A group of residents have come together to campaign to trigger a referendum for a democratically elected Mayor of Croydon to become the elected leader of the council.
Called DEMOC (Directly Elected Mayor of Croydon) the campaigners were recently in Thornton Heath outside Tesco gathering signatures and have so far have over 4,000 names on a petition towards the 15,000 needed.
DEMOC have formal support from seven residents associations and from local representatives of the Conservative Party, Labour Party, Brexit Party, Christian Parties Alliance and Libertarian Party.
The Labour leader of Croydon Council presently Cllr Tony Newman is appointed by the wining party in the local elections. DEMOC want to change that so this role is given to the 270,000 voters of Croydon to decide. The leader has significant power and should be someone who is elected by, and accountable to, all the people of Croydon, says DEMOC.
Campaigner Michael Swadling, said: “Of the 28 electoral council wards in Croydon, 24 have significant majorities for one or other of the two main parties. In those areas, only the incumbent has any real chance of winning and councillors know they have safe seats. The only votes that really make a difference in a Local Election are in the four ‘marginal wards’.
“We want to give all of Croydon a real chance to choose the council leader.”
Mr Swadling, an ex UKIP election candidate added: “The role of the ceremonial mayor, who Chairs council meetings and can often be seen at a school fete in their chains of office, currently held by the excellent Mayor Humayun Kabir would remain unchanged. There would be minimal additional costs as the Elected Mayor replaces the Leader of the Council. Other areas that have already done this, include Hackney, Lewisham, and Watford.”
Mr Swadling’s family is from Thornton Heath where this mother grew up and he is vice chair of Winterbourne Nursery and Infants school governors. He outlined the reasons for the campaign: “In all parts of the borough planning comes up, people have real concerns over further intensification of developments. People were unimpressed by missed bin collections, and potholes on the road. We also had concerns raised about inaction on repair of council houses.Under an elected mayor many of the problems may still exist, but you know who is responsible. We feel that will make them more accountable and likely to respond to the needs of the people of Croydon.”
Croydon Council do not permit the online submission of petitions, so If you are interested in the campaign download a petition from https://www.democ.org.uk/sign-petition and return to the PO box