to hold Addiscombe. 

That all suggests a Labour will have 40 seats to 30 on the new council. And that is assuming that the Conservatives manage to hold Fairfield ward.

UKIP rosetteAnd it’s all UKIP’s fault, according to the Tories.

“UKIP voters have handed Labour the council,” said Chris Philp, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Croydon South.

Please pardon the longer than previous gap in reports, loyal reader, because Croydon Council’s ability to deliver timely results in the local elections has left much to be desired. What happens when the GCSE and A level school pupils start turning up at Trinity in a couple of hours, well…

Eight hours since the polls closed, and the Nathan Elvery-managed election count has so far still only delivered two confirmed ward results out of 24.

Paul Smith, the former Labour councillor, has summed it up on Twitter: “Most returning officers strive for the fastest declaration. Croydon seem to be going for slowest.”

What is becoming clear from the later reporting results is that the narrative for the night pre-determined by the BBC and Sky News that this would be a UKIP-dominated election is less the case in London.

Labour looks like gaining Merton (from no overall control), have had its best election in Tory-run Wandsworth since 1986, and captured the Conservative flagship borough, Hammersmith and Fulham. But don’t expect the previously written broadcast scripts to be altered to reflect that in time for the morning news bulletins.

It is true that UKIP has made incredible headway across the country – around 80 gains nationally by 6am – and often stopping Labour gaining councils. The idea they only take votes off the Tories is clearly untrue. However, in London UKIP are struggling, polling around 7 per cent of the vote, according to the BBC, compared to 24 per cent elsewhere in the country, and Labour has taken full advantage.

The Tories are having a torrid time, their coalition partners the LibDems even worse. But Labour’s failure to capitalise outside the capital may yet be seen portrayed as overshadowing all that.

In Fieldway’s two-seat ward, UKIP’s sole candidate placed third, beating the two Tories by 200 votes or more.

Here’s the scores on the doors from Fieldway:

Bonner Carole, Labour Party: 1,132
Castle Michael, Conservative Party: 471
Clarke David, British National Party: 210
Clarke John, British National Party: 212
Eastoe William, UKIP: 686
Gale Eileen, Green Party: 102
Groves Jack, Green Party: 130
Hall Simon, Labour Party: 1,104
Laville Jayne, Conservative Party: 314

5am: So much for the Tories’ “Royston Vasey” campaign in New Addington, where incumbent Conservative councillor Tony Pearson saw his vote from 2010 cut in half as he finished only fourth in the poll to select two councillors.

New Addingtons new councillors, Louisa Woodley and Oliver Lewis

New Addington’s new councillors, Louisa Woodley and Oliver Lewis

“It’s not about where you live, it’s about what your values are,” Oliver Lewis, who topped the poll for Labour and thus became the first new Croydon councillor of 2014.

“What we have seen here tonight is the start of a good night for Labour.

“We have put a lot of hard work into the campaign and we have reflected the issues that people felt were important in New Addington,” Lewis said.

Among those issues are the boulders on Central Parade, which Labour has said will be removed to deal with residents’ concerns over road safety.

4.25am: And we have a result!

New Addington is a Labour gain, with Oliver Lewis and Louisa Woodley both being elected, with Tory Councillor Tony Pearson garnering just 650 votes a long way back in fourth, behind UKIP’s Clive Christensen and just 11 votes ahead of the second UKIP candidate, Christopher Johnson.

This may be the last opportunity we'll have to use this: what Crystal Palace fans think of their former senior steward Tony Pearson, the now former Tory councillor in New Addington

This may be the last opportunity we’ll have to use this: what Crystal Palace fans think of their former senior steward Tony Pearson, the now former Tory councillor in New Addington

The results are:

Christensen, Clive UKIP: 714
Clugston Jim, Green Party: 107
Cousins Martin, Green Party: 123
Fish Lara, Conservative Party: 617
Johnson Christopher, UKIP: 639
Le May Clifford, British National Party: 168
Lewis Oliver, Labour Party: 1,244
Pearson Anthony, Conservative Party: 650
Treanor Donna, British National Party: 80
Woodley Louisa, Labour Party: 1,094

The result represents a huge blow for the Tories’ hitherto unbeatable secret weapon: even Boris Johnson’s electoral magic failed to work for them this time round, after the London Mayor made a flying visit to New Addington on Thursday to rally support.

David White, a veteran of election nights going back to the days before Thatcher, has said on Twitter: “Very slow night at the Croydon count. Lots of voters have voted for mixed parties or only used one or two votes.”

And then the really bad news, for all of us… “It’s 4am now and I should think there’ll be at least two more hours of counting, even if no recounts.”

Aidan Lennon has provided some astute political analysis in less than 140 characters: “UKIP gains nationwide tonight, they must be pleased there’s only one Winston McKenzie.”

3.30am: Well that’s it. The BBC’s election special broadcast is going off-air before “Efficient” Croydon manages to declare a single ward result. Who’s running this show, Winston McKenzie?

Even before the (much-delayed) first Croydon result was announced, one Conservative candidate (not, regrettably, on this occasion Mike Fisher) was in touch with Inside Croydon Towers to say, “I’ve never seen sad Tory faces like this.

“They have given up on winning,” our source said, meaning the election overall for the council.

Giving up before a single ward has been declared? Really?

Might this sense of defeat be connected with the start of the count of votes from Addiscombe ward, which was the Tories’ big “target” in Gavin Barwell’s election strategy, as a means to buttress against losses elsewhere, and to prepare the ground for the Croydon Central MP’s own campaign to get re-elected in 2015?

UKIP's Winston McKenzie: rustling feathers, apparently

UKIP’s Winston McKenzie: rustling feathers, apparently

The Tories’ explanation for their defeat? Nothing to do with the way that they have run the council for the past eight years or their no-policy campaign of the past eight weeks, but all the fault of those bloody voters going off and putting their crosses in boxes alongside UKIP. 

The only problem with that narrative is that despite the #feathersrustling for UKIP elsewhere around the country, in London the appeal of Farage and McKenzie appears less successful. Results from Wandsworth, another Tory-run south London borough, suggests a modest 6 per cent for UKIP in five ward results there.

Early indications in Waddon gives UKIP about 10 per cent of the vote.

The LibDems look to be the biggest losers on the night, nationally and in Croydon: UKIP’s sole candidate in Coulsdon East, Alan Smith, is suggested to have come fourth – missing a council seat by one place – behind the Conservatives Margaret Bird, Chris Wright and the somewhat callow James Thompson, but ahead of all three LibDems.

3am: Why has Croydon taken longer than many other local authorities to count around 10,000 votes in one ward? Why have the results of the first Croydon ward, originally expected around 2am, taken more than an hour longer?

There are suggestions that it is because of a lack of an adequate number of tellers, the council staff and others recruited by the returning officer to conduct the count. More Croydon Council “efficiency”?

Nathan Elvery, the interim chief executive and returning officer for the election who once seriously said of his department “efficiency is in our DNA”, defended the delays by saying that the results were not known until 7am in 2010, at the last local elections. In doing so, he’s overlooking that on that night the count first had to deal with three parliamentary seats in a General Election. 

Nathan Elvery: Croydon's interim CEO and the election returning officer

Nathan Elvery: Croydon’s interim CEO and the election returning officer

In total, Elvery has about 110 tellers working through the night at Trinity School, which observers say is only two-thirds as many as might be expected to be able to cope with simultaneously counting the votes from 24 wards.

In news from elsewhere, in the past half-hour there’s been reports that Labour has won control of Merton Council, which was previously no overall control.

@LabourList reports that Labour have gained all three seats in Lower Morden ward – two from the Tories and one from the all-conquering … UKIP. Does Winston McKenzie know? #feathersrustling

2.25am: Winston “Stop the Carnival” McKenzie makes an appearance. Well, more of a rant, really, at a somewhat bemused David Dimbleby on the BBC.

“Feathers are rustling everywhere!” says McKenzie, a former boxer but who has never had a way with words as Muhammad Ali once did. Anyone who has a clue what McKenzie was on about, please send your answers, on postcards only please, to: N Farage, UKIP HQ, Brussels.

McKenzie, who has never held elected office, was a candidate in South Norwood.

2am: Karen Jewitt, who until yesterday was a councillor for Woodside ward (safe Labour) and from today may well be a councillor for Thornton Heath (safe Labour) is noted for being kind to animals.

She’s just tweeted this: “Some very glum looking Tories at the Croydon count.”

BBC London’s Tim Donovan saying New Addington result is coming around 2.30am and that it looks like a Labour gain. Fieldway, the neighbouring ward where Labour’s Carole Bonner and Simon Hall are the sitting councillors, is expected to declare around the same time.

If New Addington goes the way some are suggesting, it means that from 37-33 council seats in the Conservatives’ favour in 2010, if confirmed that would bring the “score” after two result to 36-34…

And the BBC man is suggesting a 5 per cent swing to Labour in Ashburton, which would be a three-seat gain: 33-37 to Labour.

That Ashburton gain, though, would be wiped out if Labour does not hold Addiscombe.

Meanwhile, in the BBC’s election studio, Carshalton and Wallington LibDem MP Tom Brake has popped up. Will he be around long enough to comment on the  possible end of 28 years of Liberal Democrat control of Sutton Council?

1.20am: The Croydon Guardian is reporting that Gavin Barwell, the vending machine-challenged MP for the Whitgift Foundation, as conceding that Labour will win the Croydon Council elections.

Might the professional politician who has been pulling the strings on the Tories’ local election campaign just be trying the manage expectations?

Elsewhere, sage observer @DavidCallam1 points out: “Labour down 15 per cent on two years ago in areas outside London. Not looking good for Tony Newman’s prospects in Croydon.

First declaration now expected at around 2.20am.

1am: Ahhh, some actual news from @CroydonAd. “Two senior Tories” have told them that Labour has made a gain from the Tories in New Addington, with Louisa Woodley and Oliver Lewis winning that ward’s two seats, at the expense of Conservative Councillor Tony Pearson (George Ayres, the previous Labour councillor for the ward, has retired).

The Tories are, according to the Sadvertiser, “blaming the UKIP effect for splitting the Tory vote, and allowing Labour in”, which is a bit lame, since Pearson in 2010 was the first Conservative councillor in New Addington since 1971.

Councillor Tony Pearson: casualty of UKIP?

Councillor Tony Pearson: casualty of UKIP?

The result will be cheered by many regular Crystal Palace fans, who have not forgiven Pearson for his aggressive conduct towards them when working as a senior steward at Selhurst Park. So here at Inside Croydon, we’re putting it down to the Palace effect.

Or, as the late, lamented David Coleman would have said, one-nil!

Mike Fisher, Inside Croydon’s newest contributor, is saying that the result is “too close to call” (that’s electioncountspeak for “I dunno”), with Ashburton and Addiscombe both close. Which was always going to be the case.

Indeed, until an hour ago most senior Tories were in the room watching the Waddon count, and then all left en masse, as if there was a “crisis” elsewhere at the count. Hence Fisher’s concern for Ashburton, perhaps?

12.35am: Meanwhile, over on the Croydon Sadvertiser “live” blog, this cutting-edge political analysis: “I asked reporter Andrew Jameson for some ‘juicy tidbits’ from the count. What’s he come back with? ‘Gavin Barwell MP is struggling with a vending machine’.”

Of course, as everyone knows, public schoolboy Barwell normally has his fag, Mario Creatura, operate vending machines for him.

And this on the Sadvertiser blog, too: “Comment From Guest: ‘I’m off to Inside Croydon’.”

In the meantime, reports from the BBC across the borough boundary in Sutton suggest that the incinerator-commissioning LibDems could lose control of the council for the first time since 1986. They went into yesterday’s election with 43 of the 54 councillor seats there, the Tories holding all but one of the rest. Lembit Opik is already calling for Nick Clegg, the deputy PM in the ConDem coalition, to be sacked as his party leader.

Midnight: The verifying (which is not counting) of the Euro poll and local election votes got underway in earnest about an hour ago, and is continuing. Count has not yet begun.

Early indications in the Croydon council elections are that “Ashburton is not looking good for the Tories,” according to one candidate, “Addiscombe and Waddon both very close.” Well, that’s what you get with battleground wards.

Addiscombe is the Croydon Central ward held by Labour which is a Conservative target, while in Waddon, the Croydon South ward that was a key target for Labour, the Tory vote has held up, but the outcome could still be close.

That might suggest that the “UKIP effect” has not played as much a role in Waddon as has been suggested elsewhere in the country – such as, “the Tory family has fractured in a way that simply cannot be recovered in time for the General Election”, was the BBC’s Nick Robinson’s latest bit of analysis.

Again, @LabourList has offered some helpful insight on the early ward declarations in Sunderland: “Two wards have been declared in Sunderland, and Labour have held both comfortably, as expected. But in both, UKIP have gone from not standing, to second place finish with over 30 per cent of the vote. Not enough to scare Labour in such a safe area, but it shows them making real inroads to our heartlands – and Labour’s vote has dropped by almost 25 per cent in one of those seats.”

As @DavidCallam1 observes on Twitter, if UKIP got 24 per cent of the vote in Croydon, chances are they’d hold the balance of power in a hung council.

Anyone mention the LibDems? No, didn’t think so.

Meanwhile, “Raymond from Addiscombe” has been in touch. “The new town hall”, he means council offices,  “was a gift to Labour but they didn’t use it to full effect – £140 million wasted!”

11.30pm: Got a helpful tip from the council leader, florid-faced Mike Fisher, earlier this afternoon.

A day after getting his leader’s statement to us (a day late), Fisher texted just before 6pm to say, “Steve, We are going to Cheyne Walk and Annandale, Mike”.

This appears to indicate that at least two senior Tories (assuming the “Steve” was O’Connell) were applying their (questionable) charms and shoe leather to knock on doors in the usually safe Tory ward of Ashburton.

Worried much?

  • We welcome your election-day pictures and information, your comments and your observations, which you can email to us at inside.croydon@btinternet.com or via Twitter @InsideCroydon, using the generic hashtag #LE14

11.20pm: Spent part of the evening observing a group of canvassers “out on the knock” in Waddon ward. 

What was interesting was how Labour’s activists were operating in clutches of four to six, including some senior councillors and other candidates.

Phil Thomas: Less than friendly

Phil Thomas: Less than friendly when out canvassing on the streets of Waddon

The Tories, though, were only seen out in just ones and twos. Councillor Tony Harris gave a cheery wave to his Labour rival, Andrew Pelling, as he passed by driving his camper van.

It is fair to say, though, that the aggressive and accusatory Councillor Phil Thomas, working far away from his own ward of Selsdon and Ballards, was less than friendly.

Thomas was knocking on doors in the marginal Tory ward along with Purley councillor, and generous Tory party donor, Badsha Quadir, so presumably neither are at all worried about their own chances of re-election. It was noticeable that despite having the benefit of two council parking permits, cabinet member Thomas parked his car on a yellow line. Was he undertaking official council business?

11pm: Early indications from a couple of polling stations in a key ward is that turn-out today could be below 30 per cent. Fewer than 600 people from a voting district of around 2,000 souls had bothered to cast their votes by 9.30pm.

If that is the case, that may tend to work against Labour, as traditionally the Conservatives manage to get out their vote, and also have strong postal voting figures.

But the great imponderable in this election  is UKIP, and there have been some suggestions that many older, traditional Tory voters, who normally vote by post, will have done so but could have switched in significant numbers to UKIP. And presumably they will have posted their votes off before UKIP’s South Norwood candidate Winston McKenzie’s clusterfuck “carnival” performance earlier this week.

All of the above having been said, @LabourList is reporting their party HQ predicting turn-out in the mid- to low-30 per cent, and are confident of making gains in “key marginal general election 2015 areas”.

10.45pm: Our oftentime contributor @DavidCallam1 has been in touch on Twitter, taking issue with the “expert analysis” offered on BBC London by Tim Donovan, who has managed to find himself all the way to Trinity School.

“BBC’s Tim Donovan says Croydon is a Tory/Labour two-horse race so it must be so, mustn’t it?”, Callam said, somewhat pointedly. 

And Charlotte Hickson, who may be a LibDem supporter from Coulsdon, has been in touch to say that she had “heard that the Coulsdon East Tory team went to New Addington “.

In truth, BBC London’s choosing to focus its coverage on Croydon shows that it really is  one of the tightest battles in the capital. Hold on to your hat, loyal reader.

10.30pm: Thanks to Ally McKinlay, of “Waddon on Wandle” who has tweeted @InsideCroydon to say, “I can confirm that I have voted and so has my wife.”

Over at Trinity, the posh private school three miles out of the centre of town selected as the venue for the count tonight, the first ballot boxes have arrived and are run into the hall where the action will take place.

We’ve heard that the key marginal wards are to be counted first, and from another source that New Addington may be the first ward to be counted.

Council staff, suitably with police escort, run in the first ballot boxes of the night for the count

Council staff, suitably with police escort, run in the first ballot boxes of the night for the count

10pm: And that’s it. The polls are closed, and now the local politicians have to wait a few hours to discover their fate.

If the BBC’s main news bulletin is anything to go by, then it will be UKIP who will be the big winners across the country today, with Nigel Farage the only national party leader to be featured doing the obligatory polling-station-to-cast-his-vote photo op, and with Nick Robinson, the BBC’s political editor, announcing portentously, “The game has changed tonight, and we’re about to discover by how much.”

  • We welcome your election-day pictures and information, your comments and your observations, which you can email to us at inside.croydon@btinternet.com or via Twitter @InsideCroydon, using the generic hashtag #LE14

 

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
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13 Responses to Labour poised to take control of council as Tories blame UKIP

  1. Rod Davies says:

    This outcome should be a wake-up call for the Conservatives. Blaming UKIP is self-deception.
    On the national stage the Conservative Party has chased after UKIP on the EU, pandering to the “little Englanders”.

    Locally the Croydon Conservative leadership has failed to engage with the middle and north of the borough, and often has seemed indifferent to and disconnected from a large proportion of the community. Boasting about how many flats will be built is beyond irrelevant to many people if the price of these properties are beyond the reach of the average person.

    The Labour Party has been active, working hard for basic local concerns.

    If the outcome was unfair to any party, it was unfair to the LibDems whose activists do get engaged and work hard for the community.

    In Addiscombe UKIP’s Peter Staveley has been active and been successful, coming over as a down to earth representative of the established community. In fact UKIP might have been better rolling him out the other day instead of Mr, McKenzie!

    This result must be unnerving for Gavin Barwell. The local Conservative Party machine is failing him and doesn’t effectively act on behalf of his constituency. He must feel a certain degree of betrayal by the Croydon Conservative elite.

  2. Danny Stanzl says:

    Is this the end of insidecroydon now?, as you won’t have anything to moan about now your chums are in?

    • Rod Davies says:

      I disagree with this sentiment, the role of Inside Croydon will become perhaps even more important to make sure that the Labour Party does not slide into the same partisan stance that is evident among the Conservatives.

      Even if Inside Croydon is a friend of the Labour Party, the best friend anyone can have is the friend who is willing to tell the uncomfortable truths, and that’s a major challenge for everyone involved.

      The Labour Party failed before on many counts. Primarily it failed to change the core culture of Croydon Council and making it fit for the present and the future. We can see the evidence of that failure around us in the divisions in the Croydon community.

      The last thing Cllr Newman and his colleagues need right now are a bunch of sycophants pandering to their egos, not simply for the Labour Party but in the interests in the borough.

      Back in the late 1970s Field Marshall Lord Carver was interviewed on TV and asked which political party he preferred. There was the assumption that he would say the Tories. Surprisingly he stated the Labour Party and explained that the lack of a convivial chummy relationship compelled the armed forces to present coherent arguments for investment and resulted in far more balanced funding across the services.

      The same applies in Croydon now, the Labour Party needs to be challenged and required to present balance coherent plans for the whole borough based on realistic achievable objectives.

    • mraemiller says:

      I’m sure there that although there will not be as many Council-led disasters to point out, but there will still be quite a lot of Council-led cock ups that will need some explaining

  3. Rod Davies says:

    By the way – on behalf of the people of Croydon I’d like to give a great big thanks to Kevin, Chris & Mel the behind the scenes election logistic team who work tirelessly to make the elections a reality. They are the exhausted trio who will have made sure that there are polling stations, the right equipment is delivered and then brought back and who work 36 hours straight from before dawn on the Thursday to late Friday afternoon.
    Well done!

  4. There were wise words from a Conservative council candidate in a marginal ward contest today – it is the collapse in the Lib-Dem vote with Labour being amongst the beneficiaries that is a bigger part of the story in the Croydon local election than the role of people turning to UKIP.

  5. Danny Stanzl says:

    Putting our house up for sale in Waddon next week, I’m not staying in a ward ruled run by Pelling

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