Labour select councillor from Kent to stand in Croham

Croydon Labour’s selection process for candidates to stand in next May’s local elections has stumbled into another potential controversy, after Chris Clark was chosen to stand in Croham ward in 2014.

Chris Clark, as he appears on the Ashford Council website. He has been selected to stand for Labour in Croham in 2014

Chris Clark, as he appears on the Ashford Council website. He has been selected to stand for Labour in Croham in 2014

Clark is currently a councillor in Ashford in Kent, and today he declined to answer questions regarding his plans over how he intends to reconcile how he can represent residents in two wards in two towns.

Clark has been a councillor in Ashford since 2011. In 2010, Clark stood as the Labour parliamentary candidate for the Ashford seat which was held by Damian Green for the Conservatives; Clark finished third.

The website of Ashford Council still gives Clark’s home address as being in Pluckley, Kent.

Croham is a rock-solid Conservative ward to the north of the Croydon South parliamentary constituency. In 2006, Maria Gatland, Michael Neal and Jason Perry were elected for the Conservatives, each polling more than 2,300 votes. None of the three Labour candidates, who all finished behind two LibDems, attracted support from more than 750 voters.

By 2010, as our loyal reader has pointed out, one Labour candidate managed to finish fourth in the Croham poll, beating all three LibDems, with 1,806 votes. But that was still around a thousand votes short of the worst performing, and elected, Tory.

For the elections in 2014, Labour in Croham has selected Claudine Reid, a local businesswoman, NHS hospital worker Paul Waddell and Clark.

Clark, who works in the communications department at Transport for London, has moved to live in Croydon recently, though he has not given up his elected position on Tory-controlled Ashford Council.

Clark was one of two candidates elected in Beaver ward in 2011, polling 481 votes – 29 more than his nearest Tory challenger.

There is an assumption among the leadership of Croydon Labour that Clark will stand down from Ashford Council as soon as possible, though that is unlikely to play out well with the residents in Ashford who voted for Clark.

Tory heartland: Croham ward. Which is not Ashford in Kent

Tory heartland: Croham ward. Which is not Ashford in Kent

Were Clark to resign now to concentrate on Croham, it would cause the expense of a local council by-election, since Ashford’s next Town Hall ballot is not due until 2015.

However, it is possible that Clark might opt not to stand down in Ashford  – keeping his own options open, but hardly showing a lasting commitment to the electors in either area.

As it is, unless there is a complete collapse in the Tory vote in Croham, the chance of Clark being elected as a councillor in Croydon appear quite slim, despite his season ticket at Crystal Palace and membership of Park Hill Allotments Society.

Inside Croydon asked Clark today whether he had provided any undertakings to the Labour members in Croham regarding his position in Ashford, and how he intends to reconcile being a local councillor in one part of south-east England while seeking election elsewhere. He declined to answer either question.

Clark sent this email response:  “I moved to Croydon from Ashford to be with my partner, who’s lived here all her life. I want to use my experience as a councillor to represent people living in Croham ward.

“I’m grateful that local Labour members recognised the value of my experience and chose me as one of their Labour candidates for the Croydon Council elections next year.”

Tony Newman, the leader of the Labour group at Croydon Town Hall said, “It’s great news that Labour has selected a strong team for Croham who are already working hard.

“Let the message ring out: Labour is taking the fight to the Tories right across Croydon.”

And some parts of Kent, perhaps?

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This entry was posted in 2014 council elections, Jason Perry, Maria Gatland, Michael Neal, South Croydon and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Labour select councillor from Kent to stand in Croham

  1. davidcallam says:

    It’s called going through the motions: fight an unwinnable seat this time and if you show promise we’ll find you a safer one next time.

  2. davidcallam says:

    Shortlisting is one thing; selection is another. Many are called, but few are chosen.

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