CROYDON IN CRISIS: The purge continues against those who dare to consider that there might be another way of running the council.
EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES
Officials overseeing the applications of Labour members who still want to be candidates for next May’s Town Hall elections have blocked a second potential contender who supports the move to the borough having a directly elected mayor, Inside Croydon has learned.
After nearly eight years in charge of the Town Hall, in which time they have overseen the collapse of the Westfield redevelopment, children’s services failing an Ofsted inspection, the £70million Fairfield Halls “fiasco” (© The Stage), the Brick by Brick disaster and the bankruptcy of the borough, Croydon Labour is – perhaps unsurprisingly – struggling to attract a decent number of people prepared to stand for election in 2022.
Yet the party’s officials are being very picky when it comes to Croydon Labour members who don’t subscribe to their leadership’s Groupthink over the thorny issue of a directly elected mayor and the possible end to the gravy train they have enjoyed under the so-called “strong leader” system.
Yesterday, we revealed that Jamie Audsley, a Croydon councillor for the past seven years, had had his application turned down by an interview panel because he was judged not to have been open enough about his support for a directly elected mayor.
Audsley’s less-than-opaque conduct includes organising online discussions arguing for a change in the way the council is run, and for being one of the founders of a social media group that’s called “Croydon Labour for a Mayor”.
Perhaps that’s not obvious enough for the rump of “Newman’s numpties”, members of the discredited ex-leader’s cabal who still carry significant influence within the Town Hall Labour group.
News has now reached Inside Croydon Towers that another supporter of the directly elected mayor of Crydon campaign, DEMOC, Ranil Perera, has also been rejected at the panel interview stage.
By any reasonable assessment, Perera might seem like an ideal candidate for a modern political party in a diverse London borough with deeply ingrained social issues and massive financial problems. He is from a minority ethnic background, holds university degrees from Imperial College and Cambridge, has an impressive record of years of public service (he is a trustee of the Croydon Merton and Sutton Credit Union), and professional qualifications and experience working in financial regulation.
But that’s not good enough for the Croydon Labour selection panel, who suggested that Perera did not know enough about the running of the council to be a suitable candidate to become a councillor.
This is the same Ranil Perera who, in 2018, went through a very similar selection process and was put forward as the official Labour Party candidate in his home ward of Park Hill and Whitgift. Perhaps in the intervening three years, Ranil Perera’s understanding of how a local authority operates has deteriorated… a bit like the council’s finances?
Or might there be another reason for Perera being excluded from the selection process at this stage?
The Labour leadership at The Town Hall, including Alison Butler, Paul Scott, Stuart Collins and Clive “Thirsty” Fraser – all card-carrying members of Tony Newman’s old clique – decided last month that their party’s councillors should be forbidden from campaigning for a directly elected mayor.
There is a borough-wide referendum being held on October 7 to offer residents the choice between the “strong leader” system of governance, or switching to the #ABitLessShit option of a directly elected mayor.
- Click here for the government’s Rapid Review report into council mismanagement and Newman’s ‘controlling’ inner circle
Read more: Poor turn-out shows disenchantment with local Labour Party
Read more: Officials to investigate possible wrong-doing at council
Read more: Leader’s office forced Labour mayors to pull out of meeting
- Independent websites like Inside Croydon depend on regular subscriptions from our readers to enable us to continue to deliver exclusive, headline-making journalism – the sort of scrutiny that Croydon Council would prefer did not exist. Please sign up today as a subscriber. Click here
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at email@example.com
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as well as BBC London News and ITV London
- ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named the country’s rottenest borough in 2020 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine – the fourth successive year that Inside Croydon has been the source for such award-winning nominations
- Inside Croydon: 3million page views in 2020. Seen by 1.4million unique visitors