Tony Newman, the new leader of Croydon Council, has announced his front-bench team following last Thursday’s Labour local election victory, with a line-up of mainly familiar faces after eight years in opposition.
The positions were determined by Newman following a meeting of his group on Friday, and the appointments made over the weekend. The Labour group will not be able to take up its work at the Town Hall until next Tuesday, June 3. “It gives Elvery plenty of time to allow the paper shredders to cool down before anyone from Labour can get in to check the books,” one senior council official suggested somewhat cynically.
The importance of delivering on Labour’s manifesto commitment to clean up the state of the borough’s streets is shown by the creation of a specific position of “Clean Green Croydon” which has been given to Stuart Collins, one of Newman’s two deputies, and someone who has done much work on the opposition to the Beddington Lane incinerator proposed by Sutton Council.
Some of the areas of responsibility are not entirely clear: for example, there are two cabinet positions described as covering “communities”. “We will be sending out further information to clarify areas of responsibility for each cabinet member shortly,” the councillors have been advised, with cabinet deputies expected to be announced today.
The only significant changes to the Labour team is the move of Kathy Bee from education to transport and environment, while Alisa Flemming, the Upper Norwood councillor with 10 years of experience as a case worker for Croydon North’s former MP, Malcolm Wicks, is promoted to the cabinet in charge of the children, families and education brief.
The cabinet sees Simon Hall with responsibility for trying to sort the council’s finances, which will include a forensic examination of the CCURV agreement with John Laing, the hard details of which the previous Tory administration has kept secret for more than five years.
Meanwhile Selhurst councillor Toni Letts continues to hold the key brief for economic development at the time of the £1billion Hammersfield development. This opens up new questions about possible conflicts of interest between those running the council and the land-owners at the centre of the scheme, since Councillor Letts also sits on the board of governors of the Whitgift Foundation, the majority owners of the Whitgift Centre, where she is joined by MP Gavin Barwell, and Tory councillors Dudley and Margaret Mead.
A recent Inside Croydon poll voted overwhelmingly in favour of Barwell resigning from his position on the Whitgift Foundation board while serving as Croydon Central’s MP.
Notable absentees from the 10-strong gender-balanced cabinet are three experienced figures who were parliamentary candidates as recently as 2010: Jane Avis, who stood for Labour in Croydon South four years ago, and Gerry Ryan and Andrew Pelling, who were candidates in Croydon Central, Ryan for Labour, Pelling as a post-Conservative independent.
Ryan, who has recently been battling cancer, was re-elected last Thursday, and did not hold any cabinet responsibilities in opposition, while Pelling was elected as a Labour candidate for the first time in Waddon ward. Avis, though, had been the party’s spokeswoman on health and social care at the Town Hall, and she misses out as that portfolio appears to have gone to Louisa Woodley.
Under the councillor allowances system as operated by the previous Conservative regime, cabinet members can expect to receive more than £40,000 per year, up to the £53,000 per year that was paid to the former Council Leader, Mike Fisher.
“It’s now time to get on with the hard work of delivering our Ambitious for Croydon manifesto,” Newman said.
“I am proud to announce our cabinet members, who will be getting down to work immediately before formally taking office next week.”
Croydon cabinet appointments 2014
- Tony Newman – Leader – Budget and Strategic policy
- Alison Butler – Deputy leader – Homes and Communities
- Stuart Collins – Deputy leader- Clean Green Croydon
- Simon Hall – Finance and Treasury
- Kathy Bee -Transport and Environment
- Timothy Godfrey – Culture, Lesuire and Sport
- Louisa Woodley – People and Communities (including adult social care)
- Mark Watson – Safety and Justice
- Toni Letts – Economic Development
- Alisa Flemming- Children, Families and Education
Coming to Croydon
- Weenies meet artist Hale Man, Whitgift centre, May 27-28
- The Information Project Crystal Palace debate, May 28
- 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
- Junction Road Big Lunch, June 1
- Stitch Pitch quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, June 2
- Croydon Tech City “summit”, June 6
- An Improvised Murder, Spread Eagle Theatre, June 7
- Crystal Palace Transition Town annual meeting, June 11
- Lakes Playground Action Group fun day, June 14
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, June 15
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Airport House swing dance free event, June 21
- Classic Car Show at Purley Rotary Fields, June 22
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Warnings to the Curious, Spread Eagle Theatre, June 27
- South Norwood Allotments open day, June 28
- Fragile, Spread Eagle Theatre, July 24-26
- CODA’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Wandle Park, Jul 30-Aug 2
- 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
Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 72,342 average monthly page views (Jan-Mar 2014)
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