CROYDON COMMENTARY: Since audit regulations were amended in 2015, only five other local councils have been the subject of Reports in the Public Interest, with findings from their auditors of mismanagement or wrong-doing*. Croydon joined that list last year and this month is expected to be hit with another RIPI over the £70m Fairfield Halls fiasco.
Here, reader IAN KIERANS offers seven suggestions for the cash-strapped council – its councillors and council directors – to meet the ‘levelling up’ agenda. And some new words for an old tune…
Let us get real here.
The councillors or the elected mayor are what they are.
It is the framework of local government that allows things such as the shambles surrounding the Fairfield Halls to happen.
That lies with this government and Michael Gove, recently appointed as the Secretary of State for Levelling Up.
If he wants to level up, then he should start with this borough.
I am sure that somewhere the Nolan Principles are enshrined in some council code of conduct. If they are, then there is a serious gap in the translation of those Principles into the acts that the council commit on the people of Croydon.
Two RIPIs – Reports In The Public Interest – in little more than a year is quite some going. In football terms, it is like one forward scoring half of all the goals and the own goals in the Premier League in a season.
Seriously, money, or lack of it, is a problem, no matter who is elected.
So let’s remind ourselves, and our councillors, council directors and candidates who want to be our elected Mayor, about those Nolan Principles for life in public office.
Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. and not trouser £440,000 when the shit hits the fan or they do the ship rat shuffle.
Integrity – Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships. – Hahahaha… sorry not enough space or time to comment here
Objectivity – Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias. Apply that to the various planning permissions granted, Regina Road, or to LTNs and ANPR, and to the handling of Brick by Brick.
Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this. How does that square with the slow and dodgy Freedom of Information responses from the council, the failure to hold hands up when caught in the act, or to those doing a runner with pay-offs?
Openness – Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing. Again, FOIs not answered or responses incomplete, the failures of scrutiny, the failures to record complaints, and overly convoluted processes designed to deter and obfuscate.
Honesty – Holders of public office should be truthful. The three tenets that hold sway in Croydon are “See no wrong, Hear no wrong, Admit no wrong”.
Leadership – Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs. Oh. Dear.
And there we have Simon and Garfunkel and the Sound of Silence:
Hello, website, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a builder softly creeping
Left their shit while I was sleeping
And the mold spore that was planted in my brain
Within the webpage of silence.
In restless ether we walk alone
Potholed streets of crappy stone
‘Neath the bus stop without a lamp
We turn our collars to the cold and damp
Still our kids get robbed in the flash of a tram stop light
And gangs that fight
all within the web page of silence.
More verses by request…
*The other councils that have been issued with Reports In The Public Interest are North Dorset (2015), Derby City Council (2016), York City Council (2016, 2021), Nottingham City Council (2020) and Northampton Borough Council (2021).
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