Petition for elected mayor hits 7,000 before campaign launch

WALTER CRONXITE, our political editor, on how a campaign based on the premise that there is ‘a serious and urgent need for a better democracy in the way Croydon Council is run’, has already got half the signatures it needs for a borough-wide referendum before next month’s launch event

It is a sign of how disliked and distrusted Croydon Labour leader Tony Newman and his council’s controversial planning policies have become that a mailshot sent to borough residents offering an alternative system got a response rate more than 10 times greater than similar lobbying exercises typically expect.

Would you vote for this man? Tony Newman

A petition calling for Croydon to have a directly elected mayor is now halfway towards the 15,000-signature target, which if achieved would force the council to stage a borough-wide referendum on the proposal – something which “man of the people” Newman has gone out of his way to block and frustrate.

And the formal “launch” of the directly elected mayor campaign has yet to be staged.

The meeting is being staged on Wednesday, February 5, at Christchurch Primary School, Montpelier Road, Purley, CR8 2QE, from 8.15pm.

The directly elected mayor campaign has already drawn support from a wide political range in the borough, including senior Labour figures, Tory MP Chris Philp, and even some from the far-right who still go into a blood vessel-busting frenzy whenever the word “referendum” gets a mention.

A Freepost mailshot sent out to thousands of residents before Christmas got an astonishing 25 per cent response rate – professional marketing organisations usually think they have surpassed themselves if they ever get a response rate of 2 per cent.

In a notice that went out early in the new year, the organisers of the campaign say, “This is a residents-led and -funded campaign supported by many Croydon residents, residents’ associations and community groups.

Thousands have been signing up for the directly elected mayor referendum

“We believe there is a serious and urgent need for a better democracy in the way Croydon Council is run.

“Residents have had enough of the council ignoring their concerns, in particular as regards planning decisions.

“The town should be run and decisions should be made with the general consent of the people and of local communities. This is our town, we pay the bills and we should be heard and our views should be properly taken into account.

“An elected mayor would have executive powers, replacing the role of leader of the council. An important benefit is that the Councillors can be challenged by the independently elected mayor to produce good outcomes for residents. This contrasts with the election of the ‘Leader of the Council’ by councillors of the majority party under the current system, which can lead to focus on outcomes that benefit councillors or groups of councillors rather than residents.

“So, whilst the current ‘Leader’ is chosen by a few councillors, an elected mayor will be chosen by all of the voters of Croydon – so an estimated 270,000 Croydon voters would each have an equal say in the choice of an elected mayor.

“An elected mayor will also provide a chance to lift the image and profile of Croydon. Our town is growing rapidly and deserves the enhanced status an elected Mayor will bring. Bedford, Bristol, Copeland, Doncaster, Leicester, Liverpool, Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Mansfield, Middlesbrough, North Tyneside, Salford and Watford already have elected mayors.

“We need 15,500 voters to sign our petition if we are to force the council to hold a binding referendum that gives the people of Croydon the choice and the chance to have an elected mayor…

“Above all, an elected mayor will be the peoples’ choice and will be far more likely to listen to residents than a leader chosen by a few councillors. Under the current system the council is certainly not listening to local communities about planning decisions and they are approving developments that do not have the consent of local people.

“This is a critical moment for Croydon and the people of Croydon. We must not miss this chance for change.”

If you want to book a place at the launch of the directly elected mayor campaign, email or write to PO Box 3254, Purley CR8 9ER.

They may yet need to book a bigger hall…

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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
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6 Responses to Petition for elected mayor hits 7,000 before campaign launch

  1. sebastiantillinger7694 says:

    Regretfully, a significant reason residents in this borough have no confidence in the current form of administration is exemplified in the borough’s unfolding planning fiasco.

    A lone councillor has been allowed to go feral and impose personal planning preferences through out our local planning policies. A head of the Planning Department who seems to have lost all critical faculty and is now just repeating Local Labour Party policy, a Chair of the Planning Committee who should not be the Chair of the Planning Committee and head of the council, Tony Newman, head firmly placed below the parapet.

    It’s time for change. I’m not saying a new Mayoral approach will have all the answers but will not be worse than the current spiralling situation.

    • I remain wary of the “benefits” this petition might usher in.

      My analysis of the votes cast in the most recent borough wide electoral contest – the General Election held on 12 December 2019 – is that most people in Croydon voted for Labour. With a tally of 82,265 they took nearly half the votes cast, their nearest rivals being the Conservatives on just 63,982.

      We could therefore end up with a permanent Labour mayor installed in Croydon, and if Tony Newman ever retires or is deposed in a Town Hall coup, who might replace him? Clean Street Stu and Alison Butler are his deputies, and she just happens to share a bed with Paul Scott. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

      A better solution for all would be to have a fairer voting system, but neither Labour nor the Conservatives were in favour of that, preferring instead to have absolute power to push their agenda through.

      To quote Private Fraser of Dad’s Army, “We’re doomed!”

      • Nick Davies says:

        Arfur: Mayoral elections tend to be done by the supplementary vote system: the top two go forward from the first round, then if neither has 50% plus one the second preferences of the rest are allocated if they were favour of the top two. Thus if it goes Lab, Con, Lib the Liberal’s second preferences would be reallocated if expressed for Lab or Con. Labour could win the first round but the Tory succeed if more Liberals gave them their second vote.


      • sebastiantillinger7694 says:

        I think you are missing a crucial point here. To go down the mayoral route a candidate has to engage with the whole electorate, they will need to be a smooth-operator, articulate, accountable, able to understand and accomplish tasks with efficiency and grace, be persuasive in interpersonal relationships, able to negotiate, be a good judge of character, appear credible to the public.

        Because Tony Newman has absolutely non of these characteristics, the electorate will see him for what he is – a very average partisan operator better suited to sitting on a rotary club committee or the board of trustees of a steam museum – not a major metropolitan council.

        Tony Newman will jump rather than put himself through the ignominy of being found out.

        I don’t care if it’s a Labour Mayor. I just want this very ineffective current leader got rid of. And take resident stooges, Paul Scott and Alison Butler with him.

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