Tory quits party over selection for South Croydon safe seat

Our south of the borough correspondent, PEARL LEE, reports on acrimony and manoeuvrings among the Conservatives over their choice of by-election candidate

“Are you local?”: the selection of Danielle Denton  as candidate in South Croydon ward has upset some local Tories

Danielle “Dani” Denton has been selected by the Conservatives as their candidate in the South Croydon ward by-election being held on June 30.

But the decision has caused a row in the party locally, with at least one resignation amid complaints that Denton is a “Dani-come-lately”, with little association with the ward, or the borough, and claims that she has been parachuted in from north London.

Jason Cummings, the Tory council cabinet member and former adviser to Theresa May when she was Prime Minister, is accused of exercising undue influence over South Croydon ward as part of his own manoeuvrings for selection as a parliamentary candidate.

Denton stood for the Conservatives in Fairfield in the local elections on May 5 when she finished a lowly seventh in the three-seat ward with just 520 votes – fewer, even, than Labour’s South Croydon candidate, Ben Taylor, mustered for himself in New Addington South.

Dani-come-lately: Denton is regarded as an outsider by some colleagues

Denton was a late switch among the Tory candidates, having not been on their original roster when they announced their 70 names for the local elections in September 2021. According to a source in the local Conservatives, this is because Denton was not even a member of the party until January this year.

But given that South Croydon ward is Tory-held, Denton is reckoned to be the favourite to become the 33rd Conservative councillor at the Town Hall.

The South Croydon ward by-election has been called to fill a vacancy caused because Jason Perry stood to be a councillor as well as being a candidate for executive Mayor. The law prevents the Mayor also being elected as a councillor.

Croydon Conservatives have yet to formally announce Denton, their “property officer”, as the South Croydon by-election candidate.

According to our mole at the Tories’ Purley offices, Conservative activists are “furious” at Cummings for “parachuting in a property entrepreneur based in London N1”.

The source said, “Activists are refusing to work for Denton.”

Denton, 51, has an address in Pollards Hill, and she and her partner, Adam Ingram, led a residents’ campaign there last year to oppose the building of a block of flats on their street. Reports at the time described Denton as having “lived on the street all her life”.

Look East: Jason Cummings is said to have parliamentary ambitions

Another unsuccessful Conservative candidate in the local elections, Kosta Dexiades, has resigned from the party in protest at the “behind the scenes” dealing by the leadership over the selection. And an email being circulated among Croydon Tories questions whether the selection committee may have been misled.

Companies House records show that Denton is the sole director of an estate agency called Burriss and Porcher Ltd which was established in December 2019.

The company has so far filed just one set of accounts, showing assets of less than £20,000.

Denton’s partner, Ingram, is also a company director, of a property maintenance business called Kaizen Maintenance Ltd.

Both Kaizen and Burriss and Porcher have their offices registered at the same north London address: 20-22, Wenlock Road, N1, a service address.

Tory activists are questioning why other, longer-established members, with better service records in the party have been overlooked for what appears to be a safe seat.

One theory is that Cummings, who ran the mayoral campaign for Jason Perry, is trying to build support for his own attempt to be selected as the parliamentary candidate for the proposed new Croydon East seat, expected to be formally unveiled next year, just in time for the next General Election.

To do that, Cummings will need to be chosen ahead of Mario Creatura, his former work colleague in Downing Street who ran, and lost, Croydon Central in 2019.

“Jason will need support from councillors and a few favours,” our source said.

“Which is why some people are trying to persuade Mario to go for Reigate, where Crispin Blunt has announced he’s standing down. After all, Reigate is such a safe Conservative seat, even Mario couldn’t manage to lose it…”

Read more: Labour officials pick ‘worst-ever’ candidate for by-election
Read more: No Overall Control: full election results for Croydon’s 28 wards
Read more: Tory Perry wins historic Mayor election by less than 600 votes

Become a Patron!


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
This entry was posted in 2022 council elections, Fairfield, Jason Cummings, Jason Perry, Maria Gatland, Michael Neal, South Croydon and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Tory quits party over selection for South Croydon safe seat

  1. Pollards Hill (Cons) Cane Hill (Lab). Well at least the hilly bit has some connection with the elevation of the Croham Hurst that looks over where I live here in South Croydon ward.

    The small elites in the political parties who choose candidates over the heads of their party memberships see the councillor positions as being in the gift of their top ranking party members rather than being in the gift of the electorate.

    Surely these parties could have come up with good candidates from the ward itself or from neighbouring wards for a high profile by-election? When there is just one candidate on offer at a local election I think party elites purposefully choosing candidates remote as possible from the ward is going to be an election issue.

  2. Susan Williams says:

    Does any of this really matter as 99% of all local councillors in Croydon are inherently useless. I don’t mean this in a nasty way – I know a lot of them, we sometimes chat, but when it comes to getting local business done they haven’t got a clue. Most do it for the pocket money. Therefore no problem with parachuting in Dani – she might prove the exception.

    What’s all this confusion in the local Conservative party? – Is Steve Reed now advising them?

    • Don’t know how many of the councillors you have actually met, Susan, but can’t say that I recognise that the majority of them, as you claim, “do it for the pocket money”.

      Yes, there can be unseemly scrambling for the (well-paid) cabinet positions, and we have documented the abuse of patronage in return for power at the Town Hall.

      The real issue is less the councillors, and more the unaccountable and often much better-paid senior council officials – they like to call themselves “officers” – who actually run the council services and have a tendency to ignore the wishes and requests not only of residents, but even the elected representatives, the councillors.

      Unless the new Mayor exercises real authority over Katherine Kerswell and her directors in the first few days of his administration, then don’t expect to see any change any time soon – and in any case, Croydon Council is effectively being run from Whitehall, with the ministry-appointed approvement panel’s approval required for any significant decisions and changes.

      • Susan Williams says:

        Yes, I’m 100% with you on the accountability and the abilities of the so-called officers.

        Unfortunately many were appointed by the Negrini / Tony accident.

        Apparently Negrini appointed people she thought, in time, might join her friendship group. Many have now gone, some still hanging on but what a truly uninspiring, dire bunch they were (and are).

    • Lewis White says:

      In my past life I was the Chairman of a Surrey Residents’ association, and was also a Council ..(sorry Steven, but I’ve started so I’ll finish) ….Officer in 3 London Boroughs (not Croydon) , and, fast approaching two decades , a “Croydon res”.

      Over all this time I have come into contact with, discussed important topics with, and observed many councillors of several parties in 4 or 5 boroughs and a county.

      My conclusion? First, there are many excellent, knowledgaeble, effective, hard working, intelligent and caring councillors in all the parties, and independents.
      We sometimes read contributions by such people in inside Croydon.

      There are also some who sadly do little more than aim to be popular in their wards and communities. These are “occupiers of space” type of councillor.

      Some of these latter group get promoted as they are mates with the top people in their parties.

      The party system, and patronage therein, can work against harnessing the talents of very good people.

      Witness the shabby treatment of Andrew Pelling and Jamie Audseley by Labour selectors, who deselected these committed councillors against the expressed wishes of the Local party members.

      I often wish –apologies to the Beachboys here– regarding councillors, that ” they could all be independents”. However, one has to look over the borders to Epsom and Ewell to see a council where most are independent, to realise that this — apologies to Cher- “is no, not the way”.

      Maybe proprtional representation ?. l look at Germany and work out whether I have the patience to go down the polling station and exercise my brain to work out who to vote for, from a hundred local candidates. Talk about shades of green, red or blue. Difficult, very difficult.

      Oh well, I will leave that debate on PR to fellow loyal readers of Inside Croydon to cogitate upon for themselves.

      The image of a political party horse pipping another at the winning post by half a nose is just such a traditional British thing, maybe it’s in our DNA.

  3. derekthrower says:

    Looks like the Croydon duopoly is giving the Liberals and Greens a little sniff of an opportunity.
    If these two groups work together. It may not be strong enough to shift the Tories, but could push Labour into third place and exercise the minds of the centralised top down geniuses who have turned Croydon into the place it is today.

  4. Ray smith says:

    It does make you wonder why they have done this. How comes none of the incoming Councillors are women of ethnic origins? Considering Croydon has a vastly diverse population it’s unrepresentative of the Borough.

  5. Hazel swain says:

    people in Croydon want candidates that actually live in the borough and therefore have vested interest in what happens where they live..

  6. Andrew Dawes says:

    I see Danielle Denton as a negative candidate.

    My partner and I had dealings with her when she worked at a Croydon estate agency we were selling our flat through. My partner had just lost her father, and we needed to delay our sale a bit – Danielle turned on us in a nasty and very unprofessional way, obviously trying to put her interests ahead of ours.

    Who wants a local councillor who behaves like that?

Leave a Reply