Council housing staff summoned to urgent briefing with CEO

The wait could almost be over: the report into how council flats in South Norwood fell into such squalid and appalling conditions is expected to be released tomorrow.

It has been six weeks since the conditions in this council block in South Norwood shocked the nation

All members of the council’s housing department have been summoned to attend an online “briefing” at 3pm today with Katherine Kerswell, the interim chief executive, and Sarah Hayward, who was recently promoted to the exec director Place role, and so is in charge of housing in the borough.

Sources at Fisher’s Folly say that staff are braced for bad news. Very bad news.

The report about the disrepair of the flats on Regina Road has been withheld for more than a month, with Kerswell claiming that pre-election purdah prevented its publication.

The report, conducted by Ark Consultancy, is understood to have found systemic mismanagement and incompetence at the council, with few proper checks conducted over its maintenance contract which was outsourced to Axis.

It was shortly after the Ark consultants completed their work that it was announced that Lorraine Smout, who worked at the council since 1986, rising to the position of head of repairs and maintenance, was to retire.

The timing of Smout’s departure and the national scandal over the state of Croydon’s council housing stock was said to be entirely coincidental.

A source at Fisher’s Folly told Inside Croydon today that the publication of the report into the state of the council flats could not come soon enough. “We’ve all felt pretty demoralised with the wait,” they said, “even those who don’t work in tenancy or housing.”

Even after the wretched year already endured by council staff – many of whom have undertaken frontline work throughout the covid-19 pandemic – morale among them is at its lowest ebb yet.

“Teams on the ground are in complete stasis while we wait for Kerswell’s senior management restructure to happen,” the source said.

“Lots of good people are moving on.”

Read more: ‘Your staff make us feel less than human’
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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
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