CROYDON COMMENTARY: Outsourcing giants Carillion went bust three years ago, and now the directors responsible face possible bans from the nation’s boardrooms. Likewise, incompetent councillors should also be barred from public office, says TERRY McCARTHY
The news this week that there is a move, in the public interest, to ban former directors of Carillion from senior boardroom positions raises pertinent comparisons to the situation faced by Croydon Council and the borough’s residents.
Outsourcing specialists Carillion – who even ran Croydon’s public libraries (poorly) for a while – went bust in 2018 owing a huge sum of money, more than £7billion, resulting in 3,000 people losing their jobs, others their investments, and 450 public sector projects, including hospitals, schools and prisons, were plunged into crisis.
As a newspaper report states, “The Insolvency Service, which handles corporate collapses, said it was seeking to disqualify the directors ‘in the public interest’, in a move that could result in them being banned from acting as UK company directors or in senior management for between two and 15 years each.”
The court proceedings name eight individuals. The former chairman Philip Green – who was once an adviser to David Cameron on corporate responsibility – is among those listed as a defendant, alongside the former chief executive Richard Howson, who left after six years in charge in 2017, months before the company’s collapse.
If directors of failing companies can be barred from holding important positions, shouldn’t incompetent councillors also be barred from public office, especially when, as with Croydon, they have left a borough with huge debts, greatly reduced services and a loss of hundreds of council jobs?
Do the councillors responsible for Croydon’s financial mess deserve to retain their elected status, as they still have the capacity to influence local decisions?
Back in the 1980s, councillors in Lambeth were banned from office and surcharged when they refused to set a budget and the District Auditor was called in. National legislation has changed since then. There’s not even a District Auditor any longer.
I have tried to determine if there is a protocol for councillors as applies to company directors. Maybe there should be.
Do the residents and Council Tax-payers not deserve similar protection to company shareholders?
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