A plan for a new Mayor of Croydon

Author Mike Swadling

Mayoral and council elections are fast approaching in our borough.  Of course, it’s easy to heckle from the cheap seats if you’re not running, but if I may ask your indulgence, I wanted to share my thoughts on what I think our first elected Mayor should be focusing on in office.

  1. Find out how bad the problems really are

Croydon has twice issued a Section 114 notice, and is either about to, or came close perilously close to issuing a third one due to a misalignment of capital and revenue funds.  The new Mayor should go in and ask each department to ask them to rapidly ‘bring out your dead’, the officers need to let the new Mayor know every problem and add them to a risk or issue register, with an assigned cost to resolve.  The Mayor needs to be clear with the local officers that now is the time to come clean without prejudice, but anything they try to hide will be used against them in the future.  The mayors team can only fix the problems of Croydon Council once they truly know how bad they are.

“Why are the council continually arguing with their auditors?  Yes, auditors can be a royal pain, but that’s their job.  The Mayor should invite the auditors in to sit with department heads and detail the problems that didn’t make it to the ‘Reports in the Public interest’”

  1. Change the culture

Croydon council appears to have a frankly toxic culture towards the people of Croydon, quite a few of the staff, and some of the councillors.  The council recently voted to stop using their auditors Grant Thornton in what appears to be a response to the auditors continually finding problems in the running of the borough.  Why are the council continually arguing with their auditors?  Yes, auditors can be a royal pain, but that’s their job.  The Mayor should invite the auditors in to sit with department heads and detail the problems that didn’t make it to the ‘Reports in the Public interest’.  It’s far from just the Audits, it’s the planning department that doesn’t care to listen to residents, it’s the phones that go unanswered.  When the council was making national headlines for the problems at the Regina Road flats in South Norwood, it was clear the council lacked basic crisis management skills, no war room, no briefing for the Council Leader Hamida Ali, no plan of action to make some rapid improvements or even speak to residents.  The council needs to stop operating as if in a bunker where everyone else is the enemy and start acting as a professional partner and service provider.

  1. Fix planning

The councils’ involvement in planning is a mixture of policy setting and sitting in judgment on individual planning cases. The legal details that need to be met mean planning in the borough is far from a quick problem to solve.  Firstly, the local plan needs to be updated and approved, it appears all Mayoral candidates are committed to holding the submission of the plan over whilst they review and focusing on a new plan that doesn’t attempt to exceed the required numbers from the GLA would be a great start.  As would a greater focus on houses rather than flats, more in setting with most of the borough.  Planning is a legal quagmire, and any new Mayor is likely to disappoint more people (at least initially) than they please, but with some local sensitivity to planning and a much less aggressive attitude from councillors and council officers, things can improve.

“To suggest that a likely Labour or Conservative Mayor works with councillors from the other party may be a heresy to many, but that is part of the fundamental problem with Croydon’s politics”

  1. Work across the borough

One of the main selling points from the DEMOC (democratically elected mayor of Croydon) campaign was that a Mayor would need to secure votes from across the borough and would therefore govern for both Purley and Thornton Health, not being able to win re-election without a decent support from both.  Croydon is 2 to 3 different types of area, and many small towns brought together in one borough.  One size doesn’t fit all, and a town hall that respects that diversity will make for a much happier and more successful borough.    A new Mayor would do well to focus planning as locally as possible, target services at a local level, work with residents’ associations and dare I say it councillors in each local area for the success of the borough.  To suggest that a likely Labour or Conservative Mayor works with councillors from the other party may be a heresy to many, but that is part of the fundamental problem with Croydon’s politics.  I can understand why in the swing wards in Addiscombe this might prove impossible, but in safe wards like Sanderstead and South Norwood, there is no reason why collecting the bins needs to be a partisan issue, and a Mayor should try to bring together all elected officials to work to the betterment of each area.

  1. Children’s Services is spiralling out of control again

Croydon’s Children’s Services department has been in and out of Special Measures over the past few years.  Children’s Services looks after the most vulnerable people in our society, there is a moral as well as legal imperative that of all the councils’ services, this is the one that we make a Rolls Royce solution.  A new Mayor should move the best and the brightest into this department to make improvements.  Any blocker to increasing capacity needs to be removed, and we need social services working with key community services, forming hubs around local schools and medical practices.  No easy answers on how to do this, and a constrained financial environment won’t help, but keeping the Children’s Services on track should be an early focus of a new Mayor.

  1. Do something with the town centre

I fundamentally believe the best people to decide how to run a shop are shopkeepers, the best to decide how to run a pub are landlords, and the best to run a restaurant are restaurateurs.  In all these cases the worst people to decide how to run the business are politicians, with local government officers a close second.  If you needed any proof of this look no further than Croydon town centre.  Brilliant planning schemes have led to the collapse of our main shopping centre.  I think a Mayor would be best to leave the next steps for the town centre to the experts, the landlords, retailers and business groups that own and operate the towns main shopping areas.  That’s not to say there aren’t any areas the council can help with.  People need to feel safe in the town centre and the council can co-ordinate with services like the police to make sure Croydon is a safe place to shop.  People need to be able to get to the town centre, buses in Croydon seem to be routed ever further from the shopping areas, and car parking has become ever more expensive.  We do have new cycle lanes, but who seriously believes we will ever see large numbers cycle to go shopping or for a night out?  Get the basic infrastructure right and leave the enterprise to the entrepreneurs.

“buying hotels and shopping centres, new building companies, massive redevelopments of the Fairfield Halls, Boxpark, £10,000 for someone to defecate on stage, all bright ideas brought to you by Croydon Council in recent years, all ultimately helping lead to the borough’s de facto bankruptcy”

  1. Stop coming up with bright ideas

Westfield, buying hotels and shopping centres, new building companies, massive redevelopments of the Fairfield Halls, Boxpark, £10,000 for someone to defecate on stage, all bright ideas brought to you by Croydon Council in recent years, all ultimately helping lead to the borough’s de facto bankruptcy.  With the financial problems the council faces, the planning problems, the risks in Children’s services, and many more issues on the new Mayors plate, they need to stop coming up with new bright ideas and focus on these priorities.  This might not suite everyone, many at the council might want to undertake new and exciting work, well they can leave, that will help drive the cultural change the council so desperately needs.

  1. KPIs

The Mayor needs to ensure that the council can delivery its basic services well on the limited budget available.  They will be negotiating with central government for grants, investments, and probably more bailout funds, and they will need to show they are delivering the service to the people of Croydon.  The new Mayor will have few places to hide, the buck will stop with them.  As discussed, the councils’ offices need to undergo cultural change to start responding to the people of Croydon and focus on delivery of basic services on budget rather than generating big ideas.  One way to keep a large organisation like Croydon Council on track is to implement Key Performance Indicators or KPIs at each level to ensure departments are delivering on the tasks asked for.  KPIs aren’t a panacea, and it can lead to misaligned priorities, but all these priorities, misaligned or not will be on delivering key services not on big new bold spending plans. 

Let us know at croydonconstitutionalists@gmail.com what you think of these priorities.  If you have some of your own, why not write them up for us to publish?

Joseph Fox Reform UK candidate South Park and Woodhatch Ward, Reigate & Banstead Council.

Reform UK the successor to The Brexit Party is standing candidates in May’s local elections.  We spoke with Joseph Fox who is standing for them in the South Park and Woodhatch Ward of Reigate & Banstead Council. 

Joseph thank-you for your time.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your party?

I am a 73 year old grandfather.  I have lived and worked in the borough for most of my life.  I became involved with EU-secessionist politics in 1995, and joined UKIP in 1999.  I stood for UKIP in 25 elections from 2001 to 2019 – I came second in the 2015 General Election.  But UKIP took a wrong turn after the referendum. The Brexit Party proved immediately popular, and with Brexit (nominally) done, Reform UK seemed to me to be the way forward.  I like it for its pragmatism and lack of ideological baggage.

“Nothing is more than four floors high, and there is plenty of greenery.  But like everywhere else around here, it is under threat of high-density development”

You’re standing in the South Park and Woodhatch Ward, can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?

South Park and Woodhatch ward is about two thirds ex-council housing and one third moderately prosperous private housing.  Nothing is more than four floors high, and there is plenty of greenery.  But like everywhere else around here, it is under threat of high-density development.

“last year, they spent £35,000 on fitting lockable lids on some recycling bins, thus forcing us to post our rubbish through small holes or slots.  And I thought they were meant to encourage recycling!”

More widely what would you like to see change at Reigate & Banstead Council and across the borough?

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council is as capable of wasting public money as anyone else.  For example, last year, they spent £35,000 on fitting lockable lids on some recycling bins, thus forcing us to post our rubbish through small holes or slots.  And I thought they were meant to encourage recycling!  Experience shows that the presence of minor parties on local councils does them a lot of good.

How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved? 

Contact me at reigate@reform.uk

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council Coat of Arms, Reigate Hill Footbridge by Ian Capper, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Interview with Spanish political scientist, Lorena Serantes Prieto.

Mike Swadling was interviewed recently by Lorena Serantes Prieto, about the Croydon Constitutionalists, Brexit and the state of the Conservative Party.

Lorena’s blog covers a range of interviews with people engaged in politics in the UK, she can also be found on Twitter at @LoreSerantes.

“Broadly we are in favour of Brexit, Low Taxes, Free Speech, Free Markets, and Rational science not climate alarmism.  We try to find national organisations or groups we can partner with on a local level to campaign for these things.”

“I don’t believe it’s possible to negotiate a reasonable deal with a party that doesn’t believe you are an equal.  I believe the EU regards the UK as somewhat of a renegade province and it these circumstances it is not possible to negotiate as equals.”

“What is the purpose of a Conservative Government if we have high tax, high spend, high cost of living and low home ownership?  The Conservatives risk losing their core support”

Full Article: https://serantesprietolorena.blogspot.com/2022/04/interview-with-michael-swadling-pro.html

Fuel Shortages ≠ Inflation

Inflation Is Here, But There’s Also A Shortage Game In Town

By Josh L. Ascough

In almost all mainstream economics textbooks, when the subject of inflation is reached, the standard definition is that inflation is a general increase in the price level. This definition has sparked numerous conflations of the cause and effects of oil and gas prices and inflation during the financial aftermath of Covid restrictions, policies and the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia; Investopedia recently attempted to provide a clear answer to the correlation of inflation and the resulting high oil prices caused by the shortage by stating “Higher oil prices contribute to inflation directly […] by increasing the cost of inputs.”

“this definition of inflation is facetious at best and leads to bad policies at worst. The general increase in the price level definition, defines inflation by its symptom; or effect, rather than defining it by the cause”

But the fact of the matter is this definition of inflation is facetious at best and leads to bad policies at worst. The general increase in the price level definition, defines inflation by its symptom; or effect, rather than defining it by the cause. Nicolas Cachanosky, an Assistant Economics Professor at Metropolitan State University, sums this confusion up stating that:

if there is more than one reason why the price level may change, then defining inflation by describing a movement of a variable that can have multiple reasons invites confusion. This confusion can eventually lead to errors in monetary policy. More accurate would be to define inflation by its cause rather than its effect.” (Cachanosky, 2020, p. 33 emphasis in original).

A general increase in the price level can occur outside of the means of inflation. If an economic resource; which is demanded in multiple lines of production and multiple production periods faces a shortage, this will create a general increase in the price level. The same effect will be seen if demand for this multi-specific good arises. Excess demand, supply shortages and inflation may hold similar effects but they do not hold the same cause.

“inflation must be defined by its cause rather than its effect. Inflation is the occurrence of an excess increase in the money supply over the demand for money”

In order to better combat the confusion, inflation must be defined by its cause rather than its effect. Inflation is the occurrence of an excess increase in the money supply over the demand for money:

MS > MD

It is not simply an increase in the supply of money full stop; money must have an excess (surplus) over the quantity demanded in order to classify it as inflationary; just as a monetary deflation cannot be classified as a general fall in price: a monetary deflation requires that:

MD > MS.

The Cambridge and Fisher equations respectfully provide a clear picture of the variables required, both however measure separate aspects of the money equation; the Cambridge equation focusses on the demand for money (MD) and the Fisher equation looks at the money supply (MS). the MS equation; adjusted to measure real output, is calculated as:

MS × Vy = Py × Y

Where Vy and Py are the money velocity and price levels related to all real output transactions. On the other side is the Fisher equation which is calculated as:

MD = k × (PyY)

Where k is capital and PyY is the nominal income held by economic actors. If the price level fluctuates up (down), then MD rises (falls) in addition as a result to maintain a constant monetary balance. In other words the demand for money is the demand to hold money balances which can be liquidated easily at later periods.

If MS = MD then it follows that Vy = . This shows that MV is an inverse of MD. A higher (lower) MD entails a higher (lower) k; therefore a lower (higher) Vy.

To reiterate, the cause of inflation is not MS in period 1 is greater than in period 2, but that ∹ MS > MD = inflation.

The effects of inflation on the price level are equally not as simple. Since excess money supply enters the economy from a specific point, inflation seldom effects all prices at the same rates, nor during the same time setting, as economic actors plans may hold earlier or later time structures of implementation. It is unsound to assume that the percentage increase of all prices would hold the same rate, as the rate of each price increase will vary depending on a variety of factors. We can hypothesise a median or mean rate, but this would not suggest a single rate, as it would be subject to deviations in relative price increases.

“This lack of in-house sourcing, whether one is in favour of the measure as a counter to climate change or not, is a key source of the current high price fluctuation in oil and gas”

While the current effects of inflation are nothing to shrug at, it does not mean all the woes are inflation related. The current fuel crises is a supply shortage caused by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Many Western governments have taken the position to not import Russian oil while the conflict is ensuing, whilst also not pursuing in-house sourcing in order to mitigate the price fluctuations. This lack of in-house sourcing, whether one is in favour of the measure as a counter to climate change or not, is a key source of the current high price fluctuation in oil and gas.

This is not to say the price level should not be permitted to adjust and must remain constant. Assuming monetary equilibrium to be desirable, changes in productivity which generate fluctuations in prices should not be obstructed by restrictive monetary policy, as this would destabilise monetary equilibrium (Monetary Equilibrium is a state of affairs where the quantity of money supplied is equal to the quantity of money demanded).

In a case where productivity increases (decreases) would generate an increase (decline) in supply, a fall (rise) in prices would be an appropriate movement; attempts to halt such movements would cause distortions in the market process. This is what is referred to as the productivity norm and is formulated as:

MV = P↓ Q↑

Where M is the stock of money, V is the velocity, P is the price level and Q is the quantity of goods and services.

It could be argued that price fluctuations caused by a supply shortage can contribute to the effects of inflation, and that the distinction between cause and effect is a game of semantics, but the distinction is a very real and important one in order to enact a sound monetary policy, and to ensure economic actors are better informed to make microeconomic solutions; as the late Professor Steve Horwitz put it:

“While there are Macroeconomic problems, there are only Microeconomic solutions.”

In short, supply shortages cannot contribute to inflation as, unless policy makers respond to a shortage with a monetary stimulus; further adding to an excess money supply, the shortage itself contributes nothing to MS > MD; it can add salt to the painful effects of the wound, but not contribute to the wound itself.


Continue reading “Fuel Shortages ≠ Inflation”

Taxpayers’ Alliance – Town Hall Rich List 2022 – Croydon Council

Croydon adding insult to taxpayer injury with the highest paid executive, and once again leading the list of local boroughs with executives paid over £100K, according to report.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance have issued their 2022 Town Hall Rich List of council employees in the UK in receipt of over £100,000 in total remuneration.  The list covers the financial year 2020-21, covering the period since residents have seen services cut following the issuing of a Section 114 notice, when the council declared de facto bankruptcy.  It’s not hard to see why the council ended up in this position when despite years of complaining about a lack of funding, and years of maximum council tax increases, Croydon Council had 29 staff earning over £100,000 a year (up from 19 the previous year), and with the former chief executive, Jo Negrini, receiving the highest remuneration of any council employee in the country at £613,895, which included a loss of office payment of £144,356 and a pension strain payment of £292,851.

To put the overall Croydon figures into context, neighbouring Sutton had just 14 staff whose remuneration exceeded £100,000.  Merton 12, Tandridge 1, and Reigate & Banstead 1.  Whilst our inner London neighbours Lambeth 27 staff and Lewisham 19 (both fewer than Croydon), Barnet a similar sized borough made do with just 8 staff on over £100K.  Some of the numbers for Croydon indicate the high turnover of staff, but surely during a period of front-line staff losing their roles, and lost services for the public, something and certainly more should have been done to control executive pay.

When we reviewed the TaxPayers’ Alliance Town Hall Rich List for 2021, we asked how when private sector organisations often benchmark salaries against other similar organisations the council clearly did not. Within the council, schools are required to benchmark themselves on a range of financial measures against other similar schools.  When the council requires emergency government funding, and undertakes a fire sale of assets like the Croydon Park Hotel sold at a £5 million loss, how is it possible for the council to be so blind to the pay of its own executives?

With a crumbling town centre, Purley Swimming Pool closed, libraries’ opening days reduced, rent increases, Council Tax increases, damning audit reports, and some council tenants living in squalor, how can it be acceptable that at £613,895 Croydon Council’s former chief executive Jo Negrini, received the highest remuneration of any council employee in the country?

With local elections in May, we ask Croydon residents to ask those seeking re-election, how they can justify their council tax payments being spent this way, and how with this track record of oversight they can justify being returned to office?

Croydon Council Pay over £100,000, 2020-21:

NameJob title Salary Loss of office Pension strain payments Sub total Pension Total
Jo NegriniChief executive £151,474 £144,356 £292,851 £588,681 £25,214 £613,895
 Undisclosed £207,500   £207,500  £207,500
Lisa TaylorFinance, investment and risk and interim s151 officer £162,134   £162,134 £39,968 £202,102
Shifa MustafaExecutive director, place £156,060   £156,060 £40,888 £196,948
Jacquline Harris-BakerExecutive director of resources and monitoring officer £156,060   £156,060 £40,888 £196,948
 Undisclosed £192,500   £192,500  £192,500
Guy van DicheleExecutive director (interim) of health, wellbeing & adults £150,411   £150,411 £36,505 £186,916
Hazel SimmondsExecutive director of gateway, strategy & engagement £137,700   £137,700 £36,077 £173,777
 Undisclosed £147,500   £147,500  £147,500
 Undisclosed £137,500   £137,500  £137,500
 Undisclosed £137,500   £137,500  £137,500
 Undisclosed £137,500   £137,500  £137,500
 Undisclosed £137,500   £137,500  £137,500
Katherine KerswellChief executive £105,326   £105,326 £27,595 £132,921
 Undisclosed £132,500   £132,500  £132,500
 Undisclosed £127,500   £127,500  £127,500
 Undisclosed £117,500   £117,500  £117,500
 Undisclosed £117,500   £117,500  £117,500
 Undisclosed £117,500   £117,500  £117,500
 Undisclosed £117,500   £117,500  £117,500
 Undisclosed £117,500   £117,500  £117,500
 Undisclosed £117,500   £117,500  £117,500
 Undisclosed £117,500   £117,500  £117,500
 Undisclosed £117,500   £117,500  £117,500
 Undisclosed £112,500   £112,500  £112,500
 Undisclosed £107,500   £107,500  £107,500
 Undisclosed £107,500   £107,500  £107,500
 Undisclosed £102,500   £102,500  £102,500
 Undisclosed £102,500   £102,500  £102,500

Full Report: https://assets.nationbuilder.com/taxpayersalliance/pages/17477/attachments/original/1648806766/Town_Hall_Rich_List_2022.pdf?1648806766

Council-by-council breakdown of data: https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https%3A%2F%2Fassets.nationbuilder.com%2Ftaxpayersalliance%2Fpages%2F17477%2Fattachments%2Foriginal%2F1648806321%2FTown_Hall_Rich_List_2022.xlsx%3F1648806321&wdOrigin=BROWSELINK

Press Release:

Daily Wire, welcoming the customers left behind.

Author Mike Swadling

For most people in the UK if they are aware of Ben Shapiro, it’s due to his 2019 interview with Andrew Neil. Whilst not one of Shapiro’s finer days, it was an early indication of the extent to which Neil whilst the best on the BBC, is very much an establishment figure who won’t leave the left’s Overton window.

There are endless Ben Shapiro destroys videos, and The Ben Shapiro Show is considered the 5th biggest podcast in the World with 2.6 million daily listeners. The show is published by The Daily Wire an organisation Ben created with Jeremy Boreing and which is fast becoming one of the most interesting news and entertainment organisations in the US. Originally focused on news with a conservative slant, it has attracted new broadcasters including Candace Owens last year.

Having filled the space left by so main mainstream media broadcasters who ignore those with conservative (in the American sense), libertarian, or classical liberal views more recently they have started to expand into wider entertainment to fight back against the woke.  Actress Gina Carano joined after she was cancelled by Disney, and they acquired all of PragerU’s content. But it doesn’t end there, with Disney taking a political stance against Florida’s Parental Rights In Education Bill, The Daily Wire is expanding (with a $100 million investment over 3 years) into children’s entertainment. 

“Watching the entertainment channel TBS, you are suddenly subjected to adverts for other shows telling you how conservatives are subverting free speech (and I thought it was Trump who was banned from Facebook and Twitter)”

Is there a market for all this?  Well, my personal travels around Florida suggest there is.  Watching the entertainment channel TBS, you are suddenly subjected to adverts for other shows telling you how conservatives are subverting free speech (and I thought it was Trump who was banned from Facebook and Twitter).  As already mentioned, Disney with a significant base in Florida have decided to weigh in against the state’s popular governor.  The Oscars, Wil Smith and Chris Rock aside, was a wokeathon which comparative to 10 years ago nobody watches, and Harry’s Razors possibly the most masculine of products pulled their adverts from the Daily Wire following one complaint on Twitter.

“Joe Biden ‘I did that’ stickers pointing at the price you are paying on petrol pumps, are I’m told ubiquitous”

Florida does lean Republican, but I mostly spent my time in major cities and you were never far from a pro-Trump t-shirt, flag or hat.  Joe Biden ‘I did that’ stickers pointing at the price you are paying on petrol pumps, are I’m told ubiquitous, and Chick-fil-A’s, the famously Christian chicken restaurants have long queues of cars at them.  My personal favourite, the ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ slogan is something I managed to see most days on holiday.  It’s a slogan that does more than almost any other to highlight the two political Americas.  For those that don’t know the story a sports reporter hearing the crowd chant ‘F*** Joe Biden’ decided to tell the audience she heard ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ a reference to one of the participants. As anyone who watches televised football in the UK knows, sports commentators are best to ignore many of the crowds’ chants, or if they must mention them, simply apologise to anyone offended by the unkind comments.

“None of this is to say I think it’s a good thing.  Driving America into separate camps, watching different news, sports reports, eating at difference restaurants, and increasingly doing this from childhood is unlikely to end well”

Much like the growing success of GB News here, The Daily Wire is tapping into an audience deserted by the mainstream news and entertainment industries.  They are not alone, Heroes of Liberty, Little Libertarians, and PragerU, all make inroads into an audience desperate to be served content they consider suitable for them and their family.  None of this is to say I think it’s a good thing.  Driving America into separate camps, watching different news, sports reports, eating at difference restaurants, and increasingly doing this from childhood is unlikely to end well.  But it is incumbent on the rollercoaster and cartoon provider to stay out of debates on state education law, and entertainment programs to at least pretend to entertain rather than lecture, to foster a societal bond.  As Michael Jordan said “Republicans buy sneakers, too”.

What about men’s razors you ask?  The Daily Wire even expanded into that.  Jeremy’s Razors was set-up by Jeremy Boring and The Daily Wire, they already have 45,000 subscribers, more some say that CNN do for their new streaming service.  For good or ill, if you don’t like the business the market is increasingly providing you an opportunity to not buy from them.