Meeting over Council Tax hike over-subscribed within hours

CROYDON IN CRISIS: All places at a public Q&A session about the Tory Mayor’s 15% Council Tax increase were snapped up within hours of being released – even though the council gave the event little publicity.
By STEVEN DOWNES

An online, remote meeting to discuss the Tory Mayor’s budget and his 15per cent Council Tax hike has had to close its registrations five days in advance, such has been the demand from the Croydon public to put questions to the people in power.

The meeting, to be held via Zoom tomorrow night, February 15, is the idea of Labour councillor Rowenna Davis, the chair of the council’s scrutiny and overview committee.

The committee has a formal, public meeting on the cash-strapped council’s budget for 2023-2024 scheduled to be held on Thursday evening. But Davis wanted to give the public more of an opportunity to question the Conservative-led administration.

The council’s propaganda department gave the meeting no publicity, without even a mention on the authority’s official website or via its Twitter feed.

In demand: Cllr Davis’s tweet on Friday quickly saw her Zoom meeting reach capacity

The initial “capacity” of 80 registrees, allocated on a first-come first-served basis, was reached almost as soon as Davis first mentioned the event via her own, personal social media on Friday afternoon.

Another 20 places were added yesterday, but they were snapped up immediately.

Elected Mayor Jason Perry – catchphrase “I’m listening” – won’t be present to listen to the Croydon public. In his stead, Jason Cummings, the Conservative councillor who is the council cabinet member for finance, and Jane West, the authority’s director of finance, will be present.

“To fix Croydon’s finances, a 15per cent increase in Council Tax is being proposed, alongside a number of savings and changes to the way the Council works,” Davis wrote.

“This meeting is a chance for members of the public to question Croydon’s senior cabinet member and finance officer about these decisions. The meeting is being led by the council’s scrutiny committee, a group of councillors from different parties who are charged with scrutinising the budget in the public interest.”

Today, Davis told Inside Croydon, “We only capped the numbers to give the people in the room space to ask questions.”

“I’ve also written to the Mayor to explain how much interest we’ve had and encouraged him to hold his own public meetings so that more residents can be part of this important conversation.

“I wish scrutiny could also do more here, but our capacity is limited.”

Last May, Perry was elected as Croydon’s first executive Mayor with a majority of fewer than 600 votes.

A petition raised by Inside Croydon opposing Mayor Perry’s 15per cent Council Tax rise and calling for a fairer financial settlement for the borough has attracted more than 20,000 signatures in less than a week.

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: Mayor Perry: ‘It’s going to get worse before it gets better’
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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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7 Responses to Meeting over Council Tax hike over-subscribed within hours

  1. Phil Hickman says:

    Jason Perry has just circulated an email informing us why 15% is required to start to help clearing the legacy. There is nothing new or encouraging in gaining confidence that things are going to get better.

    What galls me is the fact that the previous Labour administration seems to be getting away with the flagrant misuse of public funds. Surely we deserve an open statement to the effect that the full forensic review will be done independently and the findings fully published AND legal proceedings will be taken if the conclusions warrant.

    To say I am seething about this parlous situation would be a gross understatement

    • Phil, check the iC archive.

      An undertaking to check into the possibility of misconduct was given, and the Penn Report delivered up to the council two years ago, with a series of recommendations.

      Inside Croydon has published those recommendations.

      Croydon Council has not. Nor has the council acted on any of those recommendations.

      The independent investigation into possible fraud, conducted by Kroll, having been commissioned in February 2022, has yet to have their findings published.

  2. Sarah Bird says:

    It is very clear that the residents do want to question the Mayor .,if the event was closed prematurely. As the leader and elected mayor and former councilor ,of many years , he is answerable to the residents in the spirit of The Nolan principles of Public life ,which I assume he has personally signed, “openness , accountability , honesty , leadership, objectivity, selflessness, Integrity”. For the Mayor whose PR slogan was “listening ” where is the evidence of listening and acting? For my part I have yet to see it . I have often suggested an open meeting with the press for all of the councilors and Mayor to be questioned. many of the councilors have been there for years . Is there a problem in actually doing this ?Private companies do so why not this council?

  3. In ‘volunteering’ to front this meeting, Jason Cummings has become Perry’s stunt man

  4. John Kohl says:

    Is there any way that Croydonians who haven’t been able to register for this event can watch it online?

    I see that the event this evening is not listed in Croydon Council’s meetings calendar.

    If it isn’t possible, will someone from Inside Croydon be there and let the rest of us know what happened?

    If what I have read in Inside Croydon and other local media over the years is correct factually, when the Conservative-led council administration left office in 2014, Croydon was in debt to the tune of roughly £1 billion. The outgoing Labour-led administration has added approximately £700 million to that debt between May 2014 and May 2022,

    The 2022 incoming Conservative-led council administration’s only cerebral, holistic, think-outside-the-box solution to the problems created by previous council administrations (as well as the Conservative-LibDem coalition government and subsequently Conservative-only governments withdrawing billions of pounds of central government funding from local authorities each year since May 2010) is to ask the Secretary of State for Local Communities to disapply the referendum provisions contained in the Local Government & Finance Act 1992 (as amended) to allow Croydonians to be charged a 15% increase in Croydon Council tax on the grounds that Croydon Council “will be unable to discharge its functions in an effective manner” or “will be unable to meet its financial obligations.”

    THAT is the current Conservative-led council administration’s breathtakingly “innovative” answer, is it?!

    So what will happen next financial year? And the financial year after that? And the financial year after that? How many years are Croydonians going to be asked to pay up to three times the normal maximum council tax increase?

    What a mess! What a complete and utter mess!

  5. Emma says:

    Though the labour run council did run up debt it is important to mention the nearly 1b of debt they inherited from the tory council and continuous underfunding per citizen for the croydon Borough under the tory government. It is dodgy politics this spin from the tory to dodge responsibility and try to pin everything on labour. Dodgy politics

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