Perry fails to hold any safe community meetings in 18 months

All in it together: Mayor Perry (top right) at a Met event at the Fairfield Halls last month with council CEO Katherine Kerswell (centre), Anthony King, of the My Ends organisation (second left), and Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley (left). There have been seven murders in Croydon since May this year


As the council prepared to hold a not-so-public meeting tonight at the Town Hall, which was called in the aftermath of the tragic killing last week of 15-year-old schoolgirl Elianne Andam in the middle of an escalating knife crime crisis in the borough, we can reveal that Croydon’s official Safer Neighbourhood Board has failed to hold any meetings for 18 months.

The chair of the Safer Neighbourhood Board is supposed to be the £84,000 per year Croydon Mayor, Jason “Part-time” Perry.

Ostensibly, tonight’s meeting is being held at the Braithwaite Hall on behalf of a separate, “community-led” organisation, called the Safer Community Partnership.

But the organisation of the event has been carried out by council officials based in Fisher’s Folly under Kristian Aspinall, the “director of culture and community safety”.

Brewery and piss-up: council director Kristian Aspinall

And the organisation of the event has, as with so many aspects of Croydon Council’s operations, been mired in uncertainty and confusion.

Aspinall has notionally been in charge of the Borough of Culture, and the distribution of £1.3million in arts grants. So it really ought not come as much of a surprise to discover that Aspinall is incapable of organising a piss-up in a brewery, as chaotic scenes on Katharine Street tonight, with dozens of people outside the Braithwaite Hall without tickets, confirmed.

It all stemmed from a suspiciously retrospective decision to ticket the meeting.

A junior official sent an email at 8.58am on Friday morning announcing that the event would be held this evening. “We know everyone in Croydon is deeply shocked and saddened by Elianne’s death. This meeting is for local residents and community groups to come together to talk about the work that is being done to support our young people at this very difficult time, and how we can help them to stay safe…

“Croydon’s Borough Commander for the Met Police Andy Brittain, Croydon Council representatives and Sarah Jones MP will be at the meeting to answer any questions you might have. The meeting will be chaired by the borough’s Safer Neighbourhood Board chair, Donna Murray-Turner.”

Murder victim: Elianne Adnam was the seventh person killed in this borough since May

And the council official added a hopeful little rejoinder at the end of the email: “Please share within your networks, communities, and organisations.” Which many did.

There was no mention in the invite, sent to community organisers across the borough, of any ticketing arrangements or limit on numbers attending.

Until, that is, 7.41pm on Friday.

Then, another email sent on behalf of Aspinall, said, “The Safer Croydon Partnership has taken the decision to make the community meeting planned for Monday night a ticketed event.”

Apparently, they had “received significant interest in attending… we need to manage numbers safely”. Who’d have thunk it?

But by 7.45pm, the Eventbrite page to which the Aspinall email provided a link was already showing the event as being “sold out”.

Community leaders, charity groups and specialists in tackling violence against women and girls were among those who contacted Inside Croydon to complain that they were being shut out of this important event.

Others, though, have told iC that despite the council and the Safer Croydon Partnership having declared the meeting to be “full”, they have been provided with virtual tickets to access the Braithwaite Hall. So obviously not so full, and not such a public event after all.

Yet while the Safer Croydon Partnership is deciding who can, and cannot, attend a supposedly public meeting organised (and paid for?) by the council, the borough’s elected Mayor has been sitting on his hands over formal meetings of an official council committee, the Safer Neighbourhood Board.

No meetings: the council committee which is supposed to oversee the safety of the borough, the Safer Neighbourhood Board, has not met for almost four years

Members of the Safer Neighbourhood Board were confirmed in May this year as Perry, his Tory councillor colleague Ola Kolade – notorious in some parts as the only Croydon election candidate to be effectively called a liar by three bishops – plus Labour’s Enid Mollyneaux and Stuart King. So there was at least the pretence that this was a functioning, and functional, council body.

But the council website shows no agendas and no meeting dates held since Perry was elected as Croydon Mayor in May 2022.

In fact, the last time that the Safer Neighbourhood Board met was in November 2019. And this for a council area which has been dubbed “the knife crime capital of Britain”.

Around that time, Croydon had an expensively hired Violence Reduction director, Sarah Hayward, a former Labour councillor in Camden who was in need of a job when she got the shove as council leader. Hayward had no particular qualifications for the Croydon job.

Indeed, under Hayward, Croydon was more than two years late delivering its community safety strategy, a document that has to be up-to-date and functional by law.

Part-timer: Jason Perry has time for free lunches and dodgy Facebook groups, but not for the Safer Neighbourhood Board

The “new” strategy, for 2022 to 2024, was barely changed from the old strategy, and even relied on outdated data from the 2011 Census. What with boards that never meet and a poorly compiled strategy, it is almost as if keeping the streets of Croydon safe for the public is all too much for our increasingly dysfunctional council.

From November 2019 to today, further meetings of the Safer Neighbourhood Board scheduled for later that same month were cancelled. Then a meeting scheduled for March 2020 was cancelled, June 2021’s  was “postponed”, September 2021 was cancelled as was November 2021’s.

This was nothing new. Four previous meetings of the Board scheduled earlier in 2019 had all been cancelled, too.

Katharine Street sources say that the Safer Neighbourhood Board has somehow become caught in a bureaucratic vacuum between Croydon Town Hall and MOPAC, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, and Sophie Lindon, Sadiq Khan’s deputy mayor for policing.

“It is a farce all around,” according to one source. “In Croydon, Brittain is a stage-struck, vain and incompetent officer. The police is desperately trying to reinvent itself.”

With the Met in an existential crisis of its own making, in Croydon, all civic responsibility for community safety has effectively been abrogated to a collection of unelected, and unaccountable, activists, some of whom are believed to have been in receipt of significant sums of public money.

The latest twist caused by that administrative paralysis occurred over the weekend, with some WhatsApp groups, predominantly among the black community, calling on men to come out and patrol the streets to protect children going to and from school. Croydon could be just days away from having self-appointed, untrained vigilantes on its streets, with all the risks that that may hold.

And in the meantime, our elected politicians, like £84,000 per year Mayor Perry, can offer only “thoughts and prayers” as the family of another teenager, murdered on our streets, await for her funeral.

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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
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7 Responses to Perry fails to hold any safe community meetings in 18 months

  1. I think we should not only judge Perry on his inactions but also his words. Here’s what he said about Crime, Safety and Community in his 2022 election manifesto:

    “Under Labour Croydon has suffered a tidal wave of crime. Since Labour took control of the town hall in 2014:

    – Overall Crime is up 28%
    – Violence against the person up 72%
    – Public Order Offences (Anti-Social Behaviour) up 100%

    This is not just about statistics, tragically five young people were stabbed to death on Croydon’s streets in 2021. My heart goes out to every family member or friend who is grieving the loss of a loved one. Labour has also slashed funding to the grassroots community organisation that provides services to some of our most vulnerable residents in Croydon by £1m.

    As Mayor I would partner with the Police to provide the necessary equipment, be it mobile knife arches or wands, to get dangerous weapons off our streets.

    I will work with the community to break the school exclusion pipeline and progress towards the goal of providing a mentor for every young person who is permanently excluded from school, to prevent them getting involved with gangs and criminal activity.

    The Council has all the data showing where crime is happening in Croydon. We also know the key drivers that lead to young people getting involved with Crime and Serious Youth Violence:

    – Knives being carried by young people
    – Young people not in full time education
    – Lack of positive adult role model
    – Lack of good quality youth provision
    -Poor mental health and substance abuse

    As Mayor my strategy would be:

    I would partner with the Police to provide mobile knife arches and wands to be deployed by them, to get dangerous weapons off our streets.

    I would work towards the goal of having a mentor for every young person who is permanently excluded from school or under the long-term care of the Council to advocate and prevent them from getting involved with gangs, sexual or criminal exploitation.

    I recently visited the Legacy Youth Zone and was inspired by their amazing facilities. I would work with Legacy, other providers and local businesses to see how we can expand our youth offer to more young people across the Borough.

    The Croydon BME Forum have built a strong foundation for supporting mental health needs by developing wellness centres in the town centre. I will work with voluntary and faith organisations to establish self-help wellness groups across Croydon.

    The key to meeting all the above goals is to develop a strong partnership between the voluntary, business and statutory sectors in Croydon. Businesses who invest in Croydon are becoming more aware of the corporate responsibility they have to the town; the voluntary sector has an excellent track record of reaching out to the most vulnerable in our community. As Mayor I will work with these sectors and organisations to support community groups that play such a vital role in our Borough.”

    Nearly 18 months into his 4-year reign, and with 3 stabbings in the town centre in less than a week, including one awful fatality, it’s evident that our part-time Mayor has neither the ideas nor the commitment to tackle violent crime in Croydon.

    Moreover, in failing to close down his Facebook group, “Croydon say no to ULEZ”, which is being used to organise criminal damage, its “group expert” Perry is effectively diverting police time and staff to investigate politically-motivated vandalism instead of stopping people being stabbed.

    With that shabby record and shameful inability, the future looks bleak; to quote Perry himself, “it’s going to get worse”.

    • Woody says:

      Another shameful display by this council. The sheer arrogance in the manner in which important meetings are disregarded is appalling. They do not even begin to grasp the grass root problems that this borough faces on a daily basis. Too busy allowing another dreadful skyscraper block to be built.

  2. Frank Ward says:

    They really don’t give a toss about us do they except when posturing and posing with common people as “extras” for their social media accounts.

  3. Les says:

    The fraud and theft against the Croydon Taxpayer continues.
    A Shadow Council that works on behalf of the people of Croydon needs to be seriously considered.

  4. James Seabrook says:

    Can the public hold a vote of no confidence against the council? That would potentially sack everybody who’s involved in this abomination.

    Having no council could be better than this council.

    • “Having no council could be better than this council”. That’s what we do have James. With the government having stepped in to rule Croydon council, Perry is a Mayor in Name Only, a pointless part-time figurehead on £84k

  5. Angel says:

    I find it an embarrassment now to say that I live in Croydon. People associate the area with knife crime and drugs. You only have to walk around the High Street to see how depressed the area has become. The empty shops, homeless people begging on the streets, gangs of drink and drug addicts hollering and shouting at each other, it really is the pits.
    If all of that is not bad enough, the constant police sirens and helicopters circling overhead. It is like living on a war zone.
    Then to hear that no meeting has taken place for 18 months, this council is rubbish, and to think that they put our council tax up by 15%, they should give us a refund for putting up with such poor representation.

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