‘You never mentioned 15% tax hike when seeking election’

Tonight, in the Town Hall Chamber, Inside Croydon contributor KEN TOWL, pictured right, presented a petition that opposes the 15% Council Tax hike and calls for fairer funding for the borough.
He was, in effect, speaking on behalf of the 25,000 people who have signed our petition to the council in the past couple of weeks. This is what he had to say:

Madame Mayor, Councillors, Mayor Perry,

Since your recent announcement that you intended to put Council Tax up by a record-breaking amount, I have been trying to remember if you mentioned this when you were seeking election.

You certainly were aware then of the parlous state of Croydon’s finances. You mentioned that a lot during the campaign. We both know, however, that you did not mention a 15per cent tax rise.

You wouldn’t have been elected if you had.

You wouldn’t get a mandate for it. You don’t have a mandate for it.

Politics is about choices and you were chosen by the people of Croydon to look after their interests.

How do you return that trust? Instead of representing the people of Croydon, you make us pay for the failings of politicians.

Of course, it depends on your politics who you want to blame for the mess that Croydon is in. You might prefer to blame the last Labour administration for its laughably bad attempts at property deals, or the debt-ridden Conservative council before that, or you might want to blame over a decade of systematic underfunding by a Conservative Government driven by a dogmatic drive to cut spending.

Your mistake, Mr Perry, is to put the burden of all this on the shoulders of the people of Croydon. You choose to punish the people who are not responsible, the people you are supposed to represent.

Mr Mayor, there are alternatives.

Chamber music: Ken Towl addressed Croydon’s Mayor and 70 councillors. But he was not allowed to speak from the Chamber floor

Instead of making everyone in the borough poorer, you could ask for more from central government, appeal to ministers’ better nature, explain that Croydon suffers from underfunding, explain that we are not even underfunded fairly. Ask why Lambeth receives more per resident than us when we have comparable levels of need.

Stand up for Croydon!

Perhaps, Mr Mayor, you do not believe in ministers’ better nature. In that case, appeal to their instinct for political survival. Explain that the Conservatives will lose seats in Croydon if you go ahead. If they don’t believe you, show them the figures of the Parliamentary petition – for every two signatures in Croydon North, there are three in Croydon Central and FOUR in Croydon South. It is in your heartlands that the motivation to sign the petition is strongest.

Tell them that this will not be forgotten; this will not be forgiven.

But perhaps you have thought long and hard for almost a year now and you are sure you want to go ahead with your 15per cent rise, especially after you had to go out of your way to get national government to allow you to breach the 5per cent barrier, the level where, normally you have to have a referendum if you want to go above it.

You knew you wouldn’t get a vote in favour from the people of Croydon, but you went ahead anyway.

So, perhaps I should address myself to the Conservative councillors who have the opportunity to vote or not vote for your tax rise.

Conservative councillors, I appeal to your better judgement. I appeal to your political creed, to your low taxation instincts. Let’s allow the people of Croydon to keep more of their own money and spend it in the borough.

I appeal, as well, to your instinct for political survival. Do not think for a second that frontloading a massive rise in Council Tax now means that you can have a low increase in 2025 ahead of the next council elections and redeem your reputation.

We are not fools. We will remember.

Politics is about choices. You can choose to stand up and be counted, choose to do what you went into politics to do, to make things better, not worse.

Please, stop the 15per cent rise. Thank you.


Read more: 10,000 signatures! Now government has to answer our petition
Read more: Public’s furious reaction to Perry’s Premium Council Tax hike
Read more: Government to write off £540m of council’s debts

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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16 Responses to ‘You never mentioned 15% tax hike when seeking election’

  1. Brilliant speech but, in some cases, like casting pearls before swine. Well done though.

  2. Ian Ross says:

    The Tories left a dreadful mess before Labour took over. Labour compounded it with their well documented (or maybe not so well documented) incompetence. The appalling mess Perry inherited doesn’t exactly leave a huge scope for manoeuvre. He’s already asked for £540m to be written off. His choices are:
    1. Do nothing and see the debt pile rise
    2. Borrow and service more debt
    3. Reduce services
    4. Increase council tax
    Newman’s cabal are the ones that sold us down the river but seem to have got away Scot free. So far.

    • Mayor Perry is borrowing more: £224m in a capitalisation direction – double the government bail-out requested in 2021.

      • moyagordon says:

        Won’t capitalisation bring long term benefits to the area with better facilities and infrastructure? This will help the area to thrive and benefit local people.

        • A capitalisation direction is governmentspeak for a bail-out loan, like the £120m paid to Croydon in 2021.

          The council still has to make loan and interest repayments. Which is why the council’s General Fund debt has gone up from £1.2bn in 2020 to £1.3bn (there’s another £300m debt on the Housing Revenue Account, which is dealt with separately).

          That capitalisation direction has nothing to do with capital projects and infrastructure, and its only benefit is that it keeps Jason Perry in power and Katherine Kerswell in her very well-paid job.

  3. Terry McCarthy says:

    Whilst I agree that a 15% rise in Council Tax is dreadful….what else can the Council do? The Newman Labour Council left a huge 1.4 billion pound deficit which is reputed to cost £74million in interest each year. If the Council are to maintain even the minimum of services, they will need to fund them and as the Government have refused to underwrite Newman’s legacy, the Council have NO OPTION but to ask Croydon residents to pay more. I can see no alternative, even along side continued pressure on the Government for financial assistance which I am sure they are continuing to apply. Perhaps one approach would be to apply the increase just to the higher tax bands thereby giving some relief to those under financial pressure. It won’t be popular BUT, the Council need to pay for vital services.
    I was pleased to see that Newman and his Numpties are to be investigated further as I personally do not believe that even they could be so financially incompetent as to run up such a huge debt. I wonder where the money went.

    • For a start, Terry, most of your figures are out, some by quite some way.

      It is interesting that the Tory line is the old Thatcherism: TINA – There Is No Alternative.

      Which is just another Tory lie.

      When the council under the Tory Mayor is seeking to borrow another £224million, or to welch on £540million of debt, the notion that they only way of raising another £20million is by making tens of thousands of people in Croydon suffer through a 15% Council Tax hike is so ridiculous as to be laughable. Except this is a truly sick joke.

      The 15% is a political punishment beating. It is a pre-determined political act that has been hatched up by the decidedly third-rate Mayor Perry with the connivance of Michael Gove’s lackeys.

      There is *always* an alternative.

      Oh, and don’t take for granted that there will be any investigation into Newman and his numpties. “They” – council execs, from Kerswell downwards – have already delayed due process by more than two years. Piss-poor Perry promised to publish the Penn Report and act on its recommendations the moment he was in office. He did not.

      The Penn Report and its recommendations are now public. But nothing has yet been decided on any action on those recommendations.

      Could the notion that Perry will, finally, act in the public interest be just another of those Tory lies?

  4. David White says:

    Very well put, Ken Towl!

    I suspect tonight will be just the start of the campaign against this iniquitous council tax hike. Feeling is very strong all over Croydon and we need to fight on until we get fair funding for the borough.

  5. Ian Kierans says:

    Excellent points Todays protest was and should not be the last. At every election opportunity we should assist everyone in being reminded of exactly what Conservative Mayor Perry and Mr Gove are doing and what democratic rights actually mean to those two!

  6. moyagordon says:

    Looking at the council tax bands for Croydon, on average people living in Croydon are in a Band C house and for 22/23 pay £1747.26, so will see an increase of £266.59 next year which is £4.85 per week.

    We are living through difficult times with energy prices going up as a result of the war in Ukraine and as a country we have the cost of the pandemic to deal with. We have to balance the books or we’ll end up leaving it to future generations to pay off our debts. We could tax the wealthiest more but as a country we need to compete with other countries’ tax regimes or companies will choose not to base themselves in the UK and we’ll lose out on jobs and income taxes.

    • Except that is not true, is it? More Tory lies…

      The exorbitant fuel prices that you and I are paying are not because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s because of rampant profiteering by the petro-chemical companies. Other countries in Europe have done more to protect their consumers, while the vested interests in our government continue to do nothing except boost their mates’ profits.

      And fairer taxes scaring off all the rich people? Oh puleez… Such scaremongering is pathetic, and just is not the case.

      • moyagordon says:

        Well Astra Zeneca have just decided to set up a new facility in Ireland instead of the UK partly because of tax rates, 12.5% in Ireland compared to 19% in UK.

        I suppose Labour never line the pockets of their mates?

        • One word, Moya.
          Six letters.
          Starts with BRE and ends in IT, and has an X in the middle.

          Tax rates are irrelevant to the rich and multi-nationals, who employ entire battalions of accountants to avoid paying tax at all.

          The trade benefits in being in a country that hasn’t committed one of the greatest acts of self-harm in history far out-weigh that.

          Wild and sweeping accusations of corruption without any accompanying evidence will get a ban from the comments on this website. Though when it comes to politicians lining their pockets, the likes of Bliar and Mandelson are mere amateurs when compared to Sunak, Hunt and Johnson.

  7. Sarah Bird says:

    The Mayor could also ensure the 1.5 billion debt is chased. The only candidates I recall ,from the Mayoral Hustings ,of which I was a questioner at two, that stated the money should be chased were Andrew Pelling and Richard Howard. I do not recall Jason Perry insisting he would chase the money. Put plainly, where is the money and what steps has the Mayor taken to chase the money ?1.5 billion pounds is not petty cash so where is it ?.

  8. Can Ken and others please say, clearly, why UK tax-payers pay for our stupidity for voting in know-nothing-numpties?

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