Mayor acts on a wing and a prayer to give Bishop council role

WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, suggests that the ceremonial Mayor may have created an unfortunate precedent when she exceeded her Town Hall powers last week

Diversity: Labour councillor Alisa Flemming, the council’s ceremonial Mayor

It wasn’t just the unreformed Newman numpty Karen Jewitt who lacked disciplined self-control at last week’s meeting of the full council.

Entirely out of the blue, Labour councillor Alisa Flemming, the borough’s ceremonial Mayor who chairs council meetings, made an announcement in which she assumed powers that simply do not exist.

Perhaps there was a higher power involved…

Senior councillors relate being surprised when they arrived in the Town Hall Chamber to see the Rt Rev Dr Rosemarie Mallett, the Anglican Bishop of Croydon, present.

Without any advance notice or discussion, the ceremonial Mayor had created a council “chaplaincy”.

Bishop Mallett said that the new chaplaincy recognises that there are “challenging circumstances and issues that quite often need just a word spoken into the situation that may be part of the atmosphere of spirituality or calm”.

Hearing all this for the first time, there were some councillors who were less than calm. The ceremonial Mayor has no powers to establish a role for faith and spirituality to intervene in the council’s affairs.

Chaplaincy: Bishop Rosemarie Mallett

The Bishop did say that a group of volunteers “of all faiths and none” would be invited to join the chaplaincy.

But there was no written report from council officials on the implications and costs of establishing such a role for faith at the Town Hall.

Thus, it was also unclear whether the ceremonial Mayor, or Jason Perry, as the executive Mayor, or the Bishop, or the Church of England or different faith organisations would be deciding who these appointed volunteers would be.

This has left the council with some disentangling to do.  This embarrassment arises directly from the civic Mayor acting without consultation or approval of the council that actually holds the power in the matters Flemming strayed into.

And it may have created an unhappy precedent that could expose the council to some jeopardy as soon as next month. That’s when Flemming discards her Trumptonesque mayoral robes for a final time and is replaced in the Chamber chair by power-crazed right-winger Tony Pearson.

Given Conservative councillor Pearson’s recent dalliances with the far-right Democrats and Veterans Party, appointments issued by mayoral edict risk making Croydon notorious once again, and not in a good way.

Jewitt and Flemming were both Newman loyalists to the bitter end, and beyond. Their conduct in the Town Hall Chamber has exposed, once again, Croydon Labour’s lack of credibility after bankrupting the borough. Labour’s standing is further weakened as the Newman faction has begun to regain control of positions in the local party’s powerful Local Campaign Forum.

Flemming, at least, had the possible excuse last week that she might have been in a state of shock after being bitten by a dog just before the meeting.

So as well as creating the chaplaincy, she also claimed that it is the civic mayoralty which presents the Freedom of the Borough. This is not the case.

Freeman: but will Stormzy even turn up for the council meeting next month?

“Hey, it’s my penultimate council, so so what?” she said as she announced she was nominating Stormzy and 110-year-old Louise Smith for the Freedom of the Borough.

Flemming, rambling on for 25 minutes for a part of the agenda that should have taken just one-fifth of that time, said that she wanted to put on the record that “not the only reason” for her nominating Smith and Stormzy was that she could see “only two people of colour” on the honours plaques of freeman in the Town Hall.

As a Mayor with “communities together theme”, she saw her nominations as marking “the contributions of the generations” in the context of “the diversity of this borough”.

The facts are that, since 1964, the London Borough of Croydon has created 19 freemen and one freewoman in its history. There have been no Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Sikh freemen. That situation is unaltered by Flemming’s nominations. So not that diverse at all, then.

It is still not known whether Stormzy will even make an appearance at the special “Mayor-making” annual meeting at the Town Hall, and so provide Councillor Flemming with her photo-op to assist her bid to be selected as a Labour candidate in a parliamentary seat.

That meeting is due to be held on May 17, when tickets for the public gallery are likely to be in great demand. Those attending had better make the most of it, because that will be one of only four more meetings of the full council that will be held in 2023.

The others are on July 12, October 11 and December 13. Hardly a demanding schedule.

So much for the all-important improved accountability that Croydon’s part-time Mayor, Jason Perry, on £82,000 per year allowances, likes to talk about.

Read more: Councillors agree to chase Negrini for golden handshake cash
Read more: Ex-councillor Hall says: ‘Sorry to be direct, but this is a lie’
Read more: Newman’s defence slips: there’s ‘no evidence’ of wrongdoing

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5 Responses to Mayor acts on a wing and a prayer to give Bishop council role

  1. David White says:

    Croydon councillors are fiddling while Rome burns.

    Central Croydon is a mess, with empty shops, dirty streets and a poor environment. Residents have just received bills putting up their Council Tax by 15%. £36 million of further Council service cuts are about to be implemented.

    So residents are paying more for less.

    Given all this, I can’t think that Stormzy will want to damage his reputation by attending the beanfeast the councillors are holding on May 17th (aka their Annual Meeting).

    But if he does I hope he’ll also meet with local residents outside who will be holding a protest, organised by the Croydon Assembly.

  2. Susie Jenner says:

    A ceremonial mayor wearing a red tunic with furry collar and a huge necklace is as useful a the executive Mayor, Perry, who has fucked over every council tax payer in this borough.

    I’d keep the former and kick the latter out on his ass.

  3. Peter Underwood says:

    I will defend a person’s right to hold their own faith, but religion should have no place in politics.
    The Council is elected to represent everyone in Croydon equally and fairly. There should be no special treatment for anyone just because of their religion or their role within a religious organisation.
    If this wasn’t a mistake and this ‘chaplaincy’ really has been created, then please take this comment as the launch of my campaign to abolish it.

  4. Ian Kierans says:

    Nothing wrong with a chaplaincy in its right place. This Council could definitely do with some humane guidance as it continues decending into the darkest denzions.

    The murky environment of Croydon Council screams out for lessons in humanity, ethic’s honesty and in fact all the morals that most religions have. I think Bishop Mallet would be of benefit to them and the Executive team.

    But that is not the point.

    A Council chamber is the place for Councillors that have been elected. Council employee’s are there to provide data and regulatory guidance as required

    Everyone on else should be in the public gallery on zoom or bemoaning the desoicable and sad state of affairs and the culprits with others in their chosen esablishment be it their own home a social club or religious building. Or on that wonderful vehicle of expression – IC

    Perhaps in the spirit of minimalism foisted on us without our wish a digital multi faith AI can be set up to whisper sweet faiths into Councillors and Mayors ears?
    Or just the sound of deafining silence that those digitally blind face from this Council.

    Surely Fishers Folly has a multi religion faith room?

  5. There are only four words to describe Croydon Council: dis functional and dis graceful….actually that’s only 3 words but they do the job perfectly. Its become nothing but a noxious playground for the deluded, deranged, duplicitous, demented of all sorts and sizes from our built in cache of willing oafs.

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