Julian Ellerby, the former Labour Party official who was handed a cushty £140,000 executive director’s job at Fisher’s Folly last year, is leaving Croydon Council.
Ellerby’s departure is understood to be for personal reasons.
Croydon Council has yet to make any formal announcement of his departure, nor of whether he will be replaced in the specially created role.
Ellerby had been director of the London Labour Party for a decade, at a time of “Peak Blair”, before spending the next 10 years working at Lambeth Council, where he was appointed when Steve Reed OBE, now the MP for Lambeth South/Croydon North, was the council leader.
In the midst of austerity and widespread redundancies among the majority of council staff, Croydon Council created a whole new six-figure salaried post to accommodate Ellerby, as the “director of strategy and partnerships”. It was widely interpreted as a political appointment by the Labour-controlled council, ahead of the 2018 local elections.
His arrival at Croydon in February 2017 was announced by Jo Negrini, the chief executive of the council, who said, “This is a new post for the council, working directly to me, which will really drive the council’s approach to working with residents and our partners.
“Julian has a fantastic track record and will help lead our engagement with communities, local businesses and within our own organisation, to make sure we can deliver the very best for Croydon.”
At the same time, Ellerby said, “a key part of this role will be about building on relationships with residents and partners so that everyone can have a stake in all the exciting things that are happening in the borough and benefit from its success”.
One indicator of the politicised nature of Ellerby’s executive appointment is demonstrated in one of Negrini’s beloved Powerpoint screens.
It shows the CEO as all-powerful within the council, sitting above four executives, three of whom – Richard Simpson, (the doomed) Barbara Peacock and Shifa Mustafa – each appear to be very busy with a dozen or more areas of responsibility.
Alongside them is Ellerby, who had just four tasks, and top of his list was making Negrini look good.
Another senior figure who is leaving Croydon Council is Mark Meehan, the director of housing needs.
Meehan has worked at Croydon since October 2015, having joined from Ealing.
In his time at Fisher’s Folly, Meehan’s noteworthy contributions include a three-month pilot scheme for something he called “Fairbnb”, an idea generated by the Fairness Commission (remember that?).
Under this project, homeowners would be approached to rent out their spare “double or triple rooms” to the council to accommodate some of the growing band of homeless families in the borough, rather than the council accommodating them in overcrowded BnBs.
To run the pilot scheme, Meehan – with the backing of the council’s deputy leader, Alison Butler – appointed The Campaign Company, the locally based political consultancy run by David Evans, the former assistant general secretary of the Labour Party under Tony Blair. TCC was paid £10,000 for this 12-week pilot (TCC had previously been paid £130,000 for managing the work of the Fairness Commission).
Meehan is understood to have found a new “home” of his own, with a job at Hammersmith and Fulham council.
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