CROYDON IN CRISIS: Spend, spend, spend… the bad old habits of the dark days of the Negreedy era don’t seem to have been eradicated altogether, as CEO Kerswell looks to hire a new director to do her dirty work for her.
EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES
For some of those inhabiting the ivory tower that is the council offices at Fisher’s Folly, spending other people’s money remains an easy answer to all sorts of issues.
Take, for example, the executive job advertisement that appeared this week, offering a salary of a cool £123,000 for a “transformation director”.
The ad’s author continues by sneering down their nose at the people of the borough: “No ordinary challenge – but this is Croydon.”
It is not even a week since the Government intervened, ordering its improvement panel to oversee all significant financial decisions in Croydon. It is four months since the cash-strapped council issued its third Section 114 notice in just two years, effectively admitting it could not balance its 2023-2024 budget.
Section 114 notices usually come with an absolute block on any non-essential spending.
Yet here is cash-strapped Croydon Council creating yet another six-figure salaried job, whose main function it is to put other people out of work.
The transformation director post is a new role, a job that has never existed before at Croydon Council.
The notification of the vacancy appeared in the same week that residents across the bankrupt borough have been receiving their Council Tax bills including Tory Mayor Jason Perry’s inflation-busting 15per cent hike.
And the vacancy was announced on the interweb just as many of Croydon’s staff were being invited to re-apply for their jobs at lower rates of pay at the crisis-hit council.
The job ad was signed as if coming directly from Perry (£82,000 per year in allowances) and the council chief exec, Katherine Kerswell (£192,000 per year).
“Thank you for thinking about joining us at Croydon Council,” they wrote. “This is truly an opportunity not to be missed.” Oh, how the people reading this must have laughed!
Referring to the council facing “significant challenges over the past two years” (just two years?), Kerswell and Perry say that they “need an outstanding individual to join us to help lead the transformation of the whole council”.
Now this might strike Inside Croydon’s loyal reader as odd, because they might have thought that “the transformation of the whole council”, especially in these financially straitened times, would be a task for the very well-paid council CEO.
Especially if, as has been the case with Kerswell, the CEO has already managed to create another six-figure salaried role, that of assistant chief executive, to… well… assist the CEO.
But no: after overseeing the axing of at least 500 frontline jobs in Croydon since she arrived in late 2020, Kerswell has decided that she needs to bring in someone else to do the dirty work for her. And all along, she has the enthusiastic backing of her lap-dog mayor, Perry.
“Turning the council round will be hard but fulfilling work; you will face challenges and Croydon will test every part of your experience and knowledge to date, but if you are the person we are looking for, this is exactly the opportunity you will relish,” Kerswell and Perry’s sales pitch goes.
Croydon “is a fantastic place” they say, as they offer “a once-in-a-career moment”.
They claim that they are “building an organisation in which talented, clear-sighted, and committed individuals with a strong public service ethos thrive”.
Which might come as news to anyone who has had the misfortune to deal with Kerswell and some of her more bureaucratic Fisher’s Folly colleagues.
“This is a values-led organisation where people care passionately about fairness, inclusion, tackling inequality, and about making Croydon better for the people who live here.” By hiking their Council Tax by 15per cent and cutting another £36million-worth of services, oh yeah.
Elsewhere in the 13-page “candidate briefing pack” (how much was spent on producing that?), they outline what the purpose of the transformation director will be: “You will lead the design, development and delivery of all the whole organisation transformation programme, incorporating the service level transformation programmes in each directorate.
“Your experience, analytical skills and delivery focus will be pivotal in driving innovation [sic] we need and improving outcomes.
“Your work will achieve significant cost savings, fundamentally reshape services and build a new inclusive relationship with the diverse communities of Croydon and council staff.”
Got all that?
Just to drive the message home: “This is your chance to help write the next chapter in Croydon’s story to create a council that as the mayor’s business plan says – costs less, does less and delivers better.”
The council has even hired professional headhunters, Starfish, to manage the recruitment process.
Some who saw the ad were clearly impressed by all of its councilspeak bollocks.
Until recently, Neil Williams was a typical Croydon Council empire-builder, appointed as head of digital by Jo Negrini, and given licence to spend public cash like a drunken sailor. Williams left his six-figure job once it was plain that the money for all his pet projects would soon run out.
When he latched upon the Croydon transformation director job ad, Williams tweeted: “Not for the faint-hearted, but would love to see someone awesome take this on.
“The salary expectations are 123k and the essential criteria are qwertyuiop.” Sic.
The paperwork says that the closing date for applications is April 14, and that the long list will be agreed on April 17, when some lucky so-and-sos will even get to have a one-to-one with Kerswell herself.
But no sooner had Williams posted his “awesome” gush on Twitter about the job than the online notices were subtly, but tellingly, altered.
“Unfortunately this position has been closed,” they now said. The functionary at the council’s “executive search agent partner” wasn’t answering their phone to explain why.
Could it be that the S114 notice issued in November renders this role as less than essential spending?
Might it be that Tony McArdle, the chair of the Government-appointed improvement panel, has flexed the added muscle he was given last week with his power of veto over unnecessary or ill-considered spending decisions?
Given that very senior sources at Fisher’s Folly have said that McArdle has openly been expressing impatience with the two-steps-forward-one-step-back rate of progress at Croydon, might Kerswell advertising for a new director to do her work for her be seen as just the latest backward step by the under-whelming chief executive?
- Fancy a new job that allows you to sneer down your nose at Croydon? Read the 13-page transformation director briefing doc here
Read more about the council being placed into special measures:
Read more: Croydon put in special measures: ‘Worst of all possible worlds’
Read more: Call for Tory Mayor to resign after Government’s takeover
Read more: ‘Precautionary measure given the historic issues uncovered’
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What the crapping hell is a Transformation Director anyway?
More verbose bullshit executive claptrap bollocks, akin to the shit from the past like, Change Management, High Performing Teams, Visions and Values and Single Status – utter nonsense.
Apparently… “an individual who will work collaboratively with the Executive and Senior Leadership Team to deliver its objectives”.
So an admission that Kerswell, her directors and the Leader do not have the skills and capability to deliver their goals and objectives themselves!
So why are they in their roles and not up for redundancy themselves as they are clearly lacking?
How about employing a CEO and Leader who can deliver transformation and change themselves?
Was ever a word so misused as ‘transformation’? The Russians ‘transformed’ Mariupol last year. ‘Transform’ means only ‘to change’ – there is no inherent idea of improvement yet it keeps being used in local government circles to suggest this.
£123k plus employer’s national insurance contribution of over £15k and who knows how much employer’s pension contribution = a lot of money. How much is the planned Payroll redundancies meant to save? Some of the jobs at risk in that threatened team could now be safe thanks to this U-turn
Transformation Director ?
Surely there’s something wrong about this title.
A bit mediocre sounding?
And just a measly £123 k a year. That’s chicken feed, equivalent to the annual salaries of only 3 or 4 rank and file council staff who do things like Building Control, Environmental health, Highway inspection, and other old-school things that Councils used to do in days of yore.
What a yawn, those bad old days when councils used to do things like cut the grass, give out meals on wheels to old people, and have its own homes for children and the elderly. Soooo tedious. Such responsibility. Doooing things ! Not like enjoying a nice office with a brass name plate, potted plant, and a seat in the executive loo in the management suite !
Surely, to be up there with the Pope, Dalai Lama, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Houdini, and Arnold Schwarzeneger, it should immediately be retitled “Senior Strategic Director of Transformation and Visioning”, at the very least.
That would be like …. well… having Jesus on the staff, but better!
Then we, the council tax payer, would not feel that we were accepting a substandard Director of Idiotic titles and non-jobs, and would really want to pay the recipient with the superfior title a much better wedge, say £200,000 per annum, plus £1000 per month self-certified performance bonus, and a £250,000 bonus after 3 years, plus £60 k per annum pension.
Every other council in the land would then look up to Croydon as an exemplar, nay, the pinnacle of top officer job title standards for the local authority of today!
Mr Mayor, your advisors should be thrown out.
Do they just use one of those online bullshit generators to write these job descriptions?
Haven’t they transformed the Council already? It is one that is now run from Whitehall and doesn’t require the services of someone who masquerades as a Mayor on a part time basis. Easy budgetary saving there.
Kevin; no online generator used, just the numpties in zone D on the 7th floor.
ChatGPT wrote this in less than a minute after I fed it the instruction “Write a job description for the job of Director of Transformation in the London Borough of Croydon”
Job Title: Director of Transformation
Department: London Borough of Croydon
Location: London, UK
Reporting to: Chief Executive Officer
The London Borough of Croydon is looking for a talented and experienced Director of Transformation to lead the organization’s strategic and operational transformation efforts. The successful candidate will work closely with the CEO, the senior leadership team, and other key stakeholders to drive change, streamline processes, and enhance service delivery across the organization.
• Lead the development and implementation of the organization’s transformation strategy, ensuring alignment with the overall strategic direction and vision of the London Borough of Croydon.
• Drive the delivery of transformation programs, projects, and initiatives across the organization, including change management and business process improvements.
• Ensure effective engagement and communication with stakeholders across the organization, ensuring the transformation vision and objectives are clearly understood and supported.
• Work with senior leaders and managers to identify opportunities for improvement in service delivery, ensuring that services are efficient, effective, and meet the needs of the community.
• Develop and implement strategies for managing risks and issues related to the transformation portfolio, ensuring that risks are identified, mitigated, and managed appropriately.
• Provide leadership and guidance to project teams, ensuring that resources are deployed effectively and that projects are delivered on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards.
• Lead the development and implementation of effective governance and reporting frameworks for transformation programs and projects, ensuring that progress is monitored and reported effectively.
• Demonstrable experience in leading and managing transformation programs and projects in a large and complex organization.
• Strong leadership skills, with the ability to inspire and motivate teams to deliver results in a fast-paced and changing environment.
• Excellent communication and stakeholder engagement skills, with the ability to build effective relationships with a range of internal and external stakeholders.
• Strong analytical and problem-solving skills, with the ability to use data and evidence to inform decision-making and problem-solving.
• Experience in managing risks and issues related to transformation programs and projects, with the ability to identify, mitigate, and manage risks effectively.
• A track record of delivering successful outcomes in a complex and challenging environment.
• Educated to degree level or equivalent.
If you are a dynamic and experienced transformation professional, with a proven track record of driving change and delivering results in a large and complex organization, we would love to hear from you. This is an exciting opportunity to make a real difference in a dynamic and forward-thinking organization.
I can’t believe that anyone can produce something like that and keep a straight face.
The bots can.
They are faceless
Kerswell was put into Croydon by the Government because she doesn’t give a shit about making people redundant. She has no ties to Croydon, lives in a far more affluent borough and if she never set foot into the borough again, other than travelling to Gatwick Airport, she wouldn’t give a shit.
Now that the Government realise Kerswell has let them down, she hasn’t delivered, she moves at a snails pace and struggles leading, Kerswell wants to cement herself into her now cosy position in Croydon. She is now hiring a redundancy specialist in the hope they will draw all the hostile fire.
How pathetic is Kerswell ? How naive is Perry? We need to get Kerswell out – she only cares about no.1.
Yet again, yet again, people looking down have no idea what it is like looking up in an organisation like Croydon Council. It’s funny how they find money for posts like this but don’t find the money for the posts that are actually delivering.
They need to realise that the Council needs investment from the bottom up. Do that for 3-5 years, stop chopping and changing and use that time to work out if they can really deliver the council on a shoe string (the answer, dear Reader, is that cannot). This is the problem that the government and senior Croydon management just don’t understand. They don’t know the cost of actually providing adult social care, children social care, running housing, libraries, keeping the streets clean, I could go on. It costs a lot of money.
Is there waste? Yes of course but it won’t run into the tens of £millions. Ultimately, Croydon needs a proper budget with experienced leaders to run it. It has neither of those things so will fail again and again and again.
Sometimes the answers are the most obvious yet painful ones.
Croydon Council has signed the Nolan Principles. It must be seen to comply . Whilst it is true that the council has a serious financial problem to say the very least, what steps have been taken by the Council its leader, CEO to chase the money? Jason Perry or Kathryn Kerswill need to address this and advise the residents and also explain why the Council has been so badly run for years. Many of the councilors and senior officers have been in situ for years, so no doubt can explain a ) where the money has gone b) what steps have been taken and by whom to recover it . The council failings are clear to all. In excess of 8 years ,as a disabled person, I have not had even a grab rail .No support during Co vid .In my case it is nonsense to say this is recent. Like many it is years . If as now appears to be the case they require yet more highly paid staff ,it does beg the obvious question exactly what are the well paid staff actually employed to do ?If they are unable to do their job they must resign .The resignations must be from the top downwards. The fact that the Council is now in Government special measures the position. Does any resident have any faith in the council? I do not .
So it begins!
They get rid of the hardworking staffs and replace them with a useless bods!
The reason they increased our council tax is to make sure THEY get paid every monthly pay and expenses and enough monies in the pension pot for them!
‘Successful applicant must have access to their own salami slicer’
It is frightening what has happened to Croydon and then we have enquiry after enquiry into the incompetence of Croydon Council.How much do these enquiries cost we need to look into who makes money out of these enquiries How much do they cost and this should be looked into within our government as well .Most people have worked out what went wrong at Croydon Council it is not Rocket science but now money is needed for services not money making politicians or more expensive enquiries