Top team, or top chumps? Town Hall reporter KEN LEE runs the rule over the backgrounds of the new Mayor and his Tory colleagues in charge of delivering £68m-worth of budget cuts over the next two financial years
We know that Mayor Jason Perry runs a firm that engages in the wholesale of all things plastic, from gutters to drains, so running the borough should be a breeze.
Less well known is the fact that his company, Carlton Building Plastics Ltd, faced compulsory strike-off action less than a year ago.
This was due to action by Companies House as the result of either a failure to file accounts on time, or failing to submit returns correctly (apparently, not an uncommon situation for firms run by Croydon’s Conservative politicians: see Jeet Bains, below).
The threat of strike-off to his firm coincided with Perry suffering a bout of covid.
The new Mayor’s ability to multi-task between managing the family business and running the council sufficiently well to retain his £81,000 per year job in 2026 will therefore be scrutinised closely.
Deputy Mayor and the cabinet member for homes, Lynne Hale, was a healthcare professional according to her bio on the Croydon Tories’ website.
As she did when Tricky Dicky Ottaway, the expenses fiend, was MP for Croydon South, she now works as a constituency gofer for Conservative MP Chris Philp.
Cabinet member for finance, Jason Cummings, made his way from managing a Co-op store, via Woolworths, to being senior parliamentary assistant to Gavin Barwell, when gaffe-prone Gav was Croydon Central’s MP.
After Barwell’s General Election defeat by Labour’s Sarah Jones in 2017, he got a job helping Theresa May when she was in No10, and Cummings followed him there. Which some believe probably explains why she is no longer PM.
Cummings, regarded in local Tory Party circles as the “power behind the throne”, had a day job working for (according to his formal declarations on the council’s website)… the Conservative Party. It is understood that currently, he is a full-time councillor and cabinet member.
In her salad days, Maria Gatland wrote a book about experience of Irish politics during the turbulence that led to the eruption of what was Britain’s most recent and longest civil war. Thanks to her party leader Boris Johnson’s latest antics over Brexit, there could soon be a new chapter in what everyone hoped was a long-closed book.
She is also chair of the Friends of Croham Hurst Woods, a local conservation group. In April 2018, Inside Croydon reported how she was excluded from a council meeting about Labour’s failing child services provision. Her new position as cabinet member for children and young people gives her the chance to put the boot in to her predecessor’s mishandling of that function. That or make an even bigger mess of it than Newman numpty, Alisa Flemming.
Yvette Hopley’s claims to fame include running an antiques business in Purley Oaks and having worked in PR for an oil company, so that’s good news for anyone worried about the council’s environmental agenda going too woke and lefty, now that we have a couple of Green Party councillors.
Hopley also serves as a trustee on the South East Cancer Help Centre, based in Purley, which fits well with her position as cabinet member for health and adult social care.
Ola Kolade started out his career with Barclays Bank, was a senior programme manager for the now-defunct charity, The Challenge, and is currently a relationships manager for Business In The Community. BITC is a business development group whose great and good include Brian (aka HRH Prince Charles) and it says, “We want the UK to lead the world in responsible business.” Whatever that means.
Back in 2018, Kolade got himself in a bit of hot water when he was trying to get on to the council with some over-enthusiastic campaign material which drew criticism for being untrue from not one, not two, but from three bishops.
Mayor Perry has put Kolade, who has only been on the council since May 2021, in charge of community safety. Let’s hope he quickly familiarises himself with that courtroom oath about the truth, the whole truth and nothing but…
Jeet Bains might just be the best educated of the lot, boasting an MBA acquired from the London Business School. He’s what’s described as a “business transformation advisor” for Tenthpin, a global management consultancy who proclaim, “We generate digital impact for life sciences”. Its clients are leading companies from pharma, biotech, med-tech, healthcare and animal health. That should equip him with the skills needed to deal with the zoo that is Croydon council at the moment.
The odd thing is that the Addiscombe East councillor, according to his own personal profile details available in the public domain, has worked at Tenthpin for the past year. But Bains’ employers do not get any mention under the councillors’ declarations of interest on the council website.
The quality of business advice Bains is able to offer for Tenthpin might be of the “how not to do it” variety.
Companies House records show him to have held directorships with four failed companies, two of which were registered at a £1million address in Croydon’s Cheyne Walk, including Bains Business Consulting Ltd, and all of which have either been dissolved or, in the case of management consultancy firm Plum Flower Nice Man Ltd (yes, that’s what it is called), is going through the process of liquidation, due to be completed next month.
This former Conservative parliamentary candidate (for Luton North) has been put in charge of Croydon’s planning and regeneration.
What Scott Roche may lack in Bains-like “business experience”, he makes up for with his ambition. From being a lowly admin assistant in a recruitment agency, he now works as a senior caseworker for Sutton and Cheam MP, Paul Scully. Prior to that, he held the same job title while working for Tom Hunt, newish MP for Ipswich. This is the same Tory MP who, during Roche’s time working in his office, called for the flying of the Union flag to be made compulsory in all schools and who voted for a bill that would have let dodgy Owen Paterson off the hook (poor chap had to resign).
At the council, Roche has been promoted to the rubbish cabinet post of streets and environment.
Finally, we have Andy Stranack with communities and culture. Once touted by the Grauniad as an aspiring Conservative MP, he has a strong track record of working with and for those less fortunate than himself, with community groups in and around his Selsdon ward.
That he also spent time in the pay of Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice seems like a sick joke, given how IDS and the other top Tories have waged war on the poor.
Stranack’s previous role was managing local charity Selsdon Contact, a neighbourhood care organisation that provides practical help, advice, support and information to the community. He is now CEO of Ment4 – A Croydon-based charity that provides mentoring to young people excluded from mainstream education or involved with the criminal justice system.
In the good old days of Croydon Radio, Stranack appeared on a politics slot when standing against Steve Reed in the 2012 Croydon North by-election. Reed bulldozed his way through the encounter, barely allowing his opponent to get a word in edgeways. Ten years later, the table has been turned, and it’s now Reed’s turn to listen while Stranack speaks.
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