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.
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.
Coming to Croydon
- 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
- Ukrainian choir concert, St John’s Shirley, Sep 29
- 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
- Croydon 10km road race, Oct 19
- 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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