UKIP candidate given job by council-backed ‘talking shop’

The Croydon Communities [sic] Consortium, which received a £5,000 grant from the then Tory-run Croydon Council to stage “apolitical” meetings, has appointed the leader of a local branch of UKIP as its new deputy chairman.

Elizabeth Ash presiding over the poorly attended and deeply unrepresentative annual meeting of her CCC

Elizabeth Ash presiding over the sparsely attended and deeply unrepresentative annual meeting of her CCC in the council chamber of Croydon Town Hall

This appointment follows the previous deputy chairman being forced to resign in October after he sent racist and UKIP-sympathising messages on Twitter.

CCC held a very poorly attended annual meeting at the Town Hall last week. CCC’s chairwoman, Elizabeth Ash, refused to answer questions about the organisation’s lack of action over the conduct of her former deputy, Clive Locke.

It has been suggested that CCC spent around £500 of its council grant on publicising its annual meeting, which was attended by fewer than 40 residents.

All the positions on the committee were proposed by Ash, as CCC chair, and were elected unopposed.

The controversial tweet, sent by CCC's Clive Locke, or @Drakeknight, in August

The controversial tweet, sent by CCC’s Clive Locke, or @Drakeknight, in August

It took Ash, a Sanderstead housewife, four days to confirm the appointment of the CCC’s 2014-2015 committee in a post on their website.

For some reason the news of the CCC’s “election” of Peter Staveley, who is also the chairman of UKIP Croydon Central and South, is buried below older news on the talking shop’s website. Perhaps Ash doesn’t want anyone – especially the funding body, the council – to notice?

Roger Clark, the partner of Ash’s close friend, Janet Stollery, continues as CCC treasurer. Coulsdon resident Stollery also remains on the committee, which saw the election of Mark Johnson, who in May stood as a candidate for the Conservative party in Waddon ward in the local election. So that’s at least one “election” in which Johnson has been successful in 2014.

More tweets from CCC's Clive Locke. Ash denies that her organisation has anything to explain or apologise for

More tweets from CCC’s Clive Locke. Ash denies that her organisation is aligned with UKIP

The CCC treasurer’s task will surely be to spend as little of the £4,000 or so of council grant which remains. While it seems unlikely that Croydon Council will demand a refund of the public money – as well as being run by people who think nothing of putting racist material out on the internet, CCC also failed to deliver the 20 public meetings in the year which its grant conditions required – any additional funds from the council may be a long time coming while Ash and her cohorts remain in post.

Ash has refused to apologise for the Islamaphobic tweets of her now former colleague, who took two months after issuing the racist messages to stand down from CCC.

“How can you continue to claim to be non-political and say it is a group for all communities?” Bushra Ahmed, a West Croydon resident, has asked CCC on its website. Neither Ash nor any other CCC officers have provided an answer, preferring instead to distract with repeated claims of “harassment”, as if they are in some way the victims.

Staveley is UKIP’s parliamentary candidate in Croydon Central at the General Election in May. “Many communities will not attend a meeting with a UKIP vice-chair who will be standing for UKIP at the next elections,” Ahmed said.

CCC may not be organising many meetings in Shirley any time soon, either.

This morning, Ash was re-united with Clive Locke, as they both attended a small claims court hearing, after CCC failed to pay a local community hall in Shirley a hire fee of less than £90.

The judge ruled that, in the absence of a written contract, CCC would have to pay just £30 for the hire, while Marzia Nicodemi, of Shirley Community Centre, would need to meet the £50 court costs. Nicodemi had been CCC’s secretary for less than one month last year, resigning when she said she could not work with Ash.


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6 Responses to UKIP candidate given job by council-backed ‘talking shop’

  1. Bushra Ahmed says:

    If these are not circumstances enough to take the public funding back from CCC, then please tell me what other offences CCC needs to commit before the council acts?

    They have already offended communities, especially the CMIC, by defending racism.

    By claiming that those asking a simple but vital question like “why did Clive share that racist post?” are in some way harassing them, they thus avoid answering the question.

    By implying that local newspaper reports on Locke’s conduct are misleading, yet they avoid stating how by claiming to be “investigating” the matter.

    By saying they are non-political, then appointing a UKIP PPC as vice chair.

    By abusing and berating the only person at their AGM who dared to ask that vital question.

    I could go on. And on and on … very much like an Ash email, if you’ve ever had that misfortune.

  2. Rod Davies says:

    Unfortunately CCC has all the hallmarks of many “community” initiatives where they become dominated by energetic individuals who lose sight of the initiative’s objectives.
    The appointment of Peter Staveley is misguided, as would have been the appointment of any political party candidate. I am surprised that Peter put himself forward. Perhaps the ranks of CCC are so thinned out that there was no one else.
    But this situation highlights a more serious malaise and that being that there are proportionally very few people who are willing to give up their time for community causes. It is notable that many residents / community groups are composed of people who are much older than the Croydon average. Inherently they are resistant to change (like most people) but their halcyon days are of a Croydon, England & Britain long gone. Like most people they are reluctant to acknowledge that the choices they made back in the 1970’s (from which they profited in the short term at least) have created the Croydon of today, and in my experience they are resistant to considering the complexities of today’s Croydon.
    A UKIP dominated CCC is neither healthy for Croydon nor in fact UKIP. As CCC receives public money, UKIP can be challenged if at any time it appears that CCC has become a platform for the party.
    The council can pull the plug on this version of CCC, and attempt to create a better version. But in all likelihood they will end up with something very similar if younger and more politically savvy people do not get involved. However a revised CCC, that is representative of the centre and north of Croydon could be very hard for the council to contain and control, especially if some vociferous activists became involved. So perhaps the council officers are quite happy to have a chaotic CCC continue.
    Perhaps also the whole concept of CCC is untenable in a town that is so divided socially, economically, politically and environmentally. Perhaps what should emerge is a Union of Central Croydon Communities and a Consortium of Croydon Suburbs, each to fight for their own interests. It seems to me that CCC represents the traditional ageing Croydon Conservative bloc, based primarily in the leafy suburbs and the entrenched white working class communities that were the supporters of Thatcherite Conservatism.

    • Those at the AGM will know that each officer was voted individually. In my case I fully stated my position and I made it clear that if they (the members) were not comfortable for me to stand then they should vote against. I think that is the first time that I have mentioned UKIP at a CCC meeting. I think only a couple of people voted against.

      What is more is that I stated that I would stand aside during the election campaign. I can promise you that I will do that.

      I stood as the Vice Chair solely because the previous Vice Chair was forced to stand down. Do not forget that I was on the Committee for all of last year, so this is not a new appointment.

      Ultimately, all I care about is making sure that Croydon’s population get a proper say. If others would prefer to stand then they had their opportunity.

      • Some might say that, six months out, with candidates selected, the election campaign is already well underway, Peter.

        “Not a new appointment”? Were you deputy chair before? No. So therefore it is new, a promotion for you within CCC. Given all the (empty) undertakings of CCC being “apolitical”, promoting UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central six months before a General Election might be seen as deeply political by any other than the terminally naive.

        And you say you only stood for CCC office because the previous deputy chair was forced to stand down after being caught out sending UKIP-supporting and racist messages on Twitter? So this self-sacrificing effort on your part is some attempt to maintain political balance in the “apolitical” CCC, is it?

        Sorry: but CCC under the leadership of Ash, Locke, Peter Morgan (whose conduct is not even acceptable to UKIP!) and yourself is an utterly unrepresentative irrelevance. A busted flush

  3. Arfur Towcrate says:

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Anyone who has followed Mario Creatura on Twitter will be familiar with the practice of propaganda on the rates. Ditto recipients of various versions of Croydon Pravda, the Council rag we were all once junk mailed.

    The bigger issue is why CCC exists at all. It should be dumped and replaced by an events team who arrange public meetings in each ward so that councillors and their electors can meet en masse.

  4. This is getting way too allotment-y.

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