New Addington councillor Ayres announces retirement plan

George Ayres, the Labour councillor for New Addington, is to retire before the local elections next year.

Retiring: New Addington councillor George Ayres

Retiring: New Addington’s George Ayres

Ayres celebrated his 68th birthday earlier this month, and has advised the local Labour party that he will not be seeking nomination for the 2014 Town Hall elections.

First elected to the council in 2006, Ayres was elected again in 2010, but this time alongside the Tory, Tony Pearson, as Labour lost one of the two seats in the ward. New Addington’s seats are key targets for Labour in its bid to take control of the council in 2014.

“No ward is more important,” Ayres told Inside Croydon. “Together with Fieldway, New Addington is key to getting overall control of the council.

“It’s also the toughest ward in the borough for councillors, both in terms of the workload and the expectations of the residents.”

Labour in the neighbouring Fieldway ward on Saturday re-selected sitting councillors Simon Hall and Carole Bonner to stand for election in 2014.

“The area is traditionally Labour, and UKIP will target the estate, as they won the popular vote there in 2009,” Ayres said. “I hope the Labour party selects strong candidates for the ward who respect and work for the community.”

Ayres, from a family of union campaigners and suffragists, has been active in the labour movement for more than 40 years, having been elected to the national committee of the financial sector trades association at the age of 27, where he spent much time working for recognition rights in banks and insurance companies.

After rising to the role of chief executive in an international insurance company and working on the London markets, Ayres took an active part in local politics after his retirement.

There’s is a strong sense of unfinished business in New Addington for Ayres, who intends to continue his work for local residents in the coming 12 months. “We need to change the relationship, regain the respect from electors, to make the council much more a participatory democracy rather than a non-consultative democracy,” Ayres said.

Ayres has worked with Croydon Voluntary Action to secure £50,000 pilot funding from the NHS towards a project based in the old council housing offices and now vacated New Addington Library building to work on greater community involvement by local GPs.

Potential council candidate for Croydon? Emily Benn out campaigning with her grandfather

Potential council candidate for Croydon? Emily Benn out campaigning with her grandfather

Ayres talks of his ABCDs… the sort of Asset-Based Community Developments which were championed in Chicago by Barack Obama, and which involve local residents taking greater control over the management and delivery of public services, especially against a background of diminishing grant. “It’s going to be really challenging,” Ayres said. “I’m just not sure that the leadership of Croydon is ready for that.”

Ayres joins a number of Croydon councillors who will be retiring in 2014, including the Tories Graham Bass (Purley), David Osland (Coulsdon West), Avril Slipper (Ashburton) and Phil Thomas (Selsdon and Ballards).

Labour’s New Addington ward selection will see one woman and one man chosen. Short-listed for selection are 23-year-old Emily Benn, the grand-daughter of Tony Benn; and Allison Howe, who describes herself as “a socialist committed to equality and fairness”; while the men short-listed are Oliver Lewis, who is seeking selection for his first election, and Rob Elliott, the partner of Hall who was an unsuccessful Labour candidate in 2010.

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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
This entry was posted in 2014 council elections, Carole Bonner, Fieldway, George Ayres, New Addington, Simon Hall, Tony Pearson and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to New Addington councillor Ayres announces retirement plan

  1. “make the council much more a participatory democracy rather than a non-consultative democracy”

    This should be the rallying cry for the whole of Croydon.

    We have a hugely talented population who are systematically disempowered by our own Council; every time a member of the public tells me about going to the Council Chamber they talk about rude behaviour and ignorance.

    Asset-Based Community Developments have got to be developed by the Community. If they are farmed out to a QUANGO to “manage” , then that group become dependent on the income they earn to “manage” ABCD and effectively create another “dependency culture” to ensure their own survival and exclude the groups they have not “chosen”.

    Leadership in communities grows by not being managed by Government – it will come, it might be slow, it might make mistakes, BUT none of that matters, it is not about PR it is about real people empowering themselves…. enjoying their own small wins. The best contribution that Government can make is not to make things impossibly difficult, or so painfully humiliating that people withdraw from community involvement – so the Council Chamber and the openness of local Government need to change.

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