An open letter from Croydon to Minister Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps: does his entreaties for more openness in local government extend to Croydon?

Given Croydon’s “proud to serve” £660,000-a-year council press operation sees its role as to obstruct, misinform and deceive, and while the borough is on the Information Commissioner’s blacklist for its failure to respond in a timely manner to Freedom of Information Act requests, in the spirit of “openness and transparency”, over the weekend INSIDE CROYDON sent this letter to local government minister Grant Shapps

Dear Minister,

We have tried to contact you via Twitter, to no avail. We guess that the constant chatter on Twitter works against a proper dialogue.

We have sought to bring to your attention, and seek your comments, on a number of local issues in Croydon which ought to be of serious concern to you and your colleague, Eric Pickles.

Our council’s conduct is aggravated by its management’s, and councillors’, often aggressive and bullying attitude towards any who dare question their decisions, or who simply ask reasonable questions prompted by the absence of the sort of accountability, transparency and openness which you and Mr Pickles have sought to introduce to local government since last May.

For instance, in the March council invoices, the recipients of the two largest council payments, amounting to almost £4 million of public money, have been withheld. This, surely, runs counter to the intention of your legislation?

And now we learn that rather than conduct the referendum count on council premises, thousands of pounds of public money is being used to hire a hall in a local independent school which has very strong connections with certain leading members of the council. Asked to justify this, the council’s arrogant response was, “Because the returning officer has decided that is the best venue for it.”.

These are just the latest examples. Since launching our hyperlocal website less than a year ago, we have uncovered many other examples of our council’s secretiveness, misinformation and patronising attitude towards local residents.

So here at Inside Croydon, we seek your views: are we wrong to question our secretive local authority over the manner in which it imposes its decisions?

We await your response with keen interest,

Best regards,

The Inside Croydon Team

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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
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