Newman looks for Plan B on roads as Bee is moved on

Incognito: Tony Newman's council cabinet might not be recognisable after tonight's meeting

Incognito: Croydon council leader Tony Newman’s cabinet might not be recognisable after tonight’s meeting

Kathy Bee, the councillor in charge of the state of the roads in the borough, looks set to be another casualty of Tony “Soprano” Newman’s inadvertent reshuffle of Town Hall top jobs expected to be undertaken at a Labour group meeting tonight.

At the midway point in his council administration, Newman already has to replace Selhurst councillor Toni Letts, who is leaving her key regeneration portfolio in order to don the ermin and chains of deputy mayor (with a view to then being mayor in 2017-2018, likely to be her final year on the council).

And one of Newman’s deputy leaders, Stuart Collins, faces a challenge to that position from Mark Watson.

Inside Croydon understands that Bee, a councillor for South Norwood ward, made it known to the council leader that she was prepared to try a different brief within Newman’s 10-strong council cabinet. Newman has decided that that is an offer that he won’t be taking up.

Unless another senior role is found for Bee among the many cabinet deputies and various committees, the decision will see the former local government worker take a £32,000 per year drop in the “allowances” she receives for being on the council.

Cabinet member Kathy Bee: she enthusiastically supported the flyover through Waddon, before hearing what local residents might think

Shuffled out: Kathy Bee

A switch in the transport cabinet spokesperson may offer Newman an opportunity to re-set some policies which have caused his Labour council problems. Bee took some quiet criticism for the handling of the first 20mph zone consultation in the north of the borough, but more recently the abandonment of the Labour manifesto pledge to provide one-hour free parking for some district centres has stirred up widespread discontent.

Newman’s “ambitious” manifesto in 2014 said: “A Labour council will support our local street markets. To support our local economies, our district centres will offer free parking for the first hour.  This will not only make shopping easier for residents but will also support our local traders in difficult times.”

That pledge has been abandoned, for no apparent, good reason.

Bee reportedly said recently that it was changed because she had decided to – a touch of tetchiness which may have betrayed her feelings over her loss of cabinet position, perhaps?

With Newman doling out cabinet jobs worth many thousands of pounds like bon-bons to kids, his patronage is used to keep his 38 fellow Labour councillors – joined since Thursday by West Thornton’s Callton Young – in line.

So when it comes to a group vote, even a secret ballot over the deputy leadership between Collins and Watson, Newman really ought to expect 20 votes – 10 cabinet members and their deputies – in favour of his preferred candidate. It is an in-built majority which seems unbeatable.

Since Inside Croydon broke the news last week of the challenge to Collins, Newman has been telling anyone who might listen that he is supporting no one in the deputy contest. This, of course, is nonsense. If Newman did not want Collins to be challenged, he could have quite easily asked Watson, a key member of the council leadership clique, not to stand. Newman did no such thing, signalling his tacit approval, even encouragement of this power grab.

Whether Newman is having belated second thoughts about the consequences of allowing a deputy leadership challenge is not known. “Does he ever think-through anything?” one sleep-deprived Katharine Street source said once the London election campaign was over.

“Of course, if Stuart loses the deputyship, that will be made to look as a vote of no confidence in his handling the clean streets campaign, which was a key part of what got Labour elected in 2014.

“But if Newman’s mate, Watson, doesn’t win it, then that leaves Tony’s leadership undermined, too.”

Not for the first time, Newman’s political judgement is looking flawed.


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 Callton Young, Croydon Council, Environment, Fly tipping, Kathy Bee, Mark Watson, Parking, Refuse collection, Stuart Collins, Toni Letts, Tony Newman, Transport and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Newman looks for Plan B on roads as Bee is moved on

  1. As I said once before, it gets more and more like Game of Thrones, a Keystone Kops version, without the dedicated, deadly determination of the original but with all the Keystone Kops bungling, fumbling and slapstick.

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  2. The sooner we see the back of cabinet member Bee the better. She makes the Keystone Kops look good. I hope her replacement straight away drops 20mph speed limits and the cycling crap that nobody wants and cuts parking costs as promised by Croydon Labour which people do want.

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  3. davidjl2014 says:

    Great article. I think we’ve all got the message that Brother Newman isn’t very bright. But what he fails abysmally to understand is that every department run by a Council costs hundreds of thousands of OUR money. So if he finds himself short of a few bob he should consider why the Council continue to fund the following:
    Adult Abuse – Surely a police matter
    Breastfeeding support – See NHS
    Croydon Meditation Service – Best to contact the Buddhists
    Driver Training – Go to a Driving Instructor
    Education for Children at Home – Only under extreme circumstances surely
    Guided Walks – Lots of ramblers live in Croydon
    Healthy Living Club – Any doctor will put you straight on this
    Interpretation & Translation Services – Simple, learn English, you live here!
    Public Toilets – Only 10 maintained by the Council to serve circa. 363 thousand people.
    Zoo Licences – Know anyone who has one?
    I’m sure that if Newman adds up how much it costs to administer and run the above departments, he might be able to keep the streets clean and have some change left!
    I also completely fail to understand why the Council charge Council Tax on properties they own themselves. Surely an utter waste of administration.

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  4. Peter Bell says:

    not sure it is necessary to bring in televisual cultural references – the basic facts are that this administration that started out with so much promise is becoming mired in ineffectualism and incompetence, which i translate as “letting down the electorate”. Bear in mind that most of us joined the party “to serve”, .it is time for the leaders to lead and the council to “man up ” a lot
    more than they have shown us so far.
    1) go back to the promises made that got this administration under Tony Newman elected (particularly in Waddon) and ensure that these are kept.
    2) consider carefully the local application of power towards development, and veer towards what the majority of Croydon folk want in their “city” as opposed to what brings in more money – or more kudos for the council/Labour party.
    3) Worry ye not about your personal salary today – if you do the “right thang” you will become more valuable to the market in the long term. To show a need for short term personal gain in office., is an anethma to the business community.

    Then get back to doing your job of reperesenting the people of Croydon for ALL of their and your best interests

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    • davidjl2014 says:

      It’s a very good point you make, but when only about 35% of people bother to turn out at Local Council Elections, it’s the silent majority that have just as much to answer for as the “amateur” Councillors themselves.

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  5. So Tony Newman gets Kathy Bee to take all his unpopular and difficult decisions around parking etc and then he duly sacks her. Priceless. There’s also a rumour that her deputy Robert Canning is being sacked so it looks like Croydon’s experiment to get people out of their cars and encourage cycling is well and truly over.

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