£100,000 Mayor Perry unveils his old team as the new team

Spot the difference: Mayor Jason Perry and his not-so-new Tory cabinet, announced yesterday

WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, on the completely predictable make-up of the borough’s executive Mayor’s first cabinet, and the wheeling and dealing over who will chair the Town Hall’s most influential committees

Given that it took nearly five days to count the votes for the local elections, the Croydon public – if they were at all bothered – probably ought not to have been surprised it then took two weeks for the borough’s first elected Mayor to pull together what some wag sarcastically referred to as “Perry’s top team”.

Among the details that are beginning to emerge about the new regime at the cash-strapped council, it is now clear that in the first year of his mayoralty, Jason Perry will personally cost the Council Tax-payers of Croydon more than £100,000, plus expenses, in salary and election costs.

And Perry’s “new” cabinet, made up entirely of councillors from the Conservative Party, plus five yet-to-be-named deputy cabinet members, will this year alone cost the borough another £402,328. Or what is called on Katharine Street these days, “almost a full Negrini”.

Perry’s first cabinet was announced by the council’s press office last night, and in addition to Deputy Mayor Lynne Hale (who will receive £42,044.80 per year in council allowances), it is made up of councillors who all, bar one, voted with Perry for the Labour  budgets in 2019 and 2020 which bankrupted the council.

The only cabinet member who did not vote for the bankrupting budgets was Ola Kolade, and that was almost certainly only because he was not actually a councillor at that time.

‘Fat cat Mayor’: Jason Perry’s on nearly £82,000

Official reports ahead of next Wednesday’s first full council meeting of the new administration under the borough’s first elected Mayor show that Perry is to be paid a salary of £81,894.36 – more than £30,000 a year more than the council leader received under the previous system of allowances.

On top of that, there will undoubtedly be some expenses incurred during the Mayor’s official business.

Plus, there is also the entirely avoidable and unnecessary cost of a council by-election in South Croydon ward, where Perry chose to stand for a council seat that he could not possibly take up if he was successful in his bid to become Mayor.

The price of Perry covering his own political arse? Anything north of £20,000.

Given that Perry has remained stubbornly silent over his position as a director of his family building supplies firm, and that his election rival, Labour’s Val Shawcross, pledged to take only half of the mayoral salary if she won the election, the Tory Mayor may need to do some considerable work to avoid fully earning the reputation as a “fat cat mayor”.

Joining Perry on the Town Hall gravy train are:

Statutory Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Homes – Cllr Lynne Hale (£42,044.80)
Cabinet Member for Finance – Cllr Jason Cummings (£39,195.20)
Cabinet Member for Children and Young People – Cllr Maria Gatland (£39,195.20)
Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care – Cllr Yvette Hopley (£39,195.20)
Cabinet Member for Community Safety – Cllr Ola Kolade (£39,195.20)
Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration – Cllr Jeet Bains (£39,195.20)
Cabinet Member for Streets and Environment – Cllr Scott Roche (£39,195.20)
Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture – Cllr Andy Stranack (£39,195.20)

That the situation is a complete anomaly, framed by the election of a Conservative Mayor while Labour are the largest political group on the council, has been summed up by a senior council official as “problematic”.

For all his hot air about “pressing the reset button” (a phrase he nicked from Shawcross), Perry has simply installed his Tory chums to the top jobs. According to the council press release issued last night on behalf of the Tory Mayor, Perry  “has met with representatives from all parties over the last two weeks to strongly encourage Croydon’s newly elected councillors to work together for residents.

“Mayor Perry is encouraging a cross-party approach to agree committee arrangements”.

Money-go-round: All the borough’s 70 councillors are paid £11,692 in allowances. Then those in charge dole out the jobs with the juicy extra payments

Before the election, the possibilities under an elected Mayor had been discussed, and included cross-party representation in cabinet and even the notion that non-politicians might be offered positions within an administration.

But Perry – with only the slimmest of mandates after being elected with the votes of just 13per cent of the Croydon electorate – has ignored all that with his cabinet appointments.

The council statement claims that, “Cross-party discussions have been constructive, with Mayor Perry also announcing that the chair of the scrutiny and overview committee will be held by the opposition.”

This was a move which Labour opposed in the last days of its administration. “This will enable a greater level of scrutiny, ensuring the council makes the best decisions for our residents.”

Hot seats: How the 68 places on committees are to be divided up in Croydon’s first, four-party no-overall-control council

The chair of scrutiny role carries allowances of £32,634 – more than will be paid to the leader of the Labour group – but according to Katharine Street sources, the job will not be offered to Sean Fitzsimons, the Tony Newman-appointed scrutiny chair of the last eight years.

“Given all that has happened, Sean is not considered to be a credible candidate for scrutiny chair,” a source said.

The glaring omission from the council’s press release last night was any mention of who might be appointed to the key role as chair of the planning committee (allowances: £24,916.80). That’s because it seems that neither Tories nor Labour want what could prove to be a poisoned chalice.

In previous years, the majority group on the council has held the majority of places on the 10-seat planning committee, usually 6-4. But now with the council being “no overall control”, the divvying-up of committee places undertaken by council officials over the last fortnight sees planning be divided 5-5 Labour and Conservative.

Whoever chairs the meetings will usually have the casting vote in the event of ties, and sources within the Labour group at the Town Hall have suggested that they might decide to allow the Tories to take the responsibility for any contentious planning decisions over the coming four years.

Given that Perry will be working alongside a council chief executive (annual salary: £192,474) and what he calls his “strong cabinet” (12 councillors, including deputies, on special allowances totalling £402,328 per year), it would be a reasonable question to ask the Mayor what it is exactly that he will be doing for 81 grand a year.

But Mayor Perry has so far refused to agree to give Inside Croydon an interview ahead of formally taking up office next week.

Instead, he has the council press office (annual cost: an estimated £500,000) issue bland platitudes such as, “It is clear that our residents want change and a bright future for our borough and I am pleased to announce a strong cabinet who will help me achieve that.

“We plan to push the reset button and rebuild trust with local people, listening to them and prioritising the issues they have told us are most important.

“The council is first and foremost here to serve our residents and it is important that we become a more outward-focused organisation in the services and policies we deliver for them.”

Read more: King gets Labour leadership, but delays over cabinet posts

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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21 Responses to £100,000 Mayor Perry unveils his old team as the new team

  1. I thought council members had taken a substantial cut in expenses because of the state of the council – has this been discontinued. As the various roles are unpaid and just receive expenses – should we not at least expect to see each account for the spending of their expenses after all one enters local government as a public service, not for profit.
    Let us hope that the new Mayor will look for immediate cuts and savings, there looks to be plenty of scope for them.

    • On the whole, the reduced allowances and reduced number of cabinet and shadow cabinet positions has continued.

      Just with the Mayor’s salary replacing the £50,000-or-so previously paid to the council leader.

      Note: these are not “expenses”; more of a salary. All 70 councillors are paid at least £11,692.

  2. John Chambers says:

    We love Inside Croydon, but it would be really encouraging if your Editor could welcome the new Croydon administration under our new Mayor, instead of the snide carping and cynicism that helps nobody, and casts a shadow over the hopes we all have for a better Croydon, fulfilling its potential as London’s most innovative and exciting places to live. Let’s get behind them!

    • You don’t understand “independent” and “journalism”, do you John?

      You might be better off sticking to the Sunday Express.

    • Lancaster says:

      John, before the Mayor and his team can make ” Croydon, fulfill its potential as London’s most innovative and exciting places to live “; his responsibility should be to investigate and deal with the legacy of horrendous mismanagement, waste and potential corruption, historic and still evident.

  3. Chris Flynn says:

    This isn’t the DEMOC I voted for!

  4. Jackgriffin1933 says:

    To my mind the composition of the Planning Committee would be better as 5 (Lab) – 4 (Con) – 1 (Green/ Lib). The Greens and the Lib drawing straws to see who gets it.

    • Except that has been deemed – by the LibDem and the Greens – as impractical. The demands of a busy planning committee are too great for a councillor from a group of just one or two in their political party, when coupled with their ward responsibilities.

      • Susan Mortimer says:

        Yes exactly. Please, no more stalemate continuity as espoused by JackGriffin.

        Do we know if the Mayor is allowed to appoint the Chair of planning? I hope he is.

        I see all of this as positive and I hope the Mayor communicates well with IC and this can be a platform for news and the sharing of ideas. Something Newman was incapable of opening up to.

        I think we need a different kind of CEO, though. I just don’t think KK is the right person to support our new democratically elected Mayor. The post attracts a huge salary and we deserve a more dynamic engaging figure not someone who arrived in our borough to do redundancies and send patronising emails to council employees and have zero public engagement (apart from the recent election fuck-up). Please excuse my bad language – my husband continually points it out to me.

        • jackgriffin1933 says:

          “no more stalemate continuity as espoused by JackGriffin”.

          You and I have very differing definitions of ‘stalemate’ as there was nothing of the kind. That was partly the problem.

          I am a firm believer in the democatic process, and what I’m actually espousing is respecting it.

          Hence, you’ll get no snippy comments, unlike elsewhere, about the narrowness of Jason Perry’s majority from me.

          He’s the mayor, end of.

          Similarly, and like it or not, the Croydon electorate surprisingly returned more Labour councillors to their wards than they did Conservative ones.

          48.6% of Croydon’s councillors are Labour and, until Jason Perry’s vacancy is filled, 45.7% of them are Conservatives. 4.3% of them are Greens/ Lib Dem.

          It makes for a massive dog’s dinner, but here we are.

          And if we are to respect the election – like we do, as I do, that of Jason Perry becoming mayor – those percentages, imperfect as they are, need to be acknowledged in practice.

          To do otherwise is to suggest that somehow 45.7% trumps 48.6%, and 4.3% = 0 (which the Greens and Lib Dems weirdly have decided it does for themselves).

          To do otherwise means we become the sort of people that only respect democratic outcomes that we like, and try to delegitimise fair and free outcomes that we don’t.

          And we’re not those people, are we Susan?

      • jackgriffin1933 says:

        Wow.

        What, then, are the Greens and Lib Dems actually for?

        Why on earth would you bother seeking election to a broken council only, when succesful, to suggest that you will be too busy to engage in its management?

  5. derekthrower says:

    Good old Jeet the Cheat at Planning. Sounds like the suitable replacement for the infamous Councillor Scott.

    • Susan Pearson says:

      I don’t have an issue with the Mayor’s selection.

      Cllr Paul Scott was a particular freak event which is fortunately rare in UK planning. This morning I drove past 9 development sites on Higher Drive in Kenley -all grossly over-scaled, too high and cumulatively provides off road parking for 150 cars – all but 15 units will be sold to private investment landlords. Scott has been firing blanks from the first day he sat on that committee.

  6. Bob Bayliss says:

    It’s unfair to blame Jason Perry for standing as a councillor. He won the mayoralty by a whisker, and was not predicted to do so. Having been a councillor for nearly 30 years and most recently leader of the Conservative group, it’s ridiculous to suggest he should have to take an “all or nothing” gamble if he wanted to continue to serve.

    • Perhaps he could pay the unnecessary costs of staging the by-election then?

      • Bob Bayliss says:

        That’s a matter for him, but under the current electoral rules the costs are unavoidable rather than unnecessary. The only way to avoid a by-election in such a scenario would be to allow a party or individual standing for elected mayor to nominate a “reserve” candidate for the relevant ward who would be auto matically elected in the event that they are successful in both.

        • The costs were entirely unnecessary, and have been inflicted on the people of Croydon by Jason Perry’s decision – or indecision – to stand for two positions. Straddling two options for personal political advantage should be firmly discouraged.

          Having party “reserves” would underline the notion that people vote for party, rather than the candidates. Another retrograde step.

      • Susan Pearson says:

        Since when do we decide if we are having an election or not. This is North Korea.

  7. Jim Swaby says:

    Jeet Bains
    Addiscombe East
    Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration
    Jeet Bains is your Councillor in Addiscombe East ward where he has lived for more than thirty years. Jeet has been a Councillor in Croydon since 2010 and takes a keen interest in helping local residents and businesses with any issues they have. Jeet is the Shadow Cabinet Member for Culture and Regeneration and has been a member of Scrutiny, Licensing and Pensions committees, as well as being the shadow Chair of the General Purposes and Audit Committee. By profession he is a management consultant, having helped organisations all over the world. Jeet’s expertise in ensuring that the Council is run well is an invaluable asset. Please get in touch if you are a local resident or business – we will do all we can to help you.

    “Jeet has been a Councillor in Croydon since 2010……..as well as being the shadow Chair of the General Purposes and Audit Committee. By profession he is a management consultant, having helped organisations all over the world. Jeet’s expertise in ensuring that the Council is run well is an invaluable asset.”

    Was he away “helping organisations all over the world” when budgets were approved and during the time that labour led the borough into a financial nosedive?

  8. derekthrower says:

    He is your typical Tory opportunist who expertise in self promotion is not matched in his real world performance in making money. So they pitch up in local government where they think connections will eventually indirectly enrich them. We are now commencing an economic crisis. Old Jeet will have to negotiate with the real old dodgies now to make a return and he has made errors in the past when the going was far more better.

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