After a week in which he had already been accused of being a Tory “toady”, an “exemplary arse-kisser” and of “brown-nosing”, Chris Philp, the relative new-comer as the Conservative MP for Croydon South, has now opened himself up to being accused of acting in an un-Christian manner, and being anti-business, too.
Philp and a small gaggle of Croydon Tories – led by their group leader on the council, Tim Pollard – and some concerned local residents turned out at 9 o’clock yesterday morning, Easter Day, the holiest day in the Christian calendar, for a photo-shoot to protest against plans by supermarket chain to develop the site of the former Good Companions pub at Hamsey Green.
Philp had seemed a little dubious about the stunt – “Not my idea”, the MP tweeted on Saturday night. Perhaps he ought to have put his foot down and refused to go through with the pretty gormless photo, or at least had his Tory colleagues delay it for a day or so.
After all, around the time the picture was being taken, his party leader was issuing an Easter message stating that “Britain is a Christian country”. Maybe it is just not a Christian country in Philp’s Croydon, where the old idea that the Church of England being the Conservative Party at prayer seems particularly out-dated judging by local Tories’ conduct on Easter Day.
The Lidl scheme was a bad plan when it was first put before the planning committee three years ago, after the landmark pub was demolished with indecent haste. It has been re-submitted with few significant changes, as it will position a supermarket at an already busy road junction, and is expected to increase traffic around two nearby schools. Sanderstead residents are opposed to the plan.
So it is good to see a Tory MP for once taking a stand against big-business. Obviously, such opposition has nothing to do with the Lidl scheme being in the Sanderstead ward of the local council Conservatives’ leader.
But was it really essential to conduct the photocall on Easter Sunday?
And where was Philp and Croydon Tories’ support for local residents over another road scheme in the same constituency, with the £85 million Transport for London proposals to build a flyover to the Croydon Flyover, to have the A232 bypass Fiveways Corner? Neither Philp nor the Tory Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, Steve O’Connell, bothered to pick up a pen to participate in the TfL consultation on that scheme.
Participating in the consultation would not have required Philp or O’Connell to conduct political activity on a religious holiday.
But any opposition to that road scheme, on behalf of residents whose homes were under threat. will have required some lobbying against a scheme devised for the benefit of Westfield, and the proposal for the £1 billion supermall in Croydon town centre.
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