Croydon’s police have been instructed not to attend further meetings of the controversial Croydon Communities [sic] Consortium.The order comes from the Borough Commander, Andy Tarrant, and has occurred in the midst of CCC being involved with a series of public screenings of the BBC television series The Met at the David Lean Cinema, the next of which is due to take place tomorrow.
CCC is supposedly an “apolitical” community group which was awarded a £5,000 grant from Croydon Council, but which went ahead to appoint members of UKIP – including a parliamentary election candidate – to key positions on its committee.
CCC had already been involved in controversy when its then deputy chairman sent a series of offensive Islamophobic, anti-immigrant messages on Twitter.
Despite repeated requests over the past six months from council officials for the return of the unspent balance of the grant after the end of its one-year term, CCC’s chairwoman, Elizabeth Ash, has refused to refund the tax-payers’ money. Croydon Council is considering taking legal action to secure the public funds.
The free-of-charge Met screenings are a police initiative, seeking reactions from Croydon’s diverse community about issues raised in the documentary series. A senior officer within Croydon police decided to distribute tickets through Neighbourhood Watch and a mental health charity, as well as CCC (or as Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader calls it, the Croham Clux Clan).
It was after Chief Superintendent Tarrant was made aware that Sanderstead housewife Ash and her colleagues were running a data-scraping exercise by encouraging people to “book” tickets through them on Eventbrite, in addition to concerns about their committee’s attitude to parts of the Croydon community, that he issued his instructions for the police not to attend CCC meetings.
Tarrant is certain to be sensitive around issues of equalities and proper representation. Croydon’s top cop was recently forced to undergo equality training on the recommendation of an employment tribunal, following the award of £37,000 in damages to Carol Howard, who has left the police after a high-profile case in which it was ruled that she had been bullied, harassed and victimised by a senior officer while serving with the Diplomatic Protection Group.Tarrant had been head of DPG before moving to Croydon last year.
With Croydon Council and the local police opting to disengage with CCC, it is difficult to see how Ash and her colleagues can continue to maintain the charade of claiming that they are a representative body.
Mark Watson, the council cabinet member responsible, told Inside Croydon this afternoon, “I had a meeting with the Borough Commander yesterday, and he told me that he had instructed his officers not to attend future CCC meetings or events.
“The position with the return of the council grant is still the same, since we first wrote to them last year: the grant was made for one year, and any public money unspent in that time needs to be returned. I understand from council officers that there has been an exchange of correspondence, but the council has sent CCC an invoice for the unspent balance of the grant.”
According to Watson, the amount to be refunded is around £2,000, although CCC’s accounts last November suggested that more than £4,000 of the grant had been unspent.
CCC has this week announced that it is to hold its 2015 annual meeting in July – more than five months earlier than last year. Councillor Watson declined to comment on whether this was in any way linked to the demand for the refund of thousands of pounds of public money.
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