Mike Fisher was not alone among Croydon’s senior Conservative councillors in looking at claiming an increase in his allowances.
And at the front of the queue for a bigger hand-out at the expense of Council Tax-payers was Steve O’Connell, the Kenley councillor and London Assembly Member for Sutton and Croydon.
O’Connell was dubbed Britain’s most overpaid local councillor when he was banking £118,000 a year from Croydon Town Hall and City Hall. Clearly, that was not enough for O’Connell, a close aide to Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.
Now O’Connell and three other greedy Croydon Tories have admitted that they enquired about getting a bigger wedge of public cash, though none of them followed-through to collect it, as Fisher did with damning consequences for his and his party’s political prospects.
Inside Croydon was the first this morning to report that Fisher had quit his position as the leader of Croydon Conservatives, after he was found out to have paid himself an extra £10,000 in allowances last year, on top of the £53,000 he was already pocketing as the leader of the council.
The retrospective claims – for an increase in allowances that publicly the Croydon Conservatives had said they would not take – would not have been illegal, but Fisher’s £10,000 claim has been described by one senior Tory as “doubly wrong”, for claiming cash that he had said he would forego, and for doing it secretly.
After their leader was rumbled on Wednesday, Fisher’s Conservative colleagues on the council at first claimed to know nothing about the secret pay hike.
By Thursday, the Tory story shifted slightly, as it emerged that, maybe, he’d had a word about the possibilities of making a claim for a pay rise on the QT, but that the other councillors did not know he had actually gone ahead with the claim.
Today, following Fisher’s resignation last night, it has come to light that four other senior Tories took their leader’s advice and looked into the possibility of jumping on the same gravy train.
Three of them could have been looking at pocketing around £9,000 extra if they had followed through with their enquiries.
In Mike Fisher’s Infamous Five are O’Connell, Vidhi Mohan, Simon “Cheap But Not Free” Hoar and Steve Hollands.
Until the Tories lost the local elections in May, O’Connell was collecting £43,339 as a Croydon Council cabinet member. This was on top of anything he is paid at City Hall and by MOPAC, the police body on which he is a special adviser to Mayor Johnson able to claim up to £500 per day.
Fairfield councillor Mohan was, like O’Connell, also on the Croydon Council cabinet member’s allowance of £43,339. On scales determined independently by umbrella body London Councils, council cabinet members could be paid a “remuneration” of up to £52,378. Mohan was recently selected as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Croydon North at next year’s General Election.
Hoar was a councillor for Waddon ward. He lost his seat on the council at the local election in May. Until then, Hoar, too, was a cabinet member, already in receipt of £43,339.
Hoar had worked as a political assistant at City Hall until 2012; his first job there had been as an aide to the former Tory AM Andrew Pelling, who was one of the Labour candidates who unseated him in 2014.
Since 2012, Hoar’s sole source of income was thought to be his Croydon councillor allowances, and it is not known whether he has yet managed to find alternative employment.
The fifth councillor who was sniffing around sticking his snout in the trough, Hollands, was the only one of the group not to be a cabinet member. A councillor for Kenley ward, he still did not do too badly out of Croydon Council, because for chairing a Town Hall committee, he received an extra £24,000 “special responsibility allowance” on top of the basic £11,239 that is paid to all 70 Croydon councillors.
The four today issued a statement admitting that they’d been tempted to go for the extra cash. “When we considered this carefully, and after dialogue with the council, we became convinced that retrospectively increasing what we were paid for our work over the last four years would be completely inappropriate.” No shit Sherlocks.
Of course, when the scandal emerged around Fisher this week, no condemnation or criticism was heard from O’Connell, Mohan or the others in the Infamous Five.
Now we know why.
- #WadGate: Fisher forced to resign as Croydon Tory leader
- #WadGate latest: Fisher’s deputies put pressure on him to go
- Tory leader Fisher is caught red-handed with £10,000 pay hike
- And they’re off! Betting hots up on Croydon’s Tory leadership
- #WadGate: The Movie
- Win a pair of tickets for the new show at the Spread Eagle Theatre
- Exclusive readers’ offer: a free glass of wine for diners at Albert’s Table
- Special readers’ offer: 25% off meals at PizzaExpress Purley
Coming to Croydon
- Thornton Heath Festival, Sep 7
- Stop the Incinerator Quiz Night, Sep 8
- Tell Me About Your Ex, Spread Eagle Theatre, Sep 9-13
- 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
- Police question time, LNK at Centrale, Sep 17
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- David Lean Cinema: Chef, Sep 18
- The Complete History of the BBC – Abridged, Spread Eagle, Sep 19-20
- 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
- Tree Sides, Spread Eagle Theatre, Oct 2-4
- The Goon Show, Spread Eagle Theatre, Oct 8-11
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- South Croydon business breakfast, Oct 18
- This Was The World and I Was King, Spread Eagle, Oct 23-25
- Albert Einstein – Relativity Speaking, Spread Eagle, Nov 12-15
- South Croydon business breakfast, Nov 15
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
- Choose Your Own Documentary, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 21-22
- The Last Sense of Sudden, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 27-29
- Ghost Stories for Christmas, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 3
- Fog Horn Funnies, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 6
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
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