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.
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.
- Geoff James is a committee member of KENDRA, the Kenley and District Residents’ Association, which played an active part in the DEMOC campaign. He has written here in a personal capacity
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