Senior councillor calls for abolition of council CEO role

The position of the council chief executive and two other executive directors should be axed, to make Croydon Council more accountable to councillors and residents.

Fisher’s Folly: Croydon Council’s edifice to extravagance now provides offices to 20 execs on £100,000-plus per year

That’s the view of one of the borough’s longest-standing councillors, in reaction to the news that Jo Negrini, Croydon’s CEO, had managed to add five more executives on annual salaries of £100,000 to her staff in Fisher’s Folly last year.

Purley councillor Donald Speakman has recently had questions about the accountability of senior council officials and their use of public money blocked by Negrini, who has also made threats of legal action to protect the actions of executives.

Council figures show that Negrini is paid £194,145, including pension contributions, and that’s before she receives additional fees for acting as the borough’s returning officer at referendums and elections.

Speakman believes that the chief executive is too powerful and unaccountable, and that the position is untenable in a public authority.

“I’d get rid of the chief executive officer post. The council is not a business that has a CEO,” Speakman said.

“And I’d abolish the three executive director positions, too, so that we would make the council directors paid £150,000 per year actually publically responsible for something.”

Donald Speakman: power to the councillors

Speakman, who recently resigned from the Conservative Party but is seeking re-election at the May local elections as an independent candidate, wants a return to a committee system at the Town Hall, where senior council officials are subjected to broader scrutiny by more councillors.

“The children’s services crisis would never have arisen under the committee system,” Speakman said.

That is a view shared among several senior council figures, from both political parties. But a recent proposal within Croydon’s ruling Labour group to make a measured return to the committee system was opposed by Tony Newman’s leadership group.

Speakman, and others, believe that Newman and his senior supporters, such as deputy leader Alison Butler and her husband, the planning committee chair Paul Scott, have become too close to Negrini.

We have paid council officials who are refusing to answer questions, who resent any accountability, under the system we have now,” Speakman said. “Get them to be questioned by committees of councillors, and there’s a better opportunity to get some proper answers.”

Channeling his inner Wolfie Smith, Speakman said, “Power to the councillors!”

  • Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
  • Inside Croydon is the borough’s only independent news source, and still based in the heart of Croydon
  • “Monitored” by the council CEO since 2010
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS 2017: Inside Croydon was source for two award-winning nominations in Private Eye magazine’s annual celebration of civic cock-ups
  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Children's Services, Croydon Council, Donald Speakman, Jo Negrini, Purley and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Senior councillor calls for abolition of council CEO role

  1. The big problem is that Tony Soprano and his henchmen have the totally wrong model of how a local authority should be run.

    They see it as a closed cabal with a small group of the chosen crew making all the decisions and the rest of the council merely fodder for their ambitions and almost totally without rights.

    Negrini is both their consiglieri and their tame executive and all fail to remember that is it is still a council, an elected council with duties and responsibilities to its electorate, and not some sort of closed family business with all power in the hands of a few closely related chums aided and abetted by a paid flack to do all the “hard” work.

    A committee system is much more democratic and accountable. The present system is, in reality, an unaccountable and irresponsible, self-rewarding and self-regarding dictatorship. I have little doubt, though, that if the Tories triumph in May they will carry on the same system for the same reasons… and be even worse at doing it!

    The present system which allows for an inverted pyramid of emoluments is just too tempting. With the present system, top officials and top councillors gain more than anyone else. There really is no need for that number of exceedingly well paid employees… unless you are one of them.

  2. davidjl2014 says:

    Great response

  3. Charles Calvin says:

    Croydon residents should demand a reduction in their Council Tax if senior council executive salaries are not reduced. Negrini’s salary, based on her experience and capabilities, is ridiculous.

    I agree with Arno’s comments above.

    Croydon Council needs to shake itself up.

  4. veeanne2015 says:

    In 2010 the then CEO, Jon Rouse, voluntarily took a 5% REDUCTION in his salary, on top of a 3% drop he took the previous year.
    Also a series of high-level council jobs, at least 8 at director and assistant director levels, were cut or merged in 2009, with the savings of £2 million redirected into front-line services.
    With Jo Negrini, the opposite has occurred. Spending residents’ money like water without consultation, and empire-building, is she ‘the best person for the job’ ?

    As for high salaries needed to attract the ‘best’ people, one example of so many was Stephen McDonald, ‘the right man to take Croydon forward’ according to Mike Fisher, this Director for Planning and Environment, with a £137,262- a year job, left after 4 months because of a ‘difference in expectations’, with £45,756 in severance pay.
    How many ‘unsuitable’ left after a comparatively short time pocketing huge pay-offs, I wonder ?

    Some on incomes over £100,000 may be worth the money, but how many are not ?
    Isn’t it time that these high-earners gave justification for the money they receive from residents ?

Leave a Reply