The cabinet member for finance who helped set-up the failed Brick by Brick project and oversaw the collapse of the council’s finances has registered a new business – as a ‘change manager’
Simon Hall, one of two Croydon councillors suspended by the Labour Party pending an investigation into their part in the council’s financial collapse, has put his New Addington house up for sale.
Until his sudden resignation last October, Hall was the Labour-run council’s cabinet member for finance, presiding over £1.5billion debts, reduced reserves and runaway spending during the covid-19 lockdown.
Last month, Hall and the former leader of the council, Tony Newman, were suspended by their party, it is thought because of the findings of an official investigation into wrong-doing at the council conducted by the Local Government Association’s Richard Penn. Penn’s report has yet to be made public.
Hall is the only one of Labour’s four councillors in New Addington who actually lives in the area. At least he is, for now.
Last week, locals noticed that the five-bedroom former council house had been placed on the market, initially at £495,000 – just inside the threshold for purchasers to avoid Stamp Duty.
Hall has not made any statement about his plans, though it may be that he intends to move out of the area, perhaps even leave the borough.
On February 10, Hall registered himself as the sole director of a new business. Pipstar Services Ltd, according to Companies House records, has an address at Shelton Street in the West End, the offices of an online company formation agent.
Although Hall, 56, qualified as an accountant, Pipstar’s business is registered as “Management consultancy activities other than financial management“. Our italics.
He lists his occupation as “Change Manager”, whatever that is supposed to mean, although many of the 500-plus council workers who are to lose their jobs because of the financial crash caused on Hall’s watch, as well as thousands of Croydon residents who are about to lose vital local services, will probably attest to the change he has wrought on their livelihoods and lives.
Hall has been a councillor for Fieldway ward, re-named as New Addington North, since 2005, and was a leading figure in Tony Newman’s clique within the Labour group for more than a decade. As cabinet member for finance, it was Hall who was a leading influence in the Labour council’s property investment misadventure, and who continued to defend the failing house-builder, Brick by Brick, whose lack of profits and loan repayments left such a massive hole in the council budgets.
A further clue that suggests that Hall may be moving away from the borough came at a recent Croydon Central Labour Party annual meeting. Because of his suspension, Hall was unable to attend the virtual meeting. But his partner, Rob Elliott, was present, and surprised some when he turned down being nominated for official roles due to “personal reasons”. Elliott has been a serial candidate in local elections, though never elected as a councillor.
To stand for election as a councillor, a candidate needs to be resident in or own a business based in the local authority’s area. Likewise, to hold office within a CLP, a Labour member is usually required to live within the constituency.
Hall and Elliott’s house, on Mickleham Way, is described in the online estate agent particulars as, “A spacious 4/5-bedroom family home with views over Rowdown woods perfect for a large or growing family.
“The ground floor comprises a large living room with patio doors to a good-sized garden, cloakroom and large fitted kitchen and two additional double bedrooms, one currently used as a study.
“On the first floor, you are welcomed by three further double bedrooms, the master boasting an en-suite and family bathroom.
“Mickleham Way is a quiet road, opposite fields and woods, situated within a short distance of bus routes.”
After its original listing, the property disappeared off the interweb for a couple of days last week, re-appearing on Friday.
Hall, the “change manager”, had changed the asking price, upping it to £500,000.
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