20,000 local residents urge Council to hold referendum for a directly elected Mayor of Croydon on 6 May next year.

Today (3 September), a campaign led by local Residents' Associations and supported across the political spectrum, handed in a petition to Croydon Council with over 20,000 signatures – well in excess of what is legally required – to trigger a referendum for a directly elected Mayor for Croydon.

The leaders of the campaign called on Croydon Council’s leadership to confirm the referendum would take place on 6 May next year, the same day as the London Mayor and Assembly elections are already due to be held.

There are many good reasons why the people in Croydon want a directly Elected Mayor. Underlying all of them is the belief that the current council system doesn't work for residents – whoever is in power, half the Borough is ignored because of Croydon’s specific political landscape where the North of the Borough votes Labour and the South of the Borough votes Conservative. The Council doesn’t listen and often doesn’t seem to care what large parts of the community think.

The current Council's action in response to the 20,000 signatures on this petition, secured despite lost months from the Covid lock down, will be a good indicator of their approach to democracy and accountability. The current Council leader has stated his desire to delay the referendum for as long as possible, rather than making an argument to defend the current system and putting that to the people.

Gerry Meredith-Smith, Chair of the DEMOC campaign said:

“There is a desire for change in our Borough and a lot of momentum behind the idea of a referendum for a directly elected Mayor. Will the Council listen to the will of the people and go ahead with a referendum on May 6 next year? Will the Council now give people the choice over how their town is run and how those responsible are chosen by and accountable to the people?

“Or will they hide behind Covid legislation, using it as an excuse to ignore what a large number of the people of Croydon now demand? Will they prioritise holding on to their current positions and allowances for a few more months, rather than giving the people the chance of a better system and a better future for our town?”

Joanne Milligan, Vice Chair, Croydon South Labour Party, said:

“This campaign is about what is best for democracy and best for Croydon – not which political party is in charge. Residents’ Associations, members of all political parties and of none, have come together to change the way local government in Croydon works – to boost accountability.

“We want to change the system so that whichever political party the Mayor comes from, they have to listen to people right across the Borough from Norbury to Coulsdon and New Addington to Waddon.”

Chris Philp, Conservative MP for Croydon South, said:

“As the local Conservative MP, you would expect me to disagree with Croydon’s current Council on a wide range of issues – from their indiscriminate approach to granting planning permissions to the abject failure to deliver the regeneration of Croydon’s town centre; from the huge cost overrun on the Fairfield Halls refurbishment to the near bankruptcy of the borough’s finances.

“But the root of many of these problems stems from the way the Town Hall works. A directly elected Mayor would dramatically increase the accountability of those who run our town locally.”