The local election campaign is heating up, with accusations of sharp practice against some candidates.
KEN LEE reports
A Tory council candidate in a marginal ward has been forced to issue an apology after breaking a promise to local volunteers by using a photo taken at a non-political community litter pick event in Addiscombe.
Jeet Bains has been a Conservative councillor since 2010; he was elected in Addiscombe East in 2018.
Bains’ apology comes as his party colleagues in a neighbouring ward have been accused of trying to pass off a Conservative election event to be held in a local pub as a “Council meeting”.
The complaint about Bains’ duplicitous conduct has been made by Tracey Hague, a well-respected figure in the community and herself a Green Party candidate in the local elections on May 5 in Addiscombe West.
“I am very disappointed that a local Conservative candidate is using a photo of me and other community members without our permission for his political campaigning,” Hague wrote on social media.
“This was taken at an apolitical community event two months ago on the express condition it was not used for political purposes.
“I have asked Croydon Conservatives to remove the photo immediately and publicly apologise for using it without permission.
“For clarity, I do not endorse this party. My political home is with the Green Party,” Hague wrote.
Having been caught out, Bains soon issued a snivelling apology on the Addiscombe Community Facebook page, saying that the photograph had been removed.
Hague appeared to be unimpressed. “You need to apologise to all the others in the photo, too, please,” she wrote.
The Conservatives, their Croydon campaign bogged down in the scandals surrounding their party nationally, including Partygate, while inflation is soaring and thousands of residents are suffering the impact of a cost of living crisis, have already been accused of attempting to pass themselves off as something they are not.
All 70 Tory candidates in the Town Hall elections next month, and Jason Perry, their candidate to become Croydon’s first elected Mayor, are being described on the ballot papers as “Local Conservative”, a desperate-looking effort to distance themselves from law- breaker Boris Johnson and his shambles of a government – even if some of their candidates are far from being truly “local” to the ward where they are seeking election.
And some Conservative candidates have been taken to task, too, for claiming at public meetings to be “councillors” when they have not ever been elected.
Croydon Tories took a decision to announce a full slate of candidates last autumn, and newbies who have replaced councillors who are standing down on May 5 have already supplanted their predecessors on their party’s websites and social media, to be integrated as part of their ward “teams”, a ploy to improve their recognition rate with residents.
Some Conservative candidates have been attending ward surgeries for the past six months, even though they are unable to take on casework formally, as they have no status within the council proper.
“It’s almost like a childish ‘pretend’ game for some of the wannabes,” one clearly irritated Katharine Street source told Inside Croydon.
“One or two of them appear to have crossed over from fantasy into reality and with a slip of the tongue have called themselves ‘councillor’ at a meeting.
“It’s not the worst offence in the world, but it demonstrates a lack of maturity, perhaps, and is embarrassing when they get caught. Thing is, how many people are they talking to on the doorstep who get taken in by this kind of bullshit?”
The latest affront concerns a meeting planned for next week, to be held in the Alma Tavern by Conservative candidates in Labour-held Addiscombe West ward.
The event is described on Conservative leaflets as a “Council meeting”. On Sunday, candidate Fatima Zaman tweeted that she was “encouraging residents of Oval Road to join the council meeting”.
Some were quick to highlight the attempted deception. “It’s nothing of the sort. It’s just a piss up organised by a few Tories in the pub,” said one.
“It might be a meeting about the council, but the Tories’ intention here appears to be to pass it off as an official council event, which it clearly is not.
“Anyway, imagine going to Oval Road and asking residents there to go to a meeting at a boozer the other end of Addiscombe, when they have a perfectly good pub in The Oval Tavern on their own street. My guess is that the landlady, Esther, probably told them where to get off…”.
Esther Sutton, who runs The Oval Tavern, is a Green Party candidate in the local elections.
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