Town Hall reporter KEN LEE on some startling pay rises among the council’s elite executives
While presiding over continuing austerity cuts to Town Hall budgets, staff redundancies and service reductions, all amid maximum Council Tax increases, Jo Negrini, the borough’s chief executive, managed to score herself a whopping £18,790 increase in her own pay and pensions last year.
The figures, for 2017-2018, come from The Tax-Payers’ Alliance in their annual survey of Town Hall fat cat pay.
According to figures provided by Croydon Council to the TPA, Negrini, the self-proclaimed “regeneration practitioner”, is now being paid £185,000 salary, plus £27,935 in pension contributions, bringing her annual council pay packet to £212,935.
That represents an inflation-busting 9.6 per cent increase last year for “We’re Not Stupid” Negrini.
Negrini’s generous pension payment alone comes to more than many council employees earn in a year.
The TPA’s figures do not include the additional £10,000 Negrini is paid, by the government, for acting as the borough’s returning officer, overseeing elections staged in Croydon, an appointment that goes with the CEO role. In a year, such as 2018, when Croydon staged just one borough-wide polling day, that means with pensions, returning officer fees and salary, Negrini managed to trouser at least
Croydon, you may have forgotten, is a Labour-controlled council, though it may not be entirely coincidence that Negrini and other council officials got large pay hikes last year, just as council leader Tony Newman was pushing through increases in allowances for himself and his inner circle of councillors.
Negrini’s empire-building in Fisher’s Folly has seen the number of Croydon executives on salaries of £100,000 or more soar from 15 in 2015 – shortly after the fair dinkum Aussie landed the top job – to 20 by 2017.
According to the latest TPA figures, this had settled down to 19 Croydon Council employees on £100,000-plus by 2018.
And the TPA report reveals that Negrini was not the only one of them to enjoy a pay rise bonanza in 2017-2018.
Barbara Peacock, the “executive director People”, who was appointed by Negrini, saw her salary rise from £130,184 in 2017 to £193,456 in 2018 – a stonking 48per cent increase in her remuneration package.
That Peacock was enjoying such a generous pay rise at a time when, on her watch, the borough’s children’s services department was being rated by Ofsted inspectors as “inadequate” will be something that will not escape many of the borough’s “demoralised” and under-resourced social workers and the hard-pressed parents, carers, foster parents, adoptive parents and many children in care in Croydon who have had to endure with little or no support from their under-performing local authority.
But even Peacock’s pay hike was not the biggest, in percentage terms, among those named in the TPA’s research. Richard Simpson, the borough’s well-regarded director in charge of the borough’s finances, saw his pay packet go up by 76 per cent in one year, to £176,188.
Yet even that was not enough to persuade Simpson to tough things out and continue working for Negrini in Fisher’s Folly: he announced his resignation late last year, without immediately having another job to go to.
Jacqueline Harris-Baker, who has now twice been promoted by Negrini and is known to work very closely with the chief executive in her role as Borough Solicitor and monitoring officer, looks likely to benefit most from Simpson’s departure. The trained lawyer, with no previous accountancy experience, has been chosen by Negrini to be the council’s new corporate resources officer, which should see her £119,897 salary increase this year.
The TPA’s figures show Croydon in sixth place among London boroughs for the number of £100,000-plus execs on the books, with Hackney topping that table with 28 six-figured salaried council workers.
Compared with neighbouring local authorities, Negrini’s £212,935 CEO package salary is outstripped only by Lambeth’s Sean Harriss (£246,850), though he probably had to work a touch harder than his Croydon counterpart, as he managed to surround himself with only 14 other £100,000-plus execs. Harriss left his job in late 2017.
The CEOs of Sutton, Bromley and Southwark are all paid less than Negrini.
Three of our four neighbouring boroughs also have fewer £100,000-plus executives than Croydon (Southwark has 22). Fellow outer Londoners Bromley and Sutton manage to get by with 13 and 12 respectively.
Negrini has some way to go, though, before matching the top pay packet of a London borough chief exec.
That stands at £294,805 per year paid to Paul Martin. Martin, though, works across two south London boroughs, Wandsworth and Richmond.
That might sound a bit too much like hard work for Croydon’s Negrini.
- Please support Inside Croydon’s award-winning, news-breaking local journalism. It’s just £4 per month, and you qualify for special discounts and offers. Click here to sign-up as a donor
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and BBC London News
- Inside Croydon named Journalist of the Year at 2018 Anna Kennedy Online Autism Heroes Awards
- ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: For two consecutive years, 2017 and 2018, Inside Croydon has been the source for two award-winning nominations in Private Eye magazine’s annual celebration of civic cock-ups
- In 2018, Inside Croydon had 1.6million pages viewed by more than half a million unique visitors
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or what to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do these people have no shame?
There are 3 things that are certain in life – Tax, Death and Fat Cat salary increases. It doesn’t matter if you are any good or not, even in times of budget cuts, lack of central government funds, Council execs salaries increase way above inflation or rise that the poor worker gets.
In Tony Newman’s letter he states that Councils nationwide have had a ‘a really tough time financially in recent years, with demand for local service souring in contrast to our funding from Central Government falling’. I am sure that is true, but it doesn’t stop the elite from creaming off some of the funding that is there to line their own pockets. Somehow, they believe they are worth it.
Ask Newman what techniques he has adopted to provide vital services and he as usual fails to respond. Ask Negrini what she achieved in Cannes – no response. Are these so-called experts up to the job? Look at Croydon and the answer is plain to see.
This should put us at the top of the Premier League in any Rotten Boroughs competition! Scandalous from a so called Labour authority when other wages have been pegged back by ten years of austerity. If they had any moral compass they would hang their heads in shame.
God only knows what the council tax payers would have to pay if they were any good at what they are doing?
Good at what they’re doing? There’s a thing about people in public service being paid more than the PM. The bar isn’t set very high at the moment, don’t you think?
I think the only thing more surprising than this news, is that no one else is reporting it. Keep up the good work.
Scandalous ! This demonstrates their complete and utter contempt to Croydon Council Tax payers.
Recent events in Central and Local Government lead me to believe it is time to form a UK Peoples Party (NOTA) – the suffix standing for ‘None of The Above’
These sums are what they are paid, Not what they have earned.
Who funds the Taxpayers’ Alliance? This far-right Tory-loving Brexit-supporting outfit never divulge that.
Their mission is to attack public services and public servants. Their hypocrisy includes claiming tax relief on donations from wealthy backers, many of whom are based in the US or, apparently, the tax-haven known as the Bahamas.
They were forced to admit they illegally vilified and sacked whistleblower Shahmir Sanni for revealing unlawful overspending in the Brexit referendum campaign. But they never question taxpayers’ expenditure on the Royal Family, the military or road building. They are in favour of privatising the NHS and against renationalising our railways and unions who block their agenda. They look after their rich tax-dodging friends, dismissing efforts to tackle tax avoidance and so raise billions as “laughable”.
The TPA meet regularly with similar shadowy organisations at 55 Tufton Street in Westminster, a home from home for no fewer than eight fa-right organisations dedicated to pulling Britain out of Europe and undermining the battle to curb global warming.
John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, wrote last year to the heads of UK broadcasters urging them to label the Tufton Street groups in a way “that reflects their operation as rightwing lobbyists with close links to the Conservative party” in any media appearances. It would be helpful if Inside Croydon would do the same.
Getting back to Negrini, a quick check on London Chief Executive pay packages (excluding pension contributions) shows that Croydon’s £185k is in line with the median and average of the rest. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys, so the saying goes.
Ironically, the highest paid Council CEO in London is the one employed by Tory Wandsworth, long regarded as a model of low Council tax, minimal public services and maximum privatisation.
Thanks for the health warning, Arfur. We’re well aware.
But data is data, and that’s why we publish the figures without TPA commentary.
Oh, and the highest paid local authority CEO in London thing? Yeah, we covered that in our report, too, since the guy who is CEO of Wandsworth does the same role for Richmond as well. Pro rata, he’s being paid far less per council than Negrini is for the bang-up job she’s doing in Croydon…
They only pay themselves so handsomely because we, the public, allow them to do so.
Well YOU voted them into power, so who is to blame?
Actually, Mike, no we didn’t. No one has ever voted for Negrini, or Peacock, or their ilk. They have never stood for election, but are public servants working in local government. Hope that clears it up for you.
Ooooh! This hurts….. how many desperate families have I seen denied basic support which traps them for life in poverty. This is obscene and greedy.