CROYDON COMMENTARY: The independent investigation into the council’s financial collapse needs to examine all aspects of mismanagement, including the £440,000 pay-off to the former chief exec, according to one disgruntled councillor
Apart from being able to read the terms of reference on Inside Croydon, by midday on Wednesday this week, I had been sent nothing by the council about how the Local Government Association-funded initial investigation into how the council’s finances collapsed would work.
Nor have I been invited to participate, or even provided with an email address through which I, other elected representatives and whistleblowers might offer evidence.
I now learn that the LGA’s Richard Penn started his investigation 10 days ago.
It has all the hallmarks of preparing for a whitewash when it comes to establishing who is responsible for bankrupting the borough.
After all, why would council staff take the time to contact journalists and specifically instruct them not to include any reference in their reports to Jo Negrini, the council’s former chief executive for the period of time that this investigation is supposed to cover?
I’m concerned that the exodus of senior staff from the council could mean that those responsible are doing a runner, so that they can avoid taking part in this investigation.
Those Labour councillors who previously held senior positions in the administration are still in denial about what has happened and their part in creating this financial catastrophe. Thank goodness that they are no longer in the cabinet.
It’s vital for Croydon’s credibility that it gets to the bottom of what exactly Negrini and Tony Newman, the council leader who promoted her into the top job, were each doing as this crisis unfolded over the summer and whether officers or senior councillors, or both, got Croydon into this financial mess
The investigation should also look explicitly at whether Negrini’s £440,000 payoff was justified in light of her performance and the part that she played in Croydon’s bankruptcy.
I bet it doesn’t.
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