Another senior member of the Labour group at the Town Hall has decided not to stand at next May’s council elections.
Wayne Trakas-Lawlor, a councillor in South Norwood ward since 2010, announced his decision to colleagues yesterday.
Trakas-Lawlor is the deputy cabinet member for housing and regeneration, and is fondly remembered by many for his year as Croydon Mayor in 2016. Trakas-Lawlor was Croydon’s first openly gay mayor.
His term of office was noted for a very busy schedule in which he engaged young people in council activities from a wide range of communities, and which was also marked by the Sandilands tram tragedy, which saw Trakas-Lawlor and his deputy, Toni Letts, meeting many of the victims and their families and attending the seven funerals of those killed in the derailment.
In a letter to colleagues announcing his decision, Trakas-Lawlor mentioned the tram crash, writing, “As we approach the first anniversary of the tram crash, I want to pay tribute to all of the emergency services and who served Croydon with distinction and honour. Residents and businesses of Croydon showed how strong and resilient we are in the face of adversity.”
Sources close to Trakas-Lawlor confirm that his decision not to seek re-election is entirely a personal one, and is not caused by any policy or career considerations. Illness has caused him and his husband to decide to leave the area to be move closer to their families.
Trakas-Lawlor is the second senior Labour figure to opt not to stand next May: John Wentworth, the Upper Norwood councillor, is standing down following an appointment to a senior role with a schools academy chain. Both councillors’ decisions have been announced as the local Labour group undergoes its much-delayed candidate selection process for May’s local elections.
Trakas-Lawlor will see out his term as a councillor, so there will be no need for a by-election, as was held in his ward last month following the resignation of his colleague, Kathy Bee, after she accepted a politically restricted job.
In his letter circulated yesterday and seen by Inside Croydon, Trakas-Lawlor said, “It has been a very difficult decision for me personally to eventually leave my home town, but it is something that I have to do.”
Trakas-Lawlor added: “South Norwood: its businesses and residents will always have a special place in my heart. Its history and how it has evolved in the 21st century dynamic, as well as our diverse community continue to inspire me, and it has been a privilege to serve not only as a South Norwood councillor, but also as Mayor of Croydon. I am also grateful to my ward and branch comrades for their support and understanding during my mayoral year.
“I will always be grateful to the people of South Norwood for electing me for the first time in 2010, and re-electing me in 2014. The faith and trust that South Norwood voters placed in me enabled me to have the honour of becoming the First Citizen of Croydon, as well as serving our Labour administration as deputy cabinet member for economic development, and currently in homes and regeneration.
“I will continue in my current role on the council until my term ends in May 2018, and will then leave Croydon for pastures new. I look forward to joining colleagues on the streets and doorsteps in marginal seats to ensure a second Labour term in Croydon.
“I thank colleagues for your friendship and support of the years, and for giving me the honour to serve as the Mayor of my home town, the place where I was born, educated and have enjoyed working ever since, Croydon.”
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