Mike Fisher, leader of the Conservative group which controls Croydon Council, could face a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman following a ill-tempered email to a member of the public.
Yesterday, Fisher was sent a brief email from Pravin Shah, the secretary of the Harrow Council for Justice, with a link to a recent article about the resignation from the north London borough’s Tory group of Councillor Husain Akhtar.
The Conservative group in Labour-run Harrow is in some disarray: Akhtar was vice chairman of the Harrow East Conservative Association, and he was the only Muslim member of the Conservative group on Harrow Council. He is the third Harrow councillor to quit the Conservative party this year.
Not that this is of any interest to Croydon Council Leader Fisher. Less than 10 minutes after being sent the link to the article announcing the resignation of Akhtar, together with the message that HCJ has “significant interest” in Croydon, too, Fisher replied, rather impatiently, “Please do not send me any more of this rubbish”.
The terse, almost rude, response has prompted Dr Shah to consider a formal complaint about Fisher’s conduct.
“You owe us an apology otherwise expect a follow-up action,” Shah has written to Fisher.
Shah says he is “surprised” by Fisher’s language. “As an elected representative whose contact details are public, you are expected to receive communications from interested communities and organisations – if you can’t handle this, then you need not to be enjoying the financial incentive through the public funds,” Dr Shah has informed Fisher.
Fisher may be showing the strain of running Croydon’s Conservative majority councillors, as they oversee the building of the expensive council headquarters as part of the secretive and struggling £450 million urban regeneration vehicle with Laings.
The work has had its compensations, though. According to estimates, Fisher has been able to claim allowances worth nearly £400,000 in six years. And according to some Town Hall insiders, Fisher, a Shirley ward councillor, is not the hardest working local representative.
Fisher is even reputed to have an agreement with the Conservative group in Croydon that he needs not work nor perform any official functions at weekends, making him very much a part-time leader of Croydon Council. And clearly more than a little tetchy if he is sent information on a Saturday afternoon.
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Well that is communication with the public from our delightful elected representatives. It is a fairly typical encounter, perhaps Mr Shah would like to attend a Council meeting and have the full multi-sensory experience of being demeaned by them. Few residents forget, I just do not understand how they get voted back in again…
I’m not sure the thought of being reported to the Local Government Ombudsman …Britain’s most toothless and complained about quango… will be keeping Cllr Fisher awake at night. Or indeed at his desk.
Yesterday my teacup had a storm in it.