Paul Scott, the controversial chair of Croydon’s planning committee, ducked out of attending the start of last night’s full council meeting, when a demonstration was staged outside the Town Hall against the Brick by Brick overdevelopments across the borough, which he is on a personal mission to push through.
Scott had been picked out for particular attention by the protestors, who carried banners that read “Stop Scott!”.
Other banners featured Jo Negrini, the council’s similarly unaccountable £185,000-a-year chief executive.
Negrini, who in her time working at Lambeth Council had been involved in the beginnings of the estate “regeneration” of Cressingham Gardens, was accused on one of the demonstrator’s placards of social cleansing.
Negrini turned up on time for the meeting, and therefore had to walk through the rather polite demonstration on the Town Hall steps.
Scott, in contrast, went off canvassing with at least four other Labour councillor colleagues.
These included Jamie Audsley, the councillor for Bensham Manor ward who has been investing thousands of pounds of public money from his ward budget in helping to support an astroturfing news sheet in Thornton Heath which, conveniently, parrots the council’s own propaganda.
Also giving a miss to the beginning of the council meeting in order to canvass for Labour in the Fairfield target ward was Jane Avis. It is the second time in less than a week that Avis has been missing from the Town Hall chamber when her ward’s residents might reasonably have expected her to be there.
Last week’s planning committee (chaired by Scott) included a Brick by Brick application on Avenue Road which had been objected to by residents, and by Steve Reed OBE, the local Labour MP. Avis and her ward councillor colleague, Patsy Cummings, had met the residents to hear their concerns.
But when Avis’s support was needed at the planning committee to object to the scheme, she was no where to be seen. “It wouldn’t surprise me if she was got at,” a Katharine Street confided to Inside Croydon.
Last night, Avis and Scott were shoulder-to-shoulder, cheerily canvassing for votes while the last full council meeting before May’s local elections took place.
An hour into the meeting, and Scott returned, seen by residents skulking into the chamber, hoping no one would notice.
“I was in the chamber, on the ground floor, and he arrived before the public questions and hid in the area under the balcony until after the public questions had finished,” said one of the protestors.
“I’m not really surprised, and not very happy, I would have liked him to answer some questions himself. I would have liked him to be there, at least, to acknowledge them.”
Instead, in this latest egregious example of the council placing itself above any kind of accountability, Scott and his colleagues opted to swerve a legitimate protest from the people who pay their generous allowances.
Scott works for a firm of architects in central London. He is married to Alison Butler, the cabinet member responsible for housing, and Brick by Brick. The couple own two properties in Croydon. Scott is a councillor in Woodside ward. The Labour Party branch there automatically re-selected him and the council leader, Tony Newman, as candidates for the Town Hall elections.
The local elections are on May 3.
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