De-selected Pollard quickly finds Fairfield ward an easy Fitze

Congratulations to the Pollard family, who had to go barely 24 hours facing the horrible prospect of living like ordinary, hard-working Croydon residents and no longer receiving their annual “allowances” total of £67,354 for their part-time roles as Croydon councillors.

Councillor Helen Pollard: back in the money

Councillor Helen Pollard: back in the money

Helen Pollard, whose husband Tim is the deputy leader of the Tory group on the Conservative-run Croydon Council, failed to be re-selected as a party candidate in the ultra-safe Heathfield ward at the weekend. Helen Pollard got dumped ahead of May’s local elections in favour of Andy Stranack, the evangelical supporter of local MP Gavin Barwell.

But last night, her family’s agonising over how they might manage the weekly shop without the £21,510 she brought in as a borough councillor was ended when the Tory membership in Fairfield ward (or at least, those few who bothered to turn up for the meeting) took pity on the Pollard family’s plight and chose to give her another chance.

Helen Pollard’s easy shift from Heathfield to Fairfield, while Tim Pollard stands in Sanderstead, demonstrates the here-today-gone-tomorrow convenience with which many councillors regard their association with a particular part of the borough. That some Tory councillors have been selected in the past week at ward meetings attended by fewer than 10 members underlines the fragile relationship that local politics has with “democracy”, beyond being run for the benefit of a politically active clique.

Helen Pollard will now appear on the ballot form in Fairfield on May 22 alongside the diligent Susan Winborn and the ambitious cabinet member, Vidhi Mohan, a man who is so far removed from reality that he has been appearing in official council press releases to claim, apparently in all seriousness, that Croydon is about to create 28 – count ’em! – new parks across the borough.

The Twitter exchange in which Vidhi Mohan lied publicly about a Council Tax cut in Croydon in 2014

The recent Twitter exchange in which Vidhi Mohan was caught out trying to lie about a Council Tax cut in Croydon

This is ludicrous enough, but it is not the most egregious example of Mohan’s dissembling, fibs and half-truths.

He recently claimed via Twitter that Croydon was cutting Council Tax. In fact, Croydon’s Tories are freezing the rate of Council Tax.

There is a slight reduction in bills across the capital as a result of London Mayor Boris Johnson providing a politically helpful cut in the precept from City Hall (paid for in part by closing fire stations across the capital). But it must be of some concern to those considering Mohan for political promotion that he has such a poor grasp of how local authority funding works, or is so willing to make such blatant lies.

The casualty making way for Helen Pollard in Fairfield is David Fitze, the former senior council employee who has been a councillor in the ward since 2006, the year when the Conservatives regained control of Croydon Town Hall.

David Fitze: gone, but will he be forgotten?

David Fitze: gone, but will he be forgotten?

It is noticeable that while Helen Pollard lists a single additional responsibility on her council profile page, Fitze was very busy across a range of community activities and committees, including being a board member of the Fairfield Halls and holding positions on the licensing committee, health and social care scrutiny sub-committee, and the police consultative group.

But it was in another role, that of chairman of the audit committee for the NHS Primary Care Trust that somehow overlooked a “missing” £21 million of public money, that Fitze risked becoming a political embarrassment for his party bosses at Croydon Town Hall. Sweeping him aside now in favour of Helen Pollard kills two political birds with a single stone for Mike Fisher and Phil Thomas.

In other Tory ward selections, it is a case of as your were The (very safe, if a little damp around the edges) Kenley ward has announced that Steve “Three Jobs” O’Connell, dubbed Britain’s most over-paid local councillor by the Daily Mail, will again accompany Steve Hollands and Jan Buttinger as candidates for election on May 22.

In (not-quite-so-safe, but no-need-to-panic-just-yet) Croham, Maria Gatland, the former IRA gun-runner, is again chosen as a candidate by suburban members of what was once known as the “Conservative and Unionist Party”, along with Michael Neal and the builders’ supplier Jason Perry, who somehow manages to square that commercial interest with his on-going membership of the council’s planning committees.

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