The Conservative Party candidates in the council by-elections next month include one man who, the last time he stood for election to Croydon Council, was accused of telling falsehoods by no less than three bishops, and a woman who allowed her name to be used on dodgy letters of support for Gavin Barwell (remember him?).
The by-elections are being held alongside the London Mayor and Assembly elections on May 6. They follow the resignations of five sitting councillors, including discredited former council leader Tony Newman and Simon Hall after their part in the Town Hall financial collapse.
Given that candidates in these by-elections will be appealing to residents for their trust, it might strike some as odd that Croydon Tories should include in what they call “an excellent slate” those with a proven record of dissembling.
Ola Kolade has been named as the Conservative candidate for the ultra-safe Tory ward of Kenley, where Steve O’Connell has failed to see through his four-year term.
So concerned is Kolade about being remembered as telling porkies in his campaign in Norbury Park ward in 2018 that he has repeatedly contacted this website to ask us to erase our report about the complaint from the Croydon Churches Forum. Suffice to say, after falling off our chair in laughter at Kolade’s efforts to rewrite history, his request was duly binned. You can read our report of the bishops’ condemnation by clicking here.
As we reported at the time, “The prelates had taken exception to the wannabe councillor trying to use their organisation to score political points over the Labour-run council. The claims made by Kolade in a widely circulated leaflet, the church leaders said, were not accurate.”
Among the signatories to the statement were Bishop Jonathan Clark, the Bishop of Croydon, plus Bishop Paul Hendricks (from the Roman Catholic church), Bishop Paul Reid (Grace Tabernacle), Rev Reuben Martin (West Croydon Baptist Church) and the Forum chair, Damian Luke (Praise House).
The Church Forum’s statement said, “We refer to a recent document (Conservatives – Working in Partnership with Croydon Churches) produced by the Conservative Party and sent to CCF by Mr Ola Kolade with the following statement: ‘When the Conservatives last controlled the Council the Leader held quarterly meetings with Church Leaders in Croydon. Since Labour took control these meetings have not happened’.
“We need to state that neither of these statements are accurate.”
But according to Croydon Tories today, Kolade “has an impressive reputation as a leader in our community”.
It is notable that all of the Tories’ other selected candidates for the by-elections are women:
- Lara Fish in New Addington North
- Jade Appleton in Park Hill and Whitgift
- Sonia Marinello in South Norwood
- Michelle Kazi in Woodside
Appleton is actually a Conservative Party employee at London Councils, the pan-capital organisation of boroughs. In the past, she has allowed her name to be used on the dodgy “Dear Neighbour” letters in one of Barwell’s election campaigns, at a time when Gav was trying to pretend he wasn’t even a Tory.
Appleton being on the Conservative Party pay-roll was unmentioned in the candidate announcement this morning, which merely advised, “Jade’s day job involves negotiating between all 32 London boroughs to deliver the best possible services for local people.”
Fish, who is standing in a ward where the Tories probably have the best opportunity to gain a seat from Labour, helps run the Royal British Legion “and was one of the founding members of the New Addington Residents’ Association”.
Marinello is described as “an investigative lawyer by day”, who opposes traffic-reducing measures such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, while Kazi works as a teaching assistant.
Declaring herself “delighted” with her party’s by-election candidates, including proven liar Kolade, Lynne Hale, as chair of the Croydon Conservative Federation, said, “Labour have bankrupted our town.
“If you want local councillors who will listen to you, work hard for your community, hold Labour to account for their litany of failures and who will always put your interests first, then you have the power to make it happen on May 6.”
Hale, together with all 28 other Conservative councillors in Croydon, followed their party whip and voted with Labour on their council budgets in 2019 and 2020, ahead of the council’s financial collapse.
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