CROYDON IN CRISIS: Jason Perry blames council staff for a report recommending a 4.04% increase in allowances for him and the borough’s 70 councillors. By our Town Hall reporter, KEN LEE
Just a week after Tory Mayor Jason Perry got permission from the Tory government to hike Croydon’s Council Tax by 15per cent, Fisher’s Folly today published an official report which recommended that the Mayor’s allowances should be increased to £84,123.36.
In most respects, Perry has already had a massive pay rise courtesy of the council this year. The Mayor has been paid £81,000 per year in allowances since his election last May. Allowances previously paid to the council leader came to less than £55,000 per year.
The proposed generous increase for the Mayor is part of a package which if approved would see overall spending on councillors at the cash-strapped council rise to £1.5million per year.
Under a plan hatched by Mayor Perry, the average household in Croydon is facing its Council Tax bills increasing by £235 per year – making Croydon the borough with the second-highest Council Tax in the whole of London. In the middle of the worst cost of living crisis for a generation.
Meanwhile, council tenants will be hit with a 7per cent rent increase from April. Mayor Perry had wanted that to increase by 11per cent.
But when the report ahead of next week’s general purposes committee was made public this morning, letting the cat out of the bag over the allowances increase, Perry faced a massive political own goal.
Perry used social media to announce an immediate U-turn. Once again, the “Misinformed Mayor” opted to blame council employees for his own mistake.
“Officers have brought forward councillor allowance increases in the normal way,” Perry tweeted. “I do not think it is appropriate to raise councillor allowances at this time and I and the Croydon Tories group will vote against any proposed increases.”
But Mayor Perry’s tweet did not come until 30minutes after Labour had raised the alarm about fat cat councillors awarding themselves extra money.
“Croydon Labour councillors will vote against these proposals, which cannot be justified at a time when there are plans to increase Council Tax by 15per cent,” Croydon Labour tweeted.
This latest omnishambles from the dysfunctional council raises more suggestions that Perry has still not got to grips with the running of the authority’s business.
“Who’s running the Town Hall? The Mayor or Katherine Kerswell?” was the question posed by one veteran Katharine Street source, referring to the council’s chief exec (who is on a salary of £192,000 per year).
“If he really does oppose raising his and the Tory councillors’ allowances, then he could have made sure that the recommendation never came forward, that it was never included in the agenda papers for next week’s General Purposes Committee. But he didn’t. You have to ask yourself why.”
The money for the increased payments are included in an earmarked £58,000 “pay inflation reserve”, according to the council papers. That sum will have been part of the budget-setting process that Perry and his closest aides have been going through since the New Year.
And the papers reveal that council officials have “shafted” opposition council groups – the LibDem and Greens, as well as Labour – by claiming to have consulted them all, but only publishing the response from the Tories.
“Proposals were circulated to the political groups represented on the council,” the report says.
“The executive Mayor has stated that, particularly given the post was only established in May 2022, he believes it should not be subject to an increase. The executive Mayor has stated he would not take up the increase if it were offered…
“The Conservative group responded to state that they do not support the proposal to increase member allowances and that members of their group would not take up any increase if it was agreed.”
The report, ostensibly prepared by politically neutral council officials, makes no mention of the responses from Labour, Green or Liberal Democrat councillors.
The report had been prepared by the department of the council’s most senior legal official, the Monitoring Officer, Stephen Lawrence-Orumwense.
- We should not be asked to pay more to get less. Sign the iC petition opposing Mayor Perry’s 15per cent Council Tax hike – click here
- Fairer funding for Croydon – click here to sign the separate parliamentary petition
- Inside Croydon – as seen on TV! – has been delivering local community news since 2010. 3million page views per year in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
- If you want real journalism, actually based in the borough, you should consider paying for it. Please sign up today. Click here for more details
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at email@example.com
- Our comments section on every report provides all readers with an immediate “right of reply” on all our content. Our comments policy can be read by clicking here
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as well as BBC London News and ITV London
- ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine