Croydon Council is spending nearly £1 million on furniture for its new headquarters, Inside Croydon has discovered.
According to an official document passed to Inside Croydon, our council has budgeted to spend £900,000 on furniture for the PSDH – or Public Service Delivery Hub – between now and January 2014.
The PSDH is the acronym which the council uses to avoid mentioning its shiny glass palace of a new headquarters building, part of its £450 million (at least) Urban Regeneration Vehicle, a property speculation scheme with public assets that it is running with developers John Laing.
Our regular reader will recall that in the past, Croydon Council has pledged that the HQ “build is zero-cost to taxpayers (though to be clear, this would not include fixtures and fittings – just the actual building) based on the sale of other assets the council owns”.
As we pointed out at the time, if the council has to sell other assets to pay for the build of the new HQ, then it is anything but “zero-cost”. And while the cost of fixtures and fittings were not to be included in that “non-zero-cost” figure, £900,000 sounds like the sort of makeover budget to give Sarah Beeny a wet dream.
After all, as it prepares to move its staff from the serviceable Taberner House to the new HQ, named after Bernard Weatherill, you’d think they might be able to re-use some of the existing kit and equipment. It is not as if they need to buy very many desks, since chief executive Jon Rouse has presided over so many redundancies in the past three years.
We did ask Rouse and Mike Fisher, the leader of the Conservative group that controls Croydon Council, for comments to explain this apparent needless extravagance with public money at a time of a double-dip recession and widescale public spending cuts elsewhere in the borough. We even copied in Tim Pollard, Fisher’s deputy and his new “Communications” supremo, hoping we might get a reply from him.
But at the time of publication, Croydon Council and leading councillors had not managed to get back to us to explain why they need to spend £900,000 of Council Tax-payers’ money on furnishings for an HQ building few people think is really necessary. Not even so much as an automatic “out of office” reply.
Guess they don’t have an answer.
6pm UPDATE: On seeing this Inside Croydon report, Tony Newman, the leader of the opposition Labour group at Croydon Council, did contact us with his view on the £900,000 council furniture bill.
“When youth clubs, libraries and even children’s centres are having their funding cut or are threatened with closure,” Newman said, “this grotesque waste of our money as Council Tax-payers shows once again how out of touch Croydon’s Tory council really is.”
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