- Four tables booked at a five-star West End hotel.
- Around 40 councillors and council staff attending.
- Something like £28,000 spent on a night’s gala dinner, booze and jollity.
- And not a single award won.
That is the summary of this year’s Local Government Gazette Awards for Croydon Council, with senior officers returning to Taberner House on Thursday morning last week with nothing to show for a night on the razzle except, perhaps, a bit of a thick head.
Nominate in four categories at what is laughably referred to by someone with no sense of irony as “the local authorities’ Oscars”, Croydon won nothing.
Zilch. Zippo. Nada.
Not that you’ll find any mention of this pot-less performance on the council’s website, which is normally very quick to trumpet whenever the council does gets handed with one of these empty accolades.
As anyone who has to deal with Croydon Council on a daily basis – like the people who live here – the only surprise in all that is that our borough was nominated for an award any categories at all.
After all, it is not as if Croydon doesn’t have record levels of uncollected Council Tax (“efficiency is in our DNA,” the interim CEO once said), or record levels of homeless people, some of whom are being placed in accommodation which a government minister has described as dangerous and illegal. And it might be hard to overlook that our council was recently found guilty of maladministration by the Local Government Ombudsman,
Of course, none of that matters if you are one of the an awards sponsors, and also happen to be a potential bidder for any lucrative public contracts coming up at… Croydon Council.
Which is why so many senior officers from Croydon had their snouts in the trough at sponsors’ expense at a glitzy West End hotel last week.
“Croydon Council has four tables booked at no cost to the public. The Local Government Chronicle identifies sponsors to pay for tables so that the many councils that attend the event do not have to incur a cost,” Hayley Lewis, Croydon Council’s head of customer communications and strategy, told Inside Croydon.
The LGC Awards sponsors this year included John Laing Integrated Services, who just might end up running the borough’s libraries, if only the council can cave-in and make the terms profitable enough, and Mace, the company that is overseeing the build and finish of the council’s £140 million HQ building.
Nice work if you can get it. Trebles all round!
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