Kabir and Henson to board the mayoral gravy train in 2019

The appointment of Mayor of Croydon may well be a case of ‘Buggin’s Turn’ among back bench councillors, but with the selections made for 2019, at least there’s the prospect of wonderfully well-organised raffles, as Town Hall reporter KEN LEE writes

The new year may bring uncertain times in politics, but in Croydon one, or maybe even two things, are certain.

It is not normally announced until a formal meeting of the council half an hour after a Mayoralty and Freedom committee in late January, but a proud relative has taken to social media to speak of his delight that Humayun Kabir, pictured left, will be the Mayor of Croydon for 2019-2020.

It is hardly a surprise.

It is the nature of the somewhat pompous Trumptonesque ceremonial at the Town Hall that whoever is deputy mayor one year steps up for the main role for the following 12 months, and the councillor for Bensham Manor has dutifully filled in whenever Bernadette Khan, the current Mayor, has been otherwise engaged on public duties since she was given the robes and chains of office last May.

Kabir’s brother Jay Kabir shared his pleasure on Facebook sending, “Congratulations to my brother Cllr Humayun Kabir for being selected Croydon’s next Mayor.”

Such is the nature of the way things are being decided these days by the majority group on the council under Alison Butler and Tony Newman that Labour councillors have not yet met for their annual secret meeting where such matters are supposed to be decided democratically. It must be assumed from the social media post that no other Labour councillor has put their name forward to be considered for the ceremonial.

Buggin’s turn: Maddie Henson has the backing of council leader Tony Newman

Kabir has been a councillor for Bensham Manor ward only since 2014, having switched from West Thornton (where he was first elected in 2010) to ensure his re-selection.

It would appear that only one person from within the Labour group has put their name forward for Deputy Mayor, and so is virtually guaranteed the dubious honour as Mayor for 2020 to 2021.

That person is Maddie Henson, the star on social media of dozens of badly taken selfies, who was elected a councillor last May in the reconfigured Addiscombe East ward, where representation is split with Tory councillor Jeet Bains.

That outcome was a major disappointment for Newman’s campaign, which had seen the Labour leader invest a considerable amount of his own time and campaign energy in the ward. By winning only one of Addiscombe East’s two places on the council, it effectively represented a lost council seat for Labour, at a time when elsewhere across London the party was winning additional seats in the latest wave of enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist policies.

Henson was first elected to the council in 2014, when she stood in what was then Ashburton ward. After the boundary changes were introduced, Henson was the only sitting councillor for Ashburton to be selected to stand in the new Addiscombe East ward.

Among her colleagues in the Town Hall, Henson has a reputation less as a speech-maker and administrator, and more as an energetic fund-raiser who understands very well how to organise a good raffle.

Henson has associated herself closely with the re-opening – after many delays – of Ashburton Hall, and with petitioning on behalf of local traders for the urgent re-opening of Blackhorse Lane Bridge, which won’t be re-opening urgently.

Election night this year was probably bittersweet for Henson, after her husband, Mark, with whom she runs a local IT business, failed to join her as a councillor.

This was despite strong support from Newman and the local leadership for his candidacy in Shirley North ward, where he lost out by fewer than 600 votes to Gareth “Blubber” Streeter, the third Conservative to be elected in the ward. Four years earlier, Blubber had failed to get elected in Ashburton when it was a Tory-held seat.

Labour must hope that the profile that comes with the mayoralty will boost Maddie Henson’s vote in the 2022 local council elections.

Being Mayor of Croydon pays £31,308 a year in special responsibility allowances. The deputy mayor receives £21,206 a year as a SRA. This is not the necessarily the money for old rope that it may seem. The allowance must cover costs like morning suits, mayoral dresses and travel costs for the deputy mayor, who is often not provided with a mayoral driver or car to get to engagements.

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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
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7 Responses to Kabir and Henson to board the mayoral gravy train in 2019

  1. Stephen Pollard says:

    Surely, sooner or later, it must be the turn of the Scott-Butlers for Mayorship? After all, Dudley and Margaret Mead had a good run between them as His ‘n Her mayors, and both were also awarded MBEs, apart from having their fingers in many other pies.

  2. sebastiantillinger7694 says:

    I once saw Humayun Kabir in a Planning Committee Meeting where he was, remarkably, the deputy chair!! I felt sorry for him – he could not follow the Planning presentations, he had no grasp of Planning law nor could he keep up with the debate that was being led by Cllr Scott. I thought to myself who in their right mind thought it’d be a good idea to put this person on a Planning committee.

    I’m now thinking who in their right mind thought Humayun Kabir could be Mayor of Croydon?

    • Stephen Pollard says:

      In my experience of attending Planning Committee meetings, or watching the Webcasts, it is not necessary to understand anything about Planning laws or to have even studied the specific application they are voting on, the only real requirement for Labour councillors is to put their hand up in the air to vote Yes

  3. Hatim Chakera says:

    Watch the podcasts of the planning committee meetings, and the carubuncles being granted planning permissions-visit Lismore Road,Heathurst Road , amongst many others,and decide whether a competent professionally qualified person would grant planning permissions that are being granted-flats without windows, lack of sound proffing, amenity spaces etc. Misleading information is provided by the labour councillors, and the planners have not even carefully examined the proposals, look at last minute agenda amendmends etc on the planning portal.Planners are not even able to answer at committee hearings questions raised- could it be that they are unqualified professionally?.

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