WALTER CRONXITE reports on further delays and dispute in Croydon Labour’s candidate selection process ahead of next May’s local elections
Labour Party officials in West Thornton ward face an investigation after what one member described as a “farce” of a selection meeting last weekend, with further delays and disputes seemingly guaranteed over a process which, borough-wide, is already almost two months behind schedule.
Members in the solidly Labour ward were sent an email yesterday from Yvonne Green, the selections procedures secretary. In the email, Green stated, “Due to disruption by members from outside of the West Thornton branch and the Croydon North constituency, the shortlisting meeting last week had to be abandoned.”
Selection for West Thornton’s three candidate spots should have been concluded by lunchtime today, but there will be a further delay now while officials from the Croydon North Constituency Labour Party carry out an investigation “due to a number of complaints”, according to a local party member.
“No indication was given of how long this will take.”
West Thornton’s Labour councillors at present are Bernadette Khan, council cabinet member Stuart King and Callton Young.
The delay over selection could see the ward lose one to a neighbouring Labour branch.
Young, who replaced The Hon Emily Benn when she flitted off to New York to pursue a career in merchant banking, is shortlisted in Thornton Heath ward and, potentially, could be selected by members there when they meet on Tuesday.
As Adrian Dennis, a former councillor and prominent member in the area, told Inside Croydon, “Callton Young remains available for selection by Thornton Heath as he will not have been selected as a candidate elsewhere.”
As reported exclusively by Inside Croydon last week, the shortlisting meeting for West Thornton broke up in acrimony over the presence, as an observer, of a member of the Local Campaign Forum, or LCF, the body which is supposed to have oversight of the whole selection process.
The observer, understood to be Andy Bagnall, the chair of Croydon South CLP, had been invited by a branch official who was uncertain about party rules and process. Green, too, was in attendance, and it is suggested that it was she who objected to Bagnall’s presence, causing the abandonment of the meeting.
The email from Green announcing the delay for this one ward has been described as being less than frank with its account of the events of last week, and the nature of the investigation. “Most of the West Thornton members who turned up are livid with the procedures secretary and LCF vice-chair, Ian McMeeken, who tried to comandeer the meeting.
“When the members refused to allow them to do that, Green and McMeeken cancelled the meeting.
“The other member of the LCF made sure that guidance from Labour’s London Region staff, provided to all attendees at a briefing in early October, was made known to members. Green and McMeeken seemed unhappy about adhering to the rules and following guidance from the party. It was clear, though, that the members wanted to go ahead with the meeting, and it was the two officials who stopped it.
“The complaints that are being investigated are about the LCF’s vice-chair and procedures secretary.”
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