Our fringes of Surrey correspondent, PEARL LEE, on the latest developments in the intrigue and dispute around a residents’ association
Coulsdon’s Tory councillors have finally called time on the illicit takeover of a residents’ association.
Coulsdon Town councillors Ian Parker, Mario Creatura and some other bloke yesterday issued a statement regarding the Coulsdon West Residents’ Association, in which they sought to distance themselves from notorious local figure, Peter Morgan.
“The best way forward is for the CWRA to hold its long-overdue AGM in accordance with its constitution without delay,” a statement on the councillors’ website states.
But it has come too late to prevent Morgan, a Conservative Party supporter, from gaining unfettered access to the complete address and contact details for every member of the CWRA.
The councillors’ statement only came after Michael Southwell tendered his resignation as chairman of CWRA on Monday. It seems that even Southwell could not put up with having to deal with Morgan any longer.
It had been Southwell, when the CWRA treasurer, who had overseen the co-opting of Morgan on to the committee, and who had supported him in his “Christmas coup” which expelled several properly elected members.
It is worth noting that Southwell, when treasurer of the supposedly “apolitical” CWRA, who was one of the signatories of the nomination papers in 2018 for Tory candidates in the local election, including one-time Downing Street aide Creatura.
As Inside Croydon reported at the end of last year, under influence from Morgan, Southwell, the then-treasurer, and other CWRA officers refused to stage an annual meeting in 2020, at which democratic elections could be held and the association’s accounts scrutinised.
Morgan, a serial election candidate in Croydon, most commonly for far-right parties, has never won enough votes to be elected to public office. There is no record of his ever being elected even to the committee of CWRA (Motto: “Bringing community together”), with many members claiming that he is not even qualified to be a member.
This is not the first time that Morgan has sought to seize control of a community organisation to further his own agenda and interests. In 2017, he wanted to become chair of his own local residents’ association, the East Coulsdon RA. But when it came to a democratic vote at the organisation’s annual general meeting, Morgan was rejected.
Morgan – who lives at Cordrey Gardens in the area covered by ECRA, on the other side of the bypass from west Coulsdon – has been inveigling his way into the CWRA since early in 2020, when the organisation somewhat unwisely gave him control of their social media platforms. They quickly regretted doing so, after Morgan used the CWRA account to issue a racist, Trumpian tweet about coronavirus.
Although he was reproached, Morgan was allowed to continue to use the CWRA Twitter account to pursue his own pet topics, usually centred on the interests of motorists – he is a keen member of the Alliance of Bad Drivers – and other, ill-informed matters of local politics. He has recently used the CWRA Twitter account to repeat the racist trope about coronavirus.
And on Christmas Day, he used the CWRA Twitter account to announce that he and Southwell had affected their takeover of the organisation, as they seized key positions within the association.
It was after Morgan drafted an “explanatory note”, circulated at the end of January with a series of reasons why CWRA wouldn’t be staging its annual meeting until “late April”, that Southwell decided to stand down.
“London elections due in May 2020 were put back for one year, and the elected terms extended by that period,” Morgan wrote, without mention that he himself had never actually been elected to the CWRA committee. Morgan also rejected the option of staging the event remotely, as most community organisations have managed to do.
This is no longer acceptable to the Coulsdon Town councillors.
“As councillors, we have no sanctions we can use to force the calling of an early AGM, but the demand from members is clear,” they wrote. “Waiting until late April is not acceptable, nor is using the pandemic as an excuse for further delay. Virtual meetings are accepted practice and we offer any technical support necessary to facilitate the long-overdue AGM. There have been a number of other offers of help to facilitate the meeting.”
“We are agreed that we will not engage further with RA officers until an early AGM is called and the democratic process is followed.”
Which could put a stop to Morgan appearing at the Coulsdon councillors’ town centre canvassing stall each month, or helping Croydon South MP Chris Philp when leafleting in Purley.
Yet even in issuing their statement distancing themselves from Morgan, Parker, Creatura and the other bloke were only reacting to events, and not using their influence to achieve a solution on behalf of the people they are supposed to represent.
Because on Friday, some members of CWRA, concerned at the way their local organisation had been taken over, hand-delivered letters to Southwell and his supporters with 50 signatures, demanding that an annual meeting should be staged as a matter of urgency. A copy of the same letter was also pushed through Morgan’s letterbox in East Coulsdon.
By last night Morgan was using the CWRA Twitter account in an attempt to discredit past or present committee members, including two – Richard Walker and Keith Watkins – who he had named just a few weeks before as trusted supporters in his “Christmas Day coup”.
Which surely means the one important lesson from all this is: never give Peter Morgan the password to any organisation’s social media account…
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