THE new Labour council has made an impressively decisive start when it comes to honouring its manifesto promises. First up there was the Don't Mess With Croydon campaign, an immediate effort to make good on a promise to clean up the borough's streets and take firmer action against fly-tippers. Then came commitments to increase funding for Upper Norwood Library and pay for extra lollipop patrols, alongside a less universally welcomed decision to scrap plans for the Ashburton Library site. Now, in its desire to turn words into deeds, the council is setting up a so-called Fairness Commission, again trumpeted in its pre-election missive. But whereas the other decisions all seem to have a clear purpose, whether you agree with them or not, the waters here are a little muddier. According to leader Tony Newman, the commission will "ensure fairness underpins council decisions". Very worthy and correct, of course, but do we really need a commission to ensure this? Shouldn't the council be making sure this happens anyway? The alarm bells ring louder when you learn this enterprise will cost around £200,000 to set up, with a public consultation potentially being headed up by a respected but expensive big-hitter. Why, exactly, do we need this? It all has the whiff of a box-ticking exercise, a lot of money for very little purpose. The council makes decisions, then we – the electorate – decide whether they are fair or not. Sounds like the foundation of a democracy. It shouldn't take £200,000 and an expensive hired hand to simply rubber-stamp the decisions of those we vote to represent us. Some of you who read our story may applaud the council's very fair intentions and attempt to do things differently. But many more will, with some justification, ask 1) what does this mean? and 2) what's the point?
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