THURSDAY’S referendum has caused a huge rift in the Croydon Labour camp with Bensham Manor ward councillor Jamie Audsley deselected from standing in the 2022 local elections in May.
He led a group of party members launching the Labour for Mayor campaign and it was well known that he was hoping if the vote favours an executive mayor that he would be selected to be Labour’s candidate.
In an internal statement sent to colleagues seen by The Chronicle Cllr Audsley launches a scathing attack on the nameless powers behind what he describes as a ‘politically motivated’ decision to reject his application to stand for the party in May.
An internal survey of Labour members in Croydon, saw a narrow margin wanting a directly-elected mayor. However, when asked what governance model should the Croydon Labour Group support in the referendum they opted for the current leadership option which meant that supporters were whipped not to speak out in favour of the DEM model.
In leaflets distributed by the campaign supporting DEMOC (Directly Elected Mayoral of Croydon) Cllr Audsley was quoted as saying: “This referendum will be about the best system for our town – not about whether you support Labour or Conservatives. As a Labour councillor I support changing the system to have a directly elected mayor!”
Once the Labour whip was in place he says he ceased any communication on the topic but the councillor who has represented Bensham Manor since 2014, was told that his application had been rejected because he had not declared that he had campaigned for DEM and that he had broken the Nolan Principles, the guide to conduct in public service. This means that he is ‘ineligible’ to stand in May’s elections and would not be able to pursue a seat for a further four years.
He then lost his appeal against the decision despite cabinet colleagues speaking in support of him.
Supporters in the Bensham Manor ward have sent an open letter to MP Steve Reed and London Region Labour HQ.
In a covering note to the letter, Peter Durrans, the secretary of the Labour Party’s Bensham Manor branch, states that “the explanation given for rejecting the application by Jamie Audsley is unsound, unjust and, therefore, unacceptable”.
An advocate of citizenship politics Cllr Audsley has been outspoken about the former administration’s lack of ownership and honesty following the council’s well documented bankruptcy.
In the statement he says: ”I campaigned in good faith to put our community first, taking the view that after the catastrophic failure of leadership at Croydon Council, a Directly Elected Mayor can improve our town and the quality of public life for communities across our borough.”
“While it will be for others to judge, I believe I have worked hard for our community and local ward over nearly eight years, taking action to support our community to get organised on many local issues, tackling unfair working conditions across the borough and supporting many to get involved in Croydon politics.
“I received no real reason for my application being unsuccessful, apart from an alleged lack of transparency about the issue of a Directly Elected Mayor. Having been open on this issue as all are aware, the irony is not lost on me.
“I appealed the decision to reject my application but unfortunately this was not successful. I was not provided with any explanation as to the reason of the panel for not upholding the appeal – arguably this is contrary to the obligations of decision makers and lacks transparency itself.
“I therefore feel that the decision to reject my application is politically motivated.
“Sadly, as when challenging the previous administration with independent thought, the experience of myself and others who have stood up for what we believe during a period of open discussion and debate, is to have been met with a similar political culture. A culture that continues to damage Croydon’s communities.”