Council CEO admits propaganda posters had sums wrong

Croydon’s Labour council’s controversially political posters, which claimed that the borough has been hit by £100-million-worth of central government cuts over the next three years, were not just tax-funded propaganda. They were also inaccurate, according to Nathan Elvery, the chief executive of the council which published them.

Croydon CEO Nathan Elvery: central government grant to Croydon has been cut by £67m over four years, not the £100m as published

Croydon CEO Nathan Elvery: central government grant to Croydon has been cut by £67m over four years, not the £100m as published

According to figures provided by Elvery, Croydon Council’s grant from central Government over the next three years – from 2015 to 2018 – actually represents a cash cut of £55 million.

The ill-judged and inaccurate posters were removed last week, ostensibly because they were in breach of election law, with a council by-election in Selhurst coming up next week.

In a response to Inside Croydon, Elvery reveals that the cumulative cuts in central Government grant to Croydon since 2010 until the end of the 2014-2015 financial year will reach £40.8 million. An attempt is made to increase the figure by adding on £27 million for what Elvery calls “damping”. But even that leaves the council’s figures a very long way short of the £100 million figure quoted on the posters which his own local authority published this month.

Added together, and even including £50 million of the council’s notional “damping” amounts, the reduction to Croydon’s grant from central government amounts to £147.5 million over the course of eight years since the ConDem coalition assumed power – 2011-2018.

But that was not the figure, nor the timescale, chosen by Croydon Council to be used in the controversial posters.

The posters stated, “Government is cutting its funding to you by £100m over the next three years”. Elvery’s own chart shows this to be a gross exaggeration.

In standard Croydon Council “transparent and open” fashion, where no one is ever held responsible for their actions, Elvery has refused to answer our questions about who wrote the deliberately misleading copy or who signed-off on the error-strewn posters.

The table of government grant cuts to Croydon Council, as provided by council CEO Nathan Elvery

The table of government grant cuts to Croydon Council, as provided by council CEO Nathan Elvery

Elvery’s figures are taken from the council Budget, which was presented at the Town Hall on Monday.

There is little doubt that the ConDem Government’s cuts are immensely damaging to the services provided by local government, and that Croydon appears to have been given an especially harsh settlement. It is also clear that the burden of these austerity cuts have been passed down the line to local councils by Chancellor Gideon Osborne and his fellow Cabinet posh boys, so that the hardships and political problems which they create are shouldered not by central government, but at borough and district level, where there are few options available to make good the short-fall since a 2 per cent cap on Council Tax increases has been imposed. Not that Labour, at national level or at Croydon Town Hall, appears willing to oppose the Tory austerity narrative.

But what is also clear is that, however you slice Elvery’s figures, there has not been a £100 million cut in government grant to Croydon, as his own council’s posters falsely claimed.

The Labour council's posters, now duly removed from around the borough. So more needless expense for Council Tax-payers

Wildly inaccurate: and distributed at Council Tax-payers’ expense

According to Elvery, the council spent just £795 on its “awareness raising” posters, although this may be only the price of hiring 60 sites around the borough, rather than reflecting the full amount of council staff time and expense in drafting the copy for the posters, designing them and the print costs.

Elvery was ostensibly responding to questions from Inside Croydon which included:

We put similar questions to the leader of the council, Labour’s Tony Newman, who receives more than £53,000 in allowances as an elected representative but who, despite having up to four council staff working in his personal office, has not yet even had the common sense, let alone common decency, to acknowledge our enquiry, never mind attempt to respond to the questions.

In continuing to seek answers to our original email, we have now given £180,000 public servant Elvery an additional question:

Will he be issuing another poster that apologises for and corrects the factual error in the first?

 

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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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4 Responses to Council CEO admits propaganda posters had sums wrong

  1. Peter Rogers says:

    Whichever way you slice it that’s a lot of new furniture Bernie Winters House won’t be getting, oh wait…

    At least while the council design bods are making posters about cuts they aren’t wasting God knows how much creating a ‘design concept’ for London Road, oh wait…

  2. Pingback: London News Roundup | Londonist

  3. Rod Davies says:

    It’s comforting to know that Mr Elvery can do his sums, even if no one else in BW House can. Doubly so because he is an accountant and was Head of Finance.

    So we can all sleep soundly at night assured that someone competent has a grip on the real numbers rather the fantasy figures. No wonder he was a shoo-in for CEO!

    But which officer exactly signed off the design? And where did this £100 million come from.

  4. davidjl2014 says:

    I think everybody in Croydon would be affected by “damping” if they knew that Mr Elvery earns more than the Prime Minister! It’s enough to “dampen” your underwear isn’t it!

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