KEN LEE on the announcement from Steve Reed OBE’s agent that he has gone out and found a proper jobOne of the leading members of the Blairite clique which controls the Labour group on Croydon Council is standing down.
Upper Norwood councillor John Wentworth, who chairs the Labour group at the Town Hall, has announced his decision in a letter to branch officials ahead of the much-delayed start of the candidate selection process.
Wentworth, a former head teacher, has long been a key figure within the local party, having worked as election agent at the last two General Elections for former Progress vice-chair Steve Reed OBE.
Wentworth’s Upper Norwood ward is being re-styled Upper Norwood and Crystal Palace ward from next May’s local elections. The northern-most part of the borough, from 2006 to 2010 the ward had two Conservative councillors, but it is now considered safe Labour territory in the Croydon North parliamentary constituency.The ward’s two other councillors are the septuagenarian Pat Ryan and Alisa Flemming, the cabinet member for children who has been at the centre of the recent storm over the borough’s failing children’s services.
A councillor since 2010, Wentworth caused controversy two years ago when he and Ryan were caught watching a Crystal Palace football match on a tablet device in the Town Hall chamber during a council debate on Tory austerity cuts and the closure of the Fairfield Halls.Wentworth’s contemptuous conduct was rewarded by council leader Tony Newman with a promotion, when he was made deputy cabinet member for finance, assisting Simon Hall. But – as predicted by Inside Croydon – the episode has been used by the Tory opposition to portray Newman’s Labour group as inattentive and uncaring about the borough’s problems.
Wentworth is standing down from his cabinet deputy finance role at the end of this month, though not to spend more time on Denis Thatcher’s favourite golf course in Dulwich, where the Labour politician was club captain recently.
Wentworth has got himself a new job, working with one of the large school academy chains.
In his letter, which Inside Croydon has seen, Wentworth wrote, “As our branch will soon begin the selection of candidates for the 2018 council elections, I want to let you know that I will not be standing as a candidate for the new Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood ward.
“I have recently accepted an offer of work in the Academy Schools sector which gives me the opportunity to influence educational provision and to enhance the life chances of a significant number of children, many of whom are significantly disadvantaged.“I intend to serve out the remainder of my term as a councillor for Upper Norwood and as chair of the Labour group on the council. However, I have informed the Leader that I am stepping down as a deputy cabinet member from 30 October to allow more time for my work.
“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve the Labour Party and residents of Upper Norwood as a councillor for the past seven years. Winning the seat back from the Tories in 2010 is a memory I will always treasure.
“It has also been a privilege to represent such a vibrant and active ward. I particularly want to thank my councillor colleagues, Pat Ryan and Alisa Flemming and the members who give so much to ensure the ward works so well.
“I will be campaigning right up to [the] May 2018 election to ensure the re-election [of] a Labour council to serve the people of Croydon and Upper Norwood.”
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