EXCLUSIVE: Our Town Hall reporter, KEN LEE, on the how the latest departure from Fisher’s Folly will hit the borough’s health provision as well as Jo Negrini’s leadership ‘team’
Sarah Warman, Croydon Council’s director of commissioning and procurement, has announced that she is leaving Fisher’s Folly to take on what was (inevitably) described as “an exciting new opportunity” at another local authority, believed to be Westminster.
Warman also effectively had a second significant job: since last August, she worked as the director of joint commissioning for NHS Croydon CCG (clinical commissioning group), and so was responsible for the borough’s purchasing of bulk stocks of personal protective equipment – PPE – before and during the coronavirus outbreak.
According to staff sources, Warman was well-liked and an effective manager. So as well as going through a process of laying off 15 per cent of staff because of her council’s over-spend, Jo Negrini, the council CEO, is also having to contend with the loss of some of her more capable executives who are choosing to leave Croydon presumably after seeing what a mess the local authority has become.
Warman is the second senior manager at the council to announce their departure within the past month: Rob Henderson, the exec director of the department that oversees education and children’s services, leaves his post at the end of this month, as was exclusively revealed by Inside Croydon.
Last night, staff at the council paid tribute to Warman, saying her departure is “a massive blow”.
“Sarah is hugely capable and massively well-respected.” The source rejected any suggestion that Warman might be leaving as a result of the staff cut-backs that Negrini is imposing. “Sarah was one of the few steady hands on the tiller,” they said, without extending the metaphor to a sinking ship.
It seems that Warman had been recruited by Westminster before Croydon Council underwent its covid-19 meltdown in May. “But as a competent director in the resources department, she’d seen the writing on the wall long before the rest of us.
“If you wanted an example of how well regarded she is here, no one leaked the news of her departure before it was announced.”
Warman joined Croydon Council from Lambeth in November 2014, initially as head of strategy, commissioning, procurement and performance. Her role, or at least her job titles, shifted at regular intervals thereafter, until she was promoted to a director role in March 2018.
Warman’s boss, Jacqueline Harris-Baker, issued a memo to staff yesterday, in which she said Warman had even taken a leading role in digging children’s services out of the hole of its damning Ofsted inspection failure.
“She has been integral to us developing more robust commissioning arrangements and has played a big part in building stronger alliances with our partners,” Harris-Baker wrote.
“I know her departure will be felt by all of us,” she wrote. “Sarah has made a significant contribution to Croydon and will be greatly missed.”
And our source added, “None more so than by some of her less-competent bosses, promoted by their mates into jobs that they are less-than-qualified for, and who they have been carrying for the past year or more.”
Whoever could they mean?
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