#WadGate report delayed as inquiry seeks more information

Mike #WadGate Fisher, and the rest of Croydon’s Tories, have at least another three weeks to wait for the outcome of the inquiry into how the former Conservative council leader managed secretly to claim an extra £11,000 in Town Hall allowances.

Mike Fisher's rarely been seen at the Town Hall lately, and has appeared distracted when present

Mike Fisher’s rarely been seen at the Town Hall lately, and has appeared distracted when present

Fisher was forced to stand down as the Croydon Tories’ leader in September when he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar to top-up his council allowances of £53,223. His opportunistic opposite number Tony Newman opted to prolong the agony by setting up an “independent” inquiry, chaired by former headteacher Anne Smith.

Fisher’s been rarely seen at the Town Hall since his fall from grace. Losing the leadership completed a triple whammy for Fisher, who in the previous 12 months had failed even to get on the shortlist for the Tories’ parliamentary selection in Croydon South, and then presided over his party’s defeat in the local elections.

Newman seized upon Fisher’s greedy misjudgement to make as much political capital as he could. It is hard to know what else Smith’s inquiry might unearth. We already know that Fisher was not alone among senior Croydon Tories in considering his behind-closed-doors financial top-up scheme, since Steve O’Connell, the country’s most overpaid local councillor, plus the Tories’ Croydon North parliamentary candidate Vidhi Mohan and Fisher’s long-standing pal, Steve Hollands, were considering making similar claims.

Smith was due to report in November, but according to Newman at Wednesday’s scrutiny meeting, her inquiry has been delayed because it has been awaiting further information; so it is not just in dealing with Freedom of Information requests that Croydon Council is dilatory.

Fisher does not pay much attention when at council meetings, though the Shirley councillor still receives his allowances

Fisher does not pay much attention when at council meetings, though the Shirley councillor still receives his allowances

The political discomfort the report may cause the Tories is likely to be worse the closer it is released to May’s General Election, a thought which undoubtedly will have crossed Newman’s mind.

The full extent of Mohan’s involvement will do the Fairfield councillor no good in his (albeit doomed) parliamentary election efforts, and the money-grabbing scandal may also impact adversely on the re-election campaign in Croydon Central of Gavin Barwell. It was Barwell who held an urgent meeting with Fisher to persuade (or force?) him to stand down as Croydon Tory leader, to try to bring to an end to the drip-drip of damaging stories undermining his own political future.

But what could be very interesting in the final report will be whether it shows how much senior council officials, such as Borough Solicitor Julie Belvir and chief executive Nathan Elvery, knew about Fisher’s #WadGate scheme.

And perhaps that’s what explains the delay in delivering the report.


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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 2015 General Election, Croydon Council, Croydon North, Gavin Barwell, Julie Belvir, Mike Fisher, Nathan Elvery, Steve Hollands, Steve O'Connell, Tony Newman, Vidhi Mohan and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to #WadGate report delayed as inquiry seeks more information

  1. sed30 says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog and commented:
    Fishergate the story continues


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