‘One of the best’ directors leaves council as Gateway closes

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.

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.

Julia Pitt: with Gateway Services cut, her council director’s role was made redundant

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.

Rescue: the severe weather shelter at Selhurst Park came from an approach by Pitt

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.

Jad Adams: worked with Pitt

“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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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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6 Responses to ‘One of the best’ directors leaves council as Gateway closes

  1. How can Croydon not have someone leading the services that come under the ‘Gateway’ banner?

    How can Croydon Council not have a head of Human Resources?

    Where is Katherine Kerswell?

    What’s going on?

  2. Graham Norman Sleigh Bradley says:

    I agree. Where are the career employees who once served Croydon Council for 30 plus years such as David Wechsler ? Please don’t say Steve Iles. Why is it when the going gets tough they leave either to join another council immediately or have a career break or early retire ? No backbone at all these days.

  3. Ian Kierans says:

    Ms Pitt, Graham, was certainly one with backbone, as well as a will to deliver and done with humanity on many occasions.

    We may not know her record internally but her results externally were apparent and of benefit. She was also able to get on with others and facilitate external assistance to alleviate issues.

    This lady should not be at a loss for a role in private industry or places like the GLA or TfL that would welcome her skill set.

    I find it an indictment of those at Fisher’s Folly to let a skill set go when it is a rare commodity within the building at that level and higher.

    Perhaps the new minister Mr Gove may find a role for her and could certainly use her skills in resolving not just rehousing and homes issues but a LG strategy for all Metropolitan homelessness.

  4. Patrick Hall says:

    I worked with Julia and have rarely met anyone as passionate about the service they lead. She made a massive and positive difference to those who needed help in Croydon. Absolute pleasure to work with. It’s heartbreaking to see so many good people leave what should be a flagship council.

  5. Dave Spart says:

    Frankly when the leadership has been so poor why would you want to stay? Having a backbone doesn’t enter into it, bills need to be paid and if your employment prospects are dire you leave. The backbone needed is to skill yourself and look after your family. Not many people want to work for an employer that had no safeguards for so called investments, senior figures it would seem unable to read a spreadsheet, nepotism, and bullying you can hardly expect loyalty.

  6. Leo Fenn says:

    Julia is an incredible inspiring woman, far greater than this excellent article could possibly articulate. Croydon’s loss is anothers gain.

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