In what could be the first sign of “regime change” at Fisher’s Folly, following Jo Negrini’s departure as chief executive, the lead on something called “Croydon 2023” left the council abruptly last week.
Amy Wagner was never employed as a staff member, but through her company Wagner Consulting was hired on what is reputed to have been a six-figure annual fee.
There is no mention of her time at Croydon Council on Wagner’s online personal profile, though there were effusive, self-assuring messages on social media from Wagner and her immediate council colleagues at the end of last week.
Calling herself a “digital and agile coach”, Wagner describes her role, “I specialise in coaching teams in Agile and Lean techniques while working to transform and improve delivery across at the entire organisation.”
Or, as one worker who is waiting to learn whether they keep their job at the cash-strapped council said, “The money this lot piss up the wall on shit like this is frightening.”
The Croydon 2023 project was introduced by Negrini and Neil Williams, the council’s head of digital. “The digital services mob have an endless pot of cash for wanky consultants,” was the view of the council source.
Although referencing the year when Croydon is supposed to be London’s Borough of Culture, Croydon 2023 was more about the council’s internal culture, and reorganisation, including something Negrini liked to call her “localities agenda”.
Stripped of the jargon-laden councilspeak so beloved of Negrini, her localities policy was all about outsourcing even more of the council’s services and reducing ever more the number of council staff working in Fisher’s Folly. It will have seen some staff working from satellite offices located around the borough, some based in libraries or even leisure centres.
As a Katharine Street source said, “It was being rolled out without any public consultation and with little understanding of what the ‘localities’ are, or how they relate to each other. It would have amounted to the council operating from silo offices.
“The jargon and rhetoric was great, but without clear devolution and accountability to ward councillors and residents in these localities, it is crap.”
It may have been just coincidence, but Wagner’s departure came just as Katherine Kerswell was named as the borough’s interim CEO.
“Paid six figures and delivered sweet FA,” the source said of Wagner.
“It looks as if Kerswell has come in swinging.”
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