So, who is responsible for decisions taken by Croydon’s Conservative-run council?
Not senior councillors, if a recent “Nuffink to do wiv me, guv” email from Sara “Book Token” Bashford, the £43,339 per year part-time Tory cabinet member, is anything to go by.
Notionally, at least, Bashford is supposed to be responsible for “corporate and voluntary services” at Croydon Town Hall. It is worth re-stating that in her “spare time”, Bashford has a second job, also paid for out of tax-payers’ money, working in the constituency office of Croydon Central MP Gavin Barfwell. Barfwell’s staff selection policy is clearly not driven by the calibre of candidates for his jobs.
Our loyal reader will recall that Bashford is the senior Tory councillor who at a council meeting last month revealed that replacement taps – each costing £272.69 – were having to be fitted throughout Fisher’s Folly, within six months of the opening of our “cash-strapped” council’s £140 million headquarters offices. What Bashford failed to mention in her official answer was that the total bill for replacement taps would amount to £20,000.
Now, according to Bashford, it will be Croydon Council – or actually, you, me and all the Council Tax-payers of Croydon – who will be footing the 20 grand bill for the lovely new taps. They are having to be fitted because the ones originally installed had spouts too short to reach the sinks and so were pouring water all over the floors of the toilets across the building.
And there’s nothing that Bashford is prepared to do to claw back any of the public money being wasted in this way. But then, what’s a “mere” 20 grand of other people’s money?
Bashford is the woman who seriously thought it would be cheaper to hand out book tokens to residents than to maintain the borough’s libraries. She was also behind the shambolic and costly tendering process to privatise Croydon’s libraries. And it was Bashford who closed the borough’s “cultural gem”, the David Lean Cinema, without checking the “on-costs” of security and maintenance of the less-busy Clocktower complex. The David Lean Cinema was re-opened this week – by the Mayor of Croydon.
And now we learn that Bashford and her spendthrift Tory council have presided over the cost of fitting out the new headquarters offices ballooning from £3.1 million to £3.9 million in the past year, when at the same time cutting public services such as street cleaning, school crossing patrols and weekly bin collections, all to “save” money.
A concerned resident wrote to Councillor Bashford about the taps, and after an initial reply, asked, “Although you say that the taps and basins were chosen by the council, if the council was not provided with a choice by the contractor as part of a wider selection… then the responsibility is surely a shared one between the council and the contractor?
“Is this a view held by the Corporation Solicitor?”, meaning the six-figure salaried Julie Belvir, the borough’s full-time legal officer and her staff.
This was the terse response that the Council Tax-payer received from Bashford (who is paid £43,339 a year in “allowances”, remember, to deal with enquiries such as this):
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:59:25 +0000
Thank you for your email.
Councillors do not make the decision about what taps etc are installed, staff are employed to do this and it was a member of staff who agreed the specification.
The tap design originally specified was thought to be the most appropriate at the time, but now we know an alternative is more appropriate.
I cannot comment on the Corporate Solicitors view, if you really want to obtain this you will have to write and seek it.
Good to see an elected councillor taking full responsibility for the actions of the council and council staff.
It would appear that it is not just the streets of Croydon which are lined with rubbish. There’s a fair amount of rubbish taking seats in the Town Hall chamber.
- Tax-payers get a soaking as council taps run up £20,000 bill
- Bashford admits Laings not best value in £30m library deal
- Croydon quizzed on hiring of security guards for Bashford
- Bringing crass Councillor Bashford to book over library costs
Coming to Croydon
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
- David Lean Cinema: 12 Years a Slave, Apr 3
- David Lean Cinema: The Great Beauty, Apr 10
- Norwood Society Talk: Crystal Palace, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Inside Llewyn Davis, Apr 17
- Opening of Marlpit Lane bowling and putting greens, Apr 17
- Arts and Crafts Market, Exchange Square, Apr 19
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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