WALTER CRONXITE, our fully masked and vaccinated political editor, reports on how many of the borough’s politicians went canvassing at the weekend despite having been warned that there had been a virus positive case at a meeting they attended on Thursday
The borough’s councillors have been warned that one of their number attending Thursday night’s controversial Extraordinary Council Meeting in a packed Town Hall Chamber has tested positive for covid-19.
The email from Rachel Flowers, Croydon’s director of public health, was sent late on Friday afternoon.
But the members of Croydon’s leafletting cults, red and blue, were nevertheless out on the streets of the borough on Saturday and Sunday, many of them mask-less, knocking on people’s doors regardless of the risk of passing on the deadly virus.
Thursday night’s meeting was the first since the first covid lockdown began in March 2020 which was attended by a full, or close to full, tally of the borough’s 70 councillors. Only those who were in the Town Hall Chamber were allowed to vote. Fifty councillors attended, plus around a dozen council employees and just half a dozen in the public gallery.
Protection protocols demanded that those councillors at the meeting should always wear a mask when not addressing the meeting. This rule was not always strictly observed.
And while official advice has changed on the correct conduct after being in possible contact with someone who has covid-19, the casual disregard for any caution for the health and well-being of the residents that they seek to represent shown by Croydon’s Labour and Conservative politicians may shock many members of the public.
Inside Croydon also understands that requests from some councillors that the meeting should be held in a larger, less compact meeting hall – such as at the Fairfield Halls, or in a sports hall at New Addington Leisure Centre – were rejected.
The decision to hold the meeting in the Town Hall Chamber came after discussions with the two political groups’ chief whips, the monitoring officer, John Jones, and was based on the advice provided by Flowers herself.
Infection figures in Croydon remain similar to the rate of last year’s peak.
Schools, since the return after the Christmas break, appear to have been a common source for the spread of the virus. One Selsdon primary last week had seven teachers absent. Two school years were sent home from a South Croydon secondary last week. At another secondary, 4-in-10 of their pupils were absent.
Flowers’ email to councillors sent on Friday, and seen by Inside Croydon, said, “I have been informed that a member present in yesterday’s council meeting has today reported a positive Covid result after self-testing.”
Flowers went on to state that “you may be required to isolate”.
The council’s most senior health official wrote, “I strongly advise all those in attendance to take a [lateral flow test] every day for seven days. If the [lateral flow test] is positive you will need to isolate in line with government guidelines.”
Even those attending the meeting who had been fully vaccinated, with at least two doses of an approved vaccine, were “strongly advised” to take a lateral flow test for seven days.
And any who attended who had not been fully vaccinated were told that, if contacted by NHS Test and Trace that they had been in contact with someone who is covid-19 positive, “are legally required to stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days”.
As one unimpressed councillor told Inside Croydon, “I hope the idiots who came up with the idea of packing 50 councillors into the council chamber while covid is still rampant are proud of themselves.”
The Town Hall Chamber is due to be used for another meeting tonight, of the council cabinet, although many fewer councillors are thought likely to attend in person.
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