Mike Fisher, the florid-faced leader of the Conservatives who have been running Croydon Council since 2006, is keen to see next Thursday’s election contested on his record in office. Unsurprisingly, the £1 billion debt that Croydon Council has built up on his watch is not something Fisher ever mentions.
Nor is the £140 million of our money that they have spent to build the luxury council head offices, also known as “Fisher’s Folly”.
Nor the record amounts which Fisher and his henchmen Dudley Mead and Steve O’Connell decided they should pay themselves in “allowances”.
When they were re-elected on to the Town Hall gravy train in May 2010 virtually the first thing they did was to increase councillors’ allowances. Mainly their own allowances.
Over the last four years of a Tory-run council, Croydon Council Tax-payers footed a total bill for councillors’ allowances of around
The figure is an approximation, since the finalised amounts for 2013-2014 have not yet been made publicly available by… Croydon Council. These millions of pounds are distributed among all our 70 councillors – Labour as well as the Tories – although those on the Conservative side of the council chamber receive considerably more.
It is one of the highest bills for councillors’ allowances in any local authority.
The individual payments for what is supposed to be a part-time role make for interesting reading:
- Mike Fisher pockets £53,223 per year. Plus expenses. Plus free parking. Plus various other tidy little perks of the “job”.
- Fisher’s deputy leader, Tim Pollard, gets £45,884. Pollard’s partner, Councillor Helen Pollard (de-selected by Tory members in Heathfield as not being good enough for them, and foisted on to Fairfield ward), tops that up with £21,510.
- Fisher’s other deputy (yes, he needs two), Dudley Mead, trousers a tidy £46,485. Like Pollard, Mead offers a Town Hall “special offer”, a sort of “Buy Two, Get One Household” deal: Margaret Mead gets allowances of £43,339. Not a bad income for a couple of pensioners.
- Steve O’Connell, the London Assembly Member for Sutton and Croydon, receives £43,339 for his spare time activity as a councillor for Kenley.
And so it goes on…
Could it happen again if the Tories win the Town Hall elections next week?
News from across the county border, in Surrey, suggest that it might.
It’s been trebles all-round at Surrey County Council lately, where they have to find savings of £72million from their services budget. But those tough decisions did not come before councillors there awarded themselves massive pay rises.
An independent remuneration committee recommended a generous 33 per cent increase in allowances for the council leader, David Hodge, and a 56 per cent hike for his deputy, Peter Martin. But Hodge and Martin ignored the committee’s advice and awarded themselves an inflation-busting 66 per cent increase in their allowances. Hodge and Martin now pocket nearly £100,000 a year between the two of them.
The Surrey councillors reckoned that 47 of the county’s 81 elected representatives were worthy of extra dosh in “special responsibility allowances”. According to this week’s Private Eye magazine, the remuneration panel wrote to the councillors in its recommendations to suggest that “the council should consider whether paying [SRA] to a majority of its members can be justified to the residents of Surrey”.
The council paid the increased SRA allowance, and opted to award it to 54 of the 81 councillors.
Total cost of the increases in councillor allowances is £216,600 – or more than the council has “saved” by cutting grants to some community projects.
Today, the remuneration committee in Surrey has resigned in disgust.
And in the case of any doubt, Surrey County Council is under the control of the Conservatives.
- Councillors’ allowances and the secret consensus
- Scrap council cabinet and councillors’ allowances, say TUC
Inside Croydon’s recent coverage of the local elections:
- Threat of UKIP forces Tories to press the panic button
- WEST THORNTON: Tories forget to include entire ward in election ad
- These are the councillors who voted to build on a public park
- Questions mount over political influence at council
- What Barwell fails to tell you and the myths of Council Tax
- The list of candidates for the May 22 local elections
Coming to Croydon
- Thornton Heath local election hustings, May 14
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- David Lean Cinema: The Invisible Woman, May 15
- Broad Green local election hustings, May 15
- Coulsdon West local election hustings, May 16
- Mrs McMoon and Signor Baffo at Stanley Halls, May 17
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Warehouse International Palywriting Festival, May 17-18
- Riverside Animal Centre Open Day, May 18
- Coulsdon East local election hustings, May 19
- St Giles’ primary school open morning, May 21
- David Lean Cinema: The Rocket, May 22
- Greek Myths: stories and mask-making, May 27
- Howard Marks: Scholar, Smuggler, Prisoner, Scribe, May 29
- David Lean Cinema: Dallas Buyers Club, May 29
- Tales from Ancient Greece, Upper Norwood Library, May 29
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, May 31
- Stitch Pitch quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, June 2
- Croydon Tech City “summit”, June 6
- Lakes Playground Action Group fun day, June 14
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, June 15
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Classic Car Show at Purley Rotary Fields, June 22
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- South Norwood Allotments open day, June 28
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- 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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