Controversial chair of planning Scott gets promoted to cabinet

WALTER CRONXITE reports on the latest egregious example of Town Hall patronage, and all done at your expense – including one of ‘Tony’s Cronies’ getting £6,000 per committee meeting

Promoted: Paul Scott will now have a cabinet job as well as chairing the planning committee

Despite managing to bring together 17 residents’ groups in opposition to his bombastic style of chairmanship of the planning committee, and with the council facing the risk of being dragged into the High Court over his potential conflicts of interest, Paul Scott is to be promoted to the Town Hall cabinet tomorrow night, when he will be given a job which will surely only prompt further outcry.

Tony Newman, the leader of the Labour-run council and Scott’s big mate, has used his post-local election cabinet appointments as an opportunity for further patronage, doling out tens of thousands of pounds in “special responsibility allowances” to a handful of his most loyal councillors, while stretching, and possibly even breaking, the council’s constitution.

In an unusual, for him, outbreak of openness and transparency, Newman actually tweeted his list of cabinet appointments, though his choices of deputy cabinet members were kept under wraps until shortly before last week’s meeting of the Labour council group.

With a record 41 councillors elected earlier this month, Newman has struggled to keep everyone happy in his Labour group. But in focusing on pleasing his loyalists, Newman has managed to overlook how his appointments will be received by the 360,000 residents of the borough which the council is supposed to serve.

Croydon Council’s constitution allows for a cabinet of the leader plus nine councillors. Yet Newman’s finalised team of what he has described as “all the talents” numbers 11. Most of them are set to receive generous SRAs – special responsibility allowances – worth more than £43,000 per year of Council Tax-payers’ money.

Reward for failure: Tony Newman and Alissa Flemming celebrate the election win. He has kept her in his cabinet, despite the Children’s Services scandal

And Newman – who as council leader is on £53,223 – has even managed to tweak the allowances budget so that one of his closest council colleagues, who he has dropped from the cabinet, will receive £6,000 per meeting every time she chairs the committee to which she has been appointed as a generous consolation prize.

Newman has created the council cabinet’s first “job share”, elevating his bestie and fellow Woodside councillor Scott into the cabinet.

Scott will take on part of the environment, transport and urban regeneration brief alongside West Thornton councillor Stuart King. The urban regeneration bit – that is, planning – is likely to be the fiefdom of Scott, who has declared his keenness to concrete over huge slabs of the borough.

Scott is a full-time director of a central London firm of architects, TP Bennett. He finished the previous council administration as a mere deputy cabinet member, shadowing the then housing and planning brief of his wife, Alison Butler, while he also chaired the planning committee.

As planning chair, Scott has pushed through dozens of controversial applications for schemes submitted by Brick by Brick, the council-owned housing developer that is overseen by… Butler. The manifold conflicts of interest contained within these positions have led, in large part, to the Judicial Review challenge brought against the council by residents in South Norwood.

Stuart King: pedalling fast on the transport brief

Yet despite the promotion to cabinet member status for Scott, Newman has decided that he is to remain as chair of the planning committee, a decision which could prove to be hugely controversial.

No explanation has been offered for Scott’s promotion, or the need to create the job share.

King was previously in charge of environmental and transport matters. He, too, has full-time employment away from the council, working for the Dods Group, the event organisers and publishers – their titles include the Politics Home website and The Parliament Magazine and Total Politics. In the past year, King has been promoted to managing director. Time will tell whether sharing a cabinet role with Scott will ease, or increase, his Town Hall work burden.

All of the appointments are to be confirmed at tomorrow night’s council annual meeting and Trumptonesque Mayor-making in the Town Hall chamber. There will be sweet sherry in the Mayor’s Parlour afterwards, and it is all sure to be spiffing.

Newman and his two deputies, Butler and “Clean and Green” Stuart Collins, continue in their previous roles (though Butler now has overview of “Homes and Gateway Services” only), and Simon Hall remains in charge of the borough’s finances.

As Inside Croydon first revealed, Oliver Lewis gets a leg-up into the cabinet in charge of culture and stuff – potentially a more politically difficult brief in the coming year as the £30million Fairfield Halls regeneration drags on, and on.

And Momentum member Jane Avis is rewarded for her loyalty to Newman’s leadership during last year’s “Bashment Ban” licensing row by being handed the families, health and social care portfolio after being overlooked for the past four years.

Hamida Ali brings to three the total of Woodside councillors in the 11-strong cabinet, as she continues to be in charge of the policing and communities brief, and Manju Shahul-Hameed remains as cabinet member for economy and jobs, the post she took over in January from Mark Watson after he opted not to face the embarrassment of possible de-selection by Labour members in Addiscombe West.

Cheers: council deputy leader Alison Butler will continue to work closely with her husband Paul Scott

The only real casualty of this slight reshuffle of Tony’s cronies is Louisa Woodley.

Woodley is a long-time close colleague of Newman’s. She previously held the families, health and social care portfolio cabinet role that has been handed to Avis. Now, she has been given the “special” job of chairing the health and well-being board, whose job it is to scrutinise Avis’s work.

Newman has ensured that he has provided a big, plump wedge of public money to cushion Woodley’s fall from the cabinet.

Last year, Newman had the council constitution altered to see the SRA for the health and well-being board chair doubled from £12,000. It means that, in total, Woodley will receive a total of £35,344 in council pay. With the health and well-being board meeting only four times in 12 months, in effect she is being paid at a rate of £6,000 per meeting. Cushty.

And as with his outward gesture of backing for under-fire Scott, Newman has been either stubborn or fiercely supportive of his cabinet team, as he has spurned an opportunity to bring in fresh thinking to the cabinet role overseeing schools and troubled children’s care. Instead he has stuck with Alisa Flemming, the councillor who presided over the scandalous failure of the borough’s Children’s Services department which sees it now in special measures, overseen by officers from Camden for at least the next two years.

Newman will struggle to shrug that off as anything other than a £43,339 per year reward for failure.

 

Advertisements

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Alisa Flemming, Alison Butler, Brick by Brick, Children's Services, Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Housing, Jane Avis, Louisa Woodley, Manju Shahul Hameed, Mark Watson, Oliver Lewis, Paul Scott, Planning, Simon Hall, Stuart Collins, Stuart King, Tony Newman and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Controversial chair of planning Scott gets promoted to cabinet

  1. Whoopee, now for four more years of irrelevant, unproductive, expensive and egoistic projects.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. veeanne2015 says:

    So those that didn’t vote because they didn’t think much of the two main parties or individuals, instead of voting for someone else, have ensured continuation of lack of democracy and hypocrisy.

    It is interesting that in the recent elections, Callton Young got more votes than Paul Scott, Alison Butler got more votes than Tony Newman, and Stuart Collins got more votes than Alison Butler.

    Tony Newman was elected as Labour’s Leader in 2005 – time for a change, surely, especially as so many unpopular schemes were brought about by the Gang of Four this last year.

    But despite gagging, bullying, demoting for disagreeing, patronage and undesirable money-wasting ideas, Tony Newman has been re-elected and already the rot appears to be setting in.

    Why? Are all these Labour Councillors whose duty should be to their residents, not to the dictatorship of the Cabinet, wimps, ‘yes’ men and women, grovellers, afraid of voting against him, or what?

    As for the Conservatives, Tim Pollard got less votes than the other two in his ward.
    Against building on green land, and consultations, listening to residents?

    A little hypocritical, as when they were in office, they objected to a large park next to East Croydon Station and gave planning permission for building flats across the centre of the public open grassland of Queen’s Gardens! And many times residents complained they didn’t listen to objections.

    And the delay in the completion of Fairfield Halls scheme?

    How many years did they spend money on promises etc., but achieve NOTHING!
    And protesting about Labour plan to close Purley Swimming Pool, when they planned to do the same a few years earlier!

    The Committee system would be better, but democracy will NEVER exist in Croydon until councillors represent the residents who pay them – which includes those of all parties living in their ward – and challenge the more undesirable schemes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did notice the disappearance of Mark Watson but shed no tears.
    Now, please, can we have Lebanon Road back? And common sense?
    Unlikely, but one lives in hope….if you can ever get there through the one way system.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.