What was Croydon Council’s chief executive, Jon Rouse, doing as a director of the company which runs Fairfield Halls?
Rouse, Croydon’s £200,000 per year man, was appointed as a director of Fairfield (Croydon) Ltd on December 30 2009. He resigned as a director on May 26 this year, but not before he had seen budget-cutting Croydon Council agree to make a grant of £1.5 million to the privately owned Fairfield Halls.
Was this potential conflict of interest ever discussed at Croydon Council? Was it ever reported by the Croydon Sadvertiser?
Asked about this at the Question Time session in Shirley last week, Rouse somewhat lamely volunteered that he only became a director to try to understand the financial, programming and building problems of Fairfield Halls.
For most people, access to annual accounts and a few conversations with existing directors or members of the trust would be sufficient to research the answers to Rouse’s questions – after all, Dudley Mead, a senior Conservative councillor, holds an influential position within the Fairfield Halls management, and councillors Helen Pollard and Timothy Godfrey were both made directors of Fairfield (Croydon) Ltd in 2010.
Questions remain over the timing of Rouse standing down as a director, after the £1.5 million cash grant from the council, and over the council’s axing of funding to its own cultural offerings at the Clocktower. Some might suggest that the Fairfield Halls, as a privately run arts centre of which Rouse was a director, was effectively in competition with the council’s Clocktower arts centre, and would benefit if those facilities were closed down.
Such an obvious conflict of interest ought to have stopped Rouse ever taking up such a directorship, or certainly resign it much sooner than he did.
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