A constituency Labour Party in Croydon cancelled its regular monthly meeting this week – thwarting an attempt to discuss a motion opposing the latest round of NHS reorganisation and privatisation in the borough.
Town Hall sources suggest that centrist-dominated Croydon South CLP cancelled its meeting, scheduled for Tuesday night, “because of a motion from the Left”.
News of the cancellation of the meeting was only sent out over the Bank Holiday weekend, barely 48 hours before the meeting was due to take place.
Inside Croydon contacted Stephen Black, the chair of the CLP. He failed to respond.
On the agenda had been this seemingly harmless motion, proposed by Waddon councillor Andrew Pelling and Momentum member Antoinette Mangion:
“That this Constituency Labour Party wishes to express its concern to the Secretary of State for Health about the proposed merger of the Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group into a sub-regional group with the loss of local decision making on NHS services that will arise from that change. The Constituency Labour Party asks that as much decision making as possible remains at a local Croydon level. It is also concerned that the conglomeration of services at a sub-regional level will facilitate privatisation of NHS services.”
Neither Pelling nor Mangion were available to comment on the cancellation, though another source within the Croydon South CLP told Inside Croydon, on condition of anonymity, “Apparently several things happened, and also Ollie Lewis, who they wanted to attend to talk about libraries, couldn’t attend this Tuesday.”
It has also been suggested that “maybe Ollie didn’t book in his library talk”.
Lewis, the cabinet member for shit shows and library closures, recently steered through the council cabinet a politically sensitive and highly contentious consultants’ report which recommends the relocation and possible closure of four of the borough’s libraries, three of which happen to be in Croydon South: Sanderstead, Coulsdon and Bradmore Green.
The Croydon South CLP source put the meeting’s cancellation down to “a measure of incompetence and manipulation of the agenda”.
Member requests for a date for the CLP’s annual meeting have also gone unanswered.
School teacher Black has experienced a sometimes torrid and wearying first year after being elected unopposed as the CLP chair.
Black, who in the past has been a contributor to a Tory-funded astroturfing freesheet, took over as CLP chair last June from Andy Bagnall, whose partner, Jo Milligan, also stood down as the local party’s long-standing secretary.
At the 2018 AGM, Black, Bagnall and Milligan managed to stave off an attempt by Momentum members, led by Councillor Jane Avis, to fill a range of senior positions within the local party.
After a series of sometimes fraught CLP meetings since, where tempers have often become frayed, it is expected that Momentum and other supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell will try again to secure greater influence in Croydon South, such as having delegates to the party conference.
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