Here is the full text of the email distributed at the weekend by Paul Bearman, who has been an RA committee member and who signed himself as “a member of the Addington Residents Association”:
I am a member of Addington Residents’ Association and am emailing following a recent meeting with several residents’ association groups from around the borough.
There was an overwhelming feeling that the way Croydon is currently run means that our views are routinely ignored by Croydon Council. This is especially the case with planning applications, where the planning committee has been passing almost all applications that come before it, and contemptuously ignoring the heartfelt objections of local residents and residents associations. As in the case of the recent decision regarding the development next to Selsdon wood (Quail Gardens) which has upset people from all different political parties including members of the local Labour Party.
We feel that we are being ignored mainly due to the fact that, under the current system, control of the Town Hall is decided by just a handful of marginal wards. To control the council, the ruling group can ignore the rest of the borough where the result in each ward is a foregone conclusion. Further, the current leader of the council is chosen behind closed doors by a handful of councillors from the ruling party, further undermining accountability to the public.
We believe that there is a strong case for a democratically Directly Elected Mayor (DEM) of Croydon – which would work like a Mayor of London for Croydon. A Directly Elected Executive Mayor would replace the current council leader and take over their current executive powers, not just be ceremonial.
This person would be a strong public figurehead for the borough because they would simply replace the existing leader there would be no extra cost. There would still be councillors, who would also hold the DEM to account. But crucially, the DEM would be directly elected by the public (not chosen behind closed doors by a handful of councillors) and so be accountable to us all.
And because every vote would count the same in every part of the borough, whoever was running (or was elected) could no longer afford to ignore whole swathes of the borough.
It would make them actually listen to us, the local people. This campaign has huge support from residents’ groups and from across the political spectrum, including from at least one of Croydon’s MPs (Chris Philp, who represents Croydon South). It is hoped others will also support this idea.
The current ruling group in Croydon Council are not keen on this idea, because it would undermine their ability to do whatever they like. There is, fortunately, a mechanism in law to force the adoption of a DEM. We have to collect a petition on paper over the course of a year representing 5 per cent of the electorate. If we do that, the council is then obliged to hold a borough-wide referendum, and if there is a “Yes” vote on a bare majority of those voting, then they are forced to adopt a DEM who has to be elected within about six months of the referendum.
We want to launch this campaign and collect the 5 per cent of signatures, in a campaign led by residents’ associations but also supported by many involved in Croydon’s politics who agree with the idea. If you would like to find out more about this campaign and help with it, please come to our upcoming meeting:
Time: Tuesday July 9, 8pm
Place: Philippi Room (entrance at side), Christchurch, Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2BN
Please reply if you can attend. Please also feel free to forward this email to the rest of your committee if someone else can attend instead of you, and for their information.
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