For most people in Croydon, the Queen’s Christmas Message came at 3pm on Sunday.The lucky employees of Croydon Council got a real treat, though, when they got their “royal” message issued from on high last Friday, with a typically self-obsessed end-of-year missive from the never-modest Jo Negrini, where the £185,000 per year chief executive managed to compare her appointment to the borough’s top job to Brexit, or the election of Donald Trump.
It really isn’t all about Negrini, though: she got around to mentioning the Croydon tram disaster in her ninth sentence.
Entirely unmentioned in Negrini’s message is the £1.4billion spectre of the Hammersfield redevelopment of the town centre, which was originally due to be completed by… 2017.
In the email circulated to all staff, the Australian-born “regeneration practitioner” wrote: “You couldn’t make it up. If you had said to me this time last year that the UK would exit Europe, Donald Trump would be elected president of the US and I would be chief executive of Croydon Council, I would have said you’d had too much of the festive spirit.”
Surely, Negrini must realise that with her fair dinkum mates at Westfield behind her, there was only going to be one choice to insert as council CEO after the departure of “entrepreneurial” Nathan Elvery? It was the obvious, latest step towards the complete take over of the borough…
Negrini’s end-of-year round-robin continues, admitting that outside her own planning empire, she really has little grasp (or interest?) of the council’s many other functions and services.
It is perhaps inevitable that Negrini thinks she’s been “on a journey”:
“2016 has been a hell of a year. I’ve now been chief executive for nearly six months and it’s been an absolute adventure. It was really important that my first six months was about understanding the organisation – working with Richard on setting up a three year budget and service planning process, working with the Culture Board and staff networks to understand the issues that staff are facing and getting out and meeting as many teams as possible as part of my ‘back to the floor’. Although I was an executive director for over two years, this is a really different job and there are a lot of things that the council does that I need to understand better. Thanks to all those teams who took time out to meet me and teach me about their services.
“What I found on my journey around the council are committed people who care deeply about what they do and want to be part of an organisation that is clear about what it’s here to do and where it’s going. I have also seen real empathy and selflessness from staff in their response to both the exodus of unaccompanied asylum seeker children from Calais and, more recently, the rest of France and the tragedy of the tram incident in November. The council has been praised by external partners in our handling of both of these incidents and the work hasn’t stopped. Our teams are still providing support and will continue to do so in the months and years ahead.
“You should all be proud of what we have collectively achieved over the last 12 months. We have real challenges ahead in respect to our finances and the ever increasing demand for our services. But for now, we are in a good place and we’re ready!”
Which is surely a matter of great relief to all Croydon Council Tax-payers who fund Negrini’s generous compensation package.
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