THE Advertiser today launches the Campaign to End All Campaigns – calling on Gavin Barwell MP to stop launching campaigns.
The Croydon Central MP set up a petition to save a recycling centre in New Addington on Tuesday, meaning he has now launched five campaigns in little more than a month.
That's five times as many as his Labour rival Sarah Jones and more than he set up in the previous four and a half years since being elected in May 2010.
Mr Barwell admitted he might be "overdoing it", but said his prolific petitioning reflected the number of important issues which had emerged in recent weeks.
But, as he prepares to announce a sixth, as yet undisclosed, campaign in the new year, the Advertiser has set up one of its own.
"Gavin, we get it, there's an election on," said an Advertiser spokesman.
Mr Barwell's quest to break a world record for pre-election campaigning began on November 10, when he came out against the Labour-led council's plans to introduce selective licensing of landlords. A week later he set up a petition to oppose another council plan, this time about building housing on school playing fields.
If you're fed up with signing petitions, sign our petition at the bottom of this page
Labour then claimed it had no intention of doing this, despite including the idea in its new asset strategy which it approved at the following cabinet meeting, and eventually amended the document in private, with council leader Tony Newman claiming he had done so to stop Mr Barwell "standing outside school gates scaring the living daylights out of children and parents".
On December 1, the MP announced his third campaign to "fight" for a new entrance at East Croydon Station, the only pre-planned effort of the five.
Barely a week had passed when, clearly suffering from withdrawal symptoms, he was back on the campaign trail – this time petitioning to stop an as yet unannounced plan to build on green fields at the bottom of Gravel Hill, complete with a group shot of mainly Conservative councillors posed at the site.
Then, this week, Mr Barwell set up a fifth petition, this time opposing the council's plan to close Fishers Farm recycling centre in New Addington to make way for housing.
In contrast Sarah Jones, Labour's prospective candidate for Croydon Central, is lagging behind with just one campaign – for East and West Croydon stations to be moved from zone 5 to 4. Not one to pass up an opportunity, Mr Barwell has got in on the act and publicly backed that idea too.
Asked this week whether he might be getting a bit carried away, he told the Advertiser: "There's a danger of overdoing it but, the trouble is, lots of issues have come up at the same time.
"The original intention was to do the East Croydon bridge one, because that has been simmering away for a little while. Then obviously a whole lot of other issues have come out of what the council has announced, said or done.
"It's not ideal but I think it's more an issue for the media than for voters because most of the campaigns are geographically focused. People will care about what affects their local area and not notice the other ones.
"But you do have to be careful not to be seen to try to do too many things at the same time."
Mr Barwell's petitions require residents to provide their e-mail addresses, prompting some to suggest they were in fact cleverly disguised exercises in data collection, an accusation Mr Barwell disputes.
"Anyone who signs up and then decides they don't like the bulletins can press the unsubscribe button on the e-mails and they won't receive them anymore," he said.
"My view is that when people sign up they want to get feedback on what is happening on the issue.
"On the school fields petition I sent several e-mails over the last few weeks updating people on various elements on the story.
"I've not had any complaints."
Mr Barwell is not done yet, with at least one more campaign planned though he declined to reveal the details until its is announced in January.
Unconvinced the former Coulsdon West councillor can go cold Turkey this Christmas, the Advertiser is calling on residents fed up of being asked to sign petitions to sign a petition calling on Mr Barwell to stop setting up petitions. Sign up below, no email address required.
Campaign in the neck
December 16: Sets up campaign to stop council closing recycling centre in New Addington
December 9: Launches petition to protect green fields at bottom of Gravel Hill from development
December 1: Fights for a new entrance at East Croydon station
November 18: Save Our School Fields campaign begins
November 10: Landlord licensing petition set up