Almost three months since he was appointed to the board of the town centre’s Business Improvement District, creating ‘clear conflicts of interests’, Jason Perry’s declarations have yet to be updated by the council.
By KEN LEE, our Town Hall reporter
Jason Perry, Croydon’s £81,000 per year Mayor, has managed to take on another company directorship since he was elected in May to what was supposed to be a full-time role of running the crisis-hit council.
Part-time Perry was appointed the board of the Croydon Business Improvement District in September, although his declaration of interests, an important piece of public accountability required by law, has not been updated on the council website more than two months later.
Perry’s appointment to the board of Croydon BID, according to a leading figure with close working experience with the BID, “creates a clear conflict of interests” for the Mayor.
According to official Companies House records, Perry continues to hold his directorship of his family business, Carlton Building Plastics, despite the demands of his mayoral position. Under Perry, the new office of the Mayor at Croydon Town Hall takes phone enquiries for just four hours a day, Monday to Friday.
Croydon Conservatives refute the suggestion that their Mayor is in any way a part-timer, despite his outside business interests, claiming that Perry has been working between 70 and 80 hours a week since taking office.
But when Inside Croydon asked for the full record of the Mayor’s engagements diary, the council’s propaganda department failed to provide what would usually be a publicly available document.
The Croydon Business Improvement District was formed in 2007, they say, “putting the interests and priorities of the local business community first”.
Claiming the backing of more than 500 businesses across retail, commercial, leisure, hospitality and public sectors, “we were set up to help make a real difference to the town, by introducing initiatives and much-needed services that would not otherwise exist”.
Croydon BID says, “Our vision is for Croydon to become one of the most sustainable, welcoming, vibrant and culturally diverse locations in south London in which to do business, work, live and visit.”
Member businesses of Croydon BID pay a total of additional business rates reckoned to be close to £1million per year, which is collected and administered by Croydon Council before being “invested” by the BID in street cleansing and other services around the town centre.
“It’s an extra charge on businesses in Croydon Town Centre,” said our source who had worked closely with the BID. “The services they provide are services which the local authority really ought to be delivering. Having the Mayor as a director, when the council is administering the collection of the BID’s money, is a clear conflict of interest.”
The source also raised the significant issue of the town centre Compulsory Purchase Order, carried out four years ago on behalf of Westfield, involving most of the Whitgift Centre. While Westfield’s £1.4billion promised redevelopment has long ago stalled, the ownership of much of the town centre’s property now rests with Croydon Council, and therefore the Mayor.
Mayor Perry recently used his executive position at Croydon Council to push through an enlarged PSPO area in Fairfield, Waddon and Broad Green wards around the town centre.
In August, Croydon BID hired in a private security firm to operate patrols in the town centre and PSPO area – effectively a privatised police force working as bounty hunters around the town’s streets. The Public Space Protection Order allows police and these “town centre rangers” to issue on-the-spot fines for littering and to move on street drinkers and rough sleepers.
On the Croydon BID board, Perry joins with the likes of Richard Plant, a partner of estate agents Stiles Harold Williams, the company which manages the property interests for the Whitgift Foundation, the biggest land-owners in Croydon. Also on the BID board is Richard Corney, the CEO of the Whitgift Foundation.
It has been common practice for the council’s cabinet member for business to take a seat on the board at Croydon BID – Perry’s former Tory colleagues Tim Pollard, Steve O’Connell and Simon Hoar are all listed as former directors by Companies House – and Labour’s thoroughly useless Manju Shahul-Hameed was a director until May.
But no councillor has taken up a seat on the BID board when council leader, as Perry has done as Mayor.
Mayor Perry failed to respond to Inside Croydon’s questions about how he can justify taking on a position with Croydon BID.
In a statement from the council’s press office they said, “The Executive Mayor was recently appointed as a director of Croydon Business Improvement District in recognition of the close working relationship between the council and the Croydon BID.
“It has been common practice for a Croydon Council executive member to be appointed to the Croydon BID Board in recent years. The Mayor replaced the previous cabinet member responsible for economic development.
“The Mayor’s Declaration of Interests is in the process of being updated to reflect this appointment.” The council failed to state when this important declaration of interest will be updated.
Read more: Cold-hearted Perry refuses to open warm banks in Croydon
Read more: Council has lost £130m from its pension fund under Perry
Read more: Mayor Perry has ‘second thoughts’ about investing in Croydon
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