Croydon has been left trailing by the rest of London yet again, by mid-morning today having failed to publish the list of candidates for the local elections on May 3, nearly 70 hours after Friday’s 4pm deadline.
The failure to publish the candidates’ list is the responsibility of Jo Negrini, the council’s £188,000 per year chief executive who acts as the returning officer in the borough’s elections.
According to a council press officer this morning, the candidate lists for the borough’s 28 wards had been expected to appear on the council website “some time this morning… by lunch time”.
In neighbouring Sutton, their lists of candidates was available to the electorate just a couple of hours after Friday’s declarations deadline. Residents in Lambeth and Southwark have been able to consider the candidates in their electoral wards over the weekend.
Asked why Croydon was the 32nd and last London borough to get around to publically declaring the full list of candidates for the local elections, the press officer was unable to say.
There had been some suggestion over the weekend that the delay may have been caused by some difficulties Tony Newman’s Labour group was having in finalising an acceptable full slate of 70 candidates. Were this true, it would represent a serious breach of supposed impartiality on behalf of the returning officer and council staff.
But Labour officials and councillors have told Inside Croydon that their party’s candidates were all approved and accepted in the middle of last week, days before the deadline.
Which makes the delay in making the candidates lists public all the more inexplicable. It also puts Croydon – and Negrini – in a race against time to publish the statement of nominations, which the Electoral Commission demands has to be done before 4pm today.
Other possible explanations for Croydon’s delays include Negrini having inadequate staff to cope with the workload of managing the election process, or simple incompetence.
“It’s all part of Croydon’s democratic deficit,” one disillusioned Katharine Street source said today.
“As far as Negrini’s concerned, the elections don’t really matter, anyway. The successful candidates are just going to be councillors, and she considers herself unanswerable to them in any case, so what does it matter when the lists are published?
“Indeed, what’s the point of voting? Negrini will still be in charge.”
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