Croydon wasted tens of thousands on failed city bid

Well thank goodness that that piece of ill-advised, delusional nonsense is over. Mind you, Croydon’s misconceived bid for city status was dead in the water the moment that the Jon Rouse-led council published its bid book riddled with laughable errors and inaccuracies.

Last September, Inside Croydon said of Croydon Council‘s bid document: “Anyone who lives in Croydon – whether they think the borough ought to have city status or no – would be entitled to feel a sense of squirm-making embarrassment that such a half-baked, half-arsed and half-completed document should ever have been put into the public domain in their name.”

St Asaph. This village in North Wales is now a city. Croydon isn't. Mike Fisher must be so proud

The litany of errors, plus all the bogus claims made in the Rouse-Fisher-led council’s desperate attempt at city status is well worth another read. Just click here.

Being Jubilee Year, Her Maj is doling out certificates to three local councils – one each in England, Wales and Scotland – so that in future years, worthies wearing quasi-medieval robes and medallions, all paid for on the rates, can call themselves “Lord Mayor”.

Croydon got “beaten” by Chelmsford, while Perth in Scotland and St Asaph, a village in North Wales, will in future be regarded as cities. St Asaph is an interesting choice: population less than 4,000, it has a couple of pubs and an Indian takeaway, and is policed by a single constable. But St Asaph does have a cathedral, and has had one since 560 AD, so it really ought to have been regarded as a city long ago.

The fundamental truth which Croydon’s city bid overlooked is that we are a large borough in the greatest metropolitan area on the planet. But apparently that is not enough for the egos of Croydon CEO Rouse and council leader Mike Fisher.

If only they paid attention to an online poll conducted on another local website. Less than half the respondents were in favour of city status for Croydon, while 32 per cent were outrightly hostile.

But the single most damning figure about Croydon’s failed bid for city status was that 17 per cent – nearly 1 in 5 – said that they didn’t give a toss. #thatissocroydon

How much did this benighted project cost the Council Tax-payers of Croydon at a time of job cuts and axed services?

Probably around £60,000, according to deputy leader of the council, Cuddly Dudley Mead.

In a written answer at Town Hall questions, Mead tried to play fast and loose with the the actualité when he stated that the “only expenditure that went into our 2010 bid for City Status was the officer time in producing the bid document and the cost of printing it”.

Print costs, Mead informed us, were a mere £1,023. So the only real cost was in the “officer time”, on which Mead was noticeably coy. Of course, if the bid document was written and edited by a local primary school – because it certainly read that way – then the officer costs would be minimal.

The likelihood is, however, that the near-illiterate bid book was produced by the council’s in-house press “team”, under Danny Brierley. Mead also failed to mention the associated costs of the dipsy and derivative publicity campaign (“I love Croydon” – a 40-year-old slogan lifted from New York when that city was bankrupt, another real PR coup for Croydon), some of which has been run “off the books” of the council, done by expensive consultants, and which may have been paid for from funds supposedly obtained to help the victims of the 8/8 riots.

According to Mead, “The previous bid, made under Labour in 2002, was costed at £60,000, but failed.”

In the absence of a more honest and frank answer from Mead, it must be reasonable to assume that, nearly a decade later, the manpower costs of producing an atrocious bid book for a misguided city status bid under the Conservatives will have been at least the same.

And similarly failed.

  • Inside Croydon: brought to you from the heart of the borough, free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon

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
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2 Responses to Croydon wasted tens of thousands on failed city bid

  1. ndavies144 says:

    I reckon its been worth it just for the entertainment value. There are few as risibly pompous as local councillors; just remember, they actually believe in this stuff. Despite being in contention with the likes of Reading and Colchester and Dorchester, places many thought were cities in the first place, they pressed on regardless: egged on, I suppose, by the thought of being bested by similarly suburban Stockport or Dudley.

    I’d love to see Tower Hamlets’s submission.

  2. Quite apart from the poor quality of the bid document, there was never a realistic chance that Croydon would be made a city. As Inside Croydon points out this is because it is already part of a great metropolis – Greater London.

    The only boroughs in Greater London which have city status in their own right are Westminster and the City of London. This is for historical reasons – they were cities centuries before Greater London was formed.

    This simple fact should have been apparent to those at Croydon Council who wasted money on this venture. The point was made clearly in the decision documents following Croydon’s two previous failed bids.

    We can still be proud of Croydon as a part of Greater London. And we have the added bonus of being proud as Londoners.

    Maybe Messrs Fisher, Mead and Rouse should be surcharged for wasting our money on this doomed city status bid at a time when essential services in Croydon are being cut back.

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