When GLEN HART attended a meeting of what is supposed to be a council-funded community group, he was abused for daring to ask questions. But he was even more shocked when he saw that he was the only black man attending CCC’s AGM
The Croydon Communities [sic] Consortium, or CCC, is a strange and unaccountable organisation in my view. I went along to their annual meeting last week with a few questions. These included:
• Would the former CCC vice-chair Clive Locke admit to having re-tweeted a racially offensive picture?
• Why has it taken CCC so long to investigate these issues? Was it, in fact, investigating them at all?
Despite all the CCC’s publicity claiming to welcome people attending their meetings, as the AGM got underway the chair, Elizabeth Ash, loudly announced that there were attendees in the Town Hall chamber who had not signed the register.
She then singled me out to check whether I had signed it. It was at this point I realised – I was the only black man in the room!
I had signed in, so I was able to dismiss all implication of wrongdoing.
The chairperson provided a lengthy report, describing the committee’s purpose and detailing the incidents that had occurred over the previous months. Phrases such as, “open meetings”, “feedback welcome”, “apolitical” and “equality” were bandied about by the chairperson, who seemed very much to like the sound of her own voice.
The chairperson then commenced a long and winding complaint about Inside Croydon’s report (The Ed writes: what, this entirely accurate report?), about Croydon Council giving the CCC an ultimatum; and about individuals (no names mentioned) who had taken exception to CCC’s role and “work”.
After what seemed an eternity, the chairperson finally opened the meeting proper to allow others to have a say.
After some opening remarks, I then raised my questions. I said that I felt it was shameful that the CCC has allowed one of its officers to bring it into disrepute, surely, by Tweeting racist material.
What followed was a hotly contested defence. First, the chairperson elaborated, at length, the reason why everyone else was at fault. Another three offered their reasons as to why the committee was innocent of any wrongdoing.
In spite of my questions not being answered, I offered to respond to points specifically directed at me. Ash then interrupted and suggested to the meeting, again at length, that it was time to move on.
I insisted my questions be addressed, but was shouted down by the chairperson and a host of elderly gentlemen. After I made another attempt, Ash threatened to have me expelled from the meeting, which met with loud murmurs of approval.
After a long discussion on finance, questions from the floor finally were allowed.
After being ignored for some time, I was able eventually to enquire whether it was appropriate to use public money to fund a community organisation which seemed content to accept members with what appeared to be racist views.
I was heckled and accused of being a troublemaker.
Andrew Stevensen, who stood as a Conservative Party council election candidate earlier this year, had spent the entire meeting up to that point laughing and joking with Peter Staveley, who I know to be a senior official in UKIP. But now Stevensen broke off from his friendly chat to accuse me of asking questions simply to wage a Twitter campaign against CCC. I don’t think he intended any irony.
I took exception to this, but the chair sought to limit further damage by evading the point, and simply reiterated that there was no impropriety relating to the CCC’s expenditure. I was not reassured.
The meeting continued, with none of my questions answered.
Later, someone suggested a show of hands for each person nominated to the CCC committee. Most, if not all, were nominated by the chairperson herself. All were unopposed.
Staveley, who will be standing in Croydon Central in May for UKIP, was nominated to become Ash’s deputy chair. Ash went on at some length to explain that nominating a UKIP member was fully permissible within the council’s rules. She recommended Staveley.
Eventually, and mercifully, the meeting ended. It would appear that CCC, ostensibly a community organisation, is content to welcome members who seem to have racist views, and while claiming to be apolitical, manages to welcome Tory and UKIP party members, although they appear much less happy to welcome to their meetings other members of the community to have a say.
My advice to readers therefore is this: stay well clear of CCC.
- Glen Hart works as a transport union official and is the parliamentary candidate for Croydon North for the Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition
- UKIP figures behind council-funded ‘apolitical’ talking shop
- UKIP candidate given job by council-backed ‘talking shop’
Coming to Croydon
- Ghost Stories for Christmas, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 3
- David Lean Cinema, The Riot Club, Dec 4
- 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
- Heathfield House Christmas charity bazaar, Dec 7
- Oval Tavern Folk Club, Dec 7
- David Lean Cinema, ’71, Dec 11
- 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
- Opera Soiree at Whitgift School, Dec 14
- Friends of the Earth Green Beanfeast, Dec 15 (book by Dec 1)
- Croydon Philharmonic Christmas concert, St Matthew’s, Dec 16
- Spread Eagle’s Christmas Improv show, Dec 17
- David Lean Cinema, Northern Soul, Dec 18
- David Lean Cinema, Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief, Dec 29
- David Lean Cinema, The Beat Beneath My Feet, Dec 30
- 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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