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.
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:
- UKIP’s first batch of candidates were named exclusively by this site a couple of weeks ago
- Residents’ associations have declared their hands as far as standing in Coulsdon
- Informally, the Green Party has told Inside Croydon that they have selected more than 40 candidates to stand across the borough, with Croham being eyed with particular interest, though they’ve yet to share their identities with the people that they expect to vote for them
- and the local Labour Party has pretty much completed its selections, with just seven wards to the true blue south of the borough yet to nominate their “paper candidates”.
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.
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
Coming to Croydon
- This War! St Gertrude’s Theatre group, Feb 19-22
- Mr Pooter comes to Croydon, Feb 20-22
- Warm and Well event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 22
- Croydon Male Voice Choir concert, Feb 22
- Stop the Incinerator fund-raiser, Feb 24
- Fairtrade Film night, Antenna Cafe, Haynes Lane, Feb 27
- Fairtrade event, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 1
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 3
- Fairtrade stall at Food Market, Haynes Lane, Mar 8
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Mar 15
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- South Norwood Lakes Playground group workshop, Mar 25
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 516,649 page views (Jan-Dec 2013)
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