Hard-up Croydon Council could be paying the £180,000 per year wages for two chief executives this month.
That’s according to an email from the borough’s departing CEO, Nathan Elvery. Elvery’s last day working in the £140million over-priced council offices he helped to saddle the borough’s Council Tax-payers with is June 26.
Meanwhile, Jo Negrini, the council’s executive director for planning and development – or “Place”, as she is pretentiously styled within Fisher’s Folly – has already been anointed as Elvery’s likely successor and has been installed as the interim CEO. Obviously, this is being spun by council bureaucrats as a measure to “ensure a smooth transition”.
But that doesn’t mean that Negrini has to struggle along with the onerous extra responsibilities while “only” receiving her £150,000 exec director salary. Oh no: Negrini’s having her pay hiked to the full £180,000 CEO package, even before Elvery has left the building.
Goodness knows how Tony Newman, Labour’s council leader, and his cohorts will break the news to Negrini that she’ll have to go back to her previous salary level if she doesn’t actually get the top job when the laborious appointment process eventually concludes.
And all this is going on in the same London borough where six months ago the executive directors – led by Elvery and Negrini – put out notices to their staff that they were seeking hundreds of voluntary redundancies in a bid to plug a £100million hole in the authority’s budget.
All 10,000 Croydon staff received the invitation to apply for severance payouts in November, with only those employees working in schools ineligible for the deal. There was also a freeze placed on recruitment.
In the meantime, our council effectively has two CEOs on the payroll in June.
It has also started the recruitment process for a full-time executive director of culture. That’s the music and drama sort, not the Sir Alexander Fleming sort of culture. Probable salary: at least £120,000.
The month-long overlap in CEO pay is estimated to cost the Council Tax-payers around £2,500 extra in wages, plus National Insurance and pension contributions. Hardly the sort of money to break the bank, but in the context of the staff redundancies elsewhere in the council, it could be viewed as being at least insensitive.
Of course, once Elvery leaves, there is a saving to the council of one executive salary, for at least three months. If the appointments committee confounds all expectations and goes outside Fisher’s Folly for Elvery’s replacement, those savings may possibly extend until the end of this year if the person chosen to be Croydon’s new CEO has to serve out a full notice period with their existing employer. So the council will be hanging on to between £37,500 and £75,000 in unpaid wages until the new chief exec starts work.
The prolonged process has, in part at least, arisen because our well-reimbursed councillors meet for full council meetings so infrequently.
Negrini was installed as interim CEO amid the silly wigs and fur-lined robes of the pompous, sub-Trumpton “Mayor Making” a fortnight ago.
Outside the ceremonials, there was no substantive council business conducted before our 70 councillors, plus a couple of MPs, assorted aldermen, their friends, families and various other hangers-on made a rush for the free prosecco in the Mayor’s Parlour.
There is not another meeting of the full council until after Elvery has departed for his new job in sunny Sussex by the sea.
Last month’s council meeting, Elvery said, “was the first opportunity to take the decisions required to appoint an Acting Chief Executive following the interview process …” in which only one candidate was interviewed for the acting CEO role “… and indeed the last opportunity to do so before I leave the organisation on the 26th June, given that the next Council meeting is after I have left. Having now made this decision is allows for an effective handover arrangement to the person now ratified as the Acting Chief Executive.”
Elvery’s departure date conveniently allows him to pocket another cushty £10,000 “bonus” for overseeing the conduct of the EU Referendum in Croydon, on this occasion on behalf of the Electoral Commission.
Elvery plays with semantics to suggest that the council does not have two CEOs at the same time: “No, the council does not have two chief executives at present, it has made decisions on the acting chief executive to ensure an effective handover arrangement for the period between my final date of employment and the start of the permanent chief executive,” he wrote. So not two CEOs – just one CEO and one acting CEO.
But he did confirm that additional payments to Negrini are being made: “The Acting Chief Executive will start to take on additional duties above their current executive director role and therefore an additional honorarium payment will be made to recognise this additional responsibility above their salary of executive director. During the period between my departure and the appointment of the permanent chief executive the Council will be saving my salary per month and a small faction of this will enable the honorarium payment for the acting chief executive.”
So it’s doubles, if not trebles, all round!
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