Under-fire council recruiting for £88,000 pa head of repairs

Are you seeking a “new challenge”? Fancy a job that pays as much as £88,000 a year?

Fancy a £88,000 a year job in the hot seat at Fisher’s Folly? Apply here…

Want to work for somewhere that describes itself as “a place on the up, experiencing the largest growth of any London borough?”

A job where you would be taking charge of a department within a local authority whose staff have been accused of making council tenants “feel less than human”?

And fancy a job which is likely to see your work featured, or at least mentioned, on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future on ITV News?

Cash-strapped Croydon Council, its recruitment freeze set aside, is looking for a “Head of Repairs and Maintenance”.

And they are offering between £82,703 and £87,968 a year for the right person to take up the hot seat.

Sources in Fisher’s Folly maintain that the timing of this announcement has nothing, absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the national scandal caused by the appalling state of unrepaired and neglected council flats on Regina Road, South Norwood, as was exposed on ITV’s News At Ten last month.

Lorraine Smout, the current head of repairs and maintenance who has worked for the council since 1986, is retiring, according to our source. So it’s all, of course, just a coincidence.

The vacancy has arisen without anyone being fired or resigning over the state of the sodden Regina Road flats, which were described as “dangerous squalor”, and which the head of a housing charity said were “the worst housing conditions ever seen”.

For £88,000 a year, you’d expect someone capable of managing to get rid of mould like this in a child’s bedroom

Of course, none of that woeful situation, nor the Labour-controlled local authority’s bankruptcy – morally as well as financially – is reflected in the relentlessly upbeat job ad which seeks to recruit Smout’s successor, someone who will be expected to manage the outsourced maintenance contract with Axis to oversee the state of the borough’s social housing and other public buildings.

Anyone familiar with Croydon and its dysfunctional council would struggle to recognise the south London borough from the advert’s blurb.

It’s hard to determine whether the ad has been drafted and signed off by someone who is shameless, or just witless.

Potential applicants are wooed with “Croydon is a place on the up, experiencing the largest growth of any London borough. It is a borough steeped in tradition, offering residents a rich and diverse history but has a forward-thinking mentality that is keen to embrace change and innovation to provide the best possible place for residents to live and work.”

Sound familiar to you? Didn’t think so…

“Central to this is our Croydon Renewal Plan where we seek to bring good governance and financial management to the fore, making the best use for the budget we have and ensuring that we seek the opportunity out of every pound.”

Croydon and its dysfunctional council is unrecognisable from the job recruitment guff

Yes. “Good governance and financial management.” It would make a pleasant change.

But the real zinger is yet to come.

“Your role as Head of Service for Responsive Repairs is pivotal in the strive to achieve excellence for our residents.”

Yes. Excellence.

“You will be responsible for leading a multi-discipline service that manages not only day to day repairs and ad hoc works but also the cyclical servicing and compliance-related services that keep our residents safe.”

Are the recruiters sure that they are talking about the same Croydon that we all know?

Anyone selected for interview for this hottest of Croydon hot seats might want to insist on being given sight of the “urgent” report into the Regina Road flats scandal. Because only then might they get a true insight into the “challenges” that await them.

Read more: Council tenants rebel: ‘Your staff make us feel less than human’
Read more:
Ali accused of cover-up over findings on council flats scandal
Read more: Croydon shamed over ‘dangerous squalor’ in council flats
Read more: ‘Is it because the council don’t care? Where is their humanity?’


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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7 Responses to Under-fire council recruiting for £88,000 pa head of repairs

  1. Beyond parody! Literally. The whole effing edifice is broken; perhaps this new man or woman can fix it. Or are we in a Humpty Dumpty situation? Seriously, perhaps the hapless Ms Smout was not properly resourced and had no hotline to Negridi? That’s my unsubstantiated first opinion

  2. I see that the Job Description was updated in Jan 2018. I suppose it would be a silly question as to who has been doing this job for the last three years? As to reporting to the Director of District Centres and Regeneration, are they having a laugh? Without that I might have offered my services.

  3. Iain Kierans says:

    Major consideration – before applying for this role ask to see the contract that you will have to manage – Failing that ask what authority you would have to alter amend cancel change the Axis contract so that it is fit for purpose! If full control and authority is there with resource (even limited with a quick fix budget) and effective complaint process is in house and not self managed or like Rubisholia then at least improvements can be made. But seriously to be a borough wide focal point in this murky situation – the Councils best hope is to get a person with ability but limited delivery experience. Anyone competent with a good track record and wants to keep their reputation should really avoid this environment – £100k would still not be enough. Improvements should be able to be made pretty quickly if managed right howver that might be unlikely until the root causes of the issues are cut away from the structure – these clearly do not lie with one person or any one sacrificial goat either.
    Personally I would not come out of retirement and damage my personal reputation of 100% delivery for over 30 years on that at all.

  4. Graham Bradley says:

    Please not another expensive administrator and delegator sitting in Fisher’s folly behind a desk. What is needed now is experienced repairers such as electricians, plumbers, plasterers and decorators who have the abilities and skills to do quality repairs and fix problems in council tenants’ flats on a daily basis.

  5. This is Tony Newman’s toxic legacy, a council that wrecked itself, wasted our money, betrayed the vulnerable and ignored their protests and cries for help, and all so he and his inner circle of arselickers could do what they liked at our expense with nobody to stop them.

    If Croydon Labour cared and were competent they would clear out the the dregs that supported him in his recklessness, and Butler and Scott would be booted out. So long as those two are on the borough payroll and in power, it proves none of them give a toss.

  6. Lewis White says:

    Let’s hope that the new person is a broom that has a hard head and strong bristles, and can sweep the grime out of dark, damp corners

  7. michael coward says:

    Graham Bradley, Is so right. let the office staff run this department like they do now.
    You dont need another head to say ( put them off, we are dealing with it ) Why waste money.
    More old school tradesmen, not cowboys that are cheap & nasty without a clue iv seen it in action.
    Please I hope its not a scheduler from axis that takes 27 days to get a simple light bulb replaced.
    He or She will need balls of steel, to dare ask their superior for more workmen to cover the work
    in time. They will be told we cant afford it do your best. That’s the big problem you got office staff
    taking the same calls day after day. The workmen trying to do their best but called away from their
    jobs because someone has, fallen, tripped, all sorts. on an on going job takes priority so day gone.
    It needs someone with a brain to go in cut out all the dead wood in C/C but no one as the bottle.
    Not even the government because same problem, their all hanging on to their jobs from old pals.

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