Croydon’s group of inept Labour councillors is back doing what they do best: being inept. Political editor WALTER CRONXITE reports
As a third wave of covid lets rip (nearly 1,200 new cases of infection in the last seven days in the borough, with more than 300 cases per 100,000 population), Croydon’s Labour councillors were out at the weekend, going from door to door potentially risking spreading death and disease.
The borough’s councillors, who all receive at least £11,000 per year in publicly funded allowances, seem never happier than when conducting political lobbying, rather than doing the dull and boring work of holding the council’s paid executives to account and conducting meetings to manage the borough’s affairs.
But with the nation in the continuing grip of a pandemic, and the council still wrestling with the consequences of its financial collapse, for the vast majority of Croydon’s councillors there is little, if any, official business at the Town Hall for nearly three months. The next meeting of full council is not until October 11, a gap of 14 weeks.
So instead, the councillors are using the time to spread their “message” (such as it is), and possibly also coronavirus.
Putting their own self-interest of re-election ahead of public health, Labour councillors were out knocking on doors, regardless of whether residents are vulnerable.
On Saturday, residents in the Addiscombe East marginal ward – where former mayor and Newman numpty Maddie Henson is a councillor – were exposed to possible virus spread either by infected canvassers or from indiscriminate virus distribution from one doorstep contact to another.
Council leader Hamida Ali was pictured out campaigning on the same day that she revealed on social media that she was not yet fully vaccinated.
There is nothing in Labour councillors’ social media about whether they have activated their NHS app to be “pinged” in the case of contact with someone who has been infected with the virus, nor whether they have undertaken appropriate covid tests. Such tests were recommended in a public information video on Friday by the council’s own public health director, Rachel Flowers.
Undeterred by the seriousness of the public health situation, the gormless Stuart Collins, for six years the council deputy leader under Tony Newman, took to posting selfies on Twitter of himself grinning, mask-less, together with Henson and her husband, Mark Henson.
Sources within the local Labour Party suggest that the Hensons want to run as a husband-and-wife joint ticket in Addiscombe East in next May’s council elections. “If ever there was a way to guarantee that Labour loses a council seat,” an unimpressed local activist told Inside Croydon, “then that is it.”
Collins was the cabinet member who said he would clean our streets of the scourge of fly-tipping. In a display of gross numbskullery shocking even by the standards of the discredited regime of his old boss Newman, Collins decided to do so by increasing the council’s multi-million-pound payments to contractors Veolia mid-contract, while reducing the scope of the services they are expected to deliver.
Collins’s poor grasp of figures, and the truth, was amply demonstrated at the weekend when he tweeted, “Great to be out canvassing and hear a good level of understanding regarding effect of 11 years [sic] Tory austerity cuts on Councils & Little [sic] or no support for wasting millions during hard times on a Directly Elected Mayor.”
According to the council’s own figures, the cost of staging a mayoral election next May will be less than £300,000.
Collins, meanwhile, prefers to support a system of running the borough under which he, together with Newman and the rest of the cabal, managed to bankrupt the borough, run up debts of £1.5billion, and saw Croydon receive the biggest government bail-out in the history of local government in this country.
The unapologetic arrogance of politicians is already an issue nationally, with the one-rule-for-them-and-no-rules-for-us approach of the Downing Street shower of Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak over self-isolation rules.
Such conduct is “inept”, according to none other than Sean Fitzsimons, another Newman numpty who is still firmly wedged in on the councillor gravy train at the Town Hall.
Fitzsimons is the chair of the council’s scrutiny committee which was so roundly and repeatedly criticised in public reports arising from the council’s financial collapse for his failure to… well, scrutinise.
“Was in the team that door knocked houses and flats in Elgin Road,” Fitzsimons announced to the world, as he was about to provide a nuclear weapons-grade example of the lack of self-awareness of politicians. “Number one concern of residents was about [government’s] inept handling of covid-19 and about safety of the vulnerable come Freedom Day.” Oh dear…
And while there were some Labour selfies showing canvassers actually wearing masks, there was little evidence elsewhere that any thought has been given by Croydon Labour to the possibility of passing illness on from one door to another which might lead, at the very least, to residents having to self-isolate if they are “pinged” by the NHS app.
What some might describe as, well, “inept”.
What makes Labour’s weekend canvassing appear all the more crass is that other political groups around the borough have opted to restrict their activities for the time-being, to campaigning only through leafleting, online meetings or social media.
To make matters worse, the hierarchy in the local Labour Party is making attendance on these canvassing sessions one of the measures of potential election candidates’ suitability for selection to stand next May.
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