How many U-turns does Labour’s council leader Tony Newman have to perform before he disappears up his own fundament?
Gavin Barwell will be allowed to speak at tonight’s planning meeting at Croydon Town Hall after all, as the Labour-run council has opted to back down over its earlier insistence that the Tory MP for Croydon Central could only speak on behalf of his constituents in an overall three-minute window for opponents of proposals to build an Oasis secondary academy on an unsuitable site close to Croydon Arena in Woodside ward.
Barwell was informed he would get his very own two-minute speaking slot yesterday. How very enlightened of “open” and “transparent” Croydon Council.
When he does get to speak to the planning committee, Barwell will have to deal with the over-riding impression that his Conservative colleagues in the previous council administration have already given Oasis an undertaking to build the £22 million, six-form-of-entry academy on the site of the former Rylands Primary, close to two existing large secondaries, including another Oasis academy.
And he will also find himself addressing a planning committee which comprises three Tory councillors who are also serving governors of Oasis academies, plus a Labour councillor, Paul Scott, who chairs the committee and is a former Oasis governor.
“I don’t think governors of Oasis schools should take part in this decision,” Barwell told Inside Croydon last night.
It is a point of principle which Barwell might care to remember in future when considering the role of Whitgift Foundation governors and multi-million-pound development decisions in central Croydon.
The heavy-handed decision of Scott, or whoever at the council, to try to ban Barwell from addressing tonight’s planning committee is the latest flip-flopping false move by the Labour council, following its dithering over the sale, or not, of school playing fields and the closure, or not, of Purley Pool.
Each misfiring decision and consequent U-turn, by turn, is creating political collateral damage to Labour’s parliamentary candidates Emily Benn, in Croydon South, and, in particular, Sarah Jones, challenging Barwell in the key marginal Croydon Central.
“I can’t decide whether the leadership of the Labour group are secretly trying to help me win or just hopelessly incompetent,” Barwell was able to smirk on social media.
- MP Barwell banned from speaking at academy planning meeting
- Council presses on with £22m academy that no one wants
- Strong need for our council to be more ‘open’ and ‘fair’
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