MP Steve Reed’s Twitter feed is always a guaranteed good read if you are a fan of Tory bashing.
The north Croydon MP is vocal on a daily basis on his dislike of all things Conservative.
And in the last 48 hours he has enjoyed bashing both the national and local Conservatives after Mayor Perry’s council tax reveal.
Reed tweeted: “Council tax is not allowed to rise by over 4.99 per cent without a referendum but the government is letting Croydon Conservatives hike it up by 15 per cent with no say for residents. They know it’s not fair so they’ve cancelled our referendum.”
Other financially troubled council’s Labour-run Slough and Tory-run Thurrock have also been allowed to increase their council tax bills but have opted for a slightly lower 10 per cent rise.
Reed who was against the idea of having a directly elected mayor in Croydon continued: “Croydon Conservatives are planning to wallop residents with a staggering 15 per cent council tax hike in the middle of a Tory cost-of-living crisis – instead of getting fair funding from their own Government. What planet are they living on? Residents simply can’t afford this!”
A look through the MP’s Twitter feed and Reed was less vocal on Croydon Labour bankrupting the borough.
He described the Report in the Public Interest which laid bare the council’s financial woes as ‘sobering’ but just a month earlier he had praised the former leader Tony Newman who stood down – as the details of the crises began to emerge – for his ’legacy.’
Reed was Sir Keir Starmer’s front bench spokesman on local government when in November 2020 the borough became only the second in 20 years to issue a Section 114 notice.
The new Labour leader Hamida Ali, went on to blame austerity and the Covid virus for having a major impact on the council’s finances but also admitted: “they do not excuse the serious financial issues in this report.”
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Reed backed her saying the new leadership was committed to stabilising the finances but in response to comments by a Conservative councillor he hit back: “sorry to see Conservative Cllr playing politics over Croydon’s finances instead of acknowledging their role in 60 per cent funding cuts, leaving council with no reserves and not opposing budgets they now criticise.”
He said it was a ‘collective failure’ and required a “collective solution.”
However, given the bitter war of words any co-operation looks less and less likely.
The Conservatives meanwhile have spent every opportunity over the last seven months since Mayor Perry’s election complaining about the ‘mess’ Labour left the borough in with their speculative housing and property schemes, overspending and being generally useless with money.
Reed has remained loyal to councillors who served in the cabinet before and after the full extent of the Labour’s mismanagement of the borough’s finances emerged.
Stuart King, who was in Newman and Ali’s cabinet is now the leader of Croydon’s Labour group also waded in on the tax hike row saying: “Mayor Perry seems to want to punish hardworking resident rather than get a fair deal from his government.”
His comments were put to Mayor Perry during an interview with BBC Radio London and he said it was the ‘last thing’ that he wanted to do was to punish hardworking residents.
However, he said he had to put right Labour’s failures of the last eight years and that the council: ‘can’t keep kicking the can down the road.’
He said King had ‘no solutions’ now or when Labour were in power.
While it was not an ‘enjoyable’ decision it was one that had to be taken to restore sustainable local government to Croydon, he said.
The tax hike and budget now has to go to the council which is in overall control and could be voted down but under the directly elected mayoral system Mayor Perry only requires two thirds support from councillors to get it through.
He went on to say it was going to get ‘worse before it gets better’ but he was determined to get Croydon’s finances back on track and restore ‘hope and pride’ to the borough .