Mayor Perry: ‘It’s going to get worse before it gets better’

CROYDON IN CRISIS: It didn’t take very long once he became Croydon’s first executive Mayor after telling the electorate that he had a plan, that Jason Perry was forced to admit that he never had a plan at all.
By our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE

No one in last year’s local election campaign remembers hearing Jason Perry ever say this:

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

But that was the witless line the “Misinformed Mayor” chose to trot out this week on BBC Radio London on the morning after it was revealed that he had conspired with the Tory government to hit the residents of this borough with an inflation-busting 15per cent Council Tax hike in the middle of the worst cost of living crisis for a generation.

And for council tenants, that Council Tax hike will come on top of a 7per cent rent increase from April, too, just to emphasise the misery caused by the Tory Mayor.

Croydon Tories’ response to the news which will potentially devastate the finances of thousands of families in the borough has been to gas-light them, and to push back on suggestions that they were ever responsible for the lion’s share of the council’s £1.6billion mountain of debt.

“It wasn’t £1billion when we left office in 2014. It was £720million,” they say, as if in some way that’s better, and shows them to be some paragons of financial rectitude. When, of course, the opposite is the case.

A large chunk of the £720million to £1billion stinking pile of debt was left behind on the Town Hall steps by the then council leader Mike Fisher (remember #Wadgate, and Fisher’s secret, pocket-lining allowances increase? No? Click here for a reminder of how venal local Tories can be).

Fisher’s “top team” – which included the then mere “councillor” Jason Perry – had lavished money on themselves in building the palatial council headquarters building, Fisher’s Folly, as part of a CCURV property speculation venture with John Laing which proved to be as bad for this borough as Brick by Brick would turn out to be.

“Two cheeks of the same arse,” as someone once put it.

At £140million, Fisher’s Folly – or Bernard Weatherill House as it is sometimes known – cost almost three times as much as other comparable office buildings constructed in London at the time. Per square foot of office space, Fisher’s Folly cost more to build than The Shard.

In charge of CCURV and the debt it helped to amass was the council cabinet member for planning and regeneration: Jason Perry.

Perry has recently had the Mayor’s office moved from the Town Hall to the 12th floor of Fisher’s Folly, so that he is more closely integrated with Katherine Kerswell, the council CEO, and the civic bureaucrats that he was elected to keep in check.

No expenses spared: Mike Fisher, Mayor Perry’s Tory predecessors

This week, in response to residents’ horror and dismay that they will be facing Council Tax bills higher than all but one other council in London, Perry – the “Man with a Plan” when elected last May – has responded with glib platitudes and excuses.

“I know the proposed level of Council Tax increase has understandably concerned local residents,” Perry (or one of his minions) wrote to one Croydon pensioner.

“It really saddens and angers me that decisions like this have to be taken. I agree it is not fair and I assure you that this is not a proposal we have put forward lightly.”

But put it forward Perry has. Indeed, according to Michael Gove, Perry actively requested the 15per cent Council Tax hike from the government when other troubled councils, in Slough and Thurrock, asked for permission to raise their Council Tax by 10per cent.

Perry’s first resort is always to blame “the financial chaos left by the previous administration”, never admitting that he personally, as a key decision-maker in the 2006-to-2014 Conservative adminstration, had incurred the £720million down-payment on the path to the borough’s bankruptcy.

Perry took charge as executive Mayor, he says now, of “a hollowed-out council which has been reliant on government bailouts for multiple years”.

Perry wrote to the Tory-voting pensioner: “Since I was elected Mayor, I have been focused on taking the necessary steps to get the council back on to a sustainable footing. Given the scale of the financial collapse Croydon has experienced, that will require incredibly difficult decisions.”

There’s a careful glibness about much of Perry’s posturing. “The proposed one-off increase in Council Tax would amount to around an extra £4.50 a week, or 63p a day, for the average property.

Man without a plan: £81,000 per year part-time Perry

“Without this additional income, the Council would need to make an extra £20million of cuts on top of the £36million savings we are already having to make. That scale of reductions in one year would be dangerous and would put vital services to vulnerable residents at risk.”

In essence, then, when Jason Perry got elected as executive Mayor last May saying that he “had a plan”, he was lying. Just like he lied to the meeting of full council before Christmas. There may not be a plan as such. But there is a pattern.

“I know this is going to be difficult for many residents in Croydon, so I am also proposing to significantly increase the support we provide to protect those who cannot afford to pay their council tax and would otherwise be pushed into hardship by the increase.” Earlier this month, Perry tried to push through a measure which will have removed inflation index-linking to the borough’s Council Tax Support, hitting tens of thousands of Croydon pensioners in the wallet.

The Tory politician who appears critical of Croydon’s under-funded council “being reliant on government bailouts for multiple years” goes on to say “we hope to agree a new Capitalisation Direction…”, in other words, more borrowing and more bailouts, “…to address the historic financial failures which still sit on the council’s balance sheet”.

Not so much a plan as simply more of the same.

There remains a strong hint that Perry has already done a deal with his Conservative Party colleagues in government to write off some part of the borough’s debt – perhaps the £720million to £1billion Perry himself left behind a decade ago? “We are continuing to negotiate with government to agree a reduction in the council’s long-term debt,” he says.

Why, though, if such an arrangement is in the pipeline the Mayor needs to bulldoze through the Perry Premium 15per cent Council Tax hike, he fails to say.

It is worth noting that when Perry oversaw the issuing of Croydon’s third Section 114 notice in two years – admitting the authority could not balance its books – its was the world’s first pre-emptive S114, predicting that small businessman Perry couldn’t deliver a balanced budget in 2023-2024, the next financial year. The current financial crisis at the Town Hall has been of Perry’s own making.

Signed and sealed: one signature that has not been added to the petition opposing the Council Tax hike

In his letter to the resident, Perry also says, like a broken record: “We are also working to ensure that those responsible for Croydon’s financial collapse are held to account for their failures.” Yet the Penn Report, which Perry promised to publish, remains under lock and key, with not a single one of its recommendations, handed over to Kerswell two years ago, ever implemented.

Sources on Katharine Steet suggest that a meeting in 10 days’ time might finally see some version of the Penn Report released, but only after a third round of polite consultation with the likes of Jo “Negreedy” Negrini, Tony Newman and the others identified as being in some manner responsible for the financial collapse. And no thanks to Perry.

Click here if you want to read some of the truly shocking findings of the Penn Report – first published by this website, despite all of Kerswell and Perry’s efforts to block publication.

In his letter to the resident, Perry does at least win one award: the No Shit Sherlock Award for February 2023. “I know this Council Tax rise is not the news local people wanted,” says the part-time Mayor, who pockets £81,000 per year in council allowances (far more than even Mike Fisher ever managed).

“I want to reassure you that these steps, together with the continuing programme to transform how the council operates, are important and necessary steps to once again make Croydon a council that works for you and supports and protects our residents.”

Unless, of course, we believe what Perry himself told BBC Radio London earlier this week: “Things are going to get worse before they get better.”

  • Listen to the full BBC Radio London section on Croydon’s financial woes under Jason Perry, the Misinformed Mayor, here:

Read more: Perry to preside over record-breaking 15% Council Tax hike
Read more: Public’s furious reaction to Perry’s Premium Council Tax hike
Read more: Council forced to issue 3rd bankruptcy notice in just two years
Read more: Croydon is in a right Pickles and it is easy to work out why

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
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12 Responses to Mayor Perry: ‘It’s going to get worse before it gets better’

  1. Mark Wilson says:

    I cannot stand to see his face anymore. 15% tax hike won’t fix anything at all. The highest council tax in country will stick here forever, I am not going to pay, seriously will take my chances to see the judge in the court. I have a work, cannot claim benefits but I am on the edge.

  2. Hazel swain says:

    worse ?

  3. Ralph Kennedy says:

    Perry and Kerswell have judged this so badly.

    I’m determined it will be the end of both of them. Self-serving opportunists both.

  4. Ian Kierans says:

    Very sad people taking these kind of decision without accepting responsibility.

    Very sad that in a democracy that they have removed the ability to have a referendum.

    This Conservative Government has repeatedly shown that it cannot be trusted in any way. It has brought the word conservative into disrepute and destroyed a reputation built over a century.
    Mr Perry is just a further example of that crass ignorance and intent to scam voters.

    If it is not silence or dissembling it is the exuse of ignorance.

    One thought that Newmans regime could not be bettered for arrogance and
    No matter if this Borough improves or gets worse. No matter if this Government coughs up or a miracle lottery win occurs and the debt is gone.

    The actions being taken by this administration and Perry will go down as the Supersewer of the 21st Century and the destuction of trust in Politic’s itself.

    Bullshitters, Wasters and Hors (without the d’oeuvre)

    Frankly it has got to the stage where no matter the truth of anything if it comes from this administrations or Perry’s mouth few if any will believe or trust it.
    More to the point even fewer will pull together or work together with this Mayor or administration.


  5. Jenny Johnson says:

    Proportion of people in poverty in working and non-working families in Croydon is one of highest in London – and what does Perry go and do?

    He fucks them over.

  6. Michelle says:

    What do you suggest he does? Pretend the debt doesn’t exist? It’s not going to go away and it needs to be brought under control.
    Yes it will hurt financially on top of everything else but I don’t see what anyone expects to happen of a council so severely in debt

    • Thanks for that Mrs Perry

    • Rachel says:

      The Government has warned councils of the challenge many families will experience meeting the max 5% increase. They say “ We expect local authorities to take into consideration the challenges many households are facing.”

      What does fuck-wit Mayor Perry do? He takes the 5% and multiplies it by three!! A gross act of stupidity, hitting people when they are at their lowest. Nobody should EVER vote for Perry again. I’ve written to the Conservative Party complaining about him. They said they have had dozens of similar complaints about Perry.

      Perry, your days are numbered.

  7. Lewis White says:

    There is an obvious role here for some prominent politicians, to bring their own radical solutions, and deep financial acumen, to Croydon as wealth generating consultants on £2000 a day. It would take just weeks to get back the Billion and a bit needed to replenish the council’s almost empty coffers.

    First , spend a few thousand on semi-mature magic money trees, grown in Holland and guaranteed to fruit in the first year after planting. result — Magic!

    Second, get a friendly person of high status to arrange an interest-free loan from a distant relative. Possibly just needs a few small favours to arranger and lender as a thank you for their time and generosity.

    Third, invest half a million in National Lottery tickets (not Euro Millions) , give them to selected local people, sit back until Saturday and wait for them to win billions and billions, then ask them to give back a proportion of their hard-earned winnings to the Council. We’ll soon be in the money ! It’s a no-brainer !!

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