Croydon In Crisis: Negrini holds out for bigger pay-off

EXCLUSIVE: As more than 400 council staff are being made redundant, workers and unions express disgust that borough’s chief executive is to receive a lavish exit settlement. By STEVEN DOWNES

Jo Negrini: has an inflated opinion of her value to Croydon

The Mexican stand-off at Fisher’s Folly has now gone into its sixth day, as Jo Negrini, the council’s £220,000 per year chief executive, holds out for a bigger pay-off to secure her departure from the job.

Negrini is expected to leave the cash-strapped council, where she has overseen debts mount up to more than £1.5billion, by the end of September. Council sources confirm that she is currently on annual leave, not due back at work until next Wednesday, though few ever expect to see her return to work at the council offices.

Budget cuts of 15 per cent are meanwhile being implemented, including the axing of the jobs of more than 400 of Negrini’s erstwhile staff. According to sources, that, though, has not stopped Negrini insisting on a six-figure “golden handshake”.

As Inside Croydon broke the news last week, a formal announcement of the end of Negrini’s tenure was due to have been made on Thursday.

But that was delayed, then postponed, as the self-proclaimed “regeneration practitioner” held out for a bigger wedge of cash to ease her on her way out, and she also insisted on having a final say on the wording of any statement issued.

On Friday, executive directors were instructed not to discuss the departure of their boss with anyone. Emergency communications – intended internally, for staff, as well as a public statement – were drafted and ready to be issued.

“There’s been urgent meetings at senior levels all morning,” one insider told Inside Croydon on Friday morning. “It’s chaos.”

As the minutes ticked past into hours, staff exercised dark humour by organising a sweepstake on what time the council’s media department would press the send button on the formal announcement.

The most favoured timings were late in the day: “They like to try to bury bad news. So they reckon sometime after everyone has pissed off down the pub for the start of the weekend means that it won’t get any attention before Monday.”

Yet even that prediction proved ambitious.

By yesterday, someone calling themselves “Whistleblower Croydon” had even started an online petition calling for Rob Henderson, the widely admired executive director of children’s services and education, to somehow be persuaded not to leave the council at the end of this month and to be offered the CEO’s job to replace Negrini.

But as well as council staff being kept in the dark, so are the borough’s councillors.

No information on the position been provided for councillors even in the Town Hall’s ruling Labour group. “We all know Tony’s on holiday,” said one Katharine Street source, “but this suggests that he thinks everything stops when he’s not around, which is clearly far from the case.”

Newman’s absence at this critical time – over Negrini’s departure but also in the midet of the staff redundancies – and the lack of any consultation with the borough’s elected representatives is likely to prove highly controversial with his Town Hall colleagues and the borough’s unions when he returns next week.

Absent: council leader Tony Newman

Because well-placed sources suggest that Negrini’s exit was prompted when, in the middle of the council’s cash crisis, the council leadership made her an offer to leave her job last month.

Now, according to sources, this has also become a further cause of the stalemate, over whether Negrini has resigned, or has been sacked.

As one source said, “She is insisting that she has not resigned because she wants to squeeze as much money as possible from them. She is playing hard-ball and seems to have plenty on them…

“She is going, about that there can be no doubt. But until they agree terms there cannot be any official comms which fail to recognise her as chief executive.

“In the meantime, there is a vacuum at the heart of the council.

“The senior leadership team have been instructed to say nothing.”

Speculation over the size of the pay-off Negrini might expect is also rife.

Negrini has been a council employee since 2014 and appears to be leaving without serving her full notice period, expected to be six months.

Recent examples from other local authorities suggest that the Croydon Council Tax-payer may have to stump up the equivalent of a year’s salary, or more: when Negrini’s predecessor as CEO, Nathan Elvery, was sacked from his £190,000 pa job in West Sussex last year, he walked away with a tidy £265,000.

Meanwhile, most council staff taking redundancy in Croydon this month are being offered modest terms. Council workers and union officials are, understandably, outraged.

“This just adds insult to our injury,” one union member told Inside Croydon on condition of anonymity. “We’re losing hundreds of hard-working colleagues who gave dedicated service to the borough through the covid pandemic, and yet the person who has been in charge will swan off with a huge pay-off.

“It’s disgusting.”

Click here for our full summary and background of Jo Negrini’s time at Croydon Council


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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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20 Responses to Croydon In Crisis: Negrini holds out for bigger pay-off

  1. Statutory local government redundancy pay was, I recall, one month’s salary for each year of service. Negrini is not technically redundant and ought to have been sacked for gross misconduct (financial mismanagement). Unfortunately we do not live in a just world.

    • Anonymous says:

      No George, sadly, Croydon Council redundancy is only one week for each year of service up to 20 years. And even then it is not a weeks salary it is half way between statutory redundancy and your actual weekly salary – although you do get one and half week’s pay (ie again half the difference) for each full year of service you were 41 or older. This is not great so I do hope Jo gets a better deal. Me and the 400+ others who are going to be made redundant in the next few months do not have suitcases of cash to keep us going or the contacts to get us other well paid jobs. But, naive or what, presumably we will all get made redundant on the conditions that Jo manages to negotiate! However you look at it Croydon looses. Lots of jobs will not be done and lots of services not delivered and the management do not even know what it is they are not going to deliver when they make us all redundant.

      • I am getting on a bit, but T&Cs etc are all coming back to me. In any event it is totally disgusting how Croydon is treating its staff. Many of them are not exactly highly paid anyway. I think if the public were aware of the golden handshakes these useless plutocrats get in comparison, they’d be outraged. How long before they blame Negreedy and a settlement on the coronavirus?

  2. Billy James says:

    Is this a joke?

    This imbecile should be arrested for financial incompetence…

    If I was one of the affected staff, consult a solicitor & make her pay….

  3. Mike Buckley says:

    Go Girl, Go! You have already done very well out of Croydon, stop squeezing any harder,retire and as you do think of all the staff you have also forced out!

  4. Look out for legal gagging orders being, illegally, applied. Who at Croydon can possibly be negotiating this ‘Mexican Standoff’? There isn’t anyone senior enough. Her pension will be protected. This has to be National News.

    • Chris says:

      Sadly, senior council officials screwing the public and council tax payers for serious wedge while blue collar workers get screwed isn’t really news in itself.

  5. I just don’t understand. Presumably she is leaving of her own free will and is not being (as she should be) sacked. Why on earth should she be entitled to anything more than her salary? The District Auditor should have something to say about that.

    It is just morally wrong: bugger up a job and a Borough, bugger off just like that….and then ask to be rewarded for doing that. You couldn’t make it up!

  6. Peter Annetts says:

    Bloody typical: get Croydon in serious debt and then walk away for some other poor sod to pick up the pieces

  7. Jim Lennon says:

    We don’t know the details of her contract. Whatever contract she is on is bound to be in line with other contracts in the market for people of her level. I know that some people think that anyone could do her job better than she has and she should have been paid less (some might say the same about Wilfred Zaha’s salary at Crystal Palace who earns her salary in two weeks!). But the reality is that competent people are in short supply and it is very competitive to attract the right people – if you don’t offer similar contracts to those offered by other councils, no one will apply for the job.

    She will get paid in line with what her contract says I would imagine. If she got nothing, then she could take legal action, which could end up costing ratepayers even more in legal costs, etc. Be careful what you wish for! At the end of the day we actually don’t know the full circumstances of her departure and can only speculate (make things up).

    • You make one biggish mistake. You aver that Negrini was ever competent. At best she was capable of being a Departmental Head…but top dog in a Council..never! Bad judgement, one of a million, by Tony Newman. He bought into the overblown self-promotion of Negrini… and we pay.

  8. Sebastian Tillinger says:

    And let’s not forget that from the very beginning it was completely within Tony Newman’s power, as leader of the ruling party, to remove Jo Negrini from office.

    The writing was on the wall with Jo within months of her taking office.

    If someone sat down and calculated the monetary cost to Croydon of each and every one of Tony Newman’s blunders, bad decisions and poor judgement calls we would probably not be in the financial mess we are now.

    Many residents will be remembering this when they next visit the polls.

  9. June Witby says:

    Her reputation has gone to zero.
    Public sector servant – more like a fatcat from the private sector?

  10. Marie Jones says:

    Shaking my head in disbelief! All going on while frontline staff are losing their jobs and you have to feel some sympathy for the staff left behind having to carry on. Brick by Brick need to go next – they add no value and you have to wonder how they have survived for so long ….

  11. Moya Gordon says:

    It mystifies me how incompetence can go unchecked in councils. I know people fear for their livelihoods and don’t want to complain about bosses. There should be an external body who oversee standards in publicly run organisations that would allow employees to report concerns whilst protecting their identity. Does such an organisation exist?

    • Marvin Hayes says:

      Amazing how the local councillors are all in ‘hiding’ on this council mess??
      No one have come out and made their own voice heard.All keeping quiet like mice.
      Clearly they are not fit to represent the people and the staff.

      We need resume the local elections soon!

  12. jennifer says:

    very informative! feeling depressed about it 🙁 dont know what to say about this loss.

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