In the words of Richard Littlejohn, you couldn’t make it up.
Croydon Council is acclaiming its success in winning a prize at the Local Government Chronicle awards this week.
This £150-a-ticket event, hosted by former Sunday Times Editor Andrew “Brillo Pad” Neil, was staged at the glitzy Grosvenor House Hotel in the West End. The awards dinner benefited from 13 sponsors (each paying an estimated 10 grand a time), and was attended by 1,200 guests drawn from 82 councils across the land.
“The competition was stiff,” according to one of the lackeys on the magazine.
And a good time will have been had by all: handing out the awards was all done and dusted in just about an hour, leaving the assembled local government execs plenty of time to “network” (ie. gossip, backslap and maybe find a better-paid job somewhere else) into the wee small hours at what was described by the organisers as “Disco and bar”.
What Croydon Council’s victory press release fails to mention is that among the award sponsors are three important business partners of Croydon Council – John Laing, the commercial beneficiaries of our council’s £450 million vanity project; Mace, consultants with a major financial interest in Croydon Council’s new HQ; and Odgers, the West End headhunters who recruit six-figure salaried executives for CEO Jon Rouse.
We are quite sure, of course, that none of the judging of any of the awards was in any way influenced by the sponsors, however much these companies might be benefiting from millions of public expenditure. That last sentence was sponsored by Inside Croydon’s legal advisers, Messrs Sue, Grabbit & Runne.
Also unmentioned in our council’s press release acclaiming this great success is that, of the three people chosen by the Local Government Chronicle to judge the category in which Croydon was entered, was none other than Croydon’s own £150,167.76 per year “director of resources and customer services”, Nathan Elvery.
It is odd that Croydon Council does not mention who the judges were. Another one of the judges was Mark Holmes, the chief operating officer of Mace, the aforementioned suppliers to Croydon Council.
Yet the council’s own press release does state: “Croydon was able to win over judges with evidence of £25 million efficiency savings in 2009/11.”
We are quite sure, of course, that neither Nathan Elvery nor Mark Holmes, although “won over” by Croydon’s entry, were in any way biased or partial in choosing Croydon to win this category. After all, Mace also has contracts with the category’s runners-up, Birmingham City Council, too. Purely coincidental.
Oh, and what was this fabulous award won by Croydon?
Now this is mentioned in Croydon Council’s press release.
Was it for “Council of the Year”? No, afraid not.
Was it “Most Improved Council”? Nah, better luck next year.
No, Croydon won the award for (cue drum roll): “Efficiency”.
So, Nathan Elvery, the man with responsibility at Croydon for overseeing Council Tax collection, was “won over” (not our words; they’re the words of Croydon Council) and judged his own council to be the best in the country for “Efficiency“.
The council that last year was sending out Council Tax demands to dead people.
The council which has a below-average collection rate of Council Tax when compared with other Outer London boroughs.
According to the judges (which presumably includes Elvery): “A proactive approach has embedded efficiency into the DNA of Croydon.” If anyone can explain what that verbal garbage is supposed to mean, please send you answer, on a postcard, to Nathan Elvery, Taberner House…
To read more of this self-serving twaddle, click here and go to page 18 of the pdf version, where you’ll see Councillor Dudley Mead in his penguin suit, and six other Croydon Council representatives, collecting some delightful-looking piece of cheap tat. Note the bemused look on Neil’s face, presumably after having had to read a citation about Croydon and DNA.
We were going to do a special April Fool’s day item for tomorrow. But we won’t bother now.