Milestone: DEMOC Petition handed to Croydon Council

The DEMOC petition was handed to Croydon Council on Sept 3rd. See media details here and here and here.
It also made the ITV (local) news.

Without repeating the comments available on the above links, Below are a few things that may be of interest…

  • The DEMOC team, with all your support, collected 21K signatures. It then validated these to remove illegible addresses, non-Croydon voters and duplicates. After the validation it had 17,114 signatures, which is well in excess of the 13,788 that are needed to trigger the Democratically Elected Mayor (DEM) referendum.
  • All this hard work collecting 21K signatures reduced to just 4 small boxes that you can see in some of the pictures
  • It might help to understand what has been achieved here if you consider that this is the first time the voters of a local authority have “forced” a referendum for a DEM. Whilst cities and several London boroughs have Democratically Elected Mayors these have all come about because the local authority had identified the DEM as a better and more accountable way of run their council and encouraged the change. There have been some attempts by residents to force a referendum on a non-cooperative local authority, but none actually reached the threshold 5% of the electorate within 12 months that is needed to trigger the referendum.

The Council will now validate the signatures and is likely try to find a reason why the submitted paperwork can be invalidated. With the list being pre-validated and the massive margin of error this will be fruitless.
There remains confusion due to the recent emergency/Covid legislation. There are a limited number of ways forward.

  1. The Council may choose to claim the ambiguous legislation allows all the signatures to be declared null-and-void, or they are valid but the referendum will be in May 2022. If the council tries to invalidate or delay then the DEMOC team will consider high court action – but this will take months. This would be a very bad (indefensible) position for the current leadership to present at the May 2021 local elections.
  2. The council can elect to embrace the prospect of a DEM and “allow” the referendum to take place in May 2021 (the legislation puts this within the gift of the Council) – this would completely  sidestep the ambiguity in the Covid legislation.
  3. Croydon Council is in the process of asking for a large cash injection from central government to prevent the council being declared bankrupt by the end of September. The government  usually imposes onerous conditions before a cash lifeboat is provided. It is hoped that the government joins-the-dots and requires Croydon Council to permit the DEM referendum in May 2021 as a condition of funding

Tony Newman in the media
It is believed that Tony Newman (current leader of the Council) has been interviewed by Radio London on the topic of the council debts and this will be aired at some point on Monday Sep 7th.

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