Council is rocked by news that finance chief has resigned

EXCLUSIVE: Our local democracy reporter KEN LEE on a shock departure from Fisher’s Folly

Huge loss: Richard Simpson

Richard Simpson, effectively the second-in-command at the council to chief executive Jo “We’re Not Stupid” Negrini, is to leave Croydon.

Simpson has worked at Croydon Council since 2005, working his way up to the £170,000 per year role of executive director of resources to which he was appointed two years ago. In the past, he has described Croydon Council as “an organisation that I love”.

The council’s former finance director is widely respected throughout Fisher’s Folly, by both Labour and Conservative politicians, and by his colleagues, who credit him with steering the local authority through the troubled waters of year-after-year of swingeing austerity cuts.

“That’ll be a huge blow to the council,” was the reaction of one cabinet-level Katharine Street source.

“Richard has been key to the council managing okay with its finances,” said another.

News of Simpson’s departure was announced to council staff this morning, though by the time of publication of this report, councillors had not been informed.

Simpson, who is 44 years old, was widely seen as a steady pair of hands and reliable, and an ideal candidate to replace the self-proclaimed “regeneration practitioner” Negrini.

The council has not yet made public any details of Simpson’s move, and Simpson himself was unavailable for comment this afternoon as he was “in meetings”.

Simpson came to Croydon with an accountancy background, having previously worked at Arthur Anderson consultants before a four-year spell at Lambeth Council before joining Croydon in August 2005.

Immediately before his latest promotion, Simpson had worked as assistant chief executive for corporate resources. When Simpson was appointed exec director, Tony Newman, the council leader, described him as “a great guy, a strong leader and a trusted pair of hands”.

Newman said in 2016: “He has a proven track record of delivering for Croydon and our residents, who can have confidence that this council has a strong handle on its finances.”

Today, one of Newman’s councillor colleagues said, “It will be a tough task finding someone as reliable as Richard to replace him.”

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5 Responses to Council is rocked by news that finance chief has resigned

  1. davidjl2014 says:

    Well, let’s hope when Simpson goes he’s NEVER replaced. At £170k a year, paid for by Croydon’s tax payers and record numbers attending food banks, the hypocrisy of this Council’s ability to financially run this town never ceases to amaze me. Overpaid “jobs for the boys” in the Town Hall while the poor suffer. Stuff taxing “the rich” obliterate “the over paid”

    • You may be right in the suggestion that the amount paid to the council’s “exec directors”, at £170,000 (plus various additions in pension pot funds and expenses) is excessive.

      There is a market argument that such high, six-figure salaries are necessary to attract the most talented candidates. Clearly, the evidence for that is weak: Jo “We’re Not Stupid” Negrini, Jon Rouse and Nathan Elvery, Barbara Peacock, Graham “The Godfather” Cadle, Matthew Wallbridge, Paul Greenhalgh… few have impressed, despite their lavish salaries.

      Richard Simpson, however, was widely well regarded. He worked his way up through the organisation, was competent in his tasks, and unlike some, never sought to enhance his personal reputation while the reputation of the borough continues to decline.

      He will be a loss for the people of Croydon, who need to have their council run by more public servants of his ilk.

  2. davidjl2014 says:

    I do understand what you say, but it’s the principle of the matter that annoys me. I’m sure Mr Simpson has done a good job and will be a loss, but at the cost of £170k a year? On the grand scale of things I fail to acknowledge that this kind of money is acceptable to Croydon’s Council Taxpayers in the current political climate.

  3. Alice Tate says:

    Where is he going?

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