Council calls in Ronald McDonald to help pay off £144m bill

Ronald McDonaldIt would be a cheap shot to suggest that Fisher’s Folly is run by a bunch of clowns.

But Ronald McDonald has registered a presence recently in Croydon Council’s £144 million headquarters building.

Desperate to rake back some of the cost of the over-priced office block, the council has been renting out Bernard Weatherill House, as it is sometimes known, as a filming location.

In the past month, the council offices have been used at least twice, over two separate weekends.

Commercial properties in London can expect to charge £1,500 per day when being used as a set for television advertisements. That’s not to be sniffed at, but to put it in some context, that’s barely enough to cover council leader Tony Newman’s allowances for one week.

Built on the instructions of the previous Tory council leader, Mike Fisher, Fisher’s Folly, which opened in October 2013, is reckoned to be the country’s most expensive local authority office block, estimated as having cost Croydon’s ratepayers about £100 million more than similar-sized office builds around the capital. Fisher’s Folly works out as being more expensive to build per square metre than The Shard.

The film units have used the Croydon offices for around four days recently. At this rate, our enterprising council might manage to make up the total cost of the building with another 66,000 days of location shoots – or a mere matter of 180 years.

Given the Labour-run administration’s desire to run an ethical council, rightly divesting itself of its pension fund’s investments in arms companies and tobacco stocks, allowing the offices to be used for an ad for fast food merchants McDonald’s might be seen as a tad hypocritical.

It was only in 2013 that Croydon Council chosen to designate itself as a “Heart Town”, part of the British Heart Foundation campaign for healthier lifestyles, including eating healthier food to help tackle heart disease. Heart and circulatory diseases are responsible for around one-third of deaths in Croydon, the council informed us at the time of that initiative.

But now, for just a couple of grand, they’re helping Ronald McDonald flog a few more burgers. So, this thing about our council being run by clowns…

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1 Response to Council calls in Ronald McDonald to help pay off £144m bill

  1. Rod Davies says:

    In defence of the current administration, were we all to be in their shoes we might be ready to lease any part of Bernard Wetherill House to any individual or organisation capable of paying a sky-high rent. Having been bequeathed the BWH Urban Regeneration Vehicle by the previous administration together with all the debts, the current council has the choice of either cutting services and / or hiking up Council Tax, or leasing space to any organisation regardless of other commitments not to have economic associations with undesirable producers (arms & tobacco producers etc).
    While we might all point an accusing finger at those that created this mess, we all have some responsibility simply because we haven’t demanded vigorously enough a more open and responsive council administration. And now we have to pay the price.
    The Labour administration could conduct an open inquiry into how Croydon Council got itself into this mess. However, inherently this is likely to identify a large number of current officers as being responsible for recommending Laings and CCURV (BWH). Presumably if they are found to be incompetent or worse, they would have to be initially suspended and then dismissed.
    The problem is that if culpability for this mess sits with the Senior Management Team and various mid-level teams across the administration, any disciplinary action could leave Croydon Council bereft of day to day management in some key areas. No doubt were such allegations to be made, the individual officers would want to fight it and Croydon Council could find itself in a succession of Employment Tribunal hearings.
    However, if the Labour administration lets things rest for a while, there is a good chance that the individuals responsible will drift off to other employers, giving the opportunity to recruit fresh faces and hopefully more competent individuals. Were the Council to bare its soul over this, the reputations of current Croydon employees and Croydon as an employer be so damaged, that the dead-wood wouldn’t leave and no one would want to work for Croydon Council.
    So what does the current Labour administration do?

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