That £10m grant: an open letter to Croydon CEO Jon Rouse

Inside Croydon has this morning sent the following letter to the chief executive of Croydon Council (where, we are told, “efficiency is in our DNA”), Jon Rouse:

Good morning Mr Rouse,

We understand that you are a regular reader.

Thank you for your various contributions over the past few months, they have been most enlightening and entertaining.

We understand that you have expressed a desire that Inside Croydon might try to be, in some way, a little more “positive” about the work that you do.

We’d be delighted if you could give us something to be positive about. Despite operating since June 2010 and being in contact with your offices straight away, we have yet to receive a single Croydon Council press release. So we haven’t published any.

Indeed, we have found that our enquiries to the press office have been routinely ignored and left unanswered. We understand that one press officer has complained that we only use their responses selectively. This is untrue, as their early attempts to have comments published on the site demonstrate.

We further understand that it is deliberate council policy (one of your press staff was foolish enough to parrot to us on one occasion when we called that, “You’re just a blog, you’re not a proper newspaper. We’ve been told not to talk to you”, and then slammed the phone down on us), rather than simple incompetence. Although we might suggest that the former is a demonstration of the latter if Croydon Council really desires “good PR”.

On other occasions, to avoid providing us with a prompt and timely response, we have been told – after a considerable delay – that our enquiry has been referred as an FOI request, at considerable additional cost to the Council Tax-payers of this borough who you are, we are led to believe, “Proud to Serve”.

This week, we sought a straight answer from the press office: has Croydon applied for a £10m government-funded post-riots grant or not? And if so, when was the application made and when will further details be announced?

Just one day after giving us the usual obfuscating non-answer answer, which we duly published unaltered, the press officer broadcast that there would be “an announcement soon”.

By stating this, it suggests that the press office must be aware of when an announcement might be made. So we sought that clarification again: when was the application made, and when will the announcement be made? Oddly, your press office was unable to/unwilling to provide an answer to either of these routine, straightforward and simple questions.

Some reasonably minded people might almost assume that Croydon Council has a problem with openness and transparency.

But we are sure that you will be able to provide a solution.

Best regards,

THE INSIDE CROYDON TEAM

Just moments later, we got a response.

“I am now out of the office, returning to the office on Monday 31 October.” Oh well.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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