Jo Negrini, recently installed as Croydon Council’s £185,000 per year chief executive, has been accused of being politically compromised after a picture of her taking a selfie with London Mayor Sadiq Khan was plastered all over the Town Hall’s intranet.
Members of the Conservative opposition who have seen the photograph, taken during Khan’s visit to Boozepark earlier this month, suggest that it shows that the borough’s most senior public official is “too chummy” to the Mayor’s political party and that this could undermine her credibility if, as they hope, the Tories win back control of Croydon Town Hall in 2018.
Some backbench Labour councillors are also unhappy about the use of the photograph, which they say shows a serious lack of judgement by Negrini and whoever in the press office decided to use the picture on the staff’s website.
Negrini was promoted to the CEO’s job earlier this summer and immediately had her salary boosted by a juicy £5,000 by the council’s Labour leadership, an inflation-busting 2.7 per cent, coming just a few months after the latest round of redundancies among Croydon staff.
Negrini’s appointment, announced at the end of June, was approved unanimously by the council’s cross-party appointments committee, following a three-month spell when she was acting CEO after the departure of Nathan Elvery. Negrini had joined Croydon Council in 2014 as executive director in charge of planning and development.
“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,” gushed Labour’s council leader, Tony Newman, at the time.
But not everyone working in and around Cost A Mint Walk is as convinced of Negrini’s abilities as the CEO is herself…
“That selfie picture will come back to haunt her, I’m sure,” one senior Tory councillor told Inside Croydon.
“Is she supposed to be Croydon’s most powerful public servant or some sort of Sadiq Khan groupie? Imagine the outrage from members of the Labour group if a senior council official had posed for such a selfie with Boris Johnson when he was London Mayor. Posing for official photographs at events is one thing, but this all looks far too chummy.
“As council CEO, Jo Negrini will be the returning officer at future elections in the borough. I’m sure she’ll say there’s nothing to it, but as a public servant, her personal political allegiances are supposed to remain strictly neutral. Anyone seeing this picture may now question that. It is clearly inappropriate.”
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