Mike Fisher, the leader of the Tories on Croydon Council, has more reason than usual to be red-faced today, after he was caught red-handed having paid himself an extra £10,000 in his final year as leader of the council.
Anyone would think Fisher desperately needed the extra cash, as in the run-up to the local elections in May he completely forgot to mention the unilateral 20 per cent pay rise he had awarded himself.
Fisher’s council allowances went from already generous £53,223 to the
which he pocketed for 2013-2014, according to official council accounts published today.
With the exception of Yvette Hopley, who had an increase because she was the Mayor of Croydon, no other Croydon councillors had significant rises in their allowances last year.
In total, the Council Tax-payers of Croydon paid their 70 councillors
in allowances in 2013-2014.
Fisher gave up his civil service job to become a full-time politician, funded through local taxes. But yesterday public servant Fisher was too lazy, or too ignorant, to respond to Inside Croydon when offered the opportunity to comment on the mounting speculation that his position as leader of Croydon’s Tories was increasingly untenable.
Instead, Fisher went to a small circulation newspaper based in Dorking to proclaim, “I’m going nowhere.”
After today’s allowances figures were published, Fisher might be going straight to the offices of the district auditor to explain himself.
In May, Fisher, a councillor for Shirley ward, led the Tories to a demoralising Town Hall election defeat. Afterwards, he seemed quite proud of himself when he said that he and his Conservative mates had left “a debt black hole” after eight years of mismanaging the borough’s affairs. At the time, no one thought that those debts were a direct result of Fisher’s own greed.
Jimmy the Snark, the bookies’ runner in South Croydon, told Inside Croydon, “They’ve stopped taking all bets on Mike Fisher losing the job as Tory leader at the Town Hall now. It’s no longer a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’.
“Clacton’s more likely to have the same man as their MP next month than Croydon Tories having the same leader.”
John Cartwright, also known as John Loony, the former Monster Raving Loony candidate who “defected” to the Tories in 2013 and was welcomed with open arms, is the overwhelming early choice in Inside Croydon’s poll of who might be the next Croydon Conservative leader . Albeit just ahead of “None of the above”.
Gavin Barwell, the Tory MP for the Whitgift Foundation, was quick to take to Twitter this afternoon to express his anger at the news report in the Sadvertiser about Fisher’s personal pay rise. With his Croydon Central seat being targeted by Labour at next May’s General Election, Barwell’s anger is more to do with his own position being undermined by such a senior Croydon Tory being exposed as having his snout in the trough.
Barwell, who is a government whip as well as an MP, was not too busy to return to Twitter to say, “I’m angry because it is wrong for him to get big pay increase when staff get 1 per cent and doubly wrong to do so secretly.”
Barwell stopped short, though, of calling for his former council colleague to resign.
Under Fisher’s council, hundreds of council staff lost their jobs, while many others had their working conditions reduced. Front-line services were cut, despite a Council Tax increase in 2013.
While he was secretly claiming £62,352 for himself, in 2013 Fisher’s council decided that there was not enough money to pay the £60,000 for nine part-time school crossing patrols.
And while he thought nothing of pocketing an extra £10,000 a year, Fisher’s council decided that Croydon could not afford the £10,000 annual budget to maintain the borough’s historic twinning links with Arnhem in this, the 70th anniversary year of Operation Market Garden.
“The fact is, I hadn’t had a pay rise for eight years and I decided I was going to need to take some of the money, which is what I did,” Fisher oinked.
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Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema: The Two Faces of January, Sep 4
- Thornton Heath Festival, Sep 7
- Stop the Incinerator Quiz Night, Sep 8
- David Lean Cinema: Camille Claudel, Sep 11
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Soul Symphony Community Choir sessions, Sep 16-Dec 23
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- David Lean Cinema: Chef, Sep 18
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- South Croydon business breakfast, Sep 20
- Open House London weekend, Sep 20-21
- David Lean Cinema: A Night At The Cinema in 1914, Sep 22
- Activity to Work back-to-work workshops, Sep 23
- David Lean Cinema: Jimmy’s Hall, Sep 25
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Fancy dress family funday, Sep 28
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- South Croydon business breakfast, Oct 18
- South Croydon business breakfast, Nov 15
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
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