top of page

Hustings for elected Croydon Mayor

Updated: May 30, 2023

On the 5th of May 2022, Croydon will be voting for a mayor. Unlike before, this mayor does not automatically come from the top two parties but candidates this year have opened up to any party or independent. In this blog I will be going over the key points of the event, whiles hopefully providing relevant information that you can use to help you make your decision.

The role of Croydon's elected mayor is to be responsible for the day to day running of the Croydon council. The switch from a civic mayor is due to a 4 to 1 vote late in 2021. Essentially this means the mayor will have more to do other than attending community events and chairing meetings. A husting is "The political campaigns and speeches before an election" (Collins dictionary). For the next couple of weeks, these candidates will be letting you know what they are going to do for our Croydon community. I would encourage you, to make contact with them as they all promised to be approachable and to be held to account directly by you the local community.

Croydon's mayor is no longer meant to function in line with the dominant party to carry out their agenda. But from now on the mayor is meant to look at the needs of all people, north and south ensuring Croydon's resident's voices are heard.

The candidates

  1. Val Shawcross (Labour),

  2. Jason Perry (Conservative),

  3. Peter Underwood (Green),

  4. Farah London (The Taking the Initiative Party)

  5. Gavin Palmer (Independent)

  6. Rick Howard (Liberal democrats)

What was discussed

The locals conveyed a 2 tier Croydon. An under-funded north Croydon and a South Croydon that seemed to be doing a lot better. Locals conveyed that the 2 tiers are strongholds for either Labour or Conservative. The community raised their concerns that the parties kept to their own as they did not see the need to address people across the political lines in a meaningful way. Each candidate gave assurances they would act independent of their party or council officers and listen to the needs of the people.

The candidates were asked two questions, will you be fully committed to the role as mayor? Will you promise to listen to the people?

The community raised significant issues regarding rubbish and fly-tipping. It was highlighted there was no cohesion with messages. For example, Croydon is making it more difficult to drive with the LCN but at the same time banning the use of their skips without a car.

Val commented on a possible exploration of different approaches such as reducing collection costs, Gavin highlighted his annoyance of having 72 tonnes of waste on his land and highlighted rigorous contract accountability was the solution. Peter stressed that the waste contract needs to be publically accessible and highlighted that an initial investment in cleaning the area will make locals value and keep their area clean. Jason highlighted that a clean environment, with no graffiti and no broken windows, would bring investment. He highlighted that an investor would not see Thornton Heath high street as commercially unappealing.

Interestingly a young person queried the housing situation for young people getting on the property ladder. He reasoned that if the area is done up, it will be gentrified and locals like him will be forced to live out of the area. Farah suggested a rent scheme that gave equity over time, giving a realistic chance for the community to get their own property. Gavin stated that properties should be made that young people can afford.

The candidates were asked about how they would improve Croydon. Gavin stated that Croydon should be made into a place people want to go to. He suggested having a concert complex over the East Croydon station site that would have on-site a basketball court. Farah also conveyed that Croydon strategically is easy to get to, it's near Gatwick, it is connected to central London and should be a tech and innovation hub. She proposed a conference hall where people come in order to be inspired and give the tools to spearhead enterprise. Val was reminded of the failings of the Westfield project and the community expressed that the poor leading of a labour council had caused this. Val stated that she would do things differently.

I noted considerable frustrations vented at Val due to the lack of investment in the legacy youth centre and the running down of Croydon under a Labour government. Val conveyed that the Legacy centre was not at risk of closing and under her administration she would make sure that she would keep it running as a priority. Val stressed that she had been retired and the decisions the community are concerned about did not happen under her watch. The community conveyed the concerns about cabinets being underqualified, on high salaries but as the audit showed lacked the stability to execute their jobs. Farah assured the community that "heads will roll" with her and that she would not tolerate incompetence. All the candidates assured the community that they would ensure that people will be there on merit and not on the social bias of alleged friendships.

Rick criticised the labour party for its lack of accountability. He conveyed that it was inexcusable for the leader of the council not knowing what was happening under their watch within Croydon (regarding states of the housing). He conveyed that in the army he learned that it was his duty if elected to keep his ear to the ground and proactively find out what is happening. He insisted that the leadership in Croydon needs a cleanup.

Gavin, Val and Jason strongly highlighted the issue with communicating to officers of the council. Gavin insisted better form recording was needed. Others suggested having circuits around Croydon where locals were invited to voice their concerns. Farah went as far to say that anyone could have her number and that she will make herself available to all members of the community.

Val Shawcross

  • She will give up half her salary if elected

  • She believes in They are impartiality, objectivity, honesty, openness, accountability, leadership and selflessness.

  • Pledges to get a well-run council that responds efficiently to its residents

Things Val wants you to know

  1. VALUE FOR MONEY Val will make a clean break from the financial problems of the past and will address those issues head-on. Val will run a tight ship that delivers value for money for taxpayers and improves customer service for residents, tenants and businesses.

  2. REGENERATION Val will bring in investment into the town centre to regenerate the high streets and shopping areas. She will clean up the fly-tipping and graffiti across the Borough to restore pride in our area

  3. SAFER STREETS Val will tackle crime and anti-social behaviour head-on. Setting up a new anti-gang task force working across the community to stop violence on our streets and tackle the causes and perpetrators of anti-social behaviour.

  4. JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES Val will create Borough-wide opportunities for young people, working with local schools, colleges, training providers and businesses to link up our talented young people with opportunities on their doorstep.

  5. THE RIGHT HOMES IN THE RIGHT PLACES Val will lead on a new housing plan that works for every part of Croydon. Val will spearhead good, affordable family homes where they are needed and protect against overdevelopment, but not at the cost of sacrificing green spaces or damaging the character of local areas. She’ll also bring in a charter of rights for council tenants and will drastically improve the service. Val will always put local people before the developer’s profits.

Source (accessed 15/3/2022 with errors edited)

One minute pitch

Jason Perry

  • Jason wants the people of Croydon to decide what issues need to be addressed

  • Jason wants to make the people the heart of his term

Things Jason wants you to know

  • Jason has not published clearly his objectives but rather has invited the community to give their views in a minute survey

  • From the survey, he intends to prioritise what to address

Peter Underwood

  • Peter wants locals to let him know what issues need addressing

  • Peter would like a cleaner Croydon people can feel proud to live in

  • Peter wants to have more transparency in decisions that affect Croydon

  • Peter wants open contracts in areas relevant to the community like trash disposal

One minute pitch

Things Peter wants you to know

  1. Give power back to people Peter wants this to end. He will bring in citizens assemblies and genuine consultations at the start of decision processes so people have a real say in what happens. He will insist on a more transparent system at the Council so people can see what progress is being made and if something can’t be done people can see the full explanation why. Peter will also offer to work across political parties so that everyone in Croydon knows their representatives can be involved in running the Council........

  2. Get Croydon Council Working for You ........ But Peter’s academic background and years working in the public, private, and charity sectors mean he has the skills and experience to begin the mammoth task of getting Croydon back on track......

  3. Make Croydon happier Politics shouldn't just be about budgets and regulations. It should be about making your life better. We want people to enjoy living in Croydon. We want places for children to play and well-maintained parks. We want clean streets and public spaces. We want people to feel safe, whether they are enjoying a night out in town or just walking to school or work. We want people to feel they have the chance to express themselves, whether that is through their job, the arts, or just enjoying the vibrant cultural diversity of shows and events in Croydon. We want people to feel actively involved in how their area is run; generating new ideas and improving their area.

Farah London

  • Farah has not published her Croydon Mayor Candidacy on her site but refers to only her London Mayor candidacy (on the date I browsed her site 15 3 2022)

  • On the night she highlighted making Croydon a place for innovation

  • Investing in the community and youth

  • Getting rid of leaders not fit for running the councils operations

Things Farah wants you to know

Farah devotes herself to the community by being an active volunteer for several social justice programs and charity organisations over the past 20 years. Her community work has driven real change and transformed lives. Among the many causes she has been involved in, some remain particularly close to her heart, such as caring for the homeless, supporting those with mental health challenges, and helping young people to avoid the lure of gang violence through mentoring. (accessed 15 3 2022)

One minute pitch

Gavin Palmer

Things Gavin wants you to know

  1. I am committed to changing the council enabling residents pursuit of happiness, peace, wealth and health

  2. I will clean up the practices, attitudes, environment and I need your mass participation

  3. Non aligned to co-create new policies and regulations that are effective and give a long term good result for the finances of the borough of Croydon

  4. I will bring transparency, honesty and professionalism to all that is not working, by new projects and direct straightforward management and accountability

(No official website, information from official campaign flyer)

One minute pitch

Rick Howard

  • Rick believes people have the solutions

  • Rick wants to give the people the power to make the decisions that impact their lives

  • Rick wants to have leaders of Croydon, running departments based on their merit

  • Rick did not have a website I could refer to at the time of searching

One minute pitch

Closing points

Croydon has an opportunity to change and the candidates believe they are a part of the solution. On the 5th of May, 2022 we all have an opportunity to place someone in office who potentially influence the runnings of the council. Be a part of the change and vote.

It was good to see the locals of Croydon speaking up from a variety of genders, ages and cultural backgrounds. At times things did get heated, especially between the two major parties' supporters. However, overall I felt the night was very constructive and all candidates had equal opportunity to raise their objectives in an open forum.

About my photography

362 views0 comments


bottom of page