WALTER CRONXITE on the political games being played out at the Town Hall
The dozy Tory opposition at Croydon Town Hall has today demanded an extraordinary council meeting (yes, another one!) to consider a motion to cut councillors’ allowances – a move that has already been agreed by the bankrupt council’s cabinet last month.
Jason Perry and his 28 Conservative colleagues have been accused of “showboating again” over the council’s financial crisis.
The Tories want a reduction in allowances to save £75,000 per year. The Labour cabinet agreed in November to cut allowances by £103,000.
“There was a £103,000 saving on councillor allowances in the paper to the cabinet,” a Katharine Street source told Inside Croydon. “Wasn’t Councillor Perry paying attention? Or didn’t he or Mario Creatura bother to read their paperwork?
“These are the same people who for the past two years voted with Tony Newman’s Labour group to pass the council budget – the very budget which this year the council has been forced to admit it cannot deliver on.
“Don’t remember them objecting too much then, or volunteering to hand back their allowances, either. They are just showboating again. It’s typical hypocrisy.”
Council Tax-payers provide £1.5million per year in allowances to their 70 elected councillors, starting at just over £11,691.96 for backbenchers, but with a large number of cabinet members, deputies and committee chairs getting “Special Responsibility Allowances” on top of that – up to the totalof £55,000 per year now paid to the old-new leader of the council, Hamida Ali.
Perry is the best-paid Tory at Croydon Council, on £34,137 for his part-time position.
A big chunk of the councillors’ allowances gets paid over to the political duopoly’s party campaign funds towards paying for their election leaflets and other running costs. Labour and the Tories are the only parties in Croydon to receive this kind of political subsidy out of public funds, estimated to amount to more than £100,000 per year.
Sources within the Labour group at the Town Hall suggest that they will actually push for even greater cuts to councillor allowances.
“We probably should have made more of the proposals, and pushed them through more quickly,” said one source. “That’s a reflection of Hamida’s inexperience as leader. It would have put paid to this kind of political showboating from the Tories in the middle of the crisis.
“If they are really so concerned about doing the right thing by the borough, why don’t they all traipse along to the council offices and pay back what they’ve received to Katherine Kerswell? I’m sure she’d be grateful for every penny.”
On the Croydon Conservatives’ website today, they say, “If Labour choose to vote against our proposal, then all Conservative councillors will still voluntarily take the reduction in allowances.”
But as another source said, “Why the conditionality? Why not repay their November allowances now? It’s all just a game to them.”
Today’s Tory press release probably won’t have been as carefully considered in its drafting as it might have been, either. “Croydon Council officers are the backbone of the services our residents rely upon,” Croydon Conservatives announced. “They are not to blame for the council going bankrupt and they certainly should not be made to suffer alone.”
Said one source, “Hasn’t anyone in the local Tory Party heard of Jo Negrini?
“Given that they were the people who brought her to Croydon in the first place, it might be an appointment they’d want to forget.”
Negrini was promoted to council chief executive in 2016, but walked away from Croydon in August this year in the middle of the council’s greatest ever crisis with a £440,000 pay-off.
The motion put forward by the Tories for the extraordinary council meeting seeks to reverse the allowances increase agreed in July 2018 – a saving of just £75,000, and well below what has already been agreed by the Labour cabinet.
- You can read the council paper that Jason Perry didn’t: Click here for the appendix to the report to cabinet, with details of the proposed “renewal plan” cuts
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