Jo Negrini, whose departure from her job as Croydon Council’s chief executive was confirmed last week, should not receive a penny in any taxpayer-funded pay-off, according to Inside Croydon readers.
An overwhelming 96.8 per cent of readers answered “No” in an online poll to the question of whether or not the erstwhile civic servant should receive a financial settlement following her four years in the top job.
Negrini was on a salary and pension package of £220,000 per year, which had been increased from the £180,000 in 2016 when she was promoted into the CEO position by Tony Newman, the leader of the Labour-run council.
Negrini maintained that she did not resign from her job, and her lawyers spent her final days in office haggling over the terms of her departure.
With money in lieu of notice, as well as compensation for any untaken holiday, plus pension arrangements, Negrini may walk away from Fisher’s Folly as much as £200,000 better off.
She leaves behind an organisation with record debts of £1.5billion and with at least 400 council staff – some of whom would be on annual salaries of less than Negrini got paid for taking cigarette breaks – facing the prospect of redundancy under emergency cuts introduced by Negrini because of the council’s parlous financial position.
Staff dubbed their departing boss “Negreedy” when they found out about her settlement dispute.
Negrini’s payment is already being regarded as a “reward for failure”, and has been condemned by one Croydon MP as being “morally wrong”, given the council’s circumstances.
Negrini, the self-proclaimed “regeneration practitioner”, had joined Croydon in 2014 as an executive director for planning and development, with a particular brief of overseeing the redevelopment of the town centre with a £1.4billion Westfield shopping centre. That scheme collapsed 18 months ago.
Negrini was also responsible for setting up Brick by Brick, the loss-making council-owned housing developer which – despite borrowing £260million from the council and being sold public property for as little as £1 per site – had managed to build just three council flats by the end of last year.
And despite Brick by Brick and its managing director, Negrini appointee Colm Lacey, having no experience or track record in large scale refurbishment projects, Negrini saw that BxB was handed the £30million budget to modernise the Fairfield Halls arts centre. The project was finally handed over last September, unfinished and incomplete, 15 months late and at least £13million overbudget.
Inside Croydon’s polls are not scientific, but serve as a snapshot of public opinion among our readers. This poll was conducted from August 24 to August 31. More than 600 readers responded to the online question.
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