WALTER CRONXITE, our man in the Town Hall reception flicking through the visitors’ book, says that the council leader’s “strategy” for funding cannot be delivered unless he agrees to abandoning the patronage on which he depends for his political power
“Our time is now,” the leader of Croydon Council, Tony Newman, declares in his latest online offering. He must think he is south London’s answer to Alex Salmond, although given what he goes on to say, his resemblance to Mr Micawber, ever-hopeful that “something will turn up”, seems greater with every passing day.
Less than six months since getting elected to run the Town Hall, Newman says that his strategy for Croydon’s salvation is to demand freedom from Whitehall guidance and government cuts: “Six months into our Labour administration in Croydon we have taken a clear strategic decision; namely we will seek to be masters of our own destiny and not victims of central government diktats or funding cuts,” Newman writes.
Truth is, this shows Newman has no strategy at all.
Newman wants to see extra rates and Council Tax income that comes from additional businesses created and homes built in the borough, money that is currently shared with the Mayor of London, all to come to Croydon.
With overblown hyperbole, Newman has launched Croydon’s bid for control over its own taxes by claiming that, “We are on course to see Croydon transformed from a sleepy suburb to a modern European city…” Oh, the city delusion, again. When will the burghers of our borough learn? “…with regeneration happening not just in our metropolitan centre but right across our many fantastic district centres as well.”
With the Hammersfield development as yet unfunded and its start delayed by another year, to anyone who doesn’t have a Glee Club membership card, it appears as if the local council leader is getting a bit carried away by his own press office’s PR spin.
Despite claiming support for the proposals from Mayor Boris Johnson and Croydon Tory councillors, it seems very unlikely that a new London Mayor in 2016 will allow money earmarked for the City Hall budget to be diverted to Croydon.
There is a modest momentum from Westminster politicians to find a way of devolving power to the people after the three main party leaders were shocked by their experiences in the Scottish referendum. Manchester has been promised extra powers, but this is devolution across 10 councils in Greater Manchester, not just one. If greater autonomy were to come to London, chances are it would be at city, not borough, level.
As ever, Croydon suffers from being a borough of huge size that has nevertheless been subsumed into Greater London. There are 32 boroughs in London, far too many in a time that calls for yet more austerity and savings.
One of the conditions for extra powers in Manchester is that they should have a directly elected mayor. That’s not something that the charisma-lite zone that is the Town Hall chamber will find an attractive option.
The leaders of Croydon’s two-party state, Newman and the Tories’ Tim Pollard (now there’s someone who’s risen without a trace) have found their way into well-paid power by being selected for council seats by just a handful of party activists, and they have then secured their own place at the top of the Town Hal pecking order by doling out £1.4 million per year of public money in the form of cabinet and shadow cabinet jobs for arch-loyalists. Patronage under the Medicis was rarely more blatant.
Having a directly elected Mayor of Croydon could undermine the self-serving edifice which Labour and Conservative councillors have managed to create for the benefit of their own party groups. So don’t expect any serious devolution of powers to Croydon anytime soon, unless Newman, Pollard and their closest allies agree to having a directly elected Croydon Mayor. And we all know what they say about Christmas and turkeys…
- Risks ahead if only thing cool in Croydon is property market
- Newman refuses to halt ‘bias’ on Arena academy ‘stitch-up’
- Leader goes missing at the making of piece of black history
- Newman takes his group off to Brighton, paid via the rates
Coming to Croydon
- Choose Your Own Documentary, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 21-22
- David Lean Cinema, Lilting, Nov 22
- Streatham-Croydon women’s rugby training, Frant Road, Nov 23
- Cloth Nappy Network celebration, Beanies, Nov 24
- David Lean Cinema, Wakolda, Nov 27
- The Last Sense of Sudden, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 27-29
- Ghost Stories for Christmas, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 3
- St Andrew’s churchyard gardening session, 10am, Dec 6
- Fog Horn Funnies, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 6
- Croydon Philharmonic Handel’s Messiah, Fairfield Halls, Dec 6
- Coulsdon Yulefest, Dec 6-7
- Oval Tavern Folk Club, Dec 7
- Mayor of Croydon’s charity Christmas dinner, Dec 12
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- Concert of Christmas music, St Luke’s, Woodside, Dec 13
- Friends of the Earth Green Beanfeast, Dec 15 (book by Dec 1)
- Croydon Philharmonic Christmas concert, St Matthew’s, Dec 16
- Norwood Society talk: Penge, the making of a suburb, Jan 15
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
- Norwood Society talk: Crystal Palace and Dulwich, Feb 19
- Norwood Society talk: Charlies Dickens in Norwood, Mar 19
- Norwood Society: Balloons and airships at Crystal Palace, Apr 16
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