Croydon’s supposedly Labour-controlled council has, for the second time in a couple of years, managed to appoint an insider to its most senior job, as Tony Newman, the council leader, announced tonight that Jo Negrini has landed the £180,000 chief executive post.Negrini succeeds Nathan Elvery, who took over as CEO just two years ago without any recruitment process having taken place at all.
Australian-born Negrini joined Croydon in 2013 as executive director in charge of planning and development, having previously worked closely with Australian shopping mall developers Westfield on one of their earlier London projects at Stratford, when she was employed by Newham council.
The confirmation of the inevitable was issued in a council press release just before 7pm. In April, when Elvery’s departure was announced, Inside Croydon reported that “some would regard…” Negrini’s appointment “…as effectively completing Westfield’s takeover of the borough.”
Tonight, a council insider warned, “Jo’s position might be untenable were the various regeneration developments not come to fruition.”
Negrini is the first woman to hold the job of the borough’s most senior public servant.
Unlike Elvery, Negrini did have to compete with other applicants for the job, though she clearly had the advantage of already being installed as an interim CEO and understanding that she was facing an appointments board which lacked any imagination and is wedded to the supposed “continuity”.
It was suggested by Katharine Street sources last week that one applicant, a City Hall official, had interviewed very strongly for the post. But Negrini was still chosen “unanimously”, according to the council.The council’s press release gives Negrini the credit for almost anything that has happened in south London in the past decade. “She has been instrumental in driving the borough’s growth and devolution agenda, which secured £350million of investment and she led on the successful Whitgift development CPO inquiry.” “Successful”? Seriously?
“She established the council’s new housing company, Brick by Brick, to deliver a thousand new and affordable homes across the borough and has overseen the introduction of the successful Don’t Mess with Croydon clean-up campaign, Landlord Licensing and Connected Croydon schemes,” the release states, stopping short of attributing finding a cure for the common cold and negotiating world peace.
“The decision to offer Jo the job was made unanimously, and against an extremely strong field of candidates,” Newman was quoted as saying. “Jo has already proven herself to be an outstanding interim chief executive.” Negrini has been interim CEO for a month, with Elvery officially leaving the council on June 24.
“Since she joined us in 2014, she has demonstrated strong leadership, ambition for Croydon and a proven track record in delivering for local people. This makes her the ideal person to be helping lead Croydon through the most significant phase in its history.”
Negrini, too, had a string of empty platitudes and council slogans attributed to her: “Croydon is London’s growth borough, and we are leading the way in delivering multi-billion pound regeneration, new homes and jobs and excellent, value-for-money services for local people. We have a lot to do, but I’m fortunate to be working alongside such a talented and dedicated team of people who are delivering for Croydon.”
Negrini’s appointment needs to be approved at the next meeting of the full council on July 18.
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