CROYDON IN CRISIS: The council’s bankruptcy last year is beginning to take a real toll in terms of the cuts to local services, and people’s jobs.
By STEVEN DOWNES
Julia Pitt, one of the best-regarded directors working for Croydon Council, has left her role as the head of the authority’s award-winning Gateway Services.
Her department has been one of the hardest hit by the cash-strapped council’s deep budget cuts, and Pitt has herself been made redundant. Pitt’s final day at Fisher’s Folly was yesterday.
One senior third sector figure, who had worked alongside Pitt and the Gateway Services team, described her as “one of the best local government officers I have worked with”.
Pitt, originally from Addiscombe, worked for more than 20 years across housing, homelessness and adult social care in local government for organisations including the Homes and Communities Agency, before joining Croydon in 2010. She was promoted to director level in October 2018.
Croydon’s Gateway Services provided early intervention to support the borough’s residents, promoting independence and resilience, while Pitt helped to develop the council’s rough sleeping strategy. This included approaching Crystal Palace Football Club in 2019 and establishing a partnership to provide a severe weather shelter in the Selhurst Park lounge, managed by volunteers and staff.
Under Pitt, the Gateway Services was recognised with a Municipal Journal award for “delivering better outcomes”.
Pitt was also, briefly, appointed to the board of council-owned house-builders Brick by Brick, thought at the time to be a move to help shift some of the failing company’s unsold homes over to the council to address its lengthy housing waiting list. Appointed to the BxB board in May 2020, she resigned by October.
On Wednesday morning this week, Pitt sent one of her last emails as a council employee.
Addressed to “Dear colleagues and friends”, Pitt said, “I am writing to let you know that I will be leaving Croydon at the end of September.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, whom I have had pleasure to work with or who has worked for me, for your commitment and hard work for Croydon and its residents.
“I have worked with so many wonderful people both at the council but also within the community who go the extra mile and have genuine care for our residents, in particular our most vulnerable.
“My special thanks also to all of you who have played a vital role in the covid-19 pandemic. You really are unsung heroes, whether it be from delivering emergency food to those who needed it, taking part in shielding calls, through to those of you who volunteered to help with the increased workload in the bereavement service. You are all stars.
“I must also pay tribute to all of the staff and community organisations and faith groups who work to try to tackle rough sleeping each and every day, you really are making a difference and have ensured so many rough sleepers have moved off the streets successfully, helping people to help themselves to go on to thrive.
“I will miss you all very much and wish you a happy and healthy future.”
Jad Adams, the chair of homelessness charity Croydon Nightwatch, described Pitt’s email as, “A goodbye from one of the best local government officers I have worked with in Croydon.”
Adams told Inside Croydon, “I am sorry to see her go, both personally and from the point of view of Nightwatch and the vulnerable people we care for. She has been an exemplary local government officer and Croydon is the poorer for her departure.”
Another high-level departure from Fisher’s Folly in the past month as a consequence of the council’s budget cuts has been Sue Moorman.
Moorman had been the council’s director of human resources since July 2017. HR chief Moorman left Croydon apparently without another job to go to and now describes herself as “taking a career break”.
Read more: ‘Mistakes will be made’ warn staff after latest round of cuts
Read more: Council axes vital welfare rights service with no consultation
Read more: Town Hall unions to stage virtual rally against council cuts
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