After last month’s debacle, it should be clear to most reasonable people that “government by referendum” is full of unintended consequences.Closer to home, here in Croydon, it appears that opposition through petition is a bit crap, too.
Mario Creatura, Croydon Tories’ very own Boy Wonder and ex-batman to Gavin Barwell, hasn’t been covering himself in glory of late.
The Tories, with first-term councillor Creatura at the controls of the local party’s Twitter feed, have made a habit recently of assuming a posture of righteous indignation over a number of issues which they believe are close to residents’ hearts. Often, just as when he was working in MP Barwell’s office and reproached for launching too many petitions, callow Creatura’s campaign efforts lead to an “opportunity” to register your opposition online.
Invariably, though, on closer examination, these “hot issues” turn out to be either storms in an egg cup, or the fault of… Creatura’s colleagues in the Conservative Party.
Take, for example, the queues at Croydon’s municipal dumps. Terribly inconvenient, not very good for the environment (all those car engines idling for ages needlessly) and all, according to Croydon’s Tories, caused by the council’s new charges for green garden waste.
Except that that assumption by Creatura and his chums is provably false. In fact, the cause of the queues has been Surrey residents rolling up in their 4x4s to use Croydon dumps, because their Tory-run council has closed their dumps as a result of the Tory Chancellor’s austerity cuts.
Like the professional politician that he is, Creatura dusted himself down and moved on to his next campaign. This took the form of a vintage whine about how the Labour-run council was failing to keep the borough’s streets clean, all because some grass hadn’t been swept off a grass verge.Less than ideal. Though hardly, you might think, the biggest issue facing the western world just at the moment. But in some leafy part of the Tory homeland that is the south of the borough, it is causing outrage. They talk of little else in the Purley Conservative Club, so we are told.
Not for the first time, though, not-so-super Mario is barking up the wrong tree. First, they used the grass cuttings as a reason to attack Stuart Collins, the Labour cabinet member who is in charge of keeping our streets clean. Except that grass cutting is the job of another outside contractor, Quadron, and they are the responsibility of the parks cabinet member, Timothy Godfrey.And it turns out that, in a money-saving move of mind-numbing daftness, Quadron’s piss-poor contract allows them to leave the grass cuttings behind.
And who was it who signed off on this contract?
Step forward Creatura’s own Conservative colleague, Phil “The Dour” Thomas.
Thomas agreed the £3.2million five-year leave-the-grass-cuttings-behind contract in February 2014. Creatura must have missed Thomas saying at the time, “This represents a great deal for local tax-payers and will mean that visitors to Croydon’s parks and open spaces will continue to enjoy excellent standards.”
The latest debacle in this unravelling attempt to unsettle Collins came this week as Croydon Tories used the local freesheet to launch yet another personal attack.
This time it concerned the figures being presented to next week’s cabinet meeting, which casts a shadow over Labour’s efforts to improve the amounts we recycle. This perceived failing is tucked away in the report going to Monday’s meeting.
Calling for Collins’ resignation, Tim Pollard, the Croydon Tories’ leader (in name if not in deed), cited the reason for a decline in recycling levels as the impact of the ending of the free green waste collection service.
But Pollard’s position fails to appreciate that the tax-payer-subsidised green waste collection service ended, as planned, in November 2015. The figures the Tories are crowing about are for the year to December 2015.In other words, the Tories have got it wrong. Again.
To make matters worse for the indignant Tories, Collins has now discovered that the figure in the council report is inaccurate, and that Croydon is performing better than the London average, something he will gleefully explain (slowly, so that they can keep up) to Pollard, Creatura and Thomas in the Town Hall next Monday
Quite why Croydon Tories have got it in for Collins is anyone’s guess.
Maybe it is because under Thomas’s stewardship of the local environment, the borough set up deals with a street cleansing contractor that allows them to monitor themselves, a landscape maintenance contractor that doesn’t have to clear up its own mess, and agreed to pay towards the £1billion cost of building an incineration plant that will produce electricity at a price nobody in their right mind will pay for and which will poison the air for decades to come.
And that’s something of real importance which the Croydon Tories would never start a petition about.
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