Toni Letts, the councillor for Selhurst ward, has been confirmed as the next Mayor of Croydon. It will be Letts’ second term as Croydon Mayor.
The news was announced this morning by the mayoral incumbent, Wayne Trakas-Lawlor: “Warm congrats to our dear friend and deputy mayor @LettsToni on her nomination as next Mayor of Croydon. She will be an outstanding first citizen.”
Although appointed deputy mayor last May, Letts’ accession to the role of mayor was not entirely a foregone conclusion. At least one other Labour councillor wanted to be considered for the role, which is in the gift of the majority group at the Town Hall, for the 2017-2018 council year.
The keenness for this role might be explained by the local elections in May 2018, which could see the return of Conservative control of the borough and would mean at least four years before the next Labour mayor.
The borough mayor’s role is largely ceremonial – the opening of new schools, attending prize-givings and charity fetes – but has been undertaken energetically over the past eight months by Trakas-Lawlor, the borough’s first openly gay mayor, and his deputy, like some form of jewelled-up dynamic duo. They have undertaken their duties despite being denied much of the administration support provided to previous mayors – all part of the on-going council cuts.
The mayor also has the key role of chairing meetings of the full council, something at which Letts’ experience and calm demeanour should equip her well in what could be a rumbustious few months in the run-up to the local elections.
First elected as a councillor in 1986, Dublin-born Letts trained as a nurse in London before studying for a degree in youth and community matters, an interest area which has underpinned her life and work since, which has had a profound impact on the lives of tens of thousands of local people, and often the most vulnerable in society.
Letts is a founder member of Croydon’s Family Justice Centre and a safe house for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. For 10 years, she was the director of housing for Croydon YMCA, later serving as chief executive of South London YMCA for a further 10 years, developing housing in several of boroughs.
In 1994, she was awarded an OBE for her services to housing and the community. She first served as mayor in 1997-1998 (in those days when we were told “things can only get better”), and has also chaired the Croydon Health Authority for eight years, the NHS Primary Healthcare Trust for six years, and the chaired the London NHS Specialist Commissioning Board.
Despite having had front-bench responsibilities for the Labour council since it regained control of the Town Hall in 2014, including as cabinet member for the economy, Letts has continued to serve as a governor of the Whitgift Foundation, the borough’s largest land-owners and the body which has brought Westfield to Croydon to redevelop the ageing Whitgift shopping centre. Letts stood down from that cabinet role once appointed as deputy mayor.
- 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