By WALTER CRONXITE, political editor
Valerie Shawcross, a former deputy mayor of London and widely acknowledged as one of the best leaders of the council Croydon has ever had, wants to be Labour’s candidate to run in the election for the borough’s first directly-elected mayor.
“I want to come back to this new updated role of mayor because I know I can make a difference,” Shawcross said this morning.
“There’s work to do on improving the way Croydon runs and building better relationships between the council and the community.”
Upper Norwood resident Shawcross is the first serious political figure with a London-wide profile to declare their interest in running. She is seeking election to the new office, which she says she has supported and voted for in this month’s referendum.
Shawcross was a London Assembly Member for 16 years after having been a Croydon councillor in New Addington between 1994 and 2000. She was made CBE in 2002 for services to local government.
Croydon Conservatives have named Jason Perry, the leader of the Town Hall opposition group, as their candidate for mayor.
In a statement issued by Shawcross’s campaign team this morning, they said, “Shawcross will seek the Labour nomination after decades of experience of delivery in local government and City Hall.”
It was when Shawcross was leader of the council in the late 1990s that Croydon’s tram system was delivered. Shawcross then went on to work alongside Labour Mayors of London Ken Livingstone and Sadiq Khan, becoming chair of the London Assembly’s transport committee and then Deputy Mayor of London for Transport, working up key schemes such as the Ultra-Low Emission Zone to clean up London’s air. She also spent eight years as Chair of the London Fire Brigade.
Today, she said, “As a Croydon resident who has lived here since 1985, I’m announcing my intention to seek selection as the Labour candidate at next May’s Croydon mayoral election.
“I believe the kind of experiences I’ve had being in charge of large organisations are needed in my home borough. In the recent referendum I voted for an elected mayor for this borough because it’s clear that Croydon needed to refresh its system of local government and renew its leadership. It needs to press the reset button.
“I want to come back to this new updated role of Mayor because I know I can make a difference. There’s work to do on improving the way Croydon runs and building better relationships between the Council and the community.
“A Labour council should listen to local people and create opportunities for community involvement in running local neighbourhoods and facilities like parks. We need, as a community, to start tackling the problems of the current era. People are worried about energy costs, issues like crime, fly tipping and our local and global environment.
“Incompetent decision making by Conservative national government is impacting badly on our businesses, residents and local public services.
“I believe that I’ve had enough successful political and management experience in London to make a difference to Croydon and the lives of everyone who lives here and I want a chance to bring what I’ve learned over my 25 years in public life back to Croydon. I’m committed to Croydon. It’s a great place to live and we should be moving it forwards.”
Labour’s lengthy selection process requires potential candidates to apply by next Monday, November 1, before local constituency parties nominate their preferred choices. These will then be considered by a panel of party officials before party members across the borough will get to vote during December.
Read more: Croydon votes 4-to-1 in favour of having directly elected mayor
Read more: Mayoral referendum: how Croydon voted, ward-by-ward
Read more: Labour MP Reed accused of ‘bad politics’ by Blairite peer
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