Town Hall reporter KEN LEE on the seemingly miraculous recovery from covid by Tory Jason Perry
Croydon’s £81,000 part-time Mayor pulled out of his first scheduled appointment with the council’s scrutiny committee last night, citing covid as his excuse.
Yet just hours later, part-time plastic windows salesman Jason Perry was well enough to be out and about mixing with the nine- and 10-year-olds at an official engagement at the Robert Fitzroy primary school in Selhurst.
Tory Perry became Croydon’s first elected Mayor last month, with a majority of just 550 votes in the borough-wide elections. He and Croydon Conservatives had stood on a manifesto of greater accountability and scrutiny, following the bankrupting of the borough by the previous Labour-controlled administration.
Yet nearly six weeks into his term as Mayor, Perry appears to be ducking questions about his own plans for Croydon.
Last night was to have been his first set-piece inquisition, subjecting him to questioning from Conservative and Labour councillors “to note the update provided by Executive Mayor Perry on his priorities for the year ahead”.
The scrutiny committee was supposed to be “providing challenge as appropriate”.
Yet Perry failed to publish any official report ahead of the meeting – as would normally be expected – and provided only a draft outline of his plans to the committee members, after they had insisted that he should deliver something ahead of their meeting.
Notice of the Mayor’s business being deferred to a later date only appeared on the council website late yesterday.
Come the start of the meeting, the scrutiny committee’s new chair, Rowenna Davis, announced that this important item of business was to be deferred because Perry had covid.
The Mayor had also been a no-show for the New Addington carnival at the weekend, tweeting covid as a cause, although Tory sources on Monday tried to suggest that he only had a bad head cold. A day later, and come the scrutiny meeting, it was full-on covid.
It is not the first time that Perry has been laid low with the virus: in 2020, before vaccinations were available, the then councillor for South Croydon was badly affected by the first-round of covid, and was off work from his family business, Carlton Building Plastics, for several weeks.
His recovery this time round appears to have been very much swifter.
This morning, less than 18 hours after he was supposed to be facing the scrutiny committee, Perry was at the Selhurst primary, photographed without wearing any mask, surrounded by a bunch of cheerful pupils at the opening of a new games area.
According to a statement issued to Inside Croydon this afternoon by the council’s press office, far from being a super-spreader, Mayor Perry was simply returning to business as usual.
“The Mayor was unwell and testing positive for covid late last week,” the council spokesperson said.
“He informed the scrutiny chair and they agreed to reschedule the scrutiny session for another date so that the Mayor could attend in person.
“This morning the Mayor tested negative and is back carrying out his engagements as usual.”
Which is certain to reassure all the parents of children attending this morning’s photo-shoot for the Mayor’s PR drive conducted at Robert Fitzroy Academy.
The absentee Mayor has, nevertheless, managed to stir up some unrest among the scrutiny committee after standing them up. Davis, who was chairing her first scrutiny meeting, is accused of making a novice’s error by sharing her questioning strategy for the Mayor with the other committee members, including the Tories on the committee.
“It’s obvious the Tories would share the committee’s approach to questioning with their leader,” a Katharine Street source told Inside Croydon today.
“There’s no reason to hand things on a plate to Mayor Perry.
“He will no doubt turn up very well-prepared for anything that might be thrown at him now.”
Another source questioned the Mayor’s real commitment to scrutiny. “It really feels like ‘here we go again’,” they said.
Meanwhile, the council’s press office, which has been working extra hard on the Mayor’s behalf to photograph and report all his various public appearances through May and June, has been in touch to confirm that Perry does intend, for the time being at least, to be only a part-time Mayor, despite being paid about 60per cent more than any previous leader of Croydon Council.
The council press office says that there is indeed a page on the council website that is dedicated to Mayor Perry and his role at the Town Hall, although no one in the propaganda bunker at Fisher’s Folly was able to advise how to locate this page from the council website’s home page.
You can view Mayor Perry’s page here:
Tech analysis for Inside Croydon suggests that this page was last updated on May 22 – more than two weeks after the local elections.
The declarations of interest show Mayor Perry to be continuing as the director of his private plastics wholesale business, despite there being broad agreement that being an executive Mayor ought to be a full-time role.
Tory sources defended the Mayor’s split priorities. “Jason is working considerably more than full-time in the role [of Mayor],” they said.
Part-time Mayor Perry has so far failed to find the time in his busy schedule to respond to Inside Croydon’s request for an interview.
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