Despite the massive drive for staff redundancies and a recruitment freeze at Fisher’s Folly, news has arrived of another top-tier council appointment, and it is another former employee of Newham Council being recruited by Croydon on a near-six-figure salary.
Joining the all-powerful planning and regeneration chief Jo Negrini and her assistant Colm Lacey, both of whom were also previously employed in the east London borough, arrives Rachel Flowers as Croydon’s new director of public health.
Flowers “brings a wealth of experience to the role”, according to Croydon Council’s propaganda department.
“Rachel Flowers comes to Croydon following a spell as health adviser to a major north London development company where she has been successful in positioning health and well-being input and expertise at the start of development of the largest regeneration programme in the UK,” Croydon’s spin-doctors state, meaning the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation. It was a role to which Flowers was seconded by the GLA.
What Croydon’s press department omits to say is that Flowers had only worked on the Old Oak project since May this year, so not much time in which to be “successful in positioning health and well-being input”… But hey, let’s not quibble over such fine details. It’s a brief experience which may yet prove invaluable when dealing with the hard-nosed property developers Westfield and Hammerson.
The Croydon Council press department goes on to say: “As a deputy director with Public Health England, she worked to a national brief within an organisational development team for more than 18 months, providing public health advice and expertise on a range of internal and external products, and was part of the design team for an innovative leadership programme with local government and the NHS.”
They go on: “While a member of the health team of the Greater London Authority, Rachel had dual accountability to both the planning and health teams with the remit of integrating health into planning at a Greater London level.”
And on… In this paragraph, revealing that Flower worked at Newham around the same time as Negrini and Lacey, they say: “She was joint director of public health for Newham Council for almost five years, in post at the time of the London Olympic Games, and was England’s first environmental health officer to be appointed a director of public health.”
Apparently, Rachel Flowers said the following, “I’m excited by the prospect of working in a borough that places public health at the top of any agenda.
“Croydon’s work in public health is well documented, being both a British Heart Foundation Heart Town and also one of only two Food Flagship boroughs in the capital.
“I see my role as changing the conversation about health and well-being, and firmly embedding it within Croydon Council and all its stakeholders.”
And “stakeholders”. Oh dear.
Flowers then goes all radical: “I might not even use the word ‘health’.”
And with the next sentence, as provided by Croydon Council’s genius press team, Flowers mentions the “H” word twice more: “What I want more than anything is to work with all to reduce health inequalities and improve the health of the people of Croydon.”
Let’s hope Flowers is successful. The salary for a local authority director of public health is usually around £96,000. This was not mentioned in the Croydon Council press release.
Perhaps one of the early conversations Flowers might have, championing Croydon’s Food Flagship status and its role as a Heart Town, will be about the number of fried chicken shacks and fast food outlets on the borough’s high streets.
She might also want to find out what type of food and drink will be on offer next year when Boozepark opens next to East Croydon Station. It was, of course, her former Newham colleague, Jo Negrini, who sanctioned a £3 million loan of public money to lure Boxpark south of the river.
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