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.
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.
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.
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.
- £1bn property schemes, landowners and proper role of MPs
- Barwell provides a “nasty” reminder with soup kitchen blunder
- Council to use “all available bye laws” to move soup kitchen
- Noted: How our local MPs voted to oppose food bank motion
Coming to Croydon
- STDLCC Screening: Museum Hours, Jan 13
- “Croydon Communities Consortium” meeting, Jan 14
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Jan 16
- Croydon Ramblers, Chelsham walk, Jan 19
- STDLCC Screening: The East, Jan 20
- STDLCC Screening: Winter Nomads, Jan 27
- Babylon at the Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 4-6
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 8 and 13
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- 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 email@example.com