Across the country, outside London, people have been going to the polls in local elections today, often voting for the same tribe just as they always do, or voting on national issues over which the councillors they are voting for have no say.
But now there could be a new way of assessing the effectiveness of our local representatives – as WALTER CRONXITE has been crunching official figures to discover which Croydon councillors have been working hardest for their residents
Inside Croydon can today reveal that, according to official figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request, for the civic year 2022 to 2023, after having logged just three pieces of casework in the 10 months between last May and February, the Town Hall’s laziest councillor is none other than… [drum roll]…
Thirsty Clive Fraser!
Unfortunately for the good people of Addiscombe West, Fraser is a Labour councillor for their ward.
He only got elected there last May because the Labour members in his home ward, South Norwood, where he was a councillor from 2018, had worked him out, marked his card and de-selected him.
Fraser is an unrepentant, unreformed Newman Numpty.
As Labour chief whip, the Town Hall enforcer under the discredited former council leader Tony Newman for almost four years, Fraser played a key part in silencing any opposition about the way the council was being run, and was involved in the unlawful distribution of data hacked from this website, actions which were an important factor in Tory Jason Perry eventually winning the mayoral election.
Bounced bsck to the Town Hall back benches after last May’s elections, Fraser, a retired housing official who worked in Lambeth, has been paid the basic councillor allowance of £11,691.96 by Croydon Council over the past year.
Fraser deservedly earns the title “Croydon’s Laziest Councillor” because, although there is one councillor who, remarkably, recorded even less casework than Fraser’s one case every three months, the veteran councillor abandoned Addiscombe West and his Labour councillor colleagues for six weeks around the end of the year to go to Brazil on holiday, missing several important Town Hall votes.
One of his ward colleagues is shown to have carried out 54 pieces of casework over the same 10-month period – presumably filling the large, gaping void left by Fraser’s indolence.
The councillor who managed to have even less recorded casework than Lazy Fraser is Richard Chatterjee (who he? Ed).
Chatterjee is a Conservative councillor for Shirley North ward who conducted only two pieces of casework over the 10-month period covered by the FoI.
Chatterjee has been a councillor in Croydon for more than 20 years. In 2022-2023, including special responsibility allowances (he sits on some committees), Chatterjee pocketd £20,277.60 from the cash-strapped council.
But Croydon Council’s most expensive councillor, with each individual piece of casework averaging out as costing more than £13,000 each, is… [drum roll]…
Roche is a Conservative councillor for Shirley South.
Effectively, he is part of a growing cadre of full-time politicians, who milk the public payment system for all it is worth.
For his day job Roche works as, get this… a “senior caseworker” for Paul Scully, the Tory MP for Sutton and Cheam. Roche’s parliamentary salary will be between £32,000 and £42,466 per year.
He is also on Croydon council’s allowances gravy train as Mayor Jason Perry’s cabinet member for streets and environment.
Roche has only been a councillor since 2018. In 2022-2023, as a cabinet member at the bankrupt borough, Roche received £39,195.12, all paid for out of your Council Tax, which in March he voted, together with his Conservative colleagues, to hike by 15per cent.
Yet over the course of the period from May 2022 to February 2023, Roche managed to carry out just three pieces of casework, according to council data.
One year on from the historic 2022 local elections in Croydon, now is the ideal time to review the performance of members, many of whom receive not only a backbench allowance but significant SRA, or special responsibility allowance.
Beyond meetings both formal and within their wards, casework volumes are one of the most effective ways we can hold our elected representatives to account.
The FoI request covered the period up to February 22 this year. Collectively, Croydon’s 70 councillors handled 2,397 pieces of casework – enquiries, requests, planning application queries and pleas for help from the residents in their wards.
Every councillor has the opportunity to submit casework through the council’s case management system. Elsewhere in London, it is common for authorities to release information on the volume of casework each member handles, just as they publish each councillor’s attendance record at Town Hall meetings.
It is clear from other boroughs that there is no legal reason to hide this information. Yet Croydon does not routinely publish it, as Inside Croydon highlighted 12 months ago. Which is why the FoI was submitted.
Our FoI request shows all the casework logged via the council system. It is not a perfect measure of how much casework is handled – some councillors may not always log individual enquiries with council officials – but it does provide a kind of benchmark for which councillors are being diligent. And it can also identify which councillors might just be taking the piss.
With 70 councillors supposedly serving the borough’s residents, that would suggest an average of 34 pieces of casework each.
Based on backbench allowance alone, this should mean the cost of each piece of casework is £343.
As with any average, there are some councillors who far outperform this number.
Now forming the opposition, although having the largest number of councillors at the Town Hall, Labour has three councillors among the best-performing caseworkers in the borough:
Mike Bonello (Woodside) 193
Karen Jewitt (Thornton Heath) 163
Stuart King (West Thornton) 154
The top-performing Conservatives were Margaret Bird (Old Coulsdon) with 102 and Simon Fox (Waddon) with 100.
In Fox’s case, he is the lone Tory councillor in his ward, and it looks as if he has received (roughly) twice the number of requests than each of his ward colleagues from the Labour Party – who may split their workloads.
Like Roche, Fox is also effectively a full-time local politician: as well as pocketing his council allowances, he receives a publicly funded salary for working as an assistant to Croydon South’s Conservative MP, Chris Philp.
Some councillors approached by iC over the low casework figures offered various explanations. Some suggested that new, 2022 intake councillors were automatically disadvantaged because it took council officials around four weeks to activate their official council email addresses after they were elected.
Some did not receive their formal casework system training until June, also reducing their capacity to do casework. These are excuses which won’t be available to them again for 2023-2024.
Other councillors claim that they hardly use the council system. “I rarely use it,” one senior councillor told Inside Croydon.
“I do an estate walkabout every couple of weeks and batch report the issues, but not via the members’ system.”
So that’s the excuses out of the way… Here, like an old-school Hit Parade countdown, is not the Top Ten, but the bottom 10 of Croydon councillors on the casework charts.
- Stuart Collins (Lab; Broad Green) 8
- Helen Redfern (Con; Sanderstead) 8
- Nikhail Thampi* (Con; Old Coulsdon) 7
- Enid Mollyneux* (Lab; Bensham Manor) 7
- Jason Cummings (Con; Shirley South) 6
- Sue Bennett** (Con; Shirley North) 3
- Sherwen Chowdhury (Lab; Broad Green) 3
- Scott Roche (Con; Shirley South) 3
- Clive Fraser (Lab; Addiscombe West) 3
- Richard Chatterjee (Con; Shirley North) 2
Those marked with an asterisk (*) are 2022 intake councillors.
Sue Bennett’s double asterisk indicates that she has been the borough’s ceremonial deputy mayor for the past 12 months, which may have also impacted the volume of casework she was able to take on – although why her residents should receive a scaled down service while she flounced about in poncy red and ermine robes is a matter for some discussion.
Clearly, the residents of Shirley and Broad Green either have very little to complain about, or their councillors are simply not pulling their weight.
On the Labour side, as well as Fraser, underperforming Chowdhury was deselected by his party members ahead of the 2022 elections. He only got back on the council when a vacancy suddenly presented itself in another ward. Could this data help inform us as to why members who had experience of their work – or lack of it – as councillors did not consider Fraser and Chowdhury worthy of candidacy?
Shirley South’s “power duo” of Roche and Jason Cummings, the cabinet member for finance, delivered each piece of casework at an average of £13,000 and £6,532 each.
While this data does not represent a completed municipal year, it ought to be a cause for concern that 14per cent of the borough’s councillors appear to have worked on less than one piece of casework per month.
The council’s Town Hall annual meeting, all pomp and fake ceremonial, possibly including a visit by Stormzy, is due to be held in two weeks’ time.
It seems very likely that some of the councillors featured here will nevertheless be rewarded with continued additional SRA payments, when the data suggests that they should get back representing the residents that give them the honour of serving the borough.
In the “split wards”, where no single party had councillors elected, we also see a considerable difference in performance with those “challengers” clearly outperforming the natural party of control.
Jeet Bains (Con) 50
Maddie Henson (Lab) 14
Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood
Clare Bonham* (LibDem) 74
Patsy Cummings (Lab) 15
Nina Degrads (Lab) 14
Chris Clark (Lab) 18
Ria Patel* (Green) 17
Esther Sutton* (Green) 9
New Addington North
Adele Benson* (Con) 24
Kola Agboola (Lab) 11
Simon Fox* (Con) 100
Ellily Ponnuthurai* (Lab) 53
Rowenna Davis* (Lab) 67
Over the past couple of years Croydon’s councillors, many of whom played a part in bankrupting the borough, have often parroted the line about regaining the public’s trust.
Some might have to consider seriously whether they can continue to take the public’s votes for granted if we review this kind of information each year between now and when Croydon next stages its local elections, in 2026.
Read more: Making the case for councillors’ casework to be made public
Read more: #TheLabourFiles: Whip letters prove they knew hack was illegal
Read more: Fix! Internal Labour inquiry confirms selection stitch-up
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In the past you rightly lambasted Tony Newman for handing out allowances and jobs to his mates and enforcers.
With Jason Perry, it’s a similar story. Scott Roche is being given our money to act as a Cabinet Member with responsibility for Streets and Environment. That puts him in charge of
– Waste and recycling
– Parks and open spaces
– Transport, highways and parking
– Environmental enforcement and regulatory services (Licencing, Food Safety & Trading Standards)
– Climate Change
What has he done on any of these subjects for the extra dosh we give him? Bugger all, it seems.
Since being elected in 2018, he’s only turned up to 84% of the meetings he was expected at, missing roughly one in every six.
Our Council Tax (up by 15% this year) is being used to inflate his earnings while he swans off to work for an MP in another borough and do his casework for him. We’re being forced to subsidise the costs of running the Tory Sutton & Cheam constituency office while swallowing cuts that Scott and Perry voted through here.
That’s a shameful waste of taxpayers’ money, and no mistake.
I live in Addiscombe West and had the unfortunate experience of taking an elderly neighbour to see Cllr Fraser at one of his infrequent surgeries.
Fraser appeared to be nodding off as the problem was explained to him. He then started to noisily eat a packet of prawn cocktail crisps, dropping half of them down his front. I then left the room to take a call. My neighbour then told me he stood up as to get something off a shelf, but instead he let out an emission of digestive gases.
I retuned to the room to find it engulfed in the most disgusting odour. Fraser, ended the meeting promising to email a plan of action. He never did.
Excuse my language, but Fraser is a lazy, ignorant, good-for-nothing fucker who should be chucked out of the council.
Does Thirsty Clive Fraser hold his surgeries in a cafe along Lower Addiscombe Road or is he just thirsty and f _ t……..
Seen him a few times in the cafe……
Scott Roche ? only 3 pieces of casework??? what a lazy little shit!
Does he think we are all looking the other way? how the fuck did he get elected? What a waster suckling from the public purse.
Very revealing. Thanks to all those hard working councillors of all parties who do much for their ward residents and others. It is a joy to see how much some do !
The ones towards the bottom of the table need to up their game or consider their positions. i.e. step aside for a better candidate.
does anyone know what Maddie Henson does? apart from being a giant waste of councillor space.