Conference at Trinity School may jeopardise charitable status

More on the apparent disconnect between brain and mouth (well, keyboard) of some of Croydon’s Conservatives who are running Cameron’s Crazy Council.

Clare Hilley: tomorrow belongs to me

Clare Hilley is a relatively new councillor, for the Waddon ward. But she should at least know what parliamentary constituency she lives in and represents.

Next Saturday, she’s organising a one-day conference. Not in her own ward, and not with her own local Croydon South MP, the ever-distant Tricky Dicky Ottaway.

Hilley is the former reality TV “star” who was on BBC’s Castaway in 2007, when she finished 14th. Of 15. Now, as well as supposedly representing the residents of Waddon, the ambitious Hilley is a big wheel in the ultra-Tory organisation Conservative Future (motto: “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”?).

We have no idea what Hilley’s little conference is about. She doesn’t bother to mention it on her excitable “blog” (“Ooo. I met Maggie Thatcher! Oooo! I was only 20! Ooooo! She is a real Conservative!).

But the conference must be good: it costs £16, and is staged at Trinity School in the plusher environs of Shirley Park (not in the more marginal ward of Waddon).

“We have secured two Ministers and two PPS’s to speak as well as our local MP Gavin Barwell,” Hilley gushes.

Gavin Barwell is MP for Croydon Central.

Waddon, Hilley’s ward, is in Croydon South.

That makes Barwell “a local MP”, but not “our local MP”.

Shouldn’t a local councillor know that sort of thing?

Or maybe Hilley is just too uncomfortable working for such a marginal ward, with so many nasty non-Conservatives living there?

It appears anyone can attend Hilley’s conference next Saturday, provided that they pay their 16 quid for a conference that is about… well, no one knows (but there’ll be wine and a buffet lunch; it better be a good one for that price).

“A programme will be sent to applicants by return,” writes Hilley, suggesting that they might make it up as they go along. Like so much that is done at Cameron’s Crazy Council.

Maybe those attending Monday’s protest at Croydon against the Conservative council’s cuts might want to sign up to attend and extend their lobbying to this obviously partisan, party political conference .

When there, they might want to ask David Evennett MP, the parliamentary private secretary to Education Minister Michael Gove, why an “independent school”, such as Trinity, which benefits from massive tax breaks, is able to host such an overtly political event without jeopardising its charitable status?

Barwell is chairman of the Trinity School management committee, while Dudley Mead, another member of Cameron’s Crazy Council, sits on the board of governors.

They, surely, should be aware of the strict requirements of the Charity Commissioners?

The Charity Commissioners are unequivocal about how charities should remain aloof from politics and elections: “The guiding principle of charity law in terms of campaigning, political activity and elections is that charities should be, and be seen to be, independent from party politics.”

That, surely, prohibits independent schools from hosting political rallies and conferences?

There are some who believe that giving tax breaks to schools that operate in a company with a £43 million annual turnover, such as the Whitgift Foundation that runs Trinity and other Croydon private schools, is profoundly wrong.

In all, private, fee-paying schools, including Call Me Dave’s own Eton College (annual fees: north of £24,000 per pupil per year) still receive tax breaks worth at least £88 million per year.

If Cameron and Gove’s government is seriously seeking to make non-ideological cuts to assist the national debt, surely removing private schools’ charitable status – a subsidy to every pupil at Eton, or Trinity, of more than £200 per year – would be right and proper?

  • So, if you want to attend a political conference on Saturday October 23 in a private school which receives massive tax breaks, and while there ask government ministers to justify such largesse, as well as the rest of their self-serving decisions, you should phone 020 8660 0491 for further details or email

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This entry was posted in Clare Hilley, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, Croydon South, Gavin Barwell, Richard Ottaway MP, Schools, Waddon, Whitgift Foundation. Bookmark the permalink.

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