This one is firmly filed in the “you couldn’t make it up” category.
Cap’n Richard Ottaway, the absentee MP for Croydon South, is very much the inspiration for Inside Croydon. We attempt to detail his selfless public service at every turn.
There’s his keenness to claim as much money at the public expense as he possibly can contrive (that orthopaedic bed was so clearly a necessary business expense of being a local MP).
It is worth reminding our regular reader that the Conservative MP claimed more than £85,000 in second home expenses, which the Government’s independent investigator said was “excessive”, and persuaded him to pay back all of £2,382 he spent on his garden.
Even during last year’s General Election, Ottaway failed to see that his financial form filling was right. Or to properly supervise his agent in getting the job done properly.
There is Ottaway’s blatant and self-serving nepotism, with until 2010 the employment of his own wife as a parliamentary assistant on a tidy public salary, and this year his use of the daughter of a Croydon councillor during the summer holidays.
There is his refusal to condescend and actually live in his own constituency, preferring his mansion in Bletchingley. In any case, why does any MP need a “second home” (much of it paid for by the taxpayer) when their constituency is but a short commuter ride from Westminster?
And of course there is his wonderfully self-centred insistance of his going sailing at Cowes in the week after the Croydon riots. Aye, aye, Cap’n! Splice the mainbrace! Take another look at that story by clicking here.
In what is increasingly looking like a serious error of judgement by the local Conservatives Association, Ottaway was let off the hook after the MPs’ expenses scandal, given the all-clear to stand as a candidate for another, final five years. Ottaway appears to be making the most of his second chance, rarely distracted by local issues away from his far more important role as chairman of the foreign affairs select committee.
Now we get the case of the four-year-old girl, denied a place at her local primary, being told by Richard Ottaway MP to “get on her bike” to go to the school she has been allocated – all the way along the busy A22 at rush hour.
Tillie Johnson’s parents had applied for her to attend Roke Primary, where she had spent the previous year in their nursery school. She was only offered a place at Byron Primary, three miles away in Old Coulsdon.
Her father, Paul Johnson, decided to take the matter up with his MP, but it took nearly a month before he was given an appointment at Ottaway’s surgery. “He just said there wasn’t a lot he could do and that I should get Tillie a bike,” Johnson told the Advertiser.
“I asked him if he was suggesting I put my four-year-old on a bike by herself, to which he suggested maybe I get a tandem bike.”
A tandem? Try saying it in a voice like Dame Edith Evans, in the Importance of Being Earnest, and imagine Ottaway saying it. No, he’s not out of touch at all…
“I left his office completely incensed and utterly bewildered. I think for an MP to make these sorts of suggestions is absolutely outrageous,” Johnson grandstanded somewhat for the local rag. But he has a point.
And when the local paper tried to contact Ottaway for a comment, he was … out of the country.
- Richard Ottaway MP: putting the interests of the people of Croydon first. Once he’s done his expenses forms, sailed his yacht, and flown around the world on his much more important job…
- Inside Croydon: brought to you free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
- Absent MP Ottaway doesn’t know what day it is (insidecroydon.com)
- Crisis? What Crisis? Ottaway’s getaway on his yacht (insidecroydon.com)
- For Croydon MP Ottaway, it’s a case of jobs for the girls (insidecroydon.wordpress.com)
- Sadvertiser’s cheap photostunt amid other people’s misery (insidecroydon.com)