Croydon Tories have ensured that the 2011 riots will be a live issue at the 2015 General Election after choosing Fairfield councillor Vidhi Mohan as their candidate to stand in Croydon North – the man who, when a cabinet member in the Conservative-run council, oversaw more than £12 million of riot recovery cash being spent in his own ward.
Until last month, Mohan was the cabinet member for communities and economic development in the previous Conservative council administration. According to a response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Mohan’s Fairfield ward has been allocated around £12.2million, or more than half of the Mayor of London’s £23 million riot recovery fund for Croydon, at the expense of other parts in the north of the borough which were worse affected by the arson and looting on August 8, 2011.
Croydon North is a Labour stronghold: Steve Reed OBE, the former leader of Lambeth Council, became MP after the November 2012 by-election, won with a 11,755 majority. The by-election was called following the death of Malcolm Wicks.
At the last month’s council elections, all the wards in Croydon North returned Labour councillors. The Conservative campaign in Croydon North’s eight wards was managed – if that’s the correct word – by Mohan.
The Tories’ performance at the elections in Croydon North wards was shambolic, with only a single Conservative candidate managing to attract more than one-thousand votes – not even half the number required to win a council seat in most of the wards. The other 23 Tory candidates – who included a schoolboy sitting his A levels and one former councillor who had already announced he had retired from local politics – were rejected by the electorate, mostly getting just a few hundred votes each.
The campaign featured one expensively acquired advertisement in a local paper in which Mohan’s team contrived to omit altogether one of the Croydon North wards. Careless, or couldn’t Mohan care less?
As Inside Croydon reported before the Town Hall elections, Mohan was promised the Croydon North candidature if he showed his capabilities in the local elections. On his May 2014 performance, it would seem that Croydon Conservatives were not overwhelmed with outstanding alternatives.
Indeed, our mole at Croydon Tories’ Purley HQ suggests that following the demoralising defeat, which saw the Conservatives lose control of Croydon Town Hall for the first time since 2006, Mohan has had cold feet about putting himself forward for what is sure to be another electoral drubbing in 11 months’ time.
For Mohan, who lives in Philips Gardens in Shirley, in the Croydon Central constituency, as well as representing a ward in Croydon Central, knows very well that the vast majority of his party’s efforts, locally and nationally, will be poured into the marginal Croydon Central seat to shore up the sitting MP, Gavin Barwell.
That makes Mohan’s selection to stand in Croydon North very much a “futile sacrifice”.
“I realise the challenges the Conservatives face in Croydon North,” Mohan told the local paper, borrowing from Barwell’s Big Book of Euphemisms, “but it is up to me to change their minds and I would not be standing as a token candidate.”
The man who steered £12 million-worth of riot recovery cash away from the areas worst-hit by the 2011 riots also said that he did not want to be involved in a “negative campaign”.
But local resentment in the north of the borough at the manner in which Mohan managed riot recovery funds is sure to play a part.
Around £12.2 million of the riot recovery fund was allocated to be spent in Fairfield ward alone, according to official figures released under FoI (where a sum has been allocated to Fairfield and other wards, it is assumed that the money was spent pro rata).
In all, Mohan saw to it that Fairfield should receive grants for 13 projects funded from the London Mayor’s millions – nearly twice as many projects as any other ward. Broad Green, which includes stretches of London Road where businesses were burned to the ground and residents lost their homes, was allocated funds in just seven projects when Mohan was in charge at the council.
As a Tory front-bench spokesman, until this month, Mohan was trousering at least £43,339 per year in councillor allowances. Now a shadow spokesman on transport and the environment in the opposition group, Mohan’s allowances are likely to be halved. In May 2015, Mohan will need to out-perform himself if the Tory vote in Croydon North is not halved as well.
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Coming to Croydon
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- David Lean Cinema: The Lunchbox, June 26
- Warnings to the Curious, Spread Eagle Theatre, June 27
- Metamono Secrets of Nature, Upper Norwood, June 27
- Park Hill Park meet the police session, June 27
- St Peter’s Village Fayre, South Croydon, June 28
- South Norwood Allotments open day, June 28
- Croydon Careers Fair, North End, June 30
- Fragile, Spread Eagle Theatre, July 24-26
- Coast to Capital business briefing, July 4
- Basically Johnny Moped at Stanley Tech, July 8
- 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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