Negrini lands cushty consultancy with ex-council supplier

EXCLUSIVE (and available in all good, and some not-so-good, newsagents): The exec who walked away with a £440,000 pay-out from the borough she helped to bankrupt has re-emerged with a juicy ‘consultancy’ from one of the firms she used to hire when running the council.
By STEVEN DOWNES

Revolving doors: Arup consultant Jo ‘Negreedy’ Negrini

Self-acclaimed “regeneration practitioner” Jo Negrini has regenerated her own career, the failed council chief executive emerging with a juicy consultancy deal at Arup, one of the firms she favoured so lavishly when she was frittering tax-payers’ money from the executive floors at Fisher’s Folly.

The special Ho-Ho-Ho edition of Private Eye magazine, published today, reports that “… thanks to the wonder of revolving doors, ‘Negreedy’ has resurfaced as a ‘cities and development consultant’ on the books of Arup, the giant engineering and planning specialists”.

Negrini, the council’s £200,000-plus per year chief exec, quit Croydon in September 2020, but only after she had screwed a £440,000 golden handshake from the borough she had done so much to help bankrupt.

Brick by Brick, and its £200million borrowings and precious few new homes, was a Negrini brainchild, while she also oversaw the “fiasco” of the £70million Fairfield Halls refurbishment, which delivered rich profits for a handful of consultants but little in the way of the long-promised improvements to the much-loved arts centre.

Within weeks of her departure from Fisher’s Folly last year, the council had to declare itself effectively bankrupt, issuing a Section 114 notice and becoming only the second local authority to do so this century.

Negrini’s obscenely generous pay-off was approved by Labour council chiefs Tony Newman and Simon Hall and was regarded as top secret at the Town Hall, until it was revealed by Inside Croydon.

Rotten Borough: Croydon features prominently once again

The 500 or so hard-working council staff who have paid for Negrini’s misrule with their jobs will undoubtedly be delighted to discover that their former boss has landed on her kitten heels with such aplomb.

Today, in the Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column in which Croydon had become a fixture thanks to the efforts of Newman, Paul Scott and Negreedy, it reports, “Back in 2015 Negrini, as Croydon’s ‘executive director Place’ (she became CEO in 2016), hired consultants at huge cost to assist with what she then boasted was a £5.25billion, five-year regeneration programme involving 169 development projects, ‘which will provide more than 8,300 new homes and 23,000 new jobs in the centre of Croydon by 2021’.

“Those consultants happened to be Arup, famed for building the Sydney Opera House, the Shard and the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics.

“In Croydon, Arup were asked to develop a ‘tailor-made, web-based Programme Delivery Dashboard’. This, blathered Negrini, would be ‘a window on the future of Croydon’ which would ‘pioneer how major urban regeneration schemes are planned and delivered in future…

“‘It shows that we are ready to turn Croydon into a modern, European city and means investors and developers can have complete confidence in the council’s ability to deliver’.

“That turned out well, then.”

Australian-born Negrini arrived in Croydon in January 2014, straight from the Olympic borough of Newham, on a mission to help Aussie shopping mall developers Westfield to build their £1.5billion temple to consumerism on the site of the Whitgift and Centrale shopping malls.

Negrini was promoted council CEO in April 2016 (succeeding another Rotten Boroughs ne’er do well, Nathan Elvery).

While wallowing in the title of “Hon FRIBA” (presumably awarded for services to architects’ bank accounts; the ex-council official has no architecture qualifications), Negrini and her hand-picked inner circle of council execs – including Shifa MustafFridaysOff and Heather Cheesbrough – would enjoy jetting off to Cannes at considerable public expense for the annual MIPIM “booze and hooker fest”, or relish being flattered by being invited to address events attended by developers and speculators.

Arup’s fine work: not the Fairfield Halls

To this day, and despite a very costly Compulsory Purchase of much of Croydon town centre organised by Negrini, not a single brick has ever been laid for the Westfield shopping centre, what was supposed to be the central part of the town’s multi-billion-pound regeneration.

But the collapse of the Croydon Westfield project, together with the other regeneration flops on her watch, saw the CEO’s hubris eventually catch up with the council. Earlier this year Croydon needed a record £120million emergency bail-out from the government.

Six years on from Negrini and Arup’s “award-winning” (yep, seriously) development dashboard, as testament to Negrini’s devastating impact on the borough, the latest list of projects in Croydon, as collated by the developer fan club Develop Croydon, has them whittled down by half, even when including the long-abandoned Westfield.

Of the 86 remaining projects from those ambitiously listed by Negrini and her mates at Arup in 2015, only 41 are listed as “completed”.

But then, anyone visiting the increasingly dismal and desolate Croydon town centre can see that for themselves, without any need for an expensively commissioned “Programme Delivery Dashboard”.

But as the fabled Lord Gnome might say, for Arup consultant Negrini, it’s  a case of “Trebles all round!”

Read more: CEO Negrini’s long campaign to shut down Inside Croydon
Read more: Brick by Brick part of a perfect storm that bankrupted Croydon
Read more: The Audit Report: Council ignored five warnings on reserves
Read more: £30m Fairfield Halls project never went to competitive tender

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About insidecroydon

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
This entry was posted in "Hammersfield", Brick by Brick, Business, Colm Lacey, CPO, Croydon Council, Jo Negrini, Paul Scott, Tony Newman, Whitgift Centre and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Negrini lands cushty consultancy with ex-council supplier

  1. Peter Gillman says:

    Brilliant reporting on the sleaze merry-go-round that Negrini and her mates are so good at riding. Private Eye must have some terrific local sources!

  2. Well done IC for exposing this ‘obscene’ reward for failure. What really, really, baffles me is how Arup – a ‘world class firm of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists’ – would risk their reputation by recruiting a renowned failure whose sullied reputation risks dragging their name through the sh…

  3. Just remembered that Arup pocketed almost £13m for the doomed ‘Garden Bridge’ across the Thames – Boris Johnson’s disastrous venture of a few years ago.

  4. 6-9 months max before the penny drops.

  5. Nick Davies says:

    Well there’s an “I’m not stupid” joke in there somewhere. Possibly on Arup’s recruitment agency.

  6. Dave Russell says:

    ‘tailor-made, web-based Programme Delivery Dashboard’
    What on Earth does that mean?

  7. Lancaster says:

    In September 2018 Jo Negrini went back to Australia, it was suggested at the time among staff at the council to try to pitch for a job; She failed to win that gig, despite using council resources to help her personal pitch. Seems she new back then and that early that er time was up….. Apparently the Aussies she tried to pitch to were smarter back then and more clued up than Arup; before the shit storm that is evident today.

  8. Not on Arup’s official staff list – however, I expect Arup, who designed the wobbly bridge, will not like bad publicity……of any kind.

    • Try calling their London office and ask for Joanne Negrini… They will try to put you through.

      • Joanne fleeced Croydon tax payers and delivered nothing.

        All talk and cocktails and no insight, vision or ability to inspire others.

        It was such a stupid fucking idea putting her in the ceo role in Croydon – demonstrates what a witless numpty Newman is.

        Arup is known to be a bit of a commercial gravy train but she’ll have to deliver. I don’t see how she can as she had nothing to offer our borough apart from bankruptcy.

  9. Lewis White says:

    Strewth ! Well, that’s amazing ! Arup have a switchboard with live people !

    If only one could phone up Croydon Council and get to talk quickly to a real switchboard person who actually tries to put you through to the person you want to talk to !!

    My normal experience is a recorded voice……………

    “Thank you for calling Croydon Council. We are sorry, but all our attendants are busy trying to help other callers. Please wait, and the next available assistant will be with you shortly.

    You are number 2 in the queue, and the caller in front of you has been waiting……… 15 minutes.”

    OR

    15 minutes later……
    ” I will just put you through now….

    10 seconds later…

    Beeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Line goes dead.

    OR

    15 minutes later……
    ” I will just put you through now….

    10 seconds later… ring ring…. click click …. ring ring, ring ring …….. click……. silence ……

    “Thank you for calling Croydon Council. We are sorry, but all our attendants are busy trying to help other callers. Please wait, and the next available assistant will be with you shortly.

    You are number 2 in the queue, and the caller in front of you has been waiting……… 15 minutes.”

  10. Lewis White says:

    Ho ho ho ! Inside Croydon is the gift that keeps on giving! Keep up with the good work! Happy Christmas !

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