Jo Negrini demanded that she should be provided with a top-of-the-range Apple laptop when she was Croydon’s chief executive – even though the computer was incompatible with the operating system used by the rest of the council.
Providing Negrini with her heart’s desire cost the Council Tax-payer £10,000 – plus the price of a flash iPad and an iPhone for the chief exec’s personal use.
Council staff members continue to come forward with shocking examples of the self-indulgent approach taken by Negrini during her four years in the top job at the council.
Yesterday, Inside Croydon reported one senior staffer who described her as being “out of control” and “autocratic”, saying that the self-proclaimed regeneration practitioner was “disorganised” and “an indolent charlatan”.
Negrini’s time as Croydon CEO was marked by her keenness to spend much time in providing self-regarding interviews to architecture and other specialist magazines, as she revelled in her being awarded an honorary fellowship of RIBA, the Royal Institution of British Architects, despite her lack of architecture qualifications.
According to one council source, “The council spent millions upgrading our old Windows XP estate to Windows 10, and also upgrading to office 365. It was seen as a great achievement for the authority. We even received awards for it.
“However, Jo Negrini demanded a MacBook, apparently saying that she could do some design work… Not sure why a chief executive would need to do design work.
“We tried to explain that we are a Microsoft environment and a Mac wouldn’t be compatible with the network. But she was insistent. So we ended up paying Capita, our then IT contractors, £10,000 to provide her with a supported MacBook.”
Top-of-the-range Apple MacBooks are much admired and desired by those working in architecture and property development businesses. Single MacBooks retail for as much as £1,800.
Yet while Negrini got what she demanded, another senior source says that he never actually saw the CEO using her shiny new Mac in the meetings on council business that they both attended.
“The meetings I was in with her, Jo always had one of her two personal assistants in tow,” the source said.
“She never used a computer herself.”
The source observed that Negrini’s approach would often see meetings with senior staff sidetracked on matters that were not entirely relevant. “She was terrible at getting hung up on the way a document looked, rather than reading its content. I remember a 30-minute rant about the lack of boxes on a PowerPoint slide.”
All senior council staff, at director level or above, get what is called a “platinum” support package from LittleFish, the contractors who were brought in to replace Crapita.
“But what Jo got was that with knobs on,” said the source who worked in the council IT department.
As well as the MacBook, the source said that Negrini also demanded a brand new iPad Pro (£1,000-plus) and iPhone (£600), both the essential fashion accessory for a thrusting executive who might regularly be rubbing shoulders with architects and property developers.
Negrini’s gadgets and gizmos had to be ordered in specially for her, outside the council’s bulk-buying procurement. “We didn’t use iPads or iPhones as corporate devices, as we went with Sony Xperias due to cost.”
Inside Croydon revealed yesterday that Negrini has left the council with a settlement worth more than £400,000. It’s not known whether she was obliged to return her council-funded Apple computers and phone before she exited.
After all, it’s not as if she can’t afford to buy one herself now…
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