WALTER CRONXITE on the slow willowing out of councillors who have made little impact at the Town Hall. Or not even bothered to show up
Croydon’s cadre of councillors has been whittled down to 68, with the dismissal of Matthew Kyeremeh for absences.
Kyeremeh had not attended a council meeting since May, and has been out of the country for most, if not all, of that time. Elected councillors can be dismissed if they fail to attend council meetings for a six-month period.
Council leader Tony Newman might have saved the Council Tax-payers of Croydon thousands of pounds had he not stubbornly refused Kyeremeh the opportunity to speak at May’s council meeting, when it is thought that the councillor for Thornton Heath ward wanted to announce his resignation in the Town Hall chamber. Denied that opportunity by the council leader, over the last six months Kyeremeh therefore continued to receive his Town Hall allowances, worth more than £5,000.
Croydon Council spends £1.45million per year, plus employers’ National Insurance contributions, in allowances for what is supposed to be a total of 70 elected councillors.
Kyeremeh is the second councillor to leave the Town Hall recently: Sara Bashford, the then deputy leader of the Tory group, secretly resigned her seat in November after she took a politically restricted job at the Cabinet Office. Because Kyeremeh and Bashford’s departures have occurred less than six months before May 3, the date of scheduled borough-wide local elections, there will not be any ward by-elections to replace them.
Kyeremeh, who had been a Thornton Heath councillor since 2006, had notionally been an “independent” since 2016, having had the Labour whip withdrawn because of his conduct towards his estranged wife and family. It has been suggested that Newman’s Labour group was aware of these issues in 2013, before Kyeremeh was re-selected to stand for election in the ward, but that they opted to do nothing about it.
Indeed, so relaxed was Newman about the potential scandal enveloping one of his councillors in a lenghty courtroom battle, that he even promoted Kyeremeh to a deputy cabinet job responsible for… wait for it… justice. The position carried with it extra allowances, too.
It was widely known before the selections of candidates for the 2014 local elections that Kyeremeh’s increasingly frequent and lengthy absences from Croydon Town Hall were because of his growing involvement in politics in Ghana, where he was associated with a party affiliated in the UK with the Conservatives.
Again, Newman and the Blairite clique which controls the Labour group in Croydon opted to do nothing, effectively costing the borough’s Council Tax-payers around £40,000 over the past three-and-a-half years in council allowances paid to an often absentee councillor. Presumably, for the period when he was still acceptable to Newman’s Labour group, Kyeremeh will have been paying over around 10 per cent of his allowances into the party’s coffers, regardless of how well, or poorly, the residents of Thornton Heath ward were being served.
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