Fairness Commission keeps public waiting before revealing all

The first public meeting of the council’s Opportunity and Fairness Commission will be staged next Wednesday, January 28, at Stanley Halls, South Norwood.

Fairness commission logoChaired by the Bishop of Croydon, the Right Reverend Jonathan Clark, the commission, which is supposed to be independent of the council or political interference, also includes as vice-chair Councillor Hamida Ali, who happens to represent the same Woodside ward as the council leader, Tony Newman.

The identities of other members of the commission have been withheld (with no reason given), apparently to be revealed next week. How exciting!

The Commission has a generous budget of £200,000 of public money set aside for its work, apparently to pay for its administration staff, who have been recruited from outside the council; let’s hope that not too much has been squandered on its uninspired and derivative logo. Yet it is still unclear, despite the best of intentions, what the Commission’s brief is and what it might really achieve.

We will have to wait until the first meeting to find out: “The Commission will be publishing a Foundation Report at the meeting that sets out its approach,” we are told. Though there’s no explanation why such a key document could not be made available in advance of the public meeting.

And they also state, “The Commission will be calling for evidence from residents, community organisations, businesses and other experts.” They omit to state evidence of what…

Such a report might be expected to be found on the Commission’s website. But it is not there. The website is now “live”, but only just. It is another fine example of opacity; let’s hope there’s not some “consultant” somewhere banking thousands of pounds for this piece of “work”.

Beyond a brief welcome video from the Bishop, there is no hard information about what residents should do to become involved. Woolly is about the only word to describe it.

“We are delighted to be launching this exciting new venture,” Bishop Clark said.

“Over the next 12 months we will involve thousands of people in Croydon in our research to help us develop creative ways to promote opportunity and fairness in our borough. We will put emphasis on the many assets we have here already and how we can extend them for the benefit of the whole community.

“We are a completely independent body and would like to hear from anyone with experience, ideas or a point of view. We want to understand what the people of Croydon feel about opportunity and fairness and how it affects their lives and those of their families.

“Our work will be transparent and open to all, so please come along on Wednesday to hear our plans and to start the conversation.”

Those intending to attend next week are asked to email contact@opportunitycroydon.org or ring Jemima on Freephone 0800 612 2182.

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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
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