You can make today’s council elections all about trust

STEVEN DOWNES, editor of Inside Croydon, winds up the pre-election coverage on what all parties agree is a vitally important day for the borough

This is the £1 billion local election.

As if eyeing a prize dangling at the end of a special Croydon edition of Who Wants To Be A Billionaire, the local Labour and Conservative parties know that on offer is the opportunity to have their hand on the tiller at the Town Hall as the £1 billion Hammersfield development comes to fruition. Handled properly, for the benefit of the many, it can help the town prosper for a generation. But handed over to a few greedy developers, few people in Croydon will truly benefit.

Less often mentioned, at least by the Conservatives who have been running – or is that ruining? – Croydon for eight years is the £1 billion debt that they have accumulated since 2006.

Croydon's councillors 2010-2014

If the political map of the borough is to change at all, then it is up to the people of Croydon, and Inside Croydon’s loyal reader, to carry out their civic duty at a polling booth today.

Make no mistake, if florid-faced Mike Fisher and his Tory cronies cling on to power after today’s election, they will change the face of Croydon forever. Barely disguised attempts to gerrymander parts of the borough, with high-end Yuppie developments being built to the exclusion of more affordable homes, could secure marginal Tory parliamentary seat Croydon Central for the Conservatives for the foreseeable future.

That is why the MP for the Whitgift Foundation, Gavin Barwell, has been so hands-on in these local elections, openly joking that he has been working on the strategy for the last four years, as he has camped out in the Members’ Room at the Town Hall – an area supposedly reserved for current, not past, councillors. Such is Barwell’s, and Croydon Tories’, arrogant sense of entitlement and privilege.

This election really ought to be about trust.

Mike Fisher, the leader of the council these past eight years, said he wanted the election to be fought on the Tories’ record, and he then spent the entire campaign talking about little else other than what happened at the Town Hall before 2006.

Of course, a vote for any other political party today requires an act of trust in what they say they will do when in office. Thing is, every other political group standing in Croydon today have put forward some sort of manifesto of policies, and most include promises to greater accountability and transparency.

The Conservatives who run Croydon have been profoundly unaccountable and have encouraged a culture at the council where transparency is actively discouraged.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that over the past eight years, the Conservatives in Croydon have lost our trust?

  • Overnight we will be reporting live on the count from Trinity School, where the first results are expected after 2am. We welcome your election-day pictures and information, your comments and your observations, which you can email to us at or via Twitter @InsideCroydon, using the generic hashtag #LE14

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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