Making Croydon a London Living Wage borough? Tick.
Announcing free swimming in the council’s pools this summer for all Croydon’s children? Tick.
Introduce a £1 million scheme to make good use of the borough’s empty homes? Tick.
Making the Tory candidate for Croydon North at next year’s General Election look like an utter buffoon? Tick.
And yes, the latter – if ever it was an objective for Croydon’s new administration going into their second council cabinet meeting last night – was the easiest to achieve, since Vidhi Mohan regularly demonstrates that he just doesn’t know what he is talking about.
Mohan, a Conservative councillor for Fairfield ward, has been given the unenviable task of trying to wrest Croydon North away from Labour’s Steve Reed OBE next May. It will be Mohan’s first shot at standing for parliament, and he must think that it amounts to the “hard yards” of political service that needs to be done for his party if he is ever to be selected for a more winnable seat. But that may prove to be a tad optimistic if he continues to blunder around as he did again at last night’s council cabinet meeting.
Mohan’s latest embarrassing gaffe came when the Labour group put forward a paper recommending the acquisition, on a pair of 10-year leases, of two office blocks in the north of the borough, to be converted into flats for homeless families, and thus reduce the need for the council to provide emergency accommodation in expensive and sub-standard B&Bs.
For the second cabinet meeting running, most of the Croydon Tories’ senior leadership had gone AWOL – last night there was no Mike Fisher, no Dudley or Margaret Mead (were they attending the Heathfield Darby and Joan Club’s whist night?), no Jason Perry or Tim Pollard in attendance to represent their ward residents’ interests. In their absence, Mohan has been given a more prominent role at the meetings. This may not be a shrewd move.
When the provision of emergency housing in Croydon North came up, Mohan was quick to ask Labour deputy Stuart Collins why he’d objected to previous schemes proposed for his Broad Green ward.
“But Vidhi,” said Councillor Alison Butler, temporarily chairing the meeting and making no attempt not to sound patronising, “these buildings are not in Broad Green. They’re in West Thornton.”
Mohan’s already reckoned to be politically dead-in-the-water with Croydon North constituents, many of whom bitterly resent how, when he was in power with the Tory-run council, he steered more than half of riot recovery funds away from the areas worst-hit by the riots, and spent the millions in his own Fairfield patch.
And he also has form when it comes to “forgetting” about West Thornton. Mohan was in charge of the lacklustre Tory campaign in the north of the borough for May’s local elections, including going to press with an expensive wrap-round advert in one local paper which managed to miss out an entire Croydon North ward, West Thornton.
Therefore, and at no extra charge, Inside Croydon is delighted to reproduce here a map of Croydon North, with all its wards helpfully listed, for Councillor Mohan to try to ensure he does not get lost next time he ventures out on his own…
After his disastrous intervention, nothing more was heard from Mohan last night. It was a busy meeting, without enough time in the allocated three hours to cope properly with everything on the agenda, as Labour sought to reel off a succession of manifesto commitments on which they are keen to deliver.
Among those policies is ensuring that council employees, and the employees of the council’s many contractors, receive the London Living Wage – currently £8.80 per hour. Despite the previous administration’s claims, not all Croydon staff were receiving the going rate under the Conservatives. A murmur about “What are the budget implications of this?” from Kenley’s Conservative councillor, Steve O’Connell, was quickly dealt with by pointing out that the London Living Wage is a policy on the Greater London Authority of the Tory Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. O’Connell must have forgotten that he receives a second wedge of public allowances as the London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton.
“This is really good news for people who work incredibly hard and don’t often get recognition,” Simon Hall, Labour’s finance spokesman, said in proposing the paper.
It was a busy night for Butler, who also spoke to a paper that proposes that the council will offer £1 million-worth of grants to encourage the owners of empty properties in the borough to refurbish them and bring them back into use.
“This administration is making it a priority to target empty properties,” Butler said.
“It will help to address the shortage of housing available to families in need and help clean up the borough as part of our Don’t Mess With Croydon: Take Pride campaign. While thousands of families are on the council’s housing waiting list for a home, we will not tolerate empty home owners denying others a decent home to live in. Empty homes are also often run down and in a severe state of disrepair – an eyesore which other residents should not have to put up with.”
- Tories pick councillor who oversaw £12m riot cash to own ward
- Whoops! Tories drop West Thornton from election advert
- Lights! Action! Candid cameras switched on at the Town Hall
Coming to Croydon
- South Norwood Arts Festival, July 5-20
- Conan Doyle talks, South Norwood Library, July 16
- David Lean Cinema: Half of a Yellow Sun, July 17
- Love Norbury launch event, July 19
- Boom Band plays the Half Moon Putney, July 19
- Summer butterfly walk, Farthing Down, July 20
- Picnic in Grangewood Park, July 20
- David Lean Cinema: Pantani: Accidental Death of a Cyclist, July 21
- David Lean Cinema: Tracks, July 24
- Fragile, Spread Eagle Theatre, July 24-26
- CODA’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Wandle Park, Jul 30-Aug 2
- David Lean Cinema: Locke, July 31
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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