Let’s hope that Bernard Weatherill House, the monument to delusion at Croydon Council, at the centre of their £450 million urban regeneration scheme, will have revolving doors.
Because no sooner does Chief Exec Jon Rouse and his lacky, Nathan Elvery, begin the latest round of money-saving council job cuts, than they manage to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on outside contractors.
Our council is about to embark on what it grandiosely calls its “Business Support restructure”. It will see the axing of many administrative and secretarial jobs across the council.
This is the same council that in 2011 spent £20 million on hiring highly paid interim staff and expensive outside contractors. The contradictory, and costly, procurement policy at Croydon Council appears to be continuing.
And it seems from recent council meeting papers that they are already well on the way to spending many millions more on outside contractors in 2012 – perversely all to reduce the number of staff on the council’s own pay-roll.
Last month, the council pushed through a massive contract, worth at least £500,000, for the appointment of the “Business Support Implementation Partner”, which according to the last performance report will do consultation and other exercises with the staff affected by the latest “restructure” (or in plain English, made redundant).
But the council did not go through the regular procurement process to get this contract approved. Instead, they chose to use special “urgency” procedures, instead of putting the contract before the commissioning board for review.
The massive half-million-pound deal was rubber-stamped despite the commissioning board having held a planned meeting just the day before, when other, less valuable contracts were considered under normal procedures.
So why the urgency for this particular juicy, publicly funded deal?
The constitution of the council, which covers the use of urgency powers, states that these are only to be used for unforeseen things, contracts that have to be agreed before the next committee meeting which could consider them.
Yet while the £500,000 contract was approved under urgency procedures on March 1, the commissioning board and the council committee that deals with procurement had both met just the day before, on February 29.
Unforeseen? Bad organisation? Or deliberately pushing through a deal for other reasons?
The amount in question would seem to be a very large sum of money for essentially helping the council with the latest of its constant internal restructures – something you might have thought the Human Resources department could have done, particularly in times when they are cutting staff and privatising key services.
It all brings to question, again, our council’s priorities – or rather than priorities of deputy CEO Nathan Elvery, who is ultimately in charge of this area.
It also raises the question of how, with this spend on an “implementation partner”, the council is going to achieve its targets and save the budgeted £400,000 in 2012-2013, and the same amount in 2013-2014? Just how many secretaries are they planning on sacking… sorry, make redundant?
Not that all secretarial jobs are being axed, you understand.
Because Croydon Council has just advertised for a team secretary working in the Chief Executive’s office.
The lucky recruit will be “an essential and integral part” of £248,000 pa Croydon CEO Jon Rouse’s office, “supporting the Chief Executive as well as being part of a dynamic team”. Dynamic. Yeh!
The candidate must have experience of working at executive level. Whoever is appointed will have responsibility for running Rouse’s busy diary – you know the sort of thing, booking his flights to Cannes to swan around in the South of France for two days with property developers, or diverting his calls when he is off sick.
The successful candidate “must be conscientious, flexible, adaptable, articulate, possess good organisational skills, and have the ability to work under pressure”. Sounds like ideal CEO material. And all for an offered salary of less than £32,000.
Good luck to anyone who applies. In the meantime, we will keep digging to find out who Rouse and Elvery have managed to hand, as a matter of “urgency”, a contract for £500,000 of Croydon Council Tax-payers’ money to oversee redundancies and job cuts in other council offices.
- Inside Croydon: brought to you from the heart of the borough, free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
- Trebles all-round as Elvery’s up for more awards (insidecroydon.com)
- Latest Cannes trip gets Rouse his moment in The Sun (insidecroydon.com)
- Croydon’s Budget (Part 1): We’re all in this together (insidecroydon.com)
- “Procurement” or how Croydon recruits while axing staff (insidecroydon.com)