Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, discovers that despite missing three-quarters of council meetings this year, a Conservative councillor from Purley is now standing as a parliamentary candidate, in a constituency which has never had a Tory MP since the Great Reform Act of 1832
Oni Oviri, Purley’s absentee councillor, has not abandoned politics entirely.
Despite missing 77 per cent of the council meetings she has been expected to attend in 2019, Oviri is now standing as the Conservative Party candidate in South Shields in the December 12 General Election.
It is unclear what connection the south London-based tea trader and import-exporter has with the north-east of England. For her part, Oviri has remained entirely silent on social media about her selection as a candidate for the General Election.
But then, as the residents of Purley and Woodcote ward have come to realise since voting for her in May 2018, silence on most matters is something in which Oviri excels.
Inside Croydon reported earlier this year that Oviri had not been seen at any council meetings for almost six months. Officially, her absenteeism has been explained as being caused by serious illness following a business trip abroad. Oviri has been well enough to continue to receive her £11,000 per year in council allowances, however.
In July, she duly turned up for the meeting of full council, when she did not look a picture of health. Had Oviri not managed to make it to that meeting, she will have forfeited her position as a councillor, forcing a by-election to be held in her Purley ward.
And even though Oviri went to the trouble of attending October’s full council meeting, her overall attendance record has really not improved much at all. According to Croydon Council’s official record, Oviri has attended fewer than 1-in-4 of all the meetings at which she has been expected during 2019.
A member of the important and influential General Purposes and Audit Committee at the Town Hall, Oviri has failed to attend a single one of its meetings this year.
Oviri is also supposed to be one of the Tory councillors to sit on the planning committee. The planning committee has met nine times so far in 2019, and according to council records, Oviri has missed every meeting since the first in January.
Oviri is one of three Croydon Tory councillors who have somehow been selected to run for parliament at the General Election, together with the unctuous Mario Creatura in Croydon Central and Jeet Bains, who since being named as the Conservatives’ big hope in Luton North appears to want to ignore that he has any duties in Addiscombe East.
Oviri must be the most tissue-thin of paper candidates.
She is one of six candidates standing in a constituency in Tyne and Wear where Labour’s Emma Lewell-Buck had a 15,000-vote majority over the Conservatives at the last General Election in 2017, but where in 2015, UKIP finished second, ahead of the Tories.
Oviri will not be going to Westminster as an MP next month, however. It has been suggested that South Shields is the only one of the 67 boroughs first enfranchised in the Great Reform Act of 1832 that has never returned a Conservative Member of Parliament.
Still, by having Oviri’s name on the ballot paper next month, Boris Johnson and his fellow Old Etonians in Conservative High Command will be able to tick a couple of boxes to demonstrate how seriously they are taking their responsibilities to having a more diverse range of candidates and MPs that represent the country that they claim to serve.
The people of South Shields must be delighted that the Tories regard them in such contempt, and through Oviri are making a mockery of democracy.
But on behalf of the poorly represented people of Purley and Woodcote, Inside Croydon would like to make an appeal to Emma Lewell-Buck: if you manage to find Oni Oviri wandering the streets of South Shields during the election campaign, can you offer her directions so that she can find her way back to Croydon Town Hall, please?
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