Town Hall reporter KEN LEE on the latest dropped bollock by the council’s administration
Jo Negrini, the Croydon Council chief executive, has refused to answer questions about her failure to have published promptly the papers for tonight’s annual meeting in the Town Hall chamber.
The agenda, list of appointments and other paperwork for council meetings is routinely supposed to be made available at least seven days before the meeting takes place.
The paperwork for the first meeting of the new administration only appeared on the council’s website this afternoon, less than six hours before tonight’s event.
The agenda includes a move for the council to conduct a review of the allowances paid to its 70 councillors.
Between them, Croydon’s councillors receive a grand total of £1,456,862 per year in payments from the council, the highest figure paid out among all London boroughs.
While many councillors receive only the basic allowance of £11,239, council leader Tony Newman receives the most, £53,223, and a slew of his closest colleagues, his cabinet, each receive more than £40,000 per year.
Croydon Council has not increased its allowances paid to councillors since 2010. The council claims to take its lead from the Labour-dominated London Councils organisation, which in January published a review of the allowances system where their report said, “The basic allowance is now less than the allowances paid by many similar authorities outside London. In Wales, for example, the government appointed commission sets the basic allowance at £13,400 for members of local authorities with populations which are generally substantially lower than those of London boroughs.
“However we reluctantly accept that, in the current financial climate, it would be inappropriate to recommend a general increase in members’ allowances (beyond the annual updating). Pegging an annual increase to staff pay awards will ensure that councillors can receive annual increases which are in line with those received by staff. We therefore recommend that the Basic Allowance be set at £11,045. We believe that it remains sensible to frame recommendations which are common across London.”
Clearly, that recommendation puts the members’ basic allowance at less than Croydon’s councillors already receive.
Intriguingly, though, when the London Councils’ report turned its attention to the pay for council leaders, they have set the amount at £57,085 – which would be a significant hike for Newman.
Negrini and Newman today failed to respond to questions from Inside Croydon about the reasons for the delay in publishing the paperwork ahead of the annual meeting. It could well be due to the usual level of incompetence at Croydon Council, following the Children’s Services scandal, the failure to build a single council home in four years, or the balls-up at the local election count – or in Croydon’s case, a mis-count.
But given the pending allowances review and London Councils’ recommendations, might the agenda papers have been withheld deliberately to avoid public scrutiny over any possibility that the council leader might be about to get an inflation-busting 7.5 per cent pay increase?
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