The Old Coulsdon Residents’ Association has elected a controversial figure from UKIP as its new chairman.
Janet Stollery was elected as chair at OCRA’s annual meeting on Wednesday night.
Last month, Stollery, together with two other UKIP members, caused disgust across the whole borough when she called for a council by-election to be held in Selhurst ward, without waiting for the family of the former councillor to stage the funeral for the recently deceased Gerry Ryan.
Even the senior figure in UKIP’s Croydon “organisation” – if that’s the right word – decried the conduct of his members, including Stollery, as crass and insensitive. Not the sort of behaviour you’d usually look for in the leading member of a residents’ association.
Stollery acted together with Kippers Emmanuel Ehirim and Coulsdon resident Peter Morgan. As a result of the tactless trio’s demand, the council staged the by-election earlier this month, when Labour held the seat while the UKIP candidate failed to accumulate even 150 votes.
The by-election might have been held at minimal cost alongside the General Election on May 7; by being staged at the demand of Stollery and her UKIP chums, the by-election could have cost Croydon Council Tax-payers up to £20,000.
Stunned by the reaction to her actions, Stollery was reported to have resigned from UKIP after her pyrhhic action. She remains a prominent member of the council-funded Croydon Communities Consortium, where Staveley – UKIP’s candidate in Croydon Central at the General Election – is the deputy chairman and Morgan is also prominently involved.
Stollery clearly now believes she has more time on her hands to devote to running the affairs of her neighbours in OCRA.
But her election may highlight a growing problem, even for the well-resourced and active residents’ associations in the south of the borough. Maybe OCRA really couldn’t find a more suitable candidate.
The appointment of someone so closely associated with toxic UKIP could cause some broader political embarrassment, since Those actively associated with OCRA include Gill Hickson, the parliamentary candidate in Croydon South for the usually ultra-PC Liberal Democrats. Hickson may have more important things on her mind than OCRA, such as trying to ensure that she doesn’t lose her deposit on May 7.
The neighbouring Coulsdon West Residents’ Association has been virtually moribund for nine months, unable to find volunteers to take on the roles of chairman and secretary, the engine room of any such organisation.
This situation may, of course, suit the local Tory councillors, who include Mario Creatura, whose day job is as tea boy in MP Gavin Barwell’s parliamentary office.
OCRA, meanwhile, continues to be active, fretting about groups of “yobs” prowling their suburban streets.
One of the association’s officers sent out this dire warning today: “We have a report that there are lots of groups of ‘yobs’ walking round Coulsdon bothering people for cigarettes and causing a bit of a nuisance – it’s a worry because they may pick on a vulnerable person alone. Please take care and call 101 (or 999) if things get out of hand.”
Or they could send for Stollery, whose phone number and email address are helpfully publicised on the OCRA website.
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