The day Boris and Croydon Tories found homelessness funny

Awkward... Boris Johnson, flanked by Croydon Tories Steve O'Connell and Mario Creatura, encounter a homeless man during their walkabout last year

Awkward… Boris Johnson, flanked by Croydon Tories Steve O’Connell and Mario Creatura, encounter a homeless man during a walkabout

Sometimes, we miss something.

So it was, nearly a year ago when the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, came to Croydon to announce the shot-gun marriage of Westfield and Hammerson over the £1 billion redevelopment of property at the centre of our town, much of which is owned by the Whitgift Foundation.

In all the excitement and brouhaha, we overlooked The Huffington Post’s capturing of  images of Boris and some of his local Tory cronies on a walkabout through Croydon.

The pictures are quite instructive.

In the first, above, we see Boris leading the way. He has clearly clocked the homeless man ahead of them. The scratch of the chin seems to suggest a thought along the lines of “Awkward…”.

Eagerly following in Boris’s slipstream (in so many ways) is  London Assembly Member Steve O’Connell, the most overpaid local councillor in Britain according to the Daily Mail, and MP Gavin Barwell’s state-funded Twitter account manager, Mario Creatura, all passing by a homeless man.

Croydon redevelopment plan

By the second frame, above, O’Connell seems to try to avert his gaze, looking up the stairway from the subway, perhaps to pretend the man and his dog’s not there.

Creatura looks, well…

The third shot (below) from a sequence taken by a Press Association photographer – who had been invited along by the Mayor’s press office to ensure maximum publicity, and therefore most of the credit for the £1 billion developers’ wet dream – is especially noteworthy.

Boris walkabout 2A

It appears to show Boris, in true Old Etonian and Bullingdon Club style, laughing and Creatura dutifully smirking as, to quote from the Biblical parable, they “pass by on the other side”of the homeless man.


It is worth remembering that, as a councillor for Kenley and a member of Croydon council’s inner cabinet, O’Connell has been party to discussions to “use all available bye laws” to have the Croydon Nightwatch soup kitchen for the poor, vulnerable and homeless moved from Queen’s Gardens. The soup kitchen there also happens to be an inconvenience for the speculative development into yuppie flats of nearby Taberner House.

Creatura is a public servant, a paid assistant to the MP for the Whitgift Foundation, Gavin Barwell. In 2010, Creatura was a failed Tory candidate in Selhurst ward in the Town Hall elections, but he is expected to run for the council again this May, and with Gav’s backing might be expected to be offered a more winnable ward to enhance his political ambitions.

This is not the first time that Creatura has been photographed in unfortunate circumstances. In 2012, he was at the centre of a police incident when some in a working group he was helping to organise racially abused people attending a local mosque.

Creatura’s boss, Barwell, has spent much time since he was elected to parliament cajoling and lobbying for the £1 billion Hammersfield scheme which will provide so many financial benefits for the Whitgift Foundation. And Croydon.

Laughing boy: Mario Creatura, the smiling face of Croydon's Conservative

Laughing boy: Mario Creatura, the smiling face of Croydon’s Conservative

Barwell has publicly opposed having a meaningful number of “affordable homes” included in the Hammersfield development, on the grounds that it would reduce the developers’ – and therefore the Whitgift Foundation’s – potential profits.

Of course, having fewer affordable homes provided in the borough does nothing to alleviate homelessness crisis in Croydon.

And Barwell has also backed Croydon Council in its efforts to move on the local soup kitchen, in remarks that drew comparison with the infamous comments of a Tory baronet who once described the homeless as “the sort of people you step over on the way out of the opera”.

Or in Creatura’s case, the sort of people you giggle about as you pass them by on the other side.

Coming to Croydon

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at

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
This entry was posted in "Hammersfield", 2014 council elections, 2015 General Election, Bernard Weatherill House, Boris Johnson, Business, Charity, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, Croydon Nightwatch, Environment, Gavin Barwell, Housing, Kenley, London Assembly, Mayor of London, Planning, Property, Steve O'Connell, Taberner House, URV, Whitgift Centre and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The day Boris and Croydon Tories found homelessness funny

  1. Is it actually known that this chap is homeless? Greggs coffee would be about half the price of Costa!

    The Bible and I suspect other “holy books” tell us of a duty to care for the poor and vulnerable as per the parable mentioned (Good Samaritan). Hopefully those on the walkabout will reflect on this and ensure that their “own house” is in order. Obviously most of us pay taxes to provide for benefits but this country also has a good record of giving, mainly through charities, above and beyond the tax regime. The richer you are the more you should be able to afford.

    • Nor do we know that the man in the picture had bought a cup of coffee from Costa, and not been given it by a more charitable passer-by, David.

      From the pictures, it looks as if he is using the cup as his collecting tin. Either that, or he’s pouring any coffee that was in the beaker over his dog.

      But there are no pictures of Boris or his lackeys chucking in a penny or two.

  2. Did I read somewhere that there is a means whereby process which enables one to donate a cup of coffee to a homeless person?

    A sad and poignant set of photographs, whatever the circumstances.

    • ndavies144 says:

      You might be thinking of Suspended Coffees

    • Giorgio at La Spezia delicatessen on Selsdon Road provides an awful lot of cups of tea and coffee to all sorts. He has also been known to organise a whip round to fund a homeless person with learning difficulties back to their family.

      Various other shops keep an eye out for vulnerable people in all sorts of little ways – we must support our local shops to keep these acts of kindness alive and to reward those who hold our community together everyday. Large supermarket chains are just not the same.

  3. davidcallam says:

    You can tell there’s an election imminent. And someone is desperate to unseat the Tories – by fair means or foul.
    I want to see them put out of office too, but not as a result of this kind of fact-free, innuendo-ridden twaddle.
    Shame on you Steven.

  4. Wow someone has donated some nice warm clothes for this homeless person (bless them). I wish someone could donate me some warm clothes. I wear a £28 torn leather(fake) jacket from Tescos which I bought 5 years ago.

    Had I known Boris was going to walk down that subway I would have done a better job as a homeless person by stopping Boris or at least asking O’Connell for some change.

    Your chap wasn’t good enough. Next time ask me please.

  5. derekthrower says:

    The first frame is telling. Homeless Person and Photographer. What do I do here? Johnson expression confirms the cynicism of his politics.

  6. mraemiller says:

    This is why homeless people shouldn’t have dogs.
    Dogs have done nothing to deserve meeting Boris.

Leave a Reply