Who is paying for Boris’s election stunt in Croydon?

3.45PM UPDATE: scroll down for an update, and check out the comments, too.

It is a sign that May’s London Mayoral election is to be a tough battle when a visit to Croydon expected tomorrow from incumbent mayor Boris Johnson is met with such anticipation, ANDREW PELLING writes

Are we set for another Mayoral visit dripping in insincerity?

Hopefully, tomorrow Mayor Boris will make it to East Croydon on time and not via East Dulwich.

The planned location for this assumed Valentine’s Day election photo opportunity visit will be Reeves Corner at 11.30am on Tuesday.

Interesting to note that politicians are once again paying less attention to riot-scarred London Road.

On Twitter and on Facebook, Croydon Business Improvement District’s Croydon Visitor Centre has been somewhat breathlessly calling for support for a photo-call at the designated time.

“Old Town Traders are invited to Reeve’s Corner at 11.30am on Tuesday 14th February to take part in an important press call/ photo call for Old Town and to toast to mark a positive future for local traders, 6 months after the riots. Please pass this message along – we are hoping for lots of support,” they gush.

Given the date, expect lots of scarlet-red, heart-shaped balloons, with senior figures political figures pledging that they “heart” Croydon, however insincerely.

If indeed this stage-managed event turns out to be another Mayor Johnson visit, you have to ask whether it is appropriate that an organisation funded by business rates collected by Croydon Council and which receives money from the council for work to promote Croydon should be openly acting as a cheerleader for one political party’s candidate’s election tour.

It is clearly contentious to be toasting an election candidate with the message that there is a positive future for them, when after six months the Mayor’s Office has not even paid a penny of the Riot Act compensation due to many Croydon traders.

Should we take from this publicity that more than 500 Croydon businesses in the BID scheme are actively endorsing Johnson’s mayoral candidature?

UPDATE: Over the weekend, we contacted Croydon BID to question its involvement in this photo-call.

It was gone 3pm today that we received this message from Maria Chapman-Beer:

“Tomorrow’s photocall is being organised by and in conjunction with local traders and business people in Croydon’s Old Town to demonstrate their commitment towards regenerating and restoring confidence in the area following last August’s disturbances.

“Croydon BID and the Croydon Visitor Centre’s role in this is simply to make people aware that the event is happening.”

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2 Responses to Who is paying for Boris’s election stunt in Croydon?

  1. Arfur Towcrate says:

    It would be just awful if a rival political party arranged for a counter-demonstration, or for some member of the awkward squad to ask why Boris and Croydon Council haven’t sorted out the compensation due to the riot victims.

    With the cameras running and the reporters scribbling, it would take the shine off his day, I can tell you.

    • Two minor snags…

      1, Boris avoids taking unprompted questions from members of the public, or the press, or the London Assembly, at every opportunity. Can’t think why.

      2, @AllAboutCroydon, an anonymous Tweeter that claims to represent local businesses (or at least those as pay it), has gone to great lengths to deny any politicisation of Tuesday’s meeting, and denied that Boris is to be in attendance.

      “Its [sic] a group of local people including retailers in Old town [sic] to promote the area. Nothing political about it.”

      But they have suggested that a similar event is being planned for London Road on Thursday. It could just be that Boris is on his way to Croydon this week after all.

  2. Business Improvement Districts are supposed to be independent of local authorities, by law.

    The original BID in nearby Kingston is an exemplary example, but the one in Croydon has been a propaganda tool for the council from day one; albeit that the council had a different political complexion then.

    I can only hope the businesses that are compelled to pay this 1 per cent levy on their rates will make their views known to BID managers. But I won’t be holding my breath.

    Apart from rolling out the welcome mat for a Mayoral candidate who happens to share a political philosophy with the majority party on Croydon Council, what has the BID done for central Croydon? Is it part of the reason why Nestle is on the move?

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