Potter wheeled away from council with £213,000 pay-off

Alan Potter left his Croydon Council director’s job in Taberner House in April 2012 with a budget-busting pay-off of £213,064, Inside Croydon has discovered.

Plenty to smile about? Former Croydon education director Alan Potter

Plenty to smile about? Former Croydon education director Alan Potter

Potter had been in his role as director for education and learning for less than three years. The huge payment has all the hallmarks of a “Reward for Failure”.

Among his acts while at Croydon Council, Potter disbanded the governing body of Applegarth Junior, in New Addington, and it was Potter who appointed the Gipsy Hill Federation to take over the running of Oval Primary in a forced academisation. The Gipsy Hill staff and managers lasted barely 48 hours before they walked out of the school.

At the time of Potter’s departure, the council issued a statement which claimed, “Alan Potter is leaving Croydon to pursue other opportunities … we have advertised for a new director for learning, school improvement and inclusion.”

Yet even the most generous of voluntary redundancy schemes would struggle to fork out more than £200,000 to someone who had been on staff for just a couple of years. Under the council’s policy on redundancy, the maximum pay-out is limited to the equivalent of 30 weeks’ salary.

The new post of director of learning, inclusion and school improvement was filled by Sylvia McNamara, following the job being advertised with a salary of up to £98,000.

Since leaving the council, Potter, 56, has started his own business, offering education courses to the over-50s. Potter said, “Sometimes you don’t realise how easy it can be to get started in business when there is such good quality help available.”

Especially when you have just been handed a £213,000 wedge of public dosh.

Inside Croydon identified Potter as the recipient of the pay-off through a Freedom of Information request, in which Croydon Council’s response stated: “We are unable to provide this information as consider it is personal data within the meaning of section 40 of … the Data Protection Act 1998…

“There is a reasonable expectation from former employees that their payments from the Council will not be disclosed unless either they agree to it or it is required by the Accounts and Audit (England) Regulations 2011 which provide for disclosure of remuneration of senior employees including details of severance payments within authorities’ annual statement of accounts…

“However, we can confirm that one of the payments relates to the Director of Education and Learning position.” 

As we reported last month, the council’s official accounts showed that just two senior staff between them received nearly £300,000 in “exit” and redundancy payments in the last financial year.

The council refused to identify who was the recipient of the second amount in that sum, £84,842. A process of elimination suggests that this was probably Pam Parkes, the council’s former head of human resources whose somewhat rushed departure in the last week of the 2012-2013 financial year was first revealed by Inside Croydon.

Parkes left Taberner House soon after the exit of the controversial CEO, Jon Rouse, who took a massive wage cut from his £248,000 Croydon job to find new employment with the NHS.

While at Croydon, working under Rouse, Parkes (on council salary and pension contributions of £129,000) had overseen the forced redundancy of hundreds of staff, with many cases resulting in the council being taken to the employment tribunal – usually unsuccessfully.

Somewhat like Rouse, Parkes – who is the mother of Truckers TV actor Ashley Walters – has suffered a bit of a come down from her executive status in Croydon: she is now working as a temporary HR manager at Basildon district council.

In total, Croydon Council made 119 people redundant between April 2012 and March 2013; 79 of them were compulsory redundancies. The bill in compensation to these axed staff totalled £1.9 million.

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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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