Croydon Conservatives either do not realise or are trying to ignore strict Civil Service rules which prohibit one of their councillors from voting or speaking at Town Hall meetings.
Coulsdon West councillor Mario Creatura has landed himself the plum job as tweeter-in-chief for the Prime Minister, Theresa May. It was a classic piece of who-you-know-not-what-you-know recruitment, as at No10 Downing Street, Creatura teams up again with his old boss, Gavin Barwell, whom he worked for when MP for Croydon Central. Barwell is now May’s £140,000 per year Chief of Staff.
And according to the Cabinet Office, Creatura is on a salary of up to £70,000 (on top of the 18 grand he trousers for being a Croydon councillor) as a Special Adviser, or SPAD.
Special Advisers are temporary civil servants, and therefore subject to a very strict code of practice.
As Inside Croydon reported previously, although Creatura is not prevented from being a councillor, the Civil Service code of conduct for SPADs specifically bans him from talking or voting at the Town Hall on any matters relating to the minister who is employing him. In Creatura’s case, that’s the Prime Minister, and her remit covers pretty much everything.
Yet Croydon Tories appear keen to put up for re-election to the voters of Croydon a candidate whose job bars them from speaking or voting at Town Hall meetings.
“I am confident that he can continue to fully represent the people of Coulsdon as their ward councillor and he provides excellent support to me as whip,” Tim Pollard, the leader of the Croydon Conservatives, told Inside Croydon when asked about Creatura’s new status.
“My understanding is that he is not in a politically restricted post – in fact post-holders in such roles are actively encouraged to take part in the political process – and his attendance record in council continues to be very good.”
“If special advisers take part in local political activities, they must at all times observe discretion, take care to express comment with moderation and avoid personal attacks.
“In particular, if they serve on a local authority they must adhere to the following points… they should not speak publicly or in the Council, or vote, on matters for which their Minister has direct responsibility.”
Since taking up his new role at the centre of Government, Creatura has attended one council meeting. Unusually for him, he did not speak.
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