An unaligned elected Mayor could be best result for Croydon

North-South divide: how Croydon’s 28 wards looked after the last local elections in 2018

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Loyal reader GEOFF JAMES, from Kenley, offers his take on the importance of the 2022 local elections, including the first vote for an executive Mayor of Croydon

1, Regardless of who wins, Labour and Conservatives will remain the major parties in Croydon after this election.

But the process to present a manifesto with the Mayoral election fundamentally changes the election for the better.

Both parties will need to adopt manifestos that are attractive across the whole borough. Neither can simply rely on their safe seats and then seek to sway just the three or four marginal wards. This will bring both Labour and Conservatives toward the middle.

2, An elected Mayor who is not aligned to the majority party could be the best result for Croydon.

We can wax on and on about the infantile ideology and utter incompetence of the administration that brought on this car crash that we know as Croydon Council. But I take the view that “governance failed”.

Political parties always have an ideology – it comes with the democratic process.

DEMOC support: Kenley residents were among those to back the campaign for a Mayor

But the Croydon administration was able to disregard, circumvent and possibly corrupt the normal oversight processes of the council. This sings loud and clear in the various wash-up reports that have been published thus far.

If we have an elected Mayor that is not aligned to the majority party then this would be great for improved governance. The Mayor and the majority party will provide powerful oversight of each other. Neither will be shy about making a lot of noise if the other gets up to any of the tricks of the past administration.

Even simple things such as the setting of the cabinet committee agenda is a tool that can be used to limit or prevent effective oversight (as shown in last month’s cabinet meeting).

An elected Mayor would control the agenda but the majority party will not play ball If the tricks and games recurred – so the Mayor would have to encourage wider and constructive discourse. We should get better discissions, and maybe even a better-run council.

3, Something has to change.

It is the north-south polarisation of the borough’s politics that makes Croydon fundamentally broken. We can’t have this style of administration ever again. We need to make all the parties “play nice” and focus their efforts on “recovering Croydon”. At the very least, the success of the DEMOC campaign to bring in a democratically elected Mayor has given them both a sharp prod.

The Conservatives appear have fully embraced the opportunities of change. Let’s hope Labour wake-up and smell the coffee before the election. We will all be able to thank the DEMOC process for this.

4, The time is right for a leadership that truly cares about recovering Croydon and preparing for the next generation.

The residents of Croydon want to see change. When the DEMOC referendum was held in October, all 28 wards voted by a majority in favour of change.

Any party or candidate that tries to present the same old hackneyed statements and or expects to continue with the petty ideological politics that brought on this mess is likely to get a severe drubbing in the polls. Croydon’s residents are likely to be seeking a leader that they can trust,  a leader that will tell the truth and make the hard decisions that are for the best for Croydon.

Whatever the results in May, it won’t be as bad for Croydon as what we have recently had to endure.

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4 Responses to An unaligned elected Mayor could be best result for Croydon

  1. Anita Smith says:

    Another thoughtful, insightful and considered piece from Geoff James. The two main candidates can promise what they like, reassure us they are the best person for the job, but fundamentally, they are beholden 100% to the party they work for and represent. As Geoff James says, we need an independent candidate to come forward who will put the people of Croydon first and party affiliations last. The referendum last October brought all Croydonians together in common cause, north and south, Labour and Conservatives, all wards voted for change. Hopefully an Independent candidate can do the same and heal the rift that lies at the heart of life in Croydon.

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    We have a lot to thank the DEMOC campaign for. Especially for the opportunity to rid the Borough of poor representatives directly when Parties of both hues fail or subvert good practice.

    Unfortunately the major problems in Croydon are not from the elected officers only – it is the Local Administration and the culture embedded in Local government organs of Administration.

    A councilor or leader does not set up or manage the day to day contracts. They do not deliver housing planning etc.

    Frankly the Administration had powers to reign in both Fisher and Newman – it failed to do so. The Administration had the power to deal with Councillors failing – it did not.

    The Elected officials had the power to bring forward the mishaps and poor administration and change it – they did not.
    The Minister also had powers but they were weakened and perhaps as part of Central Government also bore some responsibility for the failures.

    We the Electors were never informed or reasonably consulted and this continues with RIPI’s not published in full if at all and very little investigations taking place publicly. Let us not talk overly much about the so called exclusive consultations that only accept narrow and predetermined answers which mock the words meaningful and consultation.

    What we need is stronger and clearer legislation and some honesty from representatives. What we also need is to understand as electors is that some things will cost us more and voting for ideology at local level is perhaps misplaced. We should be voting for is
    1. Honest and open good administration.
    2. Effective services
    3. Effective support for all Wards
    4. Effective provision and support for the vulnerable members of the Borough

    Geoff though is right – there needs to be a remove of the divide and not by social or planning manipulation or other activities that only meet a parties national policy.

    We need an integrated plan for all Croydonians needs. We also need to elect an open and honest person to set up a framework for this to happen – Should that person be independant – perhaps yes, but would they be elected? Most likely not as politic’s in England is set up to exclude independent individuals from ever having power..
    What is definite is that no person should be elected that has been involved in either Fisher or Newmans regime. Even those that may have abstained. Those who came forward and objected should remain though and be supported better.

  3. There is no independent candidate in the sidelines – that’s a pipe dream.

    We need a competent candidate. I don’t care what party they come from.

    What’s a competent candidate? It’s someone who is as far removed from Tony Newman as it’s possible to be. Someone who is free-thinking, articulate, a great communicator, not selfish, understands Croydon and it’s full potential, experienced in dealing with the GLA and government, happy to regularly talk to the media and Croydon residents – someone who councillors will be inspired by and will up their own games in order to emulate.

    A competent candidate who is smart will realise support of the people is more important than minor league local party politics – especially if they are a Labour candidate.

  4. Tim Rodgers says:

    I disagreed with the need for changing the governance model, believing it was the people rather than the processes that were at fault. We are where we are.

    An independent candidate would be ideal – I briefly considered standing before realising the logistical issues are too great to overcome – but they would never get enough traction in the short window ahead of the election.

    I think Labour have been rescued by Val Shawcross riding to their aid, and there’s a real possibility that she wins the Mayoral election though what the composition of the chamber will be is frankly anyone’s guess.

    She has a degree of independence, experience, and is sufficiently distant from the failed regime in the Town Hall. An administration of Croydon Unity would be great if there’s sufficient talent in the ranks.

    Get this wrong, and I can see a swell of support for a Residents Association slate of candidates, albeit in 2026.

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