Council to get glitzy slap on the back from its contractors again

The leadership at Croydon Council – motto “Proud to Swerve” – has so little to celebrate in its mismanagement of the borough that it all-too-often goes out of its way to boast about often bogus accolades.

Croydon's interim CEO Nathan Elvery: reading for another big night out?

Croydon’s interim CEO Nathan Elvery: reading for another big night out?

Inside Croydon has highlighted in the past how Croydon Council showed no shame in collecting an award in which of the three judges, one was an executive of one of its contractors, while a second judge was… Croydon Council’s own deputy CEO. Nothing like patting yourself on your own back – and usually for a job badly done.

Well, we are back in the awards season once more, and Nathan Elvery – now Croydon’s interim chief executive – and his mates on the executive floors of Taberner House will be dusting off their posh frocks and dinner suits as they prepare to claim more bullshit “awards” which sponsored by companies which are financially benefiting from contracts awarded by our local authority. What they will never admit is that the plaudits are about as genuine and well-deserved as every one of Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories. Anyone mention doped?

Next month’s Local Government Chronicle Awards is a glitzy dinner at a five-star West End hotel, with tables being booked for around £2,000 a time. You might well ask: Who’s footing that bill for Croydon’s Council’s tables? No prizes for guessing…

Last year, Croydon was shortlisted for three awards but came away empty-handed. This year, they have surpassed themselves and have been nominated for four awards.

Those of a nervous disposition should look away now… Croydon has been considered to be among the country’s top local authorities for “Business Transformation”; for “Community Involvement”; for “Efficiency”; and for “Public/Private partnership”.

Of course, no one who lives in Croydon could seriously make a case for our council under any of those headings.

Until you consider who is paying for these awards.

  • The Business Transformation Award is sponsored by Capita, the outsourcing specialists so notorious that they are commonly known as Crapita.

Croydon has been nominated here for its Step Change Project, a scheme that sought to off-load (sorry… outsource) many public services to private companies, which would do them more cheaply. If you needed any convincing about the high BS quotient in Croydon’s nomination for such an award, you need go no further than reading the citation:

Croydon’s Step Change programme has been ambitious and complex, helping the borough to emerge from the past two turbulent years stronger than ever, having catalysed performance and transformed key aspects of its service offering beyond recognition. The programme has blended corporate and departmental efficiency projects in shifting the council to a fresh operating model. Croydon is now a smaller, commissioning-led body that operates as a single, highly professionalised team. Step change [sic] has delivered radical new business models, often shared with partners; a leaner and fitter council; a new headquarters; and a new relationship with its employees, residents and customers.

Seriously.

Unsaid is that Step Change has failed to achieve many of its targets for savings because projects have not been delivered on time. Not much of a transformation for Croydon then, really.

  • The Community Involvement Award sees Croydon nominated for its All Ages Project.

This award is sponsored by John Laing’s Integrated Services.

That’s the same JLIS which, after a sham privatisation process that took nearly a year, was recently handed on a plate the £30 million contract to run Croydon’s libraries for the next eight years. Cosy.

  • The Efficiency Award is sponsored by our old friends Mace.
Mace: contracted by Croydon Council and sponsoring an award in which Croydon is short-listed. Cosy

Mace: contracted by Croydon Council and sponsoring an award in which Croydon is short-listed. Cosy

Our loyal reader will already know that Mace are generous past sponsors of awards at this event which have been presented to Croydon Council, which also happens to have an even more generously funded – with public money – contract with Mace to manage the borough’s £450million Urban Regeneration Vehicle.

The Efficiency Award sees Croydon Council short-listed for its Adult Social Services efficiency programme.

The nomination of Croydon Council appears to have overlooked that most of the indicators for elderly care in the borough are the worst in London. Many of the care homes in the south of the borough do not meet government standards.

  • The Public/Private Partnership Award nomination is for Croydon’s URV. Seriously.

Croydon Council’s leadership long maintained that the “Rouse House”, the new council HQ building, would be delivered by the URV at nil cost to the borough’s Council Tax-payers. Trouble is, council leader Mike Fisher has been forced to admit recently that the HQ will in fact cost Croydon £140 million – or about £1,000 per household in the borough.

Not that any of that bothered whoever it was who drafted Croydon’s citation for this award. Judging by the half-truths and outright deceptions within the weasel words, we can only assume that our borough’s citation is the work of its own press office:

Croydon, the citation states, “took the visionary decision”, yes, they say visionary, “to establish a long-term partnership with John Laing, jointly establishing the Croydon Council Urban Regeneration Vehicle (CCURV). The groundbreaking partnership has allowed the council to pursue its regeneration agenda,” really? “delivering large scale investment during the economic downturn”, they say… not that there is an evidence on the ground to support such an overblown, misleading claim.

The citation continues: “By sharing the development risks”, a claim which is widely suspected to be utterly untrue, since the council has had to borrow millions of pounds to bail out the scheme, “CCURV has already delivered new housing and leisure facilities, and will complete a new council headquarters in summer 2013.” 

Trebles all-round! And all paid for by the Council Tax-payers. Cushty.

  • Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon – 142,300 unique page views, Nov 2012-Jan 2013
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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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