Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, on the latest game of musical chairs at the Town Hall
Mario Creatura has been sacked from his front bench job with the Town Hall opposition group in a reshuffle of the Croydon’s Conservative councillors by their new leader, Jason Perry.
Creatura was once regarded (mainly by himself) as a Tory rising star: it is little more than a year ago that he was working in Downing Street as a special adviser to the Prime Minister and was the Conservatives’ prospective parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central.
But the shine on his once-promising career has worn off quickly, tarnished by his reckless association in the run-up to last December’s General Election with a dodgy, cult-like church which has since become subject of multiple official investigations, including for fraud and abuse.
Creatura’s slip down the pecking order among Croydon’s Tories was confirmed earlier today when “Grayson” Perry released his list of opposition shadow cabinet members and their deputies, and Creatura’s name was not among them.
The Coulsdon councillor, the one-time gobby factotum to then Tory MP Gavin Barwell, hangs on to his £18,711 allowances to top-up his salary from his job with Virgin Money, though, because Creatura has been handed the sop of being named group chief whip, a non-job and one that he was doing at the start of his council political career six years ago.
Officially, according to our mole of the Croydon Tories’ HQ in Purley, Creatura is taking a step back from frontline politics, in time-honoured style, “to spend more time with his family”. Creatura recently became a father for the first time, his wife Amy Pollard (no relation) giving birth to twins.
In reality, that Creatura continues to have any job at all is largely because Perry has very little choice.
With the previous group leader, Tim Pollard, and Helen Pollard, both stepping away from their frontline roles, London Assembly Member Steve O’Connell pretty much already retired, and with him also needing to find a replacement as Tory spokesperson on the economy and jobs (the position Perry himself held until last week), Perry was hardly spoiled for choice as he had 20 jobs to fill from just 29 councillors.
The Pollards and O’Connell aside, with 29 councillors and jobs given to 23 of them, the question arises: quite how poor you need to be to not have a shadow cabinet post?*
Perry has given front-bench jobs to some of the 2018 intake of councillors for the first time, Helen Redfern being promoted to shadow “clean green Croydon” and Scott Roche stepping up to become one of two shadows on the culture and sport brief (along with Vidhi Mohan), signalling, perhaps, that Labour’s less-than-impressive Ollie Lewis is likely to face a tougher time.
There’s promotions, too, for the hard-working community activist Andy Stranack (he takes over from Creatura on the important “communities, safety and justice” brief) and for Gareth Streeter.
The new Tory shadow cabinet is hardly representative of Croydon. But then, the Tories’ Town Hall group is not really representative of the borough that they serve: the shadow cabinet has just one black and minority ethnic councillor, and comprises four women and seven men.
Most of the shadow cabinet get paid £18,711 in allowances, with Perry top of the pile as opposition leader on £34,137. The full list of appointees is:
Leader – Jason Perry
Deputy Leader – Finance and Resources – Jason Cummings
Deputy Leader – Homes and Gateway Services – Lynne Hale
Children, Young People and Families – Maria Gatland
Clean Green Croydon – Helen Redfern
Culture – Scott Roche
Economy and Jobs – Simon Hoar
Families, Health and Social Care – Yvette Hopley
Leisure and Sport – Vidhi Mohan
Safer Croydon and Communities – Andy Stranack
Transport, Environment and Regeneration – Gareth Streeter
Vice-Chair of Scrutiny – Robert Ward
Shadow Cabinet Deputies:
Finance and Resources – Robert Ward
Homes and Gateway Services – Jeet Bains
Children, Young People and Learning – Sue Bennett
Clean Green Croydon – Ian Parker
Culture, Leisure and Sport – Oni Oviri
Economy and Jobs – Luke Clancy
Families, Health and Social Care – Margaret Bird
Safer Croydon and Communities – Richard Chatterjee
Transport, Environment and Regeneration – Michael Neal and Badsha Quadir
General Purpose and Audit Committee Lead – Stuart Millson
Licensing Committee Vice Chair – Margaret Bird
Chief Whip – Mario Creatura
Deputy Chief Whip – Simon Brew
* – Answers on a postcard, please, addressed to Steve Hollands and Jan Buttinger at Croydon Town Hall
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