WALTER CRONXITE reports on the latest senior council figure to announce that they won’t be seeking selection for May’s local elections
Timothy Godfrey last night became the third Croydon Council cabinet member or deputy to announce that they are to stand down as a Labour councillor at the local elections next May.
Godfrey, a councillor for 16 years, represents Selhurst ward, one of the electing areas affected by the boundary changes which sees its representation go from three councillors to two.
Godfrey gave the changes to the ward as his reason for standing down in an email sent yesterday evening to party members in Selhurst.
Though as Croydon’s cabinet member for arts, culture and sport, you might think he would have been more considerate than to press the “send” button on his email while Strictly Come Dancing was on and with Stormzy about to appear with the judges on the X Factor.
What was the “X factor” in determining Godfrey’s decision was not aired in the lengthy email.
But with a young and growing family (three children under four) and work pressures outside Croydon, it has been a barely disguised secret that the councillor has grown increasingly frustrated with the way council business is run and the manner in which he has sometimes been marginalised by his own group’s leadership over key areas of his arts and culture portfolio, which included the important £30million refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls.
“We can’t afford to lose talent like Timothy’s,” a Labour council colleague told Inside Croydon this morning.
Another said, “If Newman had wanted to, he might have found another ward with a vacancy to accommodate Timothy. That he hasn’t says it all.”
The short-listing meeting in Labour’s selection process for candidates for Selhurst ward is next Sunday.
Godfrey is the third councillor of cabinet member or deputy rank in the Labour-run council to announce his departure in recent weeks. He follows John Wentworth (of Upper Norwood ward) and former Mayor, Wayne Trakas-Lawlor (South Norwood) in making such an announcement.
In his email, Godfrey wrote, “After serving as a Labour Councillor in Croydon for the last 16 years and as a Selhurst councillor for the past 12 years, it is time I hung up my councillor hat in Croydon in May next year. I will therefore not be seeking your nomination for candidate.”
“I’ve loved being a councillor, representing Selhurst and supporting residents with their casework.
“My council career has covered most parts of the council, with eight years as a chair of cross-party scrutiny enabling me to have wide experience of the services that a council delivers, including customer focus initiative board, equalities, health, economy and jobs, planning and culture. In our second four-year term in opposition I joined the shadow cabinet and led the fight against the council walking away from cultural provision, the privatisation of our library service and the selling off of our museum’s Riesco collection.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being cabinet member for culture and helping to rebuild our borough’s cultural offering.
“It’s vital we continue this work in the years ahead and campaign across the borough to stop the Tories from wrecking our town’s culture once again.
“In eight years they closed down the Warehouse Theatre, sold off parts of the unique Riesco Collection, closed down Clocktower Arts and walked away from an Arts Council annual grant of £100,000 a year. They neglected the Fairfield Halls and were quite happy to turn Croydon into a town with no cultural heart.
“Reinvesting in our arts and culture is great for the economy but it also helps bring the communities of Croydon closer together.
“Delivering the £30million refurbishment and securing an experienced and successful social enterprise to run Fairfield Halls is a major achievement in turning the fortunes of our borough council around.
“Saving Ashburton Hall for community use and ensuring a stunning refurbishment of this former convent again demonstrates the difference a Labour council has made.
“We are about to announce the successful bidder to run our leisure centres over the next 20 years. My agenda on this has been driven by the need to deliver a far better service for residents and to provide new activities across our borough at the currently much-neglected outdoor facilities in our parks. This represents a major investment in our parks and should help deliver our health agenda.
“We have an exciting programme bidding to be London Borough of Culture in 2019, telling the story of change and renewal through all things cultural and creative.
“I will continue working as Cabinet member and councillor right up till May, as our long-term agenda goes on. It’s vital we keep a Labour council in Croydon, to deliver much-needed change and to protect our town as much as possible from the dogmatic austerity policies of the Conservatives.
“I’ve worked hard for our party in Croydon for 25 years. I’ve undertaken almost every role possible, from branch organiser and secretary to constituency secretary and treasurer. I worked for the party as the borough paid organiser when we had lost the council and had only a dedicated few holding the party together. How things change! It’s lovely to see fresh faces and a rejuvenated party at branch meetings and importantly campaigning on the streets of Croydon and winning elections together.
“In the last few years my life has changed and I need to support my family and change my working pattern. I am blessed with three wonderful children 3, 2, and eight weeks old and celebrate my fourth wedding anniversary in a few weeks time.
“I’ve been honoured to serve alongside Toni Letts and David Wood. Both have been fantastic advocates for Selhurst and have worked tirelessly to serve a vibrant hard working neighbourhood. David lives in the heart of the ward and has been a breath of fresh air since joining us in his by-election in March 2015. Toni is serving our community with her extensive contacts across the borough as our Civic Mayor and has always had Selhurst residents very close to her heart.
“Given the boundary changes to the ward and the reduction of councillor representation I would very much hope that you consider endorsing the fine hard-working team of Toni and David as your candidates for 2018.”
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