A self-proclaimed “community” group which has several leading members closely associated with UKIP and which defended one of its officers making racist comments via social media, could now face legal action from Croydon Council for the recovery of unspent cash from a £5,000 grant made under the previous Tory administration.
As Inside Croydon first reported two months ago, the officers and committee of Croydon Communities Consortium have courted controversy throughout the past year, since the then deputy chairman, Clive Locke, sent a series of Islamophobic images and messages on Twitter. Locke’s colleagues on CCC’s committee – who include Peter Staveley, UKIP’s most senior party official in Croydon – failed to take any action, claiming to be unaware of any “evidence” of wrong-doing by Locke, despite his own admission to a local paper.
In an apparently separate development, last December, Croydon Council wrote to CCC requiring the repayment of any unspent cash from the grant. “The funding from the council was to support an agreed 12-month programme of work from November 2013. The programme has completed and in accordance with standard policy, the council has asked for the return of any unspent funds,” Councillor Mark Watson told a meeting of the full council in April.
In the six months since the refund request, CCC has failed to comply, its chairwoman, Hyacinth Bucket – also known as Elizabeth Ash – claiming to be unaware that the council grant was for a 12-month term.
Now, in response to a Freedom of Information Act enquiry, Croydon Council has revealed that it may be considering legal action to recover what’s left of the grant from Ash and CCC.
The council was asked for correspondence between the local authority and Ash relating to the request for the CCC’s unspent council grant to be returned. The council’s FoI unit declined to provide the requested correspondence, stating: “The information requested relates to potential legal proceedings and is therefore exempt by virtue of Section 30 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, ‘Investigations and proceedings conducted by public authorities’.”
CCC – which despite its strong UKIP links still tries to claim to be apolitical – continues to stage meetings, which may involve some cost to the organisers. By last December, when the council requested the return of the grant money, they had spent less than £1,000 from the grant.
CCC’s meetings tend to be attended by sometime UKippers such as Janet Stollery and Peter Morgan, who between them cost local Council Tax-payers more than £15,000 in March when they demanded an immediate council by-election in Selhurst ward, moving for the by-election even before the funeral of well-respected local councillor Gerry Ryan has been held.
Morgan is now campaigning against the council’s consultation on 20mph zones in the borough’s residential streets, including using CCC as a forum for his claims on behalf of a motoring organisation. Coulsdon resident Morgan even attended election hustings events in Croydon North where the policy of reducing speed limits was often discussed.
Despite this and the council’s public consultation, Morgan recently claimed that, “It appears [Labour] in Croydon are in hock to the cyclists and Greens and scared their 20mph plans might not get public support with an open debate, and so they are sending their storm-troopers round to tear down posters putting the case against their plans.”
Fly-posting without permission on other people’s property, including lamp posts and other pieces of street furniture, is illegal. It will be interesting to see whether the police decide to interview Morgan about his role in distributing the anti-20mph zone leaflets.
In the meantime, Morgan’s CCC colleague, Ash/Bucket, is unusually lost for words. Approached by a Redhill-based newsheet, the CCC chairwoman “had not responded to requests for a comment” regarding the council’s possible legal action; if recent form is anything to go by, she’ll probably claim to be waiting to see evidence that she was asked for a comment first…
- Council puts repayment of £5,000 grant top of its Bucket list
- UKIP figures behind council-funded ‘apolitical’ talking shop
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