WALTER CRONXITE reports on the latest shenanigans from Croydon’s Labour leader
Tony Newman, the leader of the council, may have broken his own Labour group’s rules last week when he issued an email “announcing” the appointment of Janet Campbell as his £45,000 per year cabinet member for families, health and social care, while demoting Jane Avis to the deputy position.
According to sources at the Town Hall, Newman’s move has left South Norwood councillor Avis “distraught”, while it was also premature, prejudicing the appointment process for deputy cabinet members.
The Town Hall Labour group is due to have the second part of its annual meeting, conducted virtually, tomorrow night. It is there that the names of the deputy cabinet members are supposed to be agreed. The deadline for Labour councillors to apply to be considered for such posts – which are rewarded for their loyalty to the Great Leader with council allowances of £22,000 per year – was on Friday.
Yet Newman announced that Avis had “agreed” to take the deputy role on Monday, June 8, five days early.
“Confirmation, if it were needed, that Tony just does what he likes,” a Katharine Street source told Inside Croydon.
Newman’s clumsy handling of the promotion of Campbell has caused further concerns among councillor colleagues for the well-being of Avis.
“I’ve heard that Jane is absolutely distraught at having been dropped from the cabinet and has spent much of the last few days in tears,” the source said.
Most observers view Blairite Newman’s sacking of Avis as a vindictive act against a member of the Momentum group, and executed with appallingly bad timing.
Avis, who has been a councillor since 1998, was seen to be on top of the important social care and health brief in the middle of the covid-19 crisis as it hit the borough’s care homes and hospitals.
“Jane’s several leagues better in terms of ability and performance than Alisa Flemming, and yet despite her taking children’s services into special measures for three years, she is still in her cabinet job.”
Another Labour councillor said, “Tony’s treatment of Jane has been truly appalling. Once again he’s shown incredibly poor judgement. Either that or he’s delusional and completely out of touch with the mood in the Labour group.
“I’ve heard one or two councillors are now so fed up with Tony that they are going so far as thinking about resigning the Labour whip in protest, or challenging him for the leadership.”
That “mood” may not be improved by the list of deputy cabinet appointments and other positions which Newman released last night.
The game of musical chairs that Newman set in motion when he appointed Chris Clark as chair of the planning committee now sees Toni Letts, who lost that position and its £26,000 a year allowances, handed the role of deputy cabinet member for economy and jobs. Jamie Audsley will slink back to the backbenches as a result.
Callton Young takes over the role vacated by Clark as chair of the licensing committee, while Humayun Kabir, after a year as the borough’s honorary mayor, is made chair of the pensions committee. The appointments are expected to go through on the nod at a virtual meeting tomorrow night.
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