Farage supporters told to refund £5,000 council grant

Croydon Council has ordered the return of thousands of pounds of public cash which was awarded to a “community” organisation which has been taken over by a group of UKIP members and supporters of Nigel Farage’s party.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage: just heard the news about the withdrawal of council funds from his mates in Croydon

Nigel Farage’s just heard news about withdrawal of council funds from his UKIP cronies in Croydon

A grant of £5,000 was made in 2013 by the then Tory-run council to what now calls itself the Croydon Communities [sic] Consortium..

The grant included a range of conditions which required that the body should be apolitical, and that it should stage at least 20 public meetings per year.

The following year, after 12 months of inactivity by the previous moribund committee, the group was the subject of a takeover by people who, it has since emerged, include several UKIP members and supporters.

Janet Stollery: was a member of UKIP and still on CCC and OCRA committees

Janet Stollery: was a member of UKIP and still on CCC and OCRA committees

Led by Sanderstead housewife Elizabeth Ash, who swiftly had herself appointed as “chair”, these included Clive Locke as her deputy, plus Janet Stollery and Peter Morgan.

Stollery’s partner, Roger Clark, is the CCC treasurer.

Others who objected to the manner in which Ash and her colleagues organised events have quit the organisation, while CCC’s committee has since become a welcoming home to other right-wingers, including one failed Tory council election candidate.

Despite being in receipt of public money, Ash and her committee have dismissed with contempt public calls for them to be held accountable. A council demand for the return of £4,000-plus will be more difficult for them to ignore.

Russell Brand for once is lost for words. Or maybe he could not get a word in edgeways with the CCC chairwoman

Did Russell Brand know what Elizabeth Ash has been doing with CCC before he got this close for a selfie?

CCC attracted controversy last year when Locke issued a stream of Islamophobic and UKIP-supporting messages from his personal Twitter account. Locke refused to resign and CCC’s committee took no action, instead complaining of “harassment” when some concerned residents had the temerity to dare question their lack of action.

Locke eventually stood down at the CCC annual meeting in December, when he was replaced as deputy chairman by someone who has never kept his UKIP affiliations a secret, Peter Staveley.

Long before he was “elected” (proposed by Ash; there were no alternative candidates considered) to CCC’s committee, Staveley had been selected as UKIP’s candidate in Croydon Central at the General Election.

Stollery and Morgan were two of the three UKIP members who earlier this year cost Croydon Council Tax-payers between £15,000 and £20,000 when they demanded that a council by-election should be staged immediately in Selhurst ward, rather than wait and stage the vote alongside the General Election. Stollery has since resigned from UKIP, but has been elected as the chairman of the Old Coulsdon Residents’ Association.

CCC has meanwhile provided Morgan with a platform to spread disinformation regarding the council’s proposals to introduce 20mph limits on residential streets; Labour was elected to run the council with 20mph limits in its manifesto.

It is uncertain how much of the original £5,000 council grant to CCC remains: last year, the self-important talking shop managed to spend £500 on “promoting” the organisation’s annual meeting, which was attended by fewer than 50 people. It would have been easier to hand out tenners on the door to anyone bothering to turn up.

But when one of the attendees – local trades unionist Glen Hart – tried to ask questions about the body’s accountability, he was shouted down.

Peter Staveley: elected vice-chairman of CCC after he was chosen as UKIP's candidate in Croydon Central

Peter Staveley: elected vice-chairman of CCC after he was chosen as UKIP’s candidate in Croydon Central

Despite having received the council grant to pay for such items as venue hire, on other occasions, Ash has refused to pay local charity groups the full amount for hall hire.

Ash and the CCC committee will need to seek funding elsewhere now.

According to a Freedom of Information Act request to Croydon Council, “The Council has asked the Croydon Communities Consortium for the return of any unspent funds as at 22 December 2014.”

The council refused to provide details of the reasons for demanding the return of the public cash, though since it came after the CCC annual meeting, it seems likely that the domination of the group by UKIP will have been considered.

Oddly, though, Ash – who often makes claims about her organisation being “open” and “transparent” – has made no mention of the council’s demand of the refund on the CCC website.

It seems very likely that CCC has repaid what remained of the money, since they are continuing to try to organise public meetings this month; as a council-funded and apolitical body, such meetings ought to be impossible during the election purdah period.

Undaunted, though, Ash and her UKIP cronies have put in a new request for public money. The council’s FoI response states, “The organisation has applied for further funding from the Council’s Active Communities Fund.  The list of successful applications will be posted on the Council’s website within the next two weeks.”

The council response continues: “The Council does not routinely publish the names of unsuccessful applicants as this could have an unintended detrimental impact on those organisations’ applications for funding to other bodies.”

Clearly, Croydon Council has no qualms about making such information available in the case of CCC.

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com
Advertisements

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, Community associations, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, Old Coulsdon Residents' Association, Peter Staveley, Sanderstead and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Farage supporters told to refund £5,000 council grant

  1. Gosh! Clear pinkish water between the policies of the previous Tory administration and the present Labour one. Wonders will never cease.

    Seriously: it’s a mistake to make public money available to these self-serving groups, regardless of their political leaning.

    We have a number of councillors to whom we are paying a minimum of £11,000 a year for hanging around like a bad smell from one election to the next. Why can’t we press gang them into listening to residents at public meetings?
    They might actually learn something.

    • This is what comes from council cuts.

      The £5,000 grant was made to a group to replace the old neighbourhood group, on the basis that it would no longer incur the cost of council officers to assist in managing it.

      What you’ve ended up with is an unaccountable body, claiming thousands in public money, and achieving absolutely nothing…

  2. This has opened a can I think. There are so many groups which are run by Tory members or Labour members.

    How about the Croydon Voluntary Association where both Labour and the Tories pumped money in? It is the only voluntary organisation in world where everyone gets paid and no one seems to be a volunteer. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Stop all these groups and reduce our Council Tax please.

    Don’t you worry our flip-flops will do a U-turn and fund this group again.

  3. Let us take this case to the fairness commission. It is unfair to stop funding for one group just because the Labour council think the group is full of UKIP members.

    A list of all groups receiving council funds and what they have done should be published.

    • Nick Davies says:

      It’s all published here:
      https://www.croydon.gov.uk/community/advice/tsfunding/funding
      though it would be handy if someone consolidated it all together in one spreadsheet.

      CCC appears under Small Grants Round 1.

      By the way you’ve set them off, there’s suddenly an indignant statement on their Facebook page claiming “The potential of CCC has been hindered by a handful of agitators over the past year who clearly seek to undermine the group”. Bloody Kippers, they get everywhere.

  4. mraemiller says:

    Can anyone think of a blander name than “Croydon Communities Consortium”?

    What was it supposed to do? “CCC aims to facilitate open public engageenment and to connect communities across Croydon”, so it’s about getting people out the house …and then what? …for what?

    According to its “About” page, “The newly elected committee of Croydon Communities Consortium are currently piecing together the history and activities of CCC. If you have further papers or information please get in touch.” So it doesn’t even seem to know what it’s for.

    It’s logo seems to be a committee room table. The sort of thing that makes you feel good about staying in and watching television.

    It’s like something out of Yes Minister. What does it actually do?

    At least the Croydon Voluntary Association persumably does what it says on the tin? The Croydon Communities Consortium doesn’t even have a function on its tin with which to fail to fulfil? Who is it consorting with from which communities? Perhaps Department of Administrative Affairs should investigate?

  5. Rod Davies says:

    The entire question of how community representative groups engage with each other and the council is self-evidently highly problematic. The establish residents associations in Croydon are generally conservative in nature and distinctly reactionary. A brief look through the borough’s strategic planning documents reflects this and we can readily see that all responses to the demands of a changing community are to be provided for in a handful of very small concentrated areas. The leafy suburbs are to be sheltered from the demand for affordable housing, or any developments above low density.
    When I attended various community consultation events over the last decade, it was the voice of reaction that dominated. The most vocal and active participants have opposed the changes proposed, especially in their own areas. While those same people might acknowledge that their children and grandchildren simply can’t afford the housing opportunities that they enjoyed, they are nor willing to shoulder their share of the burden to alleviate the situation.
    Over the last two decades, it has struck me that a significant proportion of Croydon’s population are simply bewildered by the socio-economic changes in Croydon, and want to return to the halcyon days of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. This desire to return to the past is echoed in much of UKIP’s perspective. Unfortunately for these people, the only available option is an uncertain future where unless they willing to examine the irrationalities they hold dear, they are likely to feel increasingly alienated.
    As for the £5000 given to CCC; the silly re-tweeting of an allegedly Islamophobic image; and the presence of UKIP members, it is a case of mountains out of molehills. Far too many individuals have their own appalling agendas and they seem very reluctant to be subject to the degree of scrutiny that they are demanding CCC is subject to.

    • The problem with CCC, Rod, is that – having received the public money when under different management – they now refuse to be subject to any public scrutiny.

      They refused to take any action over Clive Locke’s behaviour, whether inadvertent or otherwise. Indeed, Hyacinth Bucket refuses to acknowledge that anything ever happened.

      The “apolitical” CCC subverted their agreement with the council not to stage any meetings during election purdah last year by “supporting” one of their prominent members, the notorious UKIPper Peter Morgan, in organising political election hustings, often with the bombastic Bucket chairing the events.

      Under Bucket’s chairmanship, following Locke’s reluctant resignation, the “apolitical” CCC defied all criticism by appointing a UKIP General Election candidate, Peter Staveley, as deputy chairman, at their AGM, alongside fellow UKIPper Janet Stollery.

      And at that annual meeting, when a member of the audience attempted to ask questions about the organisation’s conduct, Bucket, in the chair, allowed the questioner to be shouted down and be subjected to racist abuse.

      And all done while supported by public money. Your money.

      It’s good to see that you find this acceptable conduct not worthy of scrutiny, Rod.

  6. Nick Davies says:

    Of course they’re not apolitical and never could be. Any group which seeks to influence the way things are organised is by definition political. They have to come to a view about things and comment or campaign accordingly. It’s not as though they’re a chess club or knitting circle.

    The problem comes when such groups are hijacked by those with a narrow political agenda who can’t conceive of anyone having a different view. This is often described in such ‘apolitcal’ circles as ‘common sense’, a quality dissenters are deemed not to possess and whose views are thus discounted.

    Which gets me round to saying that I’m now (a little proudly) banned from commenting on CCC’s Facebook page for suggesting they are not as apolitical as they might think they are.

    • Which gets me round to saying that I’m now (a little proudly) banned from commenting on CCC’s Facebook page for suggesting they are not as apolitical as they might think they are.

      QED.

      You must be on the Bucket list.

Leave a Reply