CROYDON IN CRISIS: Reaction to yesterday’s Government announcement that the Whitehall-appointed improvement panel will effectively take over the running of the cash-strapped council has met with near-universal criticism
There have been calls for Jason Perry to resign as Mayor after yesterday’s announcement that the council is to be effectively run by unaccountable Whitehall bureaucrats.
Perry, the borough’s first elected Mayor, has been in office since May last year. Yesterday’s move by the Department for Levelling Up renders him pretty impotent for the next two years. Perry is paid £82,000 per year as Croydon Mayor.
Staff working at Fisher’s Folly, residents who have just received their Council Tax bills for 2023-2024 with Mayor Jason Perry’s 15per cent hike, and Town Hall politicians have almost all condemned yesterday’s announcement of a Government-backed takeover in Croydon.
One Katharine Street source, seething that the Tory Mayor had stitched up a deal with his party colleagues in Westminster to deliver the biggest Council Tax rise in the country and then effectively hand over control to unaccountable Whitehall mandarins, told Inside Croydon, “Perry has certainly put the ‘Con’ into Conservative.”
Ria Patel, the Green Party councillor for Fairfield ward, last night issued a statement saying, “This is another slap in the face of Croydon residents.
“We demand that the Government funds Croydon fairly and if they don’t trust local Conservatives to run the council, then they should ask their Mayor and councillors to resign and let Croydon residents choose who should be in charge.”
Patel, her party colleague Esther Sutton and the council’s only LibDem councillor, Claire Bonham, were the only three councillors consistently to vote against the Mayor’s Council Tax increase last week.
Labour’s councillors, after talking the talk over the first couple of votes, quickly caved in when council legal officials threatened the possibility that a failure to pass a budget would see Government commissioners appointed – which, one week later, is exactly what has happened.
“The Government has now decided that they are going to bypass our elected council and force through further and faster punishment on Croydon residents,” Patel said.
“While we agree that Mayor Perry isn’t capable of sorting out Croydon’s finances, imposing more Conservative cuts from above is not the solution.”
The trades unions are understood to be planning for more rallies and protests against the cuts which the Government will be over-seeing – £36million more cuts were included in Mayor Perry’s controversial budget last week.
Meanwhile, Perry’s Tory colleagues on the council are affecting a collective shrug of the shoulders, after having been rendered even more irrelevant than they already were.
“Indifference,” was the one-word response from a senior Conservative councillor when asked what the group’s response was to yesterday’s series of announcements from Westminster and Whitehall – although that may well be explained because the moves have all been well-known for several months, as Perry and his cabinet member for finance, Jason Cummings, plot a route that might secure a write-off of £540million of council debt.
Since last May’s local elections returned 34 Labour councillors, two Greens and one LibDem, and only 33 Tory councillors, Croydon has been unusual in local authorities with elected Mayors, in that usually the borough Mayors have the support of a majority in their Town Hall Chamber.
Yesterday’s moves by the Conservative Government amount to a “coup”, to wrest democratic control from the majority of councillors in Croydon.
According to the Conservative source, “The alternative view to the news is that, given the no overall control position, central Government has lost patience with a council chamber that opposes every measure tabled that would cut costs and help restore Croydon’s finances – with zero recognition by other parties that our dire finances require difficult cuts.”
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Why should, duplicitous 15% Perry remain, when he used the threat of the equivalent of direct rule unless timid Labour Councillors voted the exorbitant tax rise through, no doubt knowing all the time that his back door deals with Gove would result this anyway?
This leaves open, accountable local government in the rubbish bin. He should go and the public should have a chance of electing a decent, intelligent and independent mayor.
Agreed. We need Andrew Pelling – he’s the only person with an ounce of credibility and integrity in the entire borough.
Yes I agree he should go and we the residents of croydon should vote for our own mayor,this council is a absolute joke all our council taxes disappear no we have to pay for their mismanagement of funds.Dont think next year will be any different once these tax rises are in place we should know that will not go down, the only way is up.
You realise that “we the residents of Croydon” voted for our own mayor less than a year ago, right?
Er, actually most of us didn’t, but because a majority of those eligible to vote chose not to (for whatever reason) we ended up with Mayor Perry.
We, the residents voted, for Perry, remember – not long ago
No, Christopher. Just 34,000 or so people, in a borough with a population of 360,000, voted for Perry.
An exemplar of what apathy gets you.
And now he has done a shoddy little backroom Tory deal which has stripped away any democratic legitimacy by handing power to unelected bureaucrats.
Perfect description of what has happened….great!
It’s not all bad news. Now we know that behind the ‘born and bred in Croydon lad facade’ he puts on lurks a scheming Tory liar who’ll crawl to the most right-wing untrustworthy government this country has ever had. So far
We should vote Lib/Dem or Green Party, it could not get any worse, one hopes!
Conservative and Labour are a bunch of crooks only to line their and cronies pockets at our expense!
So Commissioner Gove has taken over Croydon. No doubt we will be subject to his usual didactic rhetoric lecturing all where they have gone wrong. The only problem is that he never delivers anything of real long term substance and anyway all the major decisions will be made by the Hunt in the Treasury.
If you defaulted on your Mortgage the bank would take your house away. The Government has to underwrite Civic debt so it has a right and an obligation in law to ensure a Council is fit and proper to discharge its public duties. I want someone outside Croydon Council to scrutinise what is happening inside the Council. Our political representatives and Council Officers have failed too many times in Croydon.
Before the Austerity Administration, Central Government used to scrutinise Public Work Loans Word debt to make sure it was utilised for investment in capital projects and not for financial engineering and speculative property development.
Your beloved Government Mr Gallagher is the author of this debacle in removing these controls and creating an unregulated system without controls to allow Councils to attempt to make up for under funding of grant income and take risks to increase economic activity.
The real failure has been undertaken by the designers of this system and they are now having to pick up the pieces of their failure.
The incompetence started at the top and filtered down.
If Central Government is bailing out Croydon Council to the tune of half a billion and giving the council a lifeline do you honestly think they can trust them after a decade of incompetence. Of course they are going to send in unaccountable Whitehall bureaucrats to try to make sure the councillors don’t run Croydon even further into the ground.
You appear to be putting the cart before the horse. This is a result of a system introduced top down not bottom up. They are the only ones who can fix their self created disaster across so many local authorities and if they are very generous there will be so many more councils begging for the Gove Gang to take them over too.
I suppose the best reason for our Mayor to resign is to make de facto what is at the moment just de jure. Who would notice?
He only works half time at best, spends the rest of the time churning out cliches, and what’s left of the time of the time he’s in front of cameras blaming previous administrations for everything and doing bugger all himself to sort things out.
He actually seems to enjoy being clasped to the bosom of the mighty Gove as a delinquent Tory bankrupt. It’s time we went back to proper Mayors, proper Aldermen, local administrators who are independent at the point of use and have a sense of purpose, drive, honesty and energy.
For the money these folk earn its not too much to ask, really!
Arno: the Labour group at the council had an opportunity, on Wednesday last week, to oust the Mayor by continuing to block his unbalanced budget (there’s still the small matter of the £38million of interest repayments yet to be resolved, unless or until the half-billion write off is agreed).
They bottled it when they were threatened with Government Commissioners being appointed, even though Kerswell and the improvement panel have been running things for two years.
And what is the situation we have today?
I hate to say it, I really do, but I have totally lost faith in local Labour. I have been a member of the party since 1960 and this is he closest I have come to packing it in……but I have some faith in Keir!
How’s that working out, then, Arno?
Wait and see! It certainly gets me an abundant raft of rancorous comments from various local Party members!
Jason Perry was in the room when many bad decisions were made in the past resulting in Croydon being lumbered with huge debt today.
Perry is a fucking useless politician. End of.
Mayor Perry and Katherine Kerswell have dragged Croydon’s reputation into the gutter. What Perry has done is a disgrace and indefensible. Croydon residents trusted him to act with their best interests in mind – he has opted for personal political grandeur at ‘the rat’s nest’ (Conservative Central Office). Here, they led him into a darkened room where Michael Gove scooped out his brain and ate it. Croydon is left with a lobotomised mayor and a CEO who doesn’t know who she is working for – and instead does nothing.
What ‘reputation’ was dragged into the gutter? One where decisions were made in a dark room between a small cadre of labour bullies? One where poor quality councillors set up and tried to run a housebuilding company with a husband and wife team of councillors making sure they got planning consent? One where inappropriate developments were allowed to pop up all over the borough? One where the obvious ability of interest rates to go up as well as down was not even regarded as a risk? One where financial reporting was so bad that they did not even know what was going on? One where it was thought that owning a hotel and a shopping centre were all a proper use of residents money? The need for government financial support is obvious, the price is goverment control. Responsibility for the situation is obvious too, and in my opinion there ought where appropriate to be prosecutions.
A real clean out is needed for council to move forward.
Having these hangers on deceiving others as do-gooders and utter lies – Perry: go get a paper round