In November Neil Garratt, Croydon and Sutton London Assembly Candidate, wrote to his Labour counterpart Patsy Cummings. As Deputy Cabinet Member for Finance, she has been a senior figure in Croydon Council's sad spiral into bankruptcy.
As someone hoping to represent us on the London Assembly, scrutinising the London Mayor’s multi-billion pound budget and decisions which could affect the whole of London, people will wonder, what is Patsy doing now to show her capability for the job?
Two months on, there is still no answer.
Open Letter To Patsy Cummings, Deputy Cabinet Member for Finance, and Labour London Assembly Candidate for Croydon & Sutton
14 November 2020
I’m sure you will be as concerned as I am about the terrible news of Croydon Council issuing a section 114 notice, effectively declaring itself bankrupt. It means all discretionary spending is frozen, residents are concerned about their services, and council staff are worried for their jobs.
You are seeking to represent Croydon and Sutton on the London Assembly, a job that’s all about scrutinising spending, challenging decisions, and standing up for residents’ concerns.
During your time as a Councillor in Croydon, the Administration has made several risky property investments, which are now a big part of the Council’s financial mess. There was the £29.8 million to buy the Croydon Park Hotel, which is now defunct. What is happening to that money? Then £46 million was spent buying The Colonnades. Did you think that was a good decision? As a member of the ruling Administration, what did you do to satisfy yourself that these were sound investments? And what are you doing now to ensure the public does not lose money on these deals?
But towering over both is the £200 million Council loan to Brick by Brick, the Council’s controversial in-house builder. When the Council’s Chief Financial Officer set out her reasons for declaring the Council bankrupt, she listed the “greater danger than previously anticipated around Brick by Brick being able to make interest and dividend payments due to the Council this year and for previous years.” This is alarming: the annual interest on a £200 million loan runs to many millions, and why is interest due in previous years still unpaid?
Have you investigated this, to find out how much interest might be due but not paid? Or raised concerns about the reasons for Brick by Brick not paying its debts on time? Are you satisfied that Croydon Council are on top of this situation and taking care of taxpayers’ money?
As someone seeking senior political office as a London Assembly Member, a role focused on scrutinising spending and decisions, people will look to you to step up, and I look forward to hearing what action you’re taking in your current role as a Councillor both to satisfy yourself of the situation and to stand up for Croydon residents.
Conservative London Assembly Candidate, Croydon & Sutton