The police are investigating a bomb threat made against the constituency office of Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones.
The office, on Blackhorse Lane in Addiscombe, is due to be opened officially on Saturday morning by Emily Thornberry, a senior member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet at Westminster.
The bomb threat is believed to be connected with the local Labour group’s plans to vacate its long-term office in Ruskin House and re-locate their full-time organiser, Jack Buck, to Jones’s office.
It is difficult to assess how seriously to take the bomb threat, which it is understood was delivered via email.
“Someone put in a bomb threat to Sarah Jones due to the office move,” Felicity Flynn posted on social media.
“The police were involved. Whilst I am sure this was an empty threat/hoax – calling in bomb threats to an MP is textbook terrorism. Not acceptable.”
It is understood that since Clive Fraser, the chair of Labour’s Local Campaign Forum, issued his letter to the Ruskin House management, giving notice to quit the rented office in the building, the decision may be being reconsidered.
Fraser has been criticised for sending the notice to quit unilaterally, without authorisation from the LCF and other stakeholders.
Many party members have an attachment to Ruskin House, the Grade II-listed Regency town house which has been the home of the Labour movement in Croydon since it was opened by the then prime minister, Harold Wilson, in 1967. The building is in some need of repair, and the group that manages it depends on rents from the three Croydon CLPs and Labour’s council group towards its up-keep and budget.
There is a view that there ought to be a separation of operations between Labour’s two MPs in the borough – Jones and Steve Reed OBE – and the council Labour group’s organiser, and some members are lobbying for Buck to remain based at Ruskin House, rather than moving to Addiscombe.
But Caragh Skipper yesterday fired off an angry note to party members who conflated the issue of Jones’s office with the LCF’s decision to quit Ruskin House.
“As chair of Croydon Central,” Skipper, the chair of the Constituency Labour Party, wrote, “I’d like to clear up that you are totally wrong and it is incredibly harmful for you to be making comments like this when you clearly do not have the facts.
“Comments like yours are exactly the sort that have lead [sic] to all of us now being in danger of stepping foot in Ruskin House due to bomb threats.”
Skipper goes on to describe Ruskin House as “a place that members of the Labour Party simply aren’t safe to go to”, before explaining, “Sarah Jones’ office at no point was ever going to be in Ruskin.
“So does her office in Addiscombe mean a loss of income for Ruskin? No, because the office was never going to be in Ruskin. Has Sarah withdrawn support for Ruskin? No, she very clearly says herself that Croydon Labour Party should work hard to retain a presence in this historical building, in which Croydon Labour own shares. So firstly, you owe an apology to Sarah for your harmful accusations.
“The issue of the office… is the Croydon Labour Party office upstairs that we have always rented. This should be paid into by Croydon South, Croydon North, Croydon Central and the Labour Group. Croydon South have not paid into this office this year, leaving the other three stakeholders to foot their share of the bill. Croydon North have recently decided they do not wish to pay in as they do not ever use Ruskin House. This leaves Croydon Central and the Labour Group to foot the entire bill.
“Discussions are ongoing between the Labour Group and Croydon Central about how we go forward as we do require office space for our borough organiser, however the office space we currently have breaks just about every single health and safety law there is as well as being totally inaccessible.
“Added to that the now very serious bomb threat due to the lies that have been spread, it is becoming very difficult for us to argue for the organiser to be based there.
“So, if you would like to help, you can … tell whoever you may speak to that this issue is nothing to do with Sarah so that we can effectively continue talks and make persuasive arguments to keep an office at Ruskin. Regardless of what the outcome of that decision is, the likelihood is that we will continue to book spaces in Ruskin for meetings, fundraisers, speaker events etc and the cost of this may well result in no loss of funds for Ruskin.”
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