Fisher holds fire on Tory selections to force through budget

In 14 Thursdays’ time, on May 22, you will be able to vote for up to three people who you want to help run your local services until 2018.

Tory council leader Mike Fisher: expecting some stormy times ahead

Tory council leader Mike Fisher: expecting some stormy times ahead

Yet the Conservatives who have controlled Croydon Town Hall for the last eight years are being most reluctant to share with the ordinary voters exactly who they will have standing as candidates in their wards.

Why might that be? Secrecy?


Taking the electorate for granted?

Or is it just another sign that the leader of the council, florid-faced Mike Fisher, is losing his grip even within the Croydon Tories group? Information about their selected candidates from the other parties in Croydon has been shared with relative alacrity:

But the ruling Tories? You’d think that they don’t consider that the electorate needs to know the identities and backgrounds of the people who, on May 22, will want their vote.

At first, the selections were delayed by Fisher and Phil Thomas (the senior councillor taking a hands-on role in managing the Tory election campaign) until after the six-month cut-off date, to avoid unseemly by-elections being forced by disenchanted Tory councillors resigning if they were deselected.

But since November, when Thomas and a handful of other Tory councillors conducted what passed for a political coup in Croydon when they refused to put their own council leader forward as a parliamentary candidate in Croydon South, Fisher has cast a lonely figure, widely regarded as a lame duck.

Now Fisher must try to get his current councillors to negotiate next week’s key council budget meeting. “Fisher has purposely delayed the selection of any sitting councillors until after the budget council meeting,” one Town Hall council meeting regular said.

“This is so that sitting councillors do not know that they will be deselected and so might be so distraught at being deselected that they ‘forget’ to vote at the budget meeting or, worse still, vote the ‘wrong way’.”

There have been some straws in the wind over Tory selections, though. Former Croydon Mayor Eddy Arram and Avril Slipper look like being pensioned off in Ashburton, as Inside Croydon reported two weeks ago. David Osland and Graham Bass, from the Tory safe wards of Coulsdon West and Purley, respectively, are also expected to retire as councillors, offering a couple of thrusting young Tories – such as Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell’s faithful bag-carrier, the grinning Mario Creatura – a cushty little sinecure on the council.

In the north of Croydon, in safe Labour wards, the Tories will be nominating members prepared to make a “futile sacrifice”. In Norbury, for instance, that will be Gurmit Singh, Tirena Gunter and Ben Flook, a somewhat gauche schoolboy who, if the election were held today would not even be old enough to vote himself. Whether Conservative voters in Norbury feel that such candidates can properly represent them in a local election remains to be seen. It certainly does not signal any serious intent to contest the ward.

Addiscombe, in Croydon Central: a battleground ward in 2014, and probably at the 2015 General Election, too

Addiscombe, in Croydon Central: a battleground ward in 2014, and probably at the 2015 General Election, too

In the key battleground ward of Addiscombe, which the Conservatives will want to re-take in order to secure the council for another four-year term, the Tories have selected Partha Chatterjee, David Harmes and Lisa Terry.

In New Addington, another key ward in the election where the two council seats are currently split between Labour and the Conservatives, Lara Fish seems likely to be on the Tory ticket alongside Selhurst Park’s least favourite football steward, Tony Pearson, though the selection has to be confirmed at a meeting next month.

Inglis Road resident Harmes appears to a serious candidate with strong local bona fides, being the chairman of the Addiscombe safer neighbourhood panel, and chair of CHASE Residents’ Association.

Oddly, though, the Tories’ Addiscombe trio includes none of their three Conservative councillors who represented the ward as recently as May 2010: Russell Jackson, Andrew Price and Maria Garcia de la Huerta.

Were they dumped or did they jump?

“It contrasts with two of the three Labour candidates who lost in 2006 local elections being candidates for the same ward again in 2010, and winning,” our source in the council chamber suggested. “It hardly indicates the level of commitment to the ward that residents might hope for or expect from their council representatives.

“Whether they are not standing again through personal choice or any other factor, I’m surprised that, if any of them are still eligible to be candidates, the Tories wouldn’t see name recognition and experience or their record as councillors for the area as a plus. Unless the Tories in Addiscombe think the three new candidates all offer something else or they’ve been making a name for themselves in other ways.”

The Conservatives’ ward selection meeting dates for other wards are:

Ashburton Feb 28
Coulsdon East Mar 1
Coulsdon West Mar 2
New Addington Mar 3
Purley Mar 4
Shirley Mar 5
Waddon Mar 6
Sanderstead and Selsdon/Ballards Mar 7
Kenley and Heathfield Mar 8
Croham and Fairfield Mar 10

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3 Responses to Fisher holds fire on Tory selections to force through budget

  1. davidcallam says:

    Who cares?
    All these machinations will be of particular interest to political activists of all stripes – a relatively small minority of the electorate, I would suggest – and of no interest whatsoever to anyone else.
    Come the day, most people who bother to vote will do so for their favourite party, regardless of the name on the ballot paper.
    That’s how local democracy works – or not.The elections in May will be a crushing victory for apathy with a turnout of maybe 25 per cent?

    • You are probably right, David, though a pint of Harvey’s says turn-out across the borough with be nearer 30 per cent, because of the European elections.

      But at risk of sounding too much like “Citizen” Steve Reed OBE ( if politicians treat the electorate with contempt – by not announcing their selected candidates, or selecting someone who really ought to be concentrating on his A levels – then it is little wonder that the electorate treat politicians contemptuously in return.

      Of course, by denying information to voters, the two main parties (at least) may hope that those that do vote default to the way they’ve always voted… And so the status quo is preserved.

      And you think that’s a good thing, David?

  2. I am really surprised that no one seem to be bothered with our council’s £1.6 million annual wage bill for our councillors. This so called “allowance” was first introduced by the Labour group when they increased council tax by 27%.

    Surely those who were against the increase could have scrapped this allowance and saved the council some money. £43,000 for a cabinet member’s part-time income?

    I understand that when Labour was in power, this was the only income for a number of Labour councillors. Now this has become a retirement income for many councillors.

    There are millions out of work and unable to cope with the price increase of all goods and services. On top of that they have to call 0845, 0871 numbers for everything.

    For councillors this is not an issue as they have either their pension and the council allowance or their full-time job and their allowance. For cabinet members it is £43,000. In some cases the total income from council allowance for a family is £87,000 (both partners are cabinet members)

    It doesn’t look right specially when I have just paid £960 tax on the Job Seekers Allowance I received as unemployed. It took 21 months for me to find a job (just a temporary assignment).

    Who cares? I care about Croydon.

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