Councillors and council officers have been playing a Croydon version of “Where’s Wally” at the Town Hall since before Christmas.
This game’s called: Where’s Mike Fisher?
The florid-faced leader of the council, and supposedly the leader of the Tory group which runs Croydon Council, was not seen in his expensively secured office at the Town Hall last week, and they say that his appearances at his desk and in Fisher’s Folly, the £140 million council head offices which he sanctioned to be built, have been fleeting at best since the last full council meeting, staged at the beginning of December.
Mike Fisher receives £53,000 per year in councillor allowances, plus expenses, for his part-time role.
“It looks as if he’s taken the Croydon South rejection really badly,” one concerned colleague told Inside Croydon. Fisher put himself forward for selection as the Conservative candidate for the ultra-safe Croydon South parliamentary seat in November, but failed even to make the short list.
The panel which chose the short list was dominated by Fisher’s Tory councillor “colleagues”, led by Phil “Two Permits” Thomas, renowned as the Town Hall’s political bruiser. Some have claimed that his colleagues’ back-stabbing rejection of his candidacy has made Fisher a lame duck leader of Croydon Tories, something which the Conservatives have publicly rejected.
“You could see that there were problems for Mike at the last Town Hall meeting,” the concerned councillor said. “It was all teed up so that Mike would make the final Town Hall speech of the year and get the usual, loyal standing ovation from the rest of the Conservative councillors.
“Trouble was, half of Fisher’s Tories stayed sitting down. It looked very bad for Mike. More Labour councillors stood up to applaud him that Tories in the end – but they were all taking the piss.”
Our source added, “It is almost as if he has given up since he failed to get selected for Croydon South. He’s hardly been seen at the offices. Now it looks as if Thomas is running things.”
Fisher’s appearances in Shirley, where he is supposed to be a ward councillor, have also become increasingly rare, according to locals.
Fisher, who has been leader of the council since 2006, is expected to be at the Town Hall on Monday night, for the first set-piece council meeting of 2014, when he will not only have to deal with the usual Labour opposition, but also what seems to be divisions within his own Tory group.
There are suggestions that some right-wing Croydon Tories want to propose a cut to Council Tax at the forthcoming annual budget, to boost their chances of winning May’s local elections – this despite Fisher’s Tories having increased Croydon Council Tax only last year, and in spite of further, deeper cuts in local services being proposed because of a lack of funds.
Fisher has already had to resort to postponing candidate selection for the local elections, in order to head-off any possible defections to UKIP or being forced to hold by elections caused by resignations by disappointed and disaffected Tory councillors.
Croydon Conservatives are known to be struggling to fill the roster of 70 candidates to stand across the borough, with local MP Gary Barlow issuing letters – even to Labour supporters – asking them to come forward to stand in May’s elections (though somehow forgetting to mention that he is a Conservative).
The first council candidate ward selection meeting for the Conservatives for May’s elections is expected to be held this week in Addiscombe, one of the key marginal wards which could determine which party will control the Town Hall in May.
Addiscombe was won by Labour in 2010, with Sean Fitzsimons, Mark Watson and Patricia Hay-Justice becoming councillors with wafer-thin majorities, none of them with 200 votes more than their Tory rivals, and one with just a 52-vote advantage.
If the Tories can find candidates that could win back these three Town Hall seats, they would likely retain control of the council. But then, if their florid-faced leader can’t be arsed to show up at the Town Hall, why should anyone else be bothered?
- Leaks in £140m council offices cause more problems for Fisher
- Fisher fears defections to UKIP and bans “musical chairs”
- TaxPayers’ Alliance say Fisher is “part of entitlement culture”
Coming to Croydon
- STDLCC Screening: The East, Jan 20
- South Croydon Heritage Trail meeting, Jan 20
- Holocaust Memorial concert, Jan 25
- STDLCC Screening: Winter Nomads, Jan 27
- Renaming ceremony for Lake Conan Doyle, Feb 1
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Feb 3
- Babylon at the Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 4-6
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 8 and 13
- Mark Steel at Ashcroft Theatre, Feb 12
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Mr Pooter comes to Croydon, Feb 20-22
- Stop the Incinerator fund-raiser, Feb 24
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
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