Croydon in crisis: Children’s services chief opts to leave

EXCLUSIVE: Our Town Hall reporter, KEN LEE, on the shock decision of one of the more respected executives at Fisher’s Folly to quit his council job

Robert Henderson: seen Croydon’s children’s services receive Ofsted approval

Robert Henderson, Croydon’s executive director for children, families and education, is to leave the council.

Henderson’s decision has not yet been formally announced to staff, but it has sent a shockwave around the hard-pressed children’s services department. His departure may be related to the staff cuts being implemented, but is understood not to be as a result of the cuts at the council.

Henderson only joined Croydon Council at Christmas, 2018. He was hired soon after Barbara Peacock was shown the door at Fisher’s Folly after demonstrating an inability to resolve the crisis in the children’s services department, which failed an Ofsted inspection in 2017 when it was deemed to be a danger to some of the children and young adults in the council’s care.

Within little more than a year of his arrival, Henderson – aided by some huge increases in his department’s budgets to pay for a small army of social workers to reduce the burdensome caseloads – had helped turn things around and, in March this year, Ofsted announced that Croydon’s children’s services department was now rated as “good”.

The reasons for Henderson deciding to leave now are not yet known. According to one council insider, “He’s kept it very quiet.”

Referencing the council chief executive and council leader, the source said, “The relationship between him and Jo Negrini and Tony Newman has been very frosty.

“Rob is excellent and very highly regarded, which is why Jo and Tony can’t work with him.”

It has been suggested that, with 15 per cent being axed from the council’s budgets, and even children’s services staff not being immune from the cuts, Henderson has made his decision because, after having dug Negrini and Croydon out of a deep hole of their own making once, he has no desire to have to repeat the process once he loses key and experienced staff from his department.

“He may have just decided that, in the interests of the self-preservation of his career, the time has come to move to a local authority that does not have a growing reputation for poor governance.

“Basically, he’s jumping from a sinking ship.”

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3 Responses to Croydon in crisis: Children’s services chief opts to leave

  1. James says:

    Women and (directors of) children first!

  2. Sebastian Tillinger says:

    When Jo Negrini was made the stand-in CEO and then offered the full time post largely because of Mr Visionary-Thinker 2014, Tony Newman, there must have been formal minutes or some kind of records of the conversations in the meetings that took place in the run up to this decision being made?

    Can the council make these records available as a useful demonstration of just how haphazard and harebrained Tony Newman’s thought processes are?

    I have spoken to a Councillor who sat in on the interview of one of the very senior management at Croydon (who’s still in their job) and they said the the lack of scrutiny and interrogation at the interview was quite unbelievable. That explains so much.

  3. Colin Cooper says:

    And the you know what hits the fan (again ) !

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