THE Bishop of Croydon is expected to join the council's Fairness Commission, which will examine how best to target limited council finances in the future. The launch of the commission was approved by the council's cabinet on Monday and the Bishop's willingness to get involved was announced at the meeting by council leader, Tony Newman. Cllr Newman said: "We can see from his commitment how serious this piece of work is." The Bishop, the Rt Rev Jonathan Clark, told the Advertiser: "I would like to join the commission to be part of a wider voice. "It is important that it is not a party political thing and that it addresses the needs of the people of Croydon across the whole borough." The cost of the commission's work will be around £200,000 and members, who have yet to be formally appointed, could publish their report in January 2016. Cllr Newman told Monday's meeting: "We are going to have a fundamentally different look at how we provide services." The commission will examine how vital services such as housing, health and social care should be provided when finances are getting tighter, to ensure benefits reach the people who need them most. The whole idea was branded as a waste of money Conservative opposition members on Monday. Councillor Vidhi Mohan, shadow cabinet member for transport and environment, said he believed the commission would be packed with Labour party supporters and would not be independent. Councillor Simon Hall, the cabinet member for finance and treasury, said: "The investment that this money represents will allow to have better information on priorities." That information would be essential, he said, in helping the council target spending and "get things right for the people of Croydon." Expanding on his reasons for wanting to be part of the commission, the Bishop said the north/south divide made political decisions difficult. He said: "Whatever party is in power is seen to represent one half of the borough rather than the other. "There is nothing the parties can do about that, it is not their fault but it does create problems." It was therefore important in this case to have an independent voice on the commission who had equal responsibilities across the borough. The Bishop said: "Fairness is pretty close to being a key Christian virtue." And he welcomed the idea of a plan which set out to make sure that people lived in a society which was equally responsive to the needs of all. He said: "We have to make sure that those who don't have a voice or are not particularly articulate are equally cared for." He hoped the work of the commission would reflect that. The Bishop would not, however, be drawn on the financing of the project. He said; "The decision to set it up or not and where to allocate money is one for the council. "I am responding to something that is going to happen and I would like to be part of it."
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