CROYDON COMMENTARY: Among the candidates seeking election last Thursday was ROBERT WARD, right, who’s been a Conservative councillor for Selsdon and Addington Village since 2018. Here, he shares his thoughts on a tough campaign, and what the next Town Hall term offers
After miles of streets pounded, countless leaflets pushed through letterboxes and dozens of fruitless Twitter spats, it is all over.
On Sunday evening, I and the rest of the weary candidates at last knew our fate. The electorate had spoken, but here in Croydon it took three days and nights to figure out what they had said.
By yesterday, the morning after, we were able to reflect on what it might mean for the people of Croydon.
But first, the election campaign. It was a hard-fought, but from my perspective, a clean contest. The council has no money, so policy choices were limited. Labour concentrated their fire on the Prime Minister, Conservatives on the failings of the Labour Council.
Against this very negative backdrop, the hustings that I attended were excellent. I left them feeling positive, impressed with the candidates and that the discussions were conducted in a civilised manner.
At the count, as has been my experience of four years as a councillor, outside the public party-political bickering, across the parties we recognise that the other side has genuine people who want to make a difference to our town. We may disagree on how to get there, but we all seek a better Croydon.
The result, for a Conservative like myself, was positive. We now have a Conservative, Jason Perry, as our first directly-elected Mayor. In the council, there is no overall control. We have our first Green Party councillors and the first LibDem for a long time. There are a lot of new faces both sides of the chamber.
Change is in the air. The new and unfamiliar system of a powerful elected Mayor means we must do things differently. While I would have liked more Conservative councillors to be elected, the presence of two Greens and a LibDem takes us away from the duopoly, which may be a good thing. The many new councillors will shake things up. I hope they challenge us and that we rise to that challenge.
Because we need to up our game, and we need all the help we can get.
Be under no illusion, we are not out of the woods yet. There are many difficult budgetary decisions to make, to start the long road to fixing Croydon’s finances. The wider economic outlook is weak. Inflation is rising and growth slowing. There are tough and painful choices ahead.
So congratulations to those who were elected, and commiserations to those who were not.
For those who were elected, now the hard work starts. To the newcomers, welcome, I hope you realise what you’ve let yourself in for. If my own experience is anything to go by, you probably don’t. Being a councillor is tough but rewarding work.
I will end in a spirit of cross-party collaboration, by echoing a call made by Peter Underwood, the Green Party candidate for Mayor. Whatever life and the world may throw at us, month by month and year by year, let’s make Croydon a happier place.
Read more: Tory Perry wins historic Mayor election by less than 600 votes
Read more: Election results leave Labour supporters angry and dismayed
Read more: From bankrupt to laughing stock as council count continues
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