Jason Perry will make his maiden speech as Croydon’s first executive Mayor in the Town Hall Chamber tonight, where a report on the agenda will underline that the borough’s new Conservative leader will not delegate any powers or responsibility, even to his Tory colleagues in his own appointed cabinet.
The report was slipped out late last night, less than 24 hours before the key annual meeting of the council. The report – “Executive Mayor’s scheme of delegation” – takes five A4 pages to determine that Perry won’t be delegating at all.
Paragraph 8 in Part 3 lays out how Kim Jong-Perry will not even divest the responsibility for running the Town Hall tea kitty: “The executive Mayor has not delegated any executive functions to the cabinet or to individual cabinet members. Further, no cabinet or executive committees have been established by the executive Mayor.”
So Our Great Leader’s eight most trusted Conservative colleagues, named in his cabinet last week, are only there for window-dressing, nothing more than advisers. And they come at a total cost to the Council Tax-payers of cash-strapped Croydon of £316,411 per year in “special responsibility allowances”.
Or in Croydon Tories’ case, non-responsibility allowances.
Perry, who himself will be trousering £81894.36 per year, is the first Conservative to be elected as an executive Mayor in a London borough.
He has opted for a form of one-party state despite not really having any mandate to conduct himself in such a manner: he attracted the support of only 13per cent of the electorate, and won with a majority of fewer than 600 votes.
Any pre-election suggestion of cross-party cooperation has quickly been discarded.
In his first two weeks in office, Perry has in effect continued with his mayoral election campaign, wandering around the borough making various statements in accordance with his manifesto policies.
The notable difference since May 9 is that now his every cough and splutter is being reported on the council’s publicly-funded website. The council website’s news page is adorned with photograph after photograph of Mayor Perry, in a manner which could embarrass even the propaganda machine in Pyongyang.
Perry appears to be trying to keep the momentum of his uninspiring campaign going in the realisation that the South Croydon ward seat that he “won”, but cannot take up because he was elected Mayor, will need to be contested all over again at the end of June. This, of course, is incurring more costs for the council that is staring down the barrel of budget cuts of £38million this year and another £30million that Perry himself will have to implement.
“The role of cabinet will be to inform and assist the exercise of the executive Mayor’s executive decision-making powers whenever, at the executive Mayor’s discretion, an item is referred to a cabinet meeting for discussion prior to a decision being taken,” the exceedingly poorly-drafted non-delegation delegation report explains.
Some Katharine Street sources suggest that the real purpose of the Mayor’s delegation report is, in fact, a coup by senior council officials to retain as much day-to-day power as they want.
This is laid out in Part 5 of the report, “Delegations to Officers”: “Unless specifically reserved by the executive Mayor, the chief executive and corporate directors may make all non-key decisions relating to the discharge of the functions and services under their management. In addition, they may make all decisions which are calculated to facilitate, or are conducive or incidental to the discharge of such delegated functions and services.”
One senior source at the Town Hall said today, “This is about the officers trying to take or keep power for themselves from the Mayor. It’s a tussle that will continue.
“All that the council’s unaccountable directors need to do is get the monitoring officer to make the case that any particular decisions are not ‘key’, and they take that decision away from the Mayor, who will only be allowed to make those decisions which the officers say are ‘key’.”
With the Town Hall meeting barely three hours away, council chief exec Katherine Kerswell and her staff had still not managed to publish the list of council committees and the newly-appointed chairs and vice-chairs – bodies such as the quasi-judicial licensing committee, planning, audit and scrutiny committees which, under the new mayoral system, potentially do hold more power and influence than the cabinet or Labour’s shadow cabinet.
“The Mayor’s refusing to appoint ‘champions’,” another Town Hall source told Inside Croydon.
“Instead, Perry wants a ‘review’.
“He’s clearly spooked by the idea that Labour’s mental health or race equality champions might call him out for inaction in these important areas.”
Another source told Inside Croydon, “You always said that having a Mayor was just ‘a bit less shit’. You were wrong: it’s already looking worse than that.”
Prior to any publication of the committees, Inside Croydon has discovered that the planning committee will have a Tory councillor as its chair, while scrutiny and overview – much criticised in the council’s financial collapse and Brick by Brick scandal for its lack of effective scrutiny – is to be chaired by ex-schoolteacher and sometime columnist for The S*n, Rowenna Davis.
Davis has never held any public office in Croydon before, nor has first-hand experience of being a member of the scrutiny committee, having only been elected as a Labour councillor in Waddon earlier this month.
Her appointment, made by the Labour group, will see Davis immediately handed allowances of £32,634. Leila Ben-Hassel, the local government worker and previous vice-chair of scrutiny, retains that position while former scrutiny chair, Sean Fitzsimons, is given the sop of chairing scrutiny’s health sub-committee.
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