Ratepayers Associations developed throughout Croydon from the 1890s onwards, each normally covering a single ward. Originally simple residents pressure groups, they soon began to put forward candidates for Council elections. They were technically non-partisan and non-political, but in fact attracted Conservatives and Liberals, and were openly anti-Labour. (Labour candidates were generally the only ones at this time who stood under a party banner.) The Associations were in favour of low rates, and routinely criticised the Council for unnecessary expenditure.
The Croydon Federation of Ratepayers Associations was formed in June 1903 as a loosely organised umbrella body.
In the late 1930s, the Federation became a more cohesive, and more politically active, body. For some time, anti-socialist members of the Council had felt the need for a united policy, and this had led to the formation of the 'Twenty-one Club', a caucus named after the initial number of members. The Club was criticised for being 'secret', non-accountable, and exclusive; and in 1938, as an alternative solution, a new Committee of all non-Labour aldermen and councillors was established under the auspices of the Federation. The Federation therefore became virtually a party in its own right, which could, on occasion, dictate policy to the individual Associations.
After World War 2, the influence of the Federation was diminished by the growing number of Conservative Party candidates. In an attempt to embrace as wide a constituency as possible, the Federation changed its name, first to the Croydon Federation of Ratepayers and Residents Associations; and then (in October 1956) to the Croydon Federation of Ratepayers, Residents and Electors associations. However, by the late 1950s the Federation was moribund, and it appears to have been wound up in the 1960s.
The Presidents of the Federation in the period covered by these records were Cllr AH Harding (to November 1939); succeeded by Alderman EEL Arkell. The Secretary was Frederic S Parsons to April 1945, when he was succeeded by Cllr WT Holcombe.