Croydon Commons debate a ‘political stunt’ says Labour MP

Houses of Parliament. Pic: Fiona Holland

Croydon Labour MP Sarah Jones has attacked a Commons adjounment debate on Croydon Council’s financial crisis as ‘a political stunt.’

In a Twitter post this morning Mario Creatura, a Conservative councillor for Coulsdon, said that the failure of Labour’s MPs attend the debate showed “They couldn’t care less.” But Jones, Labour MP for Croydon Central, said the debate was used as a way to attack the Labour Party, instead of as a way to consult on Croydon’s future.

She told Eastlondonlines: “Last night’s adjournment debate, which I watched, was a 20-minute political stunt, attended by one other MP. At the point at which Croydon council’s new leadership is in talks with the Government about the way forward, it was not a helpful intervention. My priority is to work with the council to develop solutions that protect residents and the services supporting them.”

Neither Jones or Croydon’s other Labour MP, Steve Reed, attended the debate.

Creatura said that while no Labour MPs took part in person, Conservative MP for Carshalton and Wallington Elliot Colburn, and Conservative MP Chris Philp were present. “Doesn’t Croydon deserve better than this silence?” he added.

David Simmons, Conservative MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner said: “Given the unfortunate silence of some of the Labour Members representing [their councillors and local residents], this debate has the purpose of airing the financial challenges facing our London boroughs and providing some assurance to my constituents and others across our capital that the situation in Croydon will not be replicated elsewhere.””

Andrew Rendle, former Labour councillor for Ashburton ward tweeted: “I think it’s right to put this in context. It was a 25 min adjournment debate held after the business of the day has finished. These debates consist of a back bench speech followed by a ministerial reply.”

He added: “Other MPs cannot make a speech during these debates and there is no vote at the end of the maximum 30 min item of business.”

The severity of the council’s bankruptcy and its potential impact on Croydon’s residents as well as communities from neighbouring boroughs were the main topics of discussion.

Simmons told the Commons: “Part of the reason for this debate is the frustration expressed by many that everyone — from the auditors, to local residents, to councillors in the opposition group, to members of Parliament— was raising these concerns, but they seem to have fallen on deaf ears. There is an absolutely critical need for the assurance in other local authorities — not just Hillingdon and Harrow but Sutton and elsewhere —that a closer degree of attention is being paid to the finances.”

Kelly Tolhurst, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “It is for the council to decide what steps it needs to take to balance its budget. The council made it clear in its section 114 notices and accompanying reports that it will submit a request later in December to the Government for financial support to help it bring the budget back into balance. That request will be considered as and when it is received.

Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North did not respond to a request for comment from ELL.

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