Jo Negrini, the council’s chief executive who also serves as the borough’s chief returning officer in charge of the organisation and conduct of elections in Croydon, has received requests to arrange for additional security at the polling stations for tomorrow’s Fairfield council by-election.
“Austerity is a state of mind,” was one particular favourite shouted chant at Labour supporters by a group of Tory supporters.
The Tory candidate in the Fairfield by-election is Jayde Edwards, a 20-year-old pastor in the controversial SPAC Nation church. Inside Croydon reported earlier this week how SPAC Nation is at the centre of fraud investigations by the police and other bodies.
SPAC – which stands for Salvation Proclaimers Anointed Church – is run by a former property investor Tobi Adegboyega. “Bling-loving” Adegboyega, who styles himself “pastor”, lives in a £2.5million mansion, with its own swimming pool, on a private estate in the Shirley Hills.
Edwards has boasted during the by-election campaign of how she has been able to call upon hundreds of additional canvassers, many of them, like her, members of the SPAC Nation church.
“The last Saturday before November 7 was absolutely fantastic. Hundreds of young people joined me in speaking to residents in Fairfield,” she wrote, also thanking Shaun Bailey, the Tory candidate for London Mayor who had also attended.
But while undoubtedly enthusiastic, some of the Tory campaigning in Fairfield has not followed some of the usual niceties, such as carrying out any recording of information from potential voters on the doorstep, and the fly-tipping on the street of hundreds of undelivered Conservative Party leaflets.
Not all the Tory campaigning has been quite so benign, either, with Liberal Democrat activists confirming that they, too, have been shouted at and confronted by gangs of men out on behalf of Edwards and the Tories.
On Sunday, Steve Reed OBE, the Labour MP for Croydon North, flagged up the concerns over confrontations on the streets, tweeting, “This is wholly unacceptable and a potential breach of electoral law – groups of Conservative Party activists linked to highly controversial SPAC Nation have been intimidating Labour campaigners and voters on the streets and doorsteps in Croydon.”
The additional security for polling day will probably amount to a bobby on the beat at the entrance to each of the five polling stations in the ward – four of which are located in churches.
The by-election has been called following the abrupt and so far unexplained resignation of Labour councillor Niro Sirisena, a deputy cabinet member, after what his party described as “a serious incident”, and which has also led to a police investigation.
As well as Edwards, there are five other candidates in the Fairfield by-election: Andrew Rendle (LibDem), Mark Samuel (Independent), Caragh Skipper (Labour), Esther Sutton (Green) and Heather Twidle (Women’s Equality).
Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm tomorrow.
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