WALTER CRONXITE on another bungled announcement by Croydon Conservatives
No matter how hard they try to make it look as if they do give a toss about the north of the borough, Croydon’s Tories really don’t give a shit.
And the area of the borough they don’t care about seems to be getting larger.
That’s the clear impression from today’s botched announcement of their selected candidates for next May’s local elections.
Each political party can nominate up to 70 candidates, distributed among 28 one-, two- and three-councillor wards which have been lovingly re-shaped by the Local Government Boundary Commissioners to try to better represent residents.
But the Tories have only so far named 56 candidates in 23 wards, and have completely omitted mentioning any candidates for South Norwood, Selhurst, Thornton Heath, Bensham Manor and West Thornton wards – all Labour-held and all in the north of the borough.
This echoes an election blunder in 2014 when the Conservatives paid thousands of pounds for a local newspaper wraparound advertisement, but in listing the borough’s wards, failed to mention one in Croydon North.
That time, it was a blunder.
This time, it has been done deliberately.
This can only reinforce the perception of the Tories hunkering down in the true-blue south of the borough and ignoring the many inner city-like issues in the north.
This divided borough approach was highlighted when Inside Croydon exposed that Croydon Tories have been running a twin-track selection process which had A list candidates who could seek selection for safe wards, and B-listers who are considered good for nothing other than token candidacy in wards where the Conservatives don’t fancy their chances.
That certainly looks to be the case in the re-configured Fairfield ward following Tory poster boy Gavin Barwell’s demoralising loss of the Croydon Central parliamentary seat at the General Election in June.
Fairfield lies right at the heart of the town centre, including Surrey Street Market, the Fairfield Halls and the Town Hall itself. It is an area of the town which is changing most rapidly, with hundreds of new residential properties being developed.
And none of Fairfield ward’s current three Conservative councillors will be contesting the ward in 2018: one, Sue Winborn, has retired, while sometime front-bench figures Vidhi Mohan and Helen Pollard have both scarpered for safer zones elsewhere.
Mohan has opted for the Gavin Barwell Memorial Ward, also known as the single-seat Park Hill and Whitgift.
Meanwhile Pollard – the wife of Croydon Tories’ leader Tim Pollard – will be contesting her third different ward in three elections by standing in the much less-marginal Selsdon and Addington Village (alongside social media blow-hard and regular contributor to Tory freesheet The Shitizen, Robert Ward).
The selections, announced this morning, betray the Tories’ own thoughts about their chances in other areas, too.
Waddon, in the Croydon South parliamentary constituency, was held by the Conservatives until 2014. But Simon Hoar, once one of the Tories’ senior councillors, has opted against trying to reclaim his old ward from Labour and instead will stand in Purley Oaks and Riddlesdown, a re-jigged electoral area taking Tory voting neighbourhoods from the southern end of his old stamping ground and bits of Purley.
As reported by Inside Croydon last week, Jeet Bains, currently a Coulsdon councillor, has been handed the poisoned chalice of seeking election in one of the reconfigured Addiscombe wards; he has already dismissed his chances.
The selection list shows a return to candidacy for Ian Parker, who will stand in Coulsdon Town just four years after stepping down because, as the local Conservatives’ full-time, paid election agent and part-time fall-guy, he was too busy looking after their two MPs. Barwell’s lost seat must have seen Parker’s workload eased considerably.
Where, because of the boundary changes, a sitting councillor has been squeezed out of a ward, such as Kenley (which goes from being a three-councillor ward to having just two seats), some have landed on their feet, such as Steve Hollands in Old Coulsdon.
And Gareth Streeter, whose own peculiar brand of over-wrounght, weepy Christian Conservatism saw him lose Ashburton ward for the Tories in 2014 and then get rejected at the ballot box in the General Election by the voters of Rother Valley (sensible folk, Yorkshire folk), looks to have been handed a gilt-edged chance to win an election, finally. Surely even Streeter can’t lose in the re-mapped Shirley North?
Croydon’s Tory council cadre has long been accused of being unrepresentative of the borough’s diverse population, something which they have achieved by tending to select BAME candidates only for unwinnable wards (unless, of course, they are very generous with donations to the party coffers).
Today’s candidate list does go at least one step towards correcting that, with the trio of candidates for Purley and Woodcote including, alongside current Purley councillors Simon Brew and Badsha Quadir, Oni Oviri, who describes herself as a “supply chain consultant”, a tea merchant, and “enterprising”.
One wannabe Tory candidate, who has not been selected, told Inside Croydon, “Apparently those who didn’t spend enough hours canvassing or delivering leaflets were not selected, or moved to different (marginal ) wards.
“It would be interesting if the Croydon Tories can be more transparent about their selection rules,” they said, calling for a published register of candidates’ activities for the local party.
Today, using what Croydon South MP Chris Philp might describe as “hyper-bowl”, Tim Pollard said, “The future of Croydon hangs in the balance at the election next May.” Seriously, Tim?
Further, Pollard said, “Every one of the candidates we are putting forward has a passion for volunteering, a history of community leadership and the skills Croydon needs to make our borough a better place to live and work.” Which clearly excludes the likes of de-selected councillors Mike Fisher and Phil Thomas.
Pollard also said, “We’re going to be working hard over the coming months, listening to everyone in Croydon…”.
Well, everyone except those in the north of the borough, and especially not those in South Norwood, Selhurst, Thornton Heath, Bensham Manor and West Thornton.
Here’s the candidates for May 3’s local elections that the Conservatives have selected. Because all ward boundaries are changed, it is hard to reflect the current 24 council wards with the new boundaries under which the elections will be contested. But some seem to be largely Labour-supporting wards (which we have colour coded red), and others are clearly Tory (blue).
Where the fickle nature of elections and new boundaries make it less than obvious, we have left the ward name in black.
Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood
New Addington South
New Addington North
Norbury and Pollards Hill
Park Hill and Whitgift
Purley and Woodcote
Purley Oaks and Riddlesdown
Selsdon and Addington Village
Selsdon Vale and Forestdale
South Norwood, Selhurst, Thornton Heath, Bensham Manor and West Thornton have yet to have their B-list candidates allocated.
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