Our Free Speech event, My tuppenceworth, on Tuesday 19th November gave lots of people the opportunity to speak. One of those speeches came from Mike Swadling, we have reproduced the text below.
My tuppencyworth sets out to prove what former House of Representatives Speaker Tip O’Neill said “all Politics is local”.
For I would like to talk to you about a Democratically Elected Mayor of Croydon.
Now don’t let the title fool you, this merely reflects the title given in the legislation.
An elected mayor replaces the current council leader, and wow does that leader need replacing.
First some facts about the borough.
- If Croydon was a city it would be the 8th largest in the UK with over 385,000 people.
- Over 14,000 businesses are based in Croydon.
- At an average salary of just over £29,000 we earn about £5,000 more than the UK average.
This numbers hide some huge disparities.
The London Borough of Croydon, was formed in 1965 from the Coulsdon and Purley Urban District and the County Borough of Croydon.
It is really 2 or 3 distinct areas thrown together as part of the Greater London sprawl.
The 60 bus coming into Norbury, travels through the typical inner London communities of Thornton Heath and Broad Green.
Croydon and South Croydon are more typical outer London suburbs.
Then somewhere travelling down from Purley the area turns into rural Surrey as the bus passes and eventually climbs the North Downs into Old Coulsdon.
Those differences exemplify why we need a mayor.
Today reflecting these differences, Croydon has a Conservative strong hold to the south, a Labour strong hold to the north. With swing seats in Parliament and on the Council in the centre.
The parties focus overwhelmingly on the swing wards, and frankly they admit this themselves.
But it gets worse….
The leader of the council is selected by the councillors of the winning party. This could be just 21 votes from councillors, all in safe seats.
This is compounded by over half the councillors being granted special allowances for additional roles, often given to them by the same leader they have just appointed.
An elected mayor will be for voted by all of the people of Croydon,
If they want to win election, and re-election they will need to win substantial numbers of votes from, and represent all of the borough.
We want an executive head we can vote for, someone to drive the town forward, and someone to blame.
Even in this illustrious group, few here will know who at the council is responsible for the potholes that litter the town, or who has responsibility for our 120 parks and open spaces.
Who do we hold accountable for the Children’s Services that continues to be rated as Inadequate by Ofsted?
With a Mayor we know who is responsible and who to hold accountable – it is, the Mayor.
We have a campaign.
It is the only show in town to improve the way Croydon is governed.
We are formed by, and have support from many local residents associations.
We also have support from the Conservatives, Croydon South Labour, The Brexit Party, the Libertarian party and the Christen Peoples Alliance Party.
We need 15,000 signatures and we can then put it to the people. If you are a Croydon resident sign the petition and give the people of Croydon a free choice.