Newman will “blow open the books” on £140m council HQ

Tony Newman, the leader of the opposition group on Croydon Council, has pledged that if Labour wins control of the Town Hall in the 2014 local elections, he “will blow open the books” to expose the hundreds of million pounds of spending – and borrowing – to which the current, services-axing administration, has committed the borough for decades to come.

Crystal palace: The new council HQ will cost every household in Croydon at least £1,000

Crystal palace: The new council HQ will cost every household in Croydon at least £1,000

Newman and the Labour group have been frustrated by Mike Fisher’s Conservatives on the details of a number of initiatives, most notably over the financial facts of the £450million “urban regeneration vehicle”, the property deal struck with developers John Laing.

To this day, Croydon’s Tory-run council has refused to make public the half-billion pound contract. Even elected (Labour) councillors have been denied access to the paperwork.

It took until last month before the ruling Conservative group would even admit that Bernard Weatherill House, the new council headquarters building, is not, after all, being built at “nil cost” to the Council tax-payers as had long been claimed; instead, it is costing every household in Croydon at least £1,000.

Newman is adamant that Labour will boycott the champagne-swilling opening ceremony of the HQ building later this year, and that they will insist on proper disclosure of council contracts if they should win control at the 2014 elections.

They will also shine a spotlight on the conduct of all council meetings, promising to take up Croydon Radio’s offer to broadcast Town Hall debates – at nil cost to the Council Tax-payer.

Tony Newman: time to shed light on Croydon Council's secret deals

Tony Newman: time to shed light on Croydon Council’s secret deals

“I am again calling for all of Croydon’s local media to be allowed to broadcast live the meetings of our full council,” Newman said.

“This has the support of all my Labour colleagues and almost certainly some on the Conservative side, yet council leader Mike Fisher continues to block it. One has to wonder why? What has he got to hide?

“I have made it clear that a Labour Council will have as a first principle that every piece of council business that can be, will be and should be in the public domain. That is the reverse of the current lot, whose default position is secret papers and secret meetings, where they have then nodded through decisions to build their controversial incinerator and their £140 million luxury council HQ,” the councillor for Woodside said.

“In 2014 I pledge now a Labour Council will blow open the books on the luxury HQ for all to see.

“This is the right thing to do in terms of public accountability and it will enable both the public and us to understand quite the level of debt Councillor Fisher has left us all with for generations to come.

“In the meantime, I promise neither myself nor my Labour colleagues will be supping Tax-payer funded champagne on the day the Tories finally open their glass vanity palace.”

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2 Responses to Newman will “blow open the books” on £140m council HQ

  1. Mr Newman’s comments are refreshing to read.
    Pardon my scepticism, but will he be free to keep his promise to open the books if his Labour group is returned to power next year?
    Can he be sure that Laing has not secured some kind of confidentiality agreement with Mike Fisher and Croydon Conservatives that binds this and any future council administration?
    If the company wants the details kept secret, for whatever reason, it would be hugely remise of it not to obtain a watertight undertaking to that effect.

    • It’s not unreasonable to say that these are the comments of a politician who is not in power, but is seeking your vote at the next election.

      The calculation which the electorate, ordinary Croydon people, must make, is this any more trustworthy than the current administration, which made promises about not building an incinerator, but is now doing so; the current administration which almost doubled the stealth tax of residents’ parking permits; which has reduced by 50 per cent the number of bin collections we have; which has axed the David Lean Cinema, the annual Mela and privatised our public libraries, without ever mentioning this in their manifesto?

      First Phil Thomas. Now Jon Rouse, the supposedly apolitical CEO. Who will be the next to go from the shabby administration that has been running Croydon into the ground?

      Newman has made his politician’s promises. Inside Croydon will be here to hold him and his colleagues to account should they win the 2014 local elections.

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