A “community” group that claims to be “apolitical” and which has received thousands of pounds of grant funding from the council, has promoted the campaign making the case against the council’s policy of introducing 20mph zones across the borough.It was in July 2015 that Nathan Elvery, when chief executive of Croydon Council, confirmed in writing that the Croydon Community Consortium had been in breach of its grant-funding conditions, and that at the end of the term of its one-year grant was obliged to repay more than £2,000.
That view was confirmed by the Labour cabinet member responsible at the time, Mark Watson, who also said that CCC would be taken to court for recovery of the money if necessary.
But 18 months later, and the public money remains unrefunded. Hamida Ali, the councillor who is now in charge of the matter, has failed to answer direct questions from Inside Croydon about the state of the case and the lack of legal enforcement action by the council.
CCC’s committee has been dominated by UKIP members and Tories, as the group provided a council-subsidised platform at its “apolitical” “community” meetings. It is run as a personal fiefdom by the borough’s answer to Hyacinth Bucket, Sanderstead housewife Elizabeth Ash.
Having been granted £5,000 by the council, CCC attracted controversy when Ash’s deputy chair, Clive Locke, sent a series of racist and Islamophobic messages and images on social media; Ash and her CCC committee colleagues chose to take no action despite the deep offence caused in the less bigoted sections of our community.
This week, CCC has published a scree of half-truths and deceits about 20mph speed limits that are identical to those being circulated by Croydon Conservatives.
As Inside Croydon has reported, the Tory “Carry on Speeding” campaign is clearly prompted by car campaigner Peter Morgan. Morgan has managed at various times to be expelled from both Croydon Conservatives and Croydon UKIP.
Morgan is a regular attendee and supporter of CCC meetings.
That CCC still retains a significant sum of public money while giving prominent publicity to opposition to a flagship council policy will be the latest embarrassment to Labour’s council leader Tony Newman. Compounding that embarrassment has been the veteran (ie. should know better) Norbury Labour councillor Maggie Mansell, who attended this week’s CCC meeting despite the Elvery and Watson-imposed boycott of all its activities by councillors, council officials and Croydon police.
Newman may want to know why Ali, his Woodside ward colleague and said to be a rising star in the Labour group, has failed to follow-through on the threats of recovery action from Elvery and her predecessor, Watson.
“The basis of the council’s funding to the CCC was for a one-year programme of work and this has been explained to Ms Ash on numerous occasions,” Elvery wrote in an email in July 2015.
The council’s chief executive continued: “The amount the council is now seeking to be returned from the CCC is £2,223. This is based on the figures submitted by CCC to the council on the 25th January 2015. The figures being actual figures within the CCC’s own documentation.”
And Elvery added this: “The council has made it clear that it will not continue in a protracted debate with the CCC. Until the CCC pays the outstanding invoice of £2,223 the council will not provide any support for the organisation, including the free use of council-owned buildings and any indirect support previously available.”
“There’s really no reason for the delay in court action,” one Katharine Street source said today. “If a resident owed more than £2,000 in Council Tax, the council would have the bailiffs knocking on their door PDQ.”
Ash has publicly stated that she has a written agreement from the council which was for a two-year grant period. Ash has never made that document public, which strongly suggests that it doesn’t exist.
Now that she is denied council funding and assistance through CCC, Ash is pursuing other routes to public cash and influence. Though she has not been wholly successful. Excluded from the residents’ groups in Sanderstead (we can’t think why), Ash recently stood for office at the South Croydon Community Association, even though she does not live in that area. When it came to a vote, Ash lost.Ash has to remain vigilant to keep up appearances (pun intended) that CCC is apolitical and unaligned.
Last night, when her ally, Morgan, despatched one of his round robin emails to invite people to attend his latest meeting against the “blanket” (a favourite Morgan word, and typically utterly misleading) 20mph zones, he included among the cc’d recipients his good friends at CCC.
Concerned that this might give away the pretence that CCC is a front for Morgan and some of his more unsavoury kipper chums, Ash was quick to hit “reply all”.
“Why are copied [sic] us into this email? CCC has nothing at all to do with this group and we have never indicated any interest,” she wrote, disingenuously, since CCC had posted the Morgan-inspired Tory propaganda on its own website on Sunday. “Please stop emailing us. Thank you, Elizabeth Ash, on behalf of Croydon Communities Consortium (CCC)”.
“A classic case of the lady doth protest too much,” one of those on the circulation list responded, after making sure that, as requested, CCC was not among the recipients.
- If you want to advise CCC of a public meeting that you are staging in the borough, or if you think Elizabeth Ash should be forced to repay the £2,223 of public money – your money – from the CCC grant, plus two years’ interest, then please write to her expressing your views at CroydonNeighbourhoods@gmail.com. And get your friends to write, too, demanding a return of money that can be better used by people who actually need it. And please make sure you keep us in the loop…
- Inside Croydon is Croydon’s only independent news source, still based in the heart of the borough. In 2016, we averaged 17,000 page views every week
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org