Jason Perry has been elected overwhelmingly to be the new deputy leader of Croydon Conservatives.When we say “elected overwhelmingly”, we mean just by Tory councillors.
A maximum of 29 of them.
That’s because Sara Bashford has now got a politically restricted job, so she says that she has resigned the Conservative whip and will not be undertaking anything at all political between now and next May’s local elections. Oh no.
So she probably didn’t get to vote in this crucial election.
And in all probability, Perry was not voted for by Phil Thomas, Mike #WadGate Fisher or James Thompson, because they’ve just been de-selected and won’t be feeling in the slightest bit bitter at all. Oh no.
Sue Winborn, Chris Wright, Donald Speakman and Margaret and Dudley Mead are all retiring, so they might not have been too bothered to vote for one of two deputy leaders who will be in charge of their group after they’ve stood down from the Town Hall chamber.
That could leave just 21 councillors who might have taken part in the election for the deputy leader of the Croydon Council opposition group. Including Perry himself, who probably voted Perry.
There was no need to involve the membership in choosing someone capable of undertaking the task of deputising for opposition leader Tim Pollard. Oh no.
So Perry could have been elected by a majority of fewer than a dozen people.
The Croydon Conservatives have not published the voting returns on this “election” because, well, it would just be a bit embarrassing, wouldn’t it?
The result of this “election” means that Croydon Tories’ “leadership team” now comprises three middle-aged, middle-class white blokes, called Jason, Tim and Jason (Cummings, the alternative deputy).
That’s the face of the Conservative Party in Croydon in 2017. So much for any commitment to equalities, women’s or minorities’ representation.
Perry is the director of a local firm of builder’s merchants, and the councillor for Croham ward sits on the council planning committee.
Perry has been on the council since 1994, though was originally elected in Coulsdon East. He was shunted from that all-too-cosy safe Tory ward when it became clear that he was really not doing a great deal of work for the local residents.
And as a long-standing member of the planning committee, he does have a peculiar notion of what constitutes the process of seeking “planning permission”. In 2009, the Tory councillor applied for planning permission on an extension to a house on Featherbed Lane after he had already got the builders in and started work on the project. His Tory mates on the planning committee nodded it through.
The deputy vacancy arose because Bashford’s new job is supposed to preclude her from undertaking political work. By resigning the Tory whip on the council, it allows her to continue to pocket council allowances through to the May local elections, and avoids the need for a ward by-election in the meantime (for which, if we’re being honest, we’re all grateful).
But to maintain the pretence, the Tories needed to go through the motions to replace her in the role as deputy leader.
In an announcement on the Tories’ website this morning, Pollard said: “I am delighted to welcome Jason Perry as my new deputy leader. Jason has a wealth of experience having successfully run a council department as well as his own local business…”Let’s skip over the inexactitude of the description of Perry, when the Tories were in power, ever running a council department. He did no such thing. The full-time council officers do that, and woe betide a mere part-time elected representative if they ever dare get too close to thinking that they are the ones in charge.
But when Perry had the Tory brief for development and planning, there were… what might be called synergies, in that council department, weren’t there? Because the Tories gave a man with business interests in the building industry an inside overview of a department which was dealing with developers and builders on a daily basis.
“Jason’s detailed work on the Local Plan, as well as his in-depth knowledge of our borough’s economic development issues, will make him a huge asset to the team,” Pollard said, making no mention of the assets of Carlton Building Plastics, Perry’s £1.5million annual turnover company, and its interests in the borough’s, ahem, “economic development”.
In other news, Vidhi Mohan, the councillor so committed to the interests of residents of his Fairfield ward that he will be seeking election in a different, safer Tory ward next May, has been handed Bashford’s old job of shadow cabinet member for transport and environment. So don’t expect any time soon any criticism or opposition from Mohan to polluting incinerator schemes or road-building plans undertaken with tens of millions of pounds of public money to benefit Westfield’s supermall non-development.
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