ELECTION COUNTDOWN: After months of delays, a road in what Labour calls a ‘key marginal’ ward is suddenly to be resurfaced. Some are suggesting the council work is being co-ordinated to favour Labour’s local election candidates. WALTER CRONXITE reports
Residents on Sundridge Road in Addiscombe were delighted earlier this week to receive a notification from the council that, at long last, resurfacing work is to be undertaken on their street.
But their delight was followed by immediate suspicion that council money and resources are being used to win them over before the local elections as, soon afterwards, eager Labour activists were stuffing leaflets through their letterboxes to claim credit for the resurfacing.
“Mysteriously, my road, which has increasingly resembled a farm track, is being resurfaced next week,” one Sundridge Road resident wrote.
“Work begins exactly one week before local elections. The letter from the contractor announcing the work was followed one hour later by a letter from the Labour Party trumpeting it.”
The coincidence is remarkable. How could the local Labour organisation have got a leaflet written, designed and printed off so speedily unless they had inside knowledge that the works were to take place?
The Labour leaflet sort of gives the game away.
Under the heading, “Delivering for Sundridge Road”, what’s called “Your Addiscombe East Labour Team” of Maddie Henson and Shirley resident Caragh Skipper have put their names to a piece of virtue signalling, stating that after speaking to residents about the state of the road, “… we raised the issue with Councillor Stuart King, the cabinet member responsible for road resurfacing and pressed him to deal with the issue as soon as possible”.
And as if by magic…
Thing is, the road surfaces in most of Croydon’s streets are in a bad state, and have been for years. So why Sundridge Road? And why now?
Sundridge Road lies in Addiscombe East, a re-jigged electoral ward for the 2018 local elections which comprises largely the former Ashburton ward. It is just around the corner from Inglis Road, home of Croydon Labour’s most powerful couple, Paul Scott and Alison Butler.
In 2014, Labour won the ward for the first time, as they also won control of the Town Hall. Ahead of 2018 polling day on May 3, Labour regards Addiscombe East as as a “key marginal”, and they have poured much additional effort into campaigning in the area to ensure that Henson and former Momentum big cheese Skipper are elected. Hardly a week has gone by this year without Labour leader Tony Newman appearing in a campaign selfie beside Henson and Skipper.
But what Labour is not allowed to do is to use its position within the council to have public resources applied as part of their election campaign. Croydon Tories are highly suspicious about the seemingly co-ordinated timing of the Sundridge Road resurfacing notification and Labour’s leafleting.
“It looks suspiciously like gerrymandering by Labour,” a Croydon Conservative source said yesterday. “We’ll be looking very carefully to find evidence that council officers have been leant on by Labour to carry out this work in the run-up to the election to help win over any wavering voters.”
And in the meantime, the Tories are … trying to take credit for the road works themselves.
The Tories rushed out a leaflet of their own on Friday, featuring their candidates Jeet Bains and Joseph Lee. And it looks rushed: they even manage to get the date of the works commencing wrong (they’re a month out).
The whole business has left some Sundridge Road residents more than a little cynical.
“How many local election candidates does it take to resurface a road?” our loyal reader asked. “Just had a letter from local Conservatives claiming that they have arranged to get the road resurfaced.”
Some are even coming round to the view that staging elections every six months might be a good idea, if it means the bins get collected and the pot holes filled in more promptly.
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