WALTER CRONXITE on the latest instance of non-accountability of our elected representatives, and how the borough’s new top cop will need to address the Bashment ban
Amy Lamé will make one of her first, if not the first, public speech as London’s “Night Czar” in Croydon tomorrow morning since Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced her appointment.
Khan and Lamé will both be speaking at Croydon College at a council-run “economic summit” at something grandly titled the Croydon Local Strategic Partnership.
The event will also see the borough’s new top cop, Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe, making one of his first public appearances.
Boothe will be Croydon’s first black borough commander, as was first reported by Inside Croydon, when he takes up his new post on December 10. Tomorrow, on a panel to discuss the night-time economy, Boothe will doubtless be asked to address the “Bashment ban”, where Croydon police were accused of racial profiling over licensing bars and night clubs who offered Jamaican and black music.
The appearance of Lamé and, specifically, Khan in Croydon, rather than at a City Hall oversight committee meeting will be somewhat controversial, since some London Assembly Members wanted to question the Mayor about specific aspects of the Night Czar’s appointment.
Because it turns out that the role, as advertised, has been fundamentally altered during the recruitment process, and that City Hall will now have to appoint a second person to chair the authority’s night-time economy commission.
The mayor replied that the process to appoint Ms Lamé was “open, fair and transparent” with 187 candidates having applied for the role.
Khan dodged questions about the detail of the Lamé deal at last week’s Mayor’s Question Time session, referring them to this week’s committee session instead.
“Hiding behind non-political staff in this way is not what the public expect from their Mayor,” Martin Hoscik, the leading City Hall blogger behind Mayorwatch, wrote over the weekend. “The appointment was made in Khan’s name, he knew that questions were coming and he owed it to Londoners to turn up sufficiently briefed to answer them.
“As someone once said, being Mayor involves a lot more than having your picture taken on a succession of red carpets.”
Hoscik’s persistence has dug out detail which shows that what has been presented over the Night Czar role is somewhat different from the behind-the-scenes reality, and that Lamé very much looks like a figurehead, while others will be expected to do the heavy lifting.
“After sustained questioning and challenging to the early answers given, it’s now clear that a more accurate – though less headline grabbing – announcement would have been that a contractor (Amy Lamé Limited) had been appointed to provide consultancy services to the Mayor, including drawing up a ‘roadmap’ to secure the sustainability of London’s night-time economy,” was how Mayorwatch described it.
“… City Hall arrived at the appointment of a company – it prefers the term ‘consultancy’ – almost by accident”, Hoscik writes, saying that “once applicants started to be interviewed it realised the combined job of Night Czar and chair of the Night Time Commission ‘would be much greater than originally anticipated’.
“A decision was therefore taken mid-process to split the job, with the Czar role being awarded to ‘a consultant’ (Amy Lamé Limited) and the Commission Chair to be appointed as a GLA officeholder post.”
Quite rightly, Hoscik asks, “Perhaps they didn’t want to draw attention to the real nature of the appointment in order to prevent anyone asking how many other companies tendered for the one-year contract?”
And tomorrow, rather than being at City Hall to help clarify the position – such as how much extra it is costing Londoners to have an (at best) D-list celeb fronting up this important function in addition to a chair for the commission – Mayor Khan will be telling a hand-picked audience in Croydon what a fantastic job he is doing.
Perhaps someone at the Croydon Local Strategic Partnership could ask him, or Amy Lamé Limited?
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