“Book Token” promoted as Pollard completes Tory takeover

Croydon’s Tory councillors yesterday duly anointed Tim Pollard, the “loyal deputy” who did just enough to cause the downfall of Mike Fisher over #WadGate, as their new leader.

Sara Bashford: false claims that library consultation supported outsourcing

Sara Bashford: made false claims that library consultation supported outsourcing before losing that cabinet job

With no one else from the 30-strong group of Conservative councillors prepared to stand for the position, Pollard’s promotion was a foregone conclusion.

The naming of Sara “Book Token” Bashford as one of his two deputies, alongside Dudley Mead, will reinforce the influence and control over the local Conservative group of Gavin Barwell: Bashford is employed to work in the local MP’s office.

Bashford gave a clue to her likely promotion at the council cabinet meeting earlier in the week, where she was a good deal more “shouty” than she has been in the past. “Answer my question! Answer my question!” she said, sounding like an overgrown Violet Elizabeth Bott, interrupting a speaker as they were answering her question.

It is believed to be the first time that the Tories have allowed a woman be part of their leadership on Croydon Council, though they surely had more capable female candidates than Bashford, who when she was the cabinet member responsible, really did suggest paying for residents to have book tokens in lieu of libraries.

“Being a former teaching assistant, perhaps she will be able to assist Tim with important things like cutting and sticking,” Inside Croydon’s mole in Purley suggested.

Bashford’s extensive experience of handing out T-shirts on behalf of Barwell’s “projects” may be seen by some – ie. Barwell – as making her the ideal candidate to shadow Labour’s deputy, Stuart Collins, Labour’s cabinet member responsible for T-shirts and slogans. But otherwise, Bashford’s abilities appear thin on the ground.

She does have some second-hand experience of leadership of a local authority, but when the Conservatives were in charge of the council, her handling of the privatisation of the borough’s libraries was so poor, even by Croydon Tory standards, that she was sacked from that cabinet job.  Later, it was Bashford who oversaw the costly replacement of washroom taps in the council head offices, at a cost to residents of another £20,000, which she duly blamed on council officials.

By having one Sanderstead councillor and two from Selsdon and Ballards ward in their leadership trio, Croydon Conservatives demonstrate just how disengaged they are from much of the borough.

Meanwhile, little has been seen or heard of former leader Mike Fisher since he was forced to stand down as Tory leader after a private meeting with Barwell two weeks ago. Absent from council meetings, although he was sighted visiting a shop in Forestdale, there appears to have been no corralling of support for Fisher by his former colleagues since #WadGate.

As predicted by Inside Croydon, the Tories have turned to the controversial former top cop David Osland to be chairman of their local party, although only in Croydon South. Osland, too, is a close colleague of Barwell. The appointment may offer Barwell some degree of influence over Chris Philp, the millionaire who has been parachuted in to Croydon South as the replacement as parliamentary candidate for Tricky Dicky Ottaway.

Following the Tories’ demoralising local election defeat in May – their worst for 20 years – and with dwindling membership, Robert Askey continues to chair their Croydon “federation” for now, until the party – ie. Barwell – is able to find a more suitable replacement. Judging by Bashford’s promotion beyond her abilities, it could be a long search.


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Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 407,847 page views (Jan-Jun 2014) If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Chris Philp MP, Croydon Central, Croydon North, Croydon South, David Osland, Dudley Mead, Gavin Barwell, Libraries, Mike Fisher, Richard Ottaway MP, Sara Bashford, Tim Pollard and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “Book Token” promoted as Pollard completes Tory takeover

  1. Sara has been excellent in running our MP’s office. She has always replied my emails and also has helped on many issues raised. I would like to a see the first female Tory leader in Croydon when there is an opportunity.

    I am surprised that Dudley Mead is still in the council. It is time to give another councillor a chance. Perhaps Cllr Phil Thomas should be deputy leader.

    The Conservatives should do a clear out in the next council election and select more professionals.

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