Council kills off the crap app – after wasting up to £500,000

For five years, this website has reported on the failings of the council’s procurement and operation of MyCroydon, including paying £787 per day to the ‘mastermind’ behind the smartphone app. STEVEN DOWNES reports, the council has now finally binned the rubbish tool

Binned: it was rubbish

Croydon’s crap app is officially no more.

It’s dead.

Pushing up the daisies.

It’s an ex-crap app.

It’s taken nearly five years for them to admit defeat, but Croydon Council has finally pulled the plug on its crap app.

With a bit of luck, just like the Pythons’ Norwegian Blue, the MyCroydon app has gone to meet its maker. They deserve one another.

Grumblings of discontent over the failings, and failure, of the council’s bespoke smart phone app were well-known from the time it was launched, in November 2013, and have been growing for some time.

One council cabinet member took to publicly advising residents not to bother with the poorly functioning official app and instead to use something which does work properly and costs the Council Tax-payers of Croydon nothing, such as Fix My Street.

In the end, that’s exactly the position taken by the council today.

The design, build and maintenance of the crap app was never put out to competitive tender (the official explanation was that it was not costly enough for the process to require approval by councillors). Instead, it was a behind-closed-doors deal awarded by the then senior council executive director, Graham Cadle, the job handed to someone with no track record in the sector, not even a registered company or functioning website, but who turned out to be a family friend.

At least one council cabinet member took to openly advising residents not to waste their time with the council’s official smartphone app

When originally commissioned under the Tory-run council in 2013, MyCroydon was said to have cost just £12,000.

But the costs of maintaining it, de-bugging it and trying to make it perform just adequately quickly soared. That’s especially so when the £787 per day paid during 2017 to its originator, failed tech business operator Harwinder “Harry” Singh, is added to the bottom line.

Even this week, residents were struggling to understand why a piece of official council tech was so unreliable

Given Croydon Council’s secrecy over the issue, we may never find out exactly how much public money has been frittered away on this project. Estimates suggest that with accumulated contractor fees incurred to put right its many faults, plus more recent staff severance payments, in the end Croydon residents might have stumped up as much as £500,000 since 2013 for a piece of smartphone technology that never worked properly.

A litany of short-comings were raised with Cadle and Singh at a scrutiny committee meeting as early as August 2014. They said then:

“I am frustrated as there is no feedback as to whether an issue that has been reported has been dealt with or not.”

“I tried to use the app to report fly-tipping several times … I don’t think it worked even once… The app couldn’t pinpoint my location, or took so long to do so that it looked frozen so I gave up.”

“It is utterly useless if you spot a problem from a bus or car in motion.”

None of these complaints were ever addressed satisfactorily.

It all meant that a key tool in the council’s “war” on fly-tipping has never worked.

Admitting defeat: the statement on the council’s website that appeared yesterday

For the last four years, Stuart Collins, the council deputy leader and cabinet member responsible for the state of our streets, remained a loyal supporter of the app, encouraging people to use it as part of his sloganising campaign to rid Croydon of the scourge of fly-tipping.

Now that charade is over.

Yesterday, a poorly drafted message was issued to some app users announcing its withdrawal.

The decision, the announcement claimed, was taken “following customer feedback”, so it might make any reasonable individual wonder why they didn’t take the decision to put the wretched thing out of its misery sooner.

It is possibly merely coincidental that the crap app has finally been dropped within weeks of “The Godfather” Cadle and Singh no longer working at Croydon Council, departures which council chiefs have tried to cover-up.

Jo Negrini, the council’s £200,000 per year chief exec, used threats of legal action to try to stop us reporting the incompetencies and inside deals surrounding aspects of The Godfather’s commissioning and tech work.

And she has refused to answer questions from elected councillors about how much Cadle received as his golden handshake.

What a shame that the council doesn’t have some kind of smartphone device to be used for reporting costly crap decisions by council officials.

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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
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9 Responses to Council kills off the crap app – after wasting up to £500,000

  1. And not before time. Interesting that the message says you can report by phone. Good luck with that as there is no one to answer. I tried ringing recently, was told I was number one in the queue, and gave up after hanging on for 15 minutes.

  2. derekthrower says:

    A recent survey showed 85 per cent of schools have been forced to cut vital special educational needs (SEN) support since 2015. Wonder what they could have done with the odd half million?

  3. Wonderful: timely, appropriate,decisive,economically sensible,quick action by the new Council.
    Let’s hope its a template for the future!

  4. arnorab says:

    True….but to coin a cliché, better late than never. If, now, they could recoup the small fortune that was wasted that would be a true wonder!

    • They might have saved at least half the costs if they had cut the crap app in 2014. Instead, they continued to accept the advice provided by the senior council execs – the very people who made the decisions, and feathered their mate’s nest, in the first place.

  5. Dave Scott says:

    Would you let them run a bath without supervision?

    • David Mogoh says:

      Can you imagine the consultancy fees for running that bath??

      • Dave Scott says:

        It would cost a fortune for them to decide what tap to turn on first. When they realised the temperature was too hot/cold, they would empty the bath and try again, Obviously there would be a cost to this and to change the spec from the hot tap first to the cold tap would incur a rewrite charge etc etc

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