National Party Lets Croydon Labour Off The Hook Over Andrew Pelling

Croydon’s Labour Group has been let off the hook over Andrew Pelling. It will not have to decide whether to take the Whip away from him because the national Labour Party has expelled him from the Party. The reason is because Andrew applied to register the Putting Croydon First (PCF) political party with the Electoral Commission. Andrew can appeal within two weeks, but it appears that it can take up to two years for appeals to be heard and decisions taken. Andrew now joins expelled members like Croydon’s anti-racist campaigner, and activist David White.

Putting Croydon First

Andrew applied to register PCF because his future with Labour was uncertain and the Electoral Commission had a tight timetable if he and those supporting him want to stand for election on behalf of the new Party.

The Commission lists the following proposed descriptions: 

  1. Putting Croydon First
  2. Putting Croydon First – Independent
  3. Putting Croydon First – supporting Andrew Pelling
  4. Putting Croydon First. – working for you
  5. Putting Croydon First. – getting things done
  6. Putting Croydon First. – answers the telephone
  7. Putting Croydon First. – really stops overdevelopment
  8. Putting Croydon First. – there’s an alternative
  9. Putting Croydon First. – can stop cuts
  10. Putting Croydon First – backed this Mayoralty
  11. Putting Croydon First – Independent & Experienced
  12. Putting Croydon First. – Unmatched Croydon experience

Andrew tells me that the PCF constitution does not allow it to field Council candidates. That means that the media report suggesting he will run as a Councillor is wrong, unless he does it as an independent individual not as PCF.

www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/croydon-councillor-expelled-labour-after-23181795

Putting Croydon First Ltd has been a registered company since 14 December with three Directors, including Andrew. The other two are:

 ·         Marzia Nicodemi who is also its Secretary. Her Facebook page says she works at the Labour Party. According to her Linkedin page she is Chairperson of Croydon Stop and Search Community Monitoring Group, Editor of Shirley Life, and Secretary of Shirley Community Centre Association. Formed in 2014 the Monitoring Group,  I cannot find a website or social media platforms for it, so it is difficult to work out what it actually does and how it tells the public. The other two are:

·         Michael Julian Anton Maxwell. Living in Sanderstead he was involved in several dissolved companies as shown on the Companies House register. One of these suggests he was a dentist also involved in property and other businesses.

Croydon Community Partnership Party

The Commission is also considering an application to approve a party called Croydon Community Partnership. Its proposed descriptions are:

  1. lobbying for burial sites
  2. spirituality over secularism
  3. building bridges between communities
  4. all faiths under one umbrella
  5. fight housing crisis

The Party has been a registered company since 17 January at Coombe Farm. Its sole Director is Darta Viksna. He is also a Director of Suburban Studios Ltd, an architectural practice (http://suburbanstudios.co.uk/about-us) and Metropolitan Croydon Ltd. A former Director of both companies was Anwar Rauf Ansari – see below.

There are a number of local area political parties around the country that have been approved or whose applications are being considered by the Commission. This may reflect a growing disenchantment with the main political parties in different local authority areas.

Has A New Skeleton Fallen Out Of The Cupboard?

There is speculation that a new skeleton has fallen out the cupboard, that Grant Thornton, the discredited auditors, have said that £73m of a complex property assets deal was ultra vires. i.e. not within the Council’s powers. £73m represents about 20% of the Council’s net revenue budget. Any accusation of being ultra vires will have necessitated the Council seeking high level advice from lawyers and local authority finance experts. The report and the Council’s comments on it have yet to be published.

The budget setting meetings of the Cabinet and full Council due to be held on 28 February have now been deferred to 7 March, no doubt to take this new report into account. At least that will give the Scrutiny Committee the chance to question the proposed budget at its rescheduled meeting on 1 March, and the General Purposes and Audit Committee rescheduled to 3 March.

In defending itself against the apparent Grant Thornton assessment on having acted ultra vires, the Labour Group cannot hide behind  the argument ‘Why did the officers not tell us?’ They have a track record of negligent acceptance of officers’ advice without adequate questioning, scrutiny, transparency and accountability.

Potential Reaction of Voters

The growing mess will further damage Labour’s standing in the May elections. The danger is that the Tories may benefit despite their total inadequacy as an opposition in probing decisions. On the other hand voters may say ‘A plague on both your houses’ and vote for independent candidates, risking the Mayor being supported by a lot of people with no real experience of complex organisations like local Councils.

Whoever is elected Mayor is faced with a daunting inheritance, with little freedom of manoeuvre for the first two years. The only candidate so far who has the necessary in-depth experience and is not tainted by the crisis is Labour’s Val Shawcross.

Anwar Ansari

Ansari is a Director of dozens of companies, especially those in the AA Homes and Housing group. Ansari used to be a Labour Party activist including as Chair of Croydon Central Labour and a donor. He made a donation, for example, to Sadiq Khan’s election campaign for Mayor in 2016. His companies have specialised in big office-to-residential conversions and rents mainly to private tenants. In 2015 he tried to get planning permission on Apollo and Lunar Houses. In June 2016 The Daily Mail reported that he advertised for Polish construction workers. He failed in his challenge against the Council’s landlord licensing scheme. In 2017 he sought to build two extra stories at 5 Syndenham Rd. The fire service issued an enforcement notice over safety concerns there, and the Council fined him for failing to secure a landlord licence for 36 of the building’s privately rented flats. Ansari lost the case. The Times reported on it in December 2018. In February last year Develop Croydon reported that he was seeking to acquire another site in Croydon for office and residential accommodation.

For further background on Ansari see:

The one good thing that Labour Councillor Paul Scott did was to get the Article 4 Direction agreed to prevent the conversion of office blocks to residential in the Town Centre without planning permission.

About seancreighton1947

I have lived in Norbury since July 2011. I blog on Croydon, Norbury and history events,news and issues. I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I have submitted views to Council Committees and gave evidence against the Whitgift Centre CPO and to the Local Plan Inquiry. I am a member of Norbury Village Residents Association and Chair of Norbury Community Land Trust, and represent both on the Love Norbury community organisations partnership Committee. I used to write for the former web/print Croydon Citizen. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics history database. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour, radical and suffrage movements, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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