Inside Croydon’s Editor STEVEN DOWNES on how some leading local Labour politicians have become enthusiastic adopters of “post-truth”It was Tom Lehrer, the comedian, who famously declared that political satire was dead the day that Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Goodness knows what Lehrer would have made, then, of Inside Croydon being accused at a Town Hall meeting last night of being a “fake news” site by a councillor who was once convicted for fraud.
Mark Watson, part of Tony Newman’s Gang of Four clique which controls the Labour group on the council, may yet cause his party to lose control of the Town Hall at next May’s local elections.
Watson’s arse-covering lies and bungled handling of what passes for a “consultation” over Surrey Street might cost its chances of success in one, perhaps two wards (depending on how the election boundaries are re-drawn this year).
And his conduct in his home ward of Addiscombe has already prompted residents to form opposition groups after their lives and homes have been blighted by a traffic scheme which has disproportionately favoured the street where Watson himself lives.
Watson has never been directly accused of over-seeing the new one-way system along Lebanon Road, but as a cabinet member at the time the decision was taken, there’s a strong possibility that he will have known all about it, and yet he did nothing to inform residents of neighbouring streets what was coming their way.
Watson has got form when it comes to unenlightened self-interest when holding a publicly funded position. In the past, it got him into serious trouble, including time in jail and the loss of his civil service job.
While working for the Home Office in Croydon, Watson forged immigration documents so that his Brazilian partner could stay in Britain. He did this twice. Watson pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to six months in prison in 1994.
That makes it now a “spent conviction”, but such conduct while in public office made Watson’s appointment in 2014 to be the cabinet member for law and order entirely inappropriate and a serious error of judgement by his mate, council leader Newman.
And it also provides a sharper context for proven fraudster Watson’s remarks in the Town Hall chamber last night about this website.
Watson did not mention this website by name, though it was clear to those who were at the meeting who he had in mind.
Inside Croydon has received no formal correspondence or comments from Newman or Watson to seek to correct any of our recent reports on Surrey Street or Addiscombe. They ceased to return our calls or reply to emails with questions about their conduct some time ago.
Of course, we reserve the right to take a different perspective on matters affecting the people of Croydon than the two well-paid councillors (Newman receives more than £50,000 per year from the council). But we maintain that our reporting is accurate, and true.The same can’t be said of some of Newman’s and Watson’s panic-stricken recent utterings, via social media and sent to Labour activists.
Laughably, Newman, in a desperate attempted slur, has accused this website of supporting UKIP.
Watson, meanwhile, is reduced to re-writing history after his failed efforts to bulldoze through his “vision” for Surrey Street without consulting residents or traders on Croydon’s old marketplace, which the councillor with the gentrification agenda – “pound a croissant!” – has described publicly as “tatty”.
In emails to Labour members, credit is given to Watson for the £1million investment in Surrey Street, stating that, “Last year we held a well-publicised and attended meeting with market traders, local businesses and the general public.”
But as we were told by a Surrey Street stakeholder who watched last night’s council meeting, Watson “continually perpetuates lies regarding the consultation process. When he is pushed on local resident involvement, he is dismissive.
“Are they seriously trying to say that there was any worthwhile consultation over the plans? ‘Well-publicised’? ‘Well-attended’? It’s just more lies.
“That’s the meeting where Watson forgot to invite residents and then thought posting it on Twitter with less than 48 hours’ notice was adequate. The council meeting held earlier this month only got publicised and was very well attended because a resident made it their job to inform the people who really matter.”
- Read our latest report on the council’s botched handling of the Surrey Street investment here
- And click here for more on how Watson’s neighbourhood has been blighted by a council road scheme
- 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
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