Well there we have it. Croydon Council last night passed a set of cuts to public services in the borough deeper and more vicious than anything imposed during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister. And the Conservative councillors applauded. Class.
In our wonderful Big Society, will Mike Fisher’s councillors be on hand for another round of applause when each of Croydon’s youth clubs and old people’s homes close their doors for the final time?
Will they be happy clapping as hard-working members of council staff, often on salaries of less than half the amount that the likes of Fisher, Pollard or O’Connell pocket for their elected duties, begin their redundancy facing an uncertain future for themselves and their families?
Even other Conservatives feel uneasy about the callous attitude shown by Cameron’s Crazy Council last night. “I didn’t cheer when Chancellor announced CSR,” Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, noted via Twitter (referring to the Comprehensive Spending Review).
It seems that in Croydon, “the Nasty Party” is re-born.
Elsewhere around the country, the consensus view, regardless of political affiliation, is that the Conservative-led government’s Eric Pickles has got it horribly wrong in terms of local council funding, which go far further than anything even Gideon Osborne and “Call Me Dave” foresaw.
Back here in Croydon, as they bulldozed through their swingeing cuts budget by 36-32 votes, the ruling Conservative group still could not get it right. It took the council’s solicitor an hour’s deliberation when it was pointed out that they had not been published the budget in due time. So was Croydon’s budget even legal?
With each passing council meeting, it is apparent that the fabric of Croydon council’s constitution is as robust as a piece of muslin cloth. Another reason for questioning whether chief executive Jon Rouse is really worth his near-£200,000 a year salary. His response will probably be to go out and, with the expensive help of some West End headhunters, recruit another £110,000-a-year assistant director to look in to it.
But the next time that your streets are left litter-strewn and unswept, or the streetlights in your neightbourhood remain unrepaired, just hold the image of Croydon’s 36 Tory councillors applauding. Nice.