With a complete listing of all the candidates in Croydon’s May 5 councillor vote, political editor WALTER CRONXITE provides a guide to where the contest for the Town Hall might be won or lost
The introduction of Croydon’s first democratically-elected, executive Mayor on May 5 will change the roles of the borough’s 70 councillors, forever.
There will still be elected councillors, though, to represent the public across the borough’s 28 wards, with a role to scrutinise the running of the council by its paid executives, as well as to keep an eye on the Mayor.
For most of the time since the last borough elections in 2018, the council has had 41 Labour councillors, 29 Conservative.
As polling so far this year has indicated, even after the nightmare of Newman and his numpties running the borough into bankruptcy, the Conservative government’s well-deserved atrocious reputation over the Partygate scandal, tax dodging and the cost-of-living crisis means that the outcome of the elections here in Croydon are increasingly difficult to call.
The smart money at the moment is on a split administration, with a Mayor from one party and a majority Town Hall group from the other side of the Croydon political duopoly. Indeed, it’s entirely possible the Town Hall might end up locked at 35 seats apiece.
Much could happen in the next four weeks, with one or two wildcards in the mix to shake things up.
Here’s the complete, official list of councillor candidates, with brief guides to each of the wards. For reader convenience, ward names on this page are searchable in your browser.
Conservative target wards they might actually win
These are the wards currently partly or wholly held by Labour and which are especially vulnerable to the Tories. If the Conservatives are successful in all these wards next month, they will gain eight council seats, enough to make them the majority group at the Town Hall for the first time since 2014
ADDISCOMBE EAST (2 seats): The Conservative Jeet Bains currently holds one of Addiscombe East’s seats, with the councillor status of Labour’s former ceremonial mayoress Maddie Henson (a member of Val Shawcross’s inner circle), under serious threat as the Tories look to make gains.
NEW ADDINGTON NORTH (2 seats) and NEW ADDINGTON SOUTH (2 seats): New Addington is where the political carnage caused to the local Labour Party over the past three years is most obvious.
Not a single one of the quartet of Labour councillors elected in 2018 is standing again, with Simon Hall, the Newman numpty at the centre of the financial collapse, having been forced to resign his seat last year, while councillors Ollie “Shitshow” Lewis and Felicity Flynn became so despised by their own party members that both were de-selected ahead of these elections.
The weakness in the Conservative pitch in New Addington comes in the shape of the candidates they have chosen, such as the racist Tony Pearson, who after he lost his council seat in 2014 quit the Tories in a huff to join a dodgy far-right party. With elections looming, the Conservatives took Pearson back.
All the Tory candidates here, at least, are very much “Local Conservatives”, and that could count for much with their neighbours when it comes to vote. But in New Addington North, for instance, the Tories need to buck all recent polling and get a swing in their favour of at least 12per cent, which looks to be a stretch.
However, it is significant that there is no candidate from the BNP nor UKIP on the ballot papers in New Addington, North or South, this time, which suggests the Tories will scoop up a couple of hundred far-right votes which could help them win one or two seats.
WADDON (3 seats): The wildest of wildcards.
When Labour hounded Andrew Pelling out of the party – after he had suffered about nine years of bullying from Tony Newman and his henchmen – they did not calculate that the decision would come back to bite them in the arse so soon, and so hard.
Although Pelling is running a borough-wide Mayoral campaign, he has strong support within the ward he has represented for the past eight years, and that could be to the cost of what locals have dubbed “Bananarama” – Labour’s three-woman band of candidates.
Again, for a target ward, the Tories managed to select two underwhelming candidates in Waddon, although Daniel Ekekhomen is now an experienced campaigner, and after several failed attempts, he could finally, actually manage to win elected office.
More of a stretch
Wards currently held by Labour which would need a swing of at least 12 per cent to turn blue. Keep an eye out on the night of the count – which council chief exec Katherine Kerswell has decided in her wisdom to delay by 24 hours – for the results coming from these wards. If they turn blue on May 6, then the Tories will be heading towards a significant Town Hall majority
FAIRFIELD (3 seats): The second of the wildcards, where the biggest threat to Labour in Fairfield comes not from the blues, but from the Greens.
Until 2018, when boundary changes split off the posh bits of Park Hill and the Whitgift Estate, Fairfield was a Conservative-held ward. Now it does not even look like a serious Tory target.
But it is a target for the Greens, as they field their top team of Ria Patel, Esther Sutton (the landlord of the popular Oval Tavern – pulling pints is always good for pulling in the votes) and Peter Underwood.
In the town centre ward with a youthful demographic, with new residents arriving in all those “luxury apartment” blocks that Labour’s Paul Scott and his successor as planning chair, “Thirsty” Chris Clark (a sitting councillor in the ward), have allowed to be built, Underwood and the Greens could prove to be seen as attractive “Anyone But Labour” candidates.
Once again, there’s potential for this to end up as a split ward: Surrey Street market trader Jose Joseph is a high-profile and popular figure within the ward, where he has been running a soup kitchen for several years. Joseph was stitched up by Labour colleagues in 2018, when he was democratically selected to stand in a by-election but officials nominated a party employee instead. Anyone know what became of Caragh Skipper?
That injustice seems likely to persuade otherwise disaffected activists to campaign on behalf of Joseph and his Momentum colleague, Julie Setchfield.
If elected, Joseph says that all his £11,000 per year allowances will go to local homelessness causes.
NORBURY PARK (2 seats): A two-seat ward where, in contrast to Fairfield, Conservatives have been campaigning energetically.
Having Alisa Flemming, one of Tony Newman’s cabinet members, as a Labour candidate here probably assists the Tories on the doorstep with their narrative of the bankrupt borough: it was Flemming who was in charge in 2017 when careless management of the council’s children’s services which saw the department placed in special measures by Ofsted, requiring £30million extra spending to fix things, and which started the Labour council’s spiral into financial collapse.
ADDISCOMBE WEST (3 seats): Thirteen candidates in this three-seat ward means a dilution of any protest voting against Labour.
And that might just save the political hides of the likes of Sean Fitzsimons, Tony Newman’s hand-picked chair of scrutiny (on £42,000 per year in allowances), who was supposed to be ensuring that the serial scandals that have engulfed the Town Hall, particularly Brick by Brick and the Fairfield Halls fiasco, could never happen.
And then there’s Clive Fraser. De-selected in his home ward of South Norwood, Tony Newman’s Town Hall enforcer has implicated himself in criminal activity over an illegal data hack. Somehow, he managed to get selected here. Lucky old Addiscombe.
Might as well forget about these
Labour stronghold wards, mostly in the north of the borough, where Conservative candidates are rarely sighted and barely bother to even pretend they are serious about running for office. But the Tory party uses the names on the ballot papers help them bump up their figures for minority groups and give the appearance of being more ‘representative’
BENSHAM MANOR (3 seats): Labour internal wrangles and the borough’s bankruptcy has stripped Bensham Manor of two of its sitting councillors: Alison Butler, the former council deputy leader responsible in part for Brick by Brick, the Fairfield fiasco and the Regina Road scandal; and Jamie Audsley, who got binned because he campaigned for a directly-elected Mayor.
Before the election, the fringe group, The Taking The Initiative Party, said they were going to field a full slate of 72 candidates.
Some might say that that might be taking the initiative a bit too far, in a borough where in fact there’s only 70 councillors.
In the end, they’ve managed to find just 20 candidates, with three of them in this ward. None of whom are listed on their party’s own website.
But they do list as a candidate Clive Morrison, who last year stood in the Jubilee ward in Enfield, north London. Which isn’t Croydon.
In Bensham Manor, Graham Mitchell has been a busy community activist for many years, but his frustration with the Labour-run council has seen him choose to run as an independent in his home ward.
BROAD GREEN (3 seats): Labour are fielding two candidates in this uber-safe ward who were at the centre of the council’s financial collapse: Stooge Collins, for six years Tony Newman’s deputy leader, and the man who was elected promising to clean up Croydon’s streets, and Manju Shahul-Hameed, who has proved to been supremely useless in every cabinet post she has held since 2014.
Perhaps they think the people of Broad Green deserve nothing better?
CRYSTAL PALACE AND UPPER NORWOOD (3 seats): For the first time in almost 30 years, Pat Ryan won’t be a councillor for an Upper Norwood or Crystal Palace ward (allowing for boundary changes), despite 11th-hour efforts to salvage a place on the Labour slate for him by his mate, MP Steve Reed OBE.
CPUN was where the LibDems made a fist of it in 2018, and Claire Bonham is running again. The Greens will be hoping to make an impact, through the locally active Chance couple, Rachel and Tom.
NORBURY AND POLLARDS HILL (2 seats): This is a bit of Norbury that is unlikely to turn blue, however bad the bins are.
Leila Ben-Hassel was elected in 2019 following the death of long-term Labour councillor Maggie Mansell, and she has impressed since, not afraid to be critical of the Town Hall clique which crashed the council.
Ben-Hassel is being tipped to become the leader of the Town Hall Labour group after the elections.
SELHURST (2 seats): Labour is running with two novice candidates, after the retirement of Toni Letts, while David Wood stood down, finding his work in Keir Starmer’s office too demanding.
SOUTH NORWOOD (3 seats): There was a 14.8per cent swing against Labour here in a council by-election 12 months ago – held within weeks of the appalling council housing conditions on Regina Road becoming a national scandal. But even that was not enough to prevent Louis Carserides, a Westminster aide to MP Steve Reed OBE, getting elected.
Fifteen candidates will, as in Addiscombe, dilute the vote here against Labour, where at least one of their candidates, Stella Nabukeera, has been reaching out and working alongside homelessness charities and the Regina Road residents.
THORNTON HEATH (3 seats): So badly managed was the Labour council’s ward budget scheme, that they have managed to fund, indirectly, an independent candidate who is now standing against them.
Andrea Perry is the ex-Express hack who got a mention in the Levenson Inquiry into the illegal phone hacking around the Milly Dowler murder case.
After years of accepting the Labour council’s cash for her little local free-sheet, Perry’s now on the ballot paper standing against the Labour candidates.
It could be instructive in terms of what inroads Perry, using her initially council-funded platform, can make into the Labour vote.
WEST THORNTON (3 seats): Two Labour cabinet members, Janet Campbell and Stuart King, seeking re-election here. King, as Inside Croydon was first to report, now has a job with a property industry lobbyist…
WOODSIDE (3 seats): In May 2018, Woodside elected Tony Newman, Paul Scott and Hamida Ali as councillors. None are on the ballot paper four years later, with Newman’s protégé, Ali, making a late U-turn on her decision to stand after an exhausting 20 months as leader of the bankrupt council. Mike Bonello replaced Newman in a council by-election 12 months ago.
But there is a Newman numpty on the ballot paper in Woodside: Andrew Rendle happily accepted preferment as a Labour councillor under Newman, only joining the LibDems when he was rejected for selection by every Labour ward in the borough in 2018.
Safe Tory seats
We can confidently state that Labour are not expected to win any Conservative-held wards, which all reside in true-blue areas in the south of the borough. Unusually, nine new candidates have been handed the Town Hall equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket – allowances of at least £11,000 per year for life… or at least for as long as they want to stay on the council. The chief amusement with these wards is spotting the ringers among Labour’s “paper” candidates.
COULSDON TOWN (3 seats): Former parliamentary candidate and Barwell’s gobby factotum, Mario Creatura, is anything but a “local” Conservative, having never actually lived in the ward he claims to represent. Luke Shortland will become a new councillor on May 6.
KENLEY (2 seats): Again, a ward in which none of the 2018-elected councillors are on the ballot paper in 2022. Kolade replaced “Silent” Steve O’Connell in a by-election 12 months ago, while Jan Buttinger is stepping down now. Springsteen and Private Eye fan Gayle Gander got a late shout to be the second Tory candidate (the Conservatives originally named James Hillam as their second candidate here).
Among the futile sacrifices offered up by Labour here is paper candidate Michael Anteney, better known as Mick and Labour Mayoral candidate Val Shawcross’s other half.
OLD COULSDON (2 seats): The LibDems like to top and tail the borough, and apart from Upper Norwood, Old Coulsdon is where they think they have some hope of electoral success and this is where their old-stagers Gill Hickson and John Jefkins have, again, allowed hope to triumph over electoral experience.
Steve Hollands has made no impression at the Town Hall in the 32 years since he was first elected to the council. He makes way for Nikhil Thampi, who we are told “always enjoyed getting stuck in to his local community”, and is a member of the East Coulsdon Residents Association and a former chair of Cane Hill residents’ association. So strictly, he’s not a “local” Conservative, either.
PARK HILL AND WHITGIFT (1 seat): The borough’s only single-councillor ward, which Jade Appleton has represented since a by-election last year to replace the retiring Vidhi Mohan.
PURLEY OAKS AND RIDDLESDOWN (2 seats): A “clean” slate with the Tories fielding two new candidates in Alasdair Stewart and Endri Llabuti, replacing two front-benchers in Helen Redfern, who after four years in this ward has hopped over to Sanderstead, and Simon Hoar, who has decided against juggling his civil service role with business at the blighted borough.
PURLEY AND WOODCOTE (3 seats): Oni Oviri didn’t last long. Only elected in 2018, she was absent from the council for so long, at one point she got close to being disqualified as a councillor. It appears she’s not bothering to continue.
While Badsha Quadir is off to represent his third different ward in just eight years (Forestdale might be more convenient for him for his curry restaurant business), so in comes Samir Dwesar, a “local” Conservative who has “lived in and around Purley his whole life”, and Holly Ramsey, who until May 5 is still a councillor in Sutton.
Paper candidate watch: Labour is so short of willing volunteers that Mark Justice, the husband of council cabinet member Patricia Hay-Justice, is making the pointless sacrifice of allowing his name to go on the ballot paper here along with former parliamentary candidate Stuart Brady, after his hopes of being selected for a winnable ward were thwarted.
SANDERSTEAD (3 seats): A ward loaded with Tory front-benchers, the impressive Helen Redfern moving here in place of their former leader, Tim Pollard, who is stepping down as a councillor.
SELSDON AND ADDINGTON VILLAGE (2 seats) and SELSDON VALE AND FORESTDALE (2 seats): Four years ago, Labour paper candidates were actually instructed to do no campaigning whatsoever in this true blue part of the borough, an act of ultimate contempt for the electorate as the party tried to con people into thinking they were actually seeking election here.
This time round, the ranks of activists have become so thin that Labour’s election agent, Anthony Ellis, has had to resort to putting his own name down to plug a gap on the nominations sheet.
Ellis, a former parliamentary aide to Steve Reed OBE, is a notional candidate in Selsdon and Addington Village alongside a perpetual paper candidate, Angie Collins, the wife of Tony Newman’s deputy, Stooge Collins.
The Heritage Party which has its one and only Croydon candidate in Zachary Stiling standing in Selsdon and Addington Village is the far-right group formed by ex-UKIPper and anti-vaxer David Kurten.
Estate agent and former LibDem Joe Lee inherits a safe Tory seat from Helen Pollard, who is standing down, while the amiable and respected Stuart Millson has called time on his career as a councillor in Selsdon Vale and Forestdale.
SHIRLEY NORTH (3 seats): There have been elections in the past decade in which Labour has actively campaigned to try to win Shirley North. No longer.
For someone who runs a planning consultancy as a business, Nuala O’Neill recent record on planning her party’s election campaign won’t stand up to much scrutiny.
O’Neill is one of Labour’s Local Campaign Forum officials who has made such a pig’s ear of the party’s selection process. Her partner is Peter Spalding. Both were councillors a long, long time ago.
Now, they are tissue-thin paper candidates, alongside the spouse of a current councillor, Mark Henson, who yet again was rejected for selection in all other, winnable Labour wards.
Gareth Streeter abandoning Croydon has left a vacancy which finally gives Mark Johnson, an apologist for the racists in the Kroham Klux Klan, an opportunity to get elected.
SHIRLEY SOUTH (2 seats): Extraordinarily, after the last couple of years of Town Hall turmoil and the toll taken on the borough’s councillors, Shirley South seems likely to return the same two councillors in 2022 as it elected in 2018: Jason Cummings and Scott Roche.
SOUTH CROYDON (3 seats): UKIP still exists. Well, barely, in that local Kathleen Garner is standing, yet again.
South Croydon was supposed to be a target seat for Labour, where if the 30per cent swings away from the Tories predicted across London were at play, then Jason Perry, the leader of the Conservative group at the Town Hall and their Mayoral candidate, would lose his council seat.
Labour’s clusterfuck of a council has probably put paid to such extreme swings in Croydon, and its candidates here, for once, do actually exist. But whether they can supplant Perry is another matter.
The question that Perry has refused to answer is why he is on the ballot paper as a councillor at all: he cannot be both Mayor and councillor, so either he doesn’t think he can beat Val Shawcross and independent candidate Andrew Pelling in the Mayoral election, or the people of South Croydon could have to endure a by-election in June to pick a replacement councillor – with Perry needlessly inflicting a £20,000 election cost on the cash-strapped council.
Read more: Our May 2021 council by-election results coverage
Read more: Croydon’s eight candidates to become the borough’s first Mayor
Read more: Newman and Hall are ‘administratively suspended’ by Labour
Read more: Council forced to declare itself bankrupt
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