Amid all the hoopla of the £1 billion “Hammerfield” announcement this morning at Fairfield Halls, with the usual dollop of Boris buffoonery as the London Mayor proclaimed the marriage of the two property developers, there stood a figure who went virtually unmentioned in the congratulations.
Jon Rouse had been, until his resignation was made public less than a day earlier, the chief executive of Croydon Council and the man behind numerous town centre masterplans, all of which had been still-born on the drawing boards of Taberner House for want of any serious involvement from big business.
So today’s shopping centre announcement just makes the timing of Rouse’s departure from his £248,000 per year Croydon job all the more odd.
Overnight, we received reports from various sources within the council – both staff and councillors – who related how many officers were delighted at the news, others who are very wary of the possible interim replacement – deputy CEO Nathan Elvery – while some suggested that in recent months, Rouse had begun to show the strain of his job, that the 44-year-old’s health had begun to suffer, even that he no longer felt safe in Croydon.
Inside Croydon has also found that Rouse appears to be taking a pay drop of mor than £100,000 from his Croydon salary and pension pot to join the Department of Health.
Our loyal reader has found the archived civil service job ad for the “director general for social care, local government and care partnerships”, with a salary on offer of “circa £142,000” – some £106,000 less than the package Rouse was receiving from Croydon Council as one of the country’s top-paid local authority executives.
Indeed, Rouse’s total remunerations each year may have been a few thousand higher still, since it is possible that he would have received fees for serving as a returning officer at the each of the elections and referendums staged in the borough. And then there would have been his out-of-pocket and generous per diems, of course, for instance from when he was “roughing it” in the South of France on an annual junket, all on our behalf, and at our expense.
Now, though, Rouse faces a new challenge where he is no longer the top dog, but will be one of five grandly titled director generals at the Health department.
Interestingly, the job ad was posted on October 15, with a closing date of October 26. So when Rouse, through the council press office, issued an official denial to our questions about whether he was planning to leave, someone was deliberately being untruthful, and all paid for with public money. Lies on the rates. Nice.
Anyone who has been less-than-impressed with Rouse’s performance in his five-plus years in charge at Croydon might shudder just a little when they see how the job ad described his new responsibilities:
“This is an exciting opportunity to join the senior leadership team of the Department of Health. In a board level appointment reporting to the Permanent Secretary, the … Director General will lead on policy development in adult social care, working across central and local government, as well as with key stakeholders in the wider public, voluntary and private sectors. S/he will also oversee the development of strategies and policies to improve the health and wellbeing of those with the greatest needs, including children and young people, families and older people, and in respect of mental health and disability. The Director General will be supported by a core team of around 200 people based in both London and Leeds.”
And then, to anyone who may have had dealings with Rouse, comes the real zinger…
“The successful candidate should be able to demonstrate strong personal credibility in local government and adult social care.”
As Inside Croydon’s loyal reader noted yesterday, Croydon’s gain is the Department of Health’s loss.
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- Jon Rouse to take up key Department of Health appointment (mediacentre.dh.gov.uk)
- Reporters ejected from meeting after protest by council chief (guardian.co.uk)
- £30m libraries privatisation could be sent for judicial review (insidecroydon.com)