David Wood, the son of a former Bishop of Croydon, will be Selhurst’s new councillor next month.
Wood is 42 and lives in Selhurst. He was selected at a Labour ward meeting last night from among seven applicants. Patsy Cummings, who stood as a Labour council election candidate alongside Wood in Fairfield ward last May, and Paul Smith, the former West Thornton and Waddon councillor, were the short-listed contenders (as Inside Croydon unwittingly suggested when reporting the date of the selection meeting last week).
Selhurst is a strongly Labour-supporting ward where all three councillors were returned at last May’s local elections with more than 50 per cent of the vote. Wood is likely to enjoy similar overwhelming support when the by-election is held on March 5 (at least from those who bother to turn out to vote, that is).
The by-election has been called following the death in January of long-standing councillor, Gerry Ryan. Three local UKIP members courted controversy, and widespread condemnation, when they called for the by-election before the councillor’s funeral.
By being held separately – rather than waiting until May’s General Election – the by-election could end up costing Croydon Council Tax-payers up to £20,000 for what all parties privately admit is a political foregone conclusion.
Political parties have to submit their candidates for the by-election by this Friday.
When duly elected, as he surely will be, Wood will join Labour cabinet members Timothy Godfrey and Toni Letts as councillors for the ward.
Steve Reed OBE, the Labour MP for Lambeth South, has described Wood as an “excellent candidate for the Selhurst by-election”.
Wood is the son of Wilfred Wood, the Church of England’s first black bishop, who served the area for 18 years at the end of the last century.
Last night, David Wood tweeted, “Incredibly honoured to have been chosen by Selhurst Labour for hard job following Gerry Ryan as our candidate. Will work hard to repay faith.”
Wood was selected by Labour as a council candidate before, for last year’s Town Hall elections, when he contested Tory-held Fairfield ward in Conservative MP Gavin Barwell’s Croydon Central constituency. Wood, together with Cummings and the third candidate, Clive Fraser, fought an active campaign and managed to virtually halve the Tories’ councillors previous 1,000-vote majorities.
No such political campaigning battle is expected in Selhurst over the coming weeks, as Croydon’s political clique’s focus will be increasingly on the General Election in May, and largely on the marginal Croydon Central seat.
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