CROYDON IN CRISIS: The council may have launched its public consultation over its financial collapse, but despite a written promise from interim boss Katherine Kerswell, details of her management restructure did not appear yesterday. EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES
The promised publication of a management restructure at Croydon Council failed to materialise yesterday, despite a written promise to all staff by Katherine Kerswell, the £192,474 per year interim chief executive.
With a £66million hole in this year’s council budget, the council has already “erased” more than 400 frontline posts, but there’s as yet been no winnowing out of the over-populated executive floors at Fisher’s Folly. Except, that is, from those who have chosen to leap from Croydon’s sinking ship, rather than allow it to take them and their careers down with it.
Inside Croydon has this year counted 18 staff at director level and above, with nearly all of them on £100,000-plus salaries. The management restructure was expected by staff to address this increasingly obscene imbalance.
In staff meetings, Kerswell has responded to questions about directors’ as-yet untouched gold-plated pay and conditions by trotting out the usual platitudes about being able to attract “the best candidates” for the positions – which is hardly a convincing argument when the council is supposedly in the middle of a recruitment freeze.
Yesterday, in an email to all staff, which has been leaked to Inside Croydon, Kerswell wrote, “Later today I will also launch the draft restructure proposals for the new management arrangements for the whole council.
“My enormous thanks to everyone so far who has sent in ideas to Our Plan or has emailed me directly. Please do take a look at these proposals and please send in your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
“In addition to the specific suggestions for the new directorates there are a series of questions I would also welcome feedback on. One-to-one meetings will be arranged with everyone directly affected and the consultation will also last until January 29.”
Kerswell, who is still signing off her emails over the “Delivery Misery for Croydon” vacuous slogan, failed to deliver on that specific promise. Frontline staff, as you might expect, are waiting eagerly to see which departments are to be “reorganised”.
But while the directors get yet another reprieve, albeit temporary, there’s been no delay in the council starting the latest round of redundancies. In her email, Kerswell confirmed that she has started another set of job cuts, with a voluntary redundancy scheme taking applications from Monday. Staff who have been selected to lose their jobs are to receive emails or letter confirming the decision from today – just in time for Christmas.
Referring to what she calls the “corporate voluntary severance scheme”, Kerswell advised staff that “we need to be realistic about the roles that we must protect to keep statutory services running”.
According to a source at Fisher’s Folly, “Chances are, Kerswell and the other bosses are likely to be trampled in the rush for voluntary redundancy, and they know it.
“The way things are going, who wants to stick around here any longer than necessary? There are jobs on offer at other London councils. Most frontline staff are sick and tired of the mismanagement they have had to suffer.
“It’s long overdue that some of the directors paid for their failures with their jobs.”
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