Council spent £10,000 on incompatible laptop for chief exec

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.

Only the best was good enough for Jo Negrini when she was Croydon CEO

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.

Jo Negrini: what did she need an Apple MacBook for exactly?

“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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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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9 Responses to Council spent £10,000 on incompatible laptop for chief exec

  1. Croydon’s IT contract was always problematic – in the early 2000s the head of service left under a cloud. The IT contract at the time meant that there was ONLY ONE supplier allowed, so anything outside the plan meant huge costs. Also, the help-desk was based in the USA, meaning cost and time difference problems. Looks like this might have been an issue with Negrini’s top-of-the-range kit.

  2. Just a thought, has Negrini decamped back to Oz? Could you not start a ‘Where’s Neggy’ game?

  3. Dave Scott says:

    £10000 – wtf. Is she a serious developer needing whizz bang technology, or more likely a ‘leader’ that likes the bling and look at me, arn’t i great and much more important than you little underlings. Rather than paying her to go, she should be paying the council back for all the money she has taken, whilst delivering zero. If she wont do that then a boot up the backside and out the door.

  4. John Harvey says:

    The worrying question is whether Negrini wanted what was on her laptop to be inaccessible to others or if this just happened by accident

  5. Emma G says:

    The real question here is why a Macbook cost 10k, when as the article says they retail at 1.8k – for that you need to look harder at the IT contract and “service” Capita provided. Office 365 works perfectly well on a Mac and network issues should be surmountable.

    A slow clap for your council source on the upgrade from XP to Windows 10 in 2017. At that point XP had been out of support since 2009 (so thats 8 years) and out of extended support since 2014 (a further 3). Given this, it looks like Croydon’s IT provision had been unfit for purpose for some time. Asking to be able to use a modern device is not an outrageous request. No doubt Negrini has got many things wrong, asking for a decent level of IT provision is not one of them.

    I’d be interested to know: 1) the standard cost of a (non-Mac) laptop under the Capita contract. I would guess more expensive than you might imagine. 2) the cost and version of Xperias rolled out – they are not cheap devices either.

    Finally, an iPad pro is not a fashion accessory – it’s a modern and flexible way of doing work. As is a Surface Pro incidentally, which the council did provide. But let’s not make it out like she was demanding something outlandish. The questions here should be directed at the terrible value IT provision the council was / is getting.

  6. George R Taylor says:

    In the 14th paragraph of the article, is that a deliberate typo of Capita?

  7. Colin Cooper says:

    Strange that Apple computers are preferred by architects and designers, has anyone examined what Negreedy was using the machine for? I suspect that it was NOTHING to do with her actual Croydon job.

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