Three former exec directors are back on councils’ gravy train

Having avoided any disciplinary difficulties over the bankrupting of the borough, some of those with key roles in Croydon’s financial collapse are doing rather well for themselves, reports KEN LEE

£173,553: Richard Simpson has worked at Sutton Council since 2019

Richard Simpson, once in charge of Croydon Council’s finances, as well as his former assistant, Lisa Taylor, and Guy van Dichele, another ex-Croydon exec, have all landed themselves top jobs with other London local authorities, despite their parts in this borough’s financial collapse.

Simpson, Taylor and van Dichele all featured, with varying degrees of prominence, in the Penn Report, the investigation commissioned by current chief exec Katherine Kerswell into possible wrong-doing at Croydon Council in the run-up to its first bankruptcy in November 2020. Although he’d left Croydon Council in 2019, Simpson was among the dozens of those interviewed by Local Government Association consultant Richard Penn.

Simpson worked at Croydon Council for nearly 14 years until he announced his departure in late 2018, perhaps anticipating the disasters that would unfold.

In his time at Croydon, Simpson helped establish loss-making house-builder Brick by Brick (he was the company’s first director) and gave that council-owned company the task of refurbishing the Fairfield Halls, without the need for any tiresome competitive tendering.

He has been employed at Sutton Council since March 2019, where he is now the most senior finance executive, or “strategic director of resources (Section 151 Officer)”.

At Sutton Council, Simpson was paid £173,553 (salary: £145,686; pension: £27,867) in 2021-2022, according to figures published by the Tax Payers Alliance.

Sutton job: £170,788 was the package paid to Guy Van Dichele’s predecessor

Taylor and van Dichele were among the council executives who in 2021 were suspended from their jobs by Kerswell as a direct consequence of the Penn Report. Both resigned from Croydon Council soon after. Van Dichele initiated constructive dismissal proceedings against his former employers, though he later dropped the case.

Penn’s recommendations, as first revealed by Inside Croydon, included submitting a report to some of the council’s former directors’ professional bodies. In Taylor’s case, this will have required notification to CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, for possible disciplinary action.

Van Dichele was Croydon’s executive director of health, wellbeing and adults, so was in charge of the borough’s response to the covid pandemic in 2020. His suspension by Kerswell appeared to be largely as a result of his being one of the executive leadership team under Jo Negrini.

After leaving Croydon, van Dichele took up a similar role at Southampton City Council. Since July 2022, he has worked as “strategic director people” at Sutton Council. According to the TPA’s data, the salary and pension package paid for that role in 2021-2022 (therefore to van Dichele’s predecessor) was £170,788.

In the case of Taylor, she went first to Birmingham, then to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where in October 2022 she started a new job as the interim director of financial management, a role in which she has since been made permanent.

Glowing reference: Lisa Taylor

It was Taylor who issued the Section 114 notice for Croydon – effectively admitting she could not balance the borough’s books – in November 2020, only the second local authority in England to take such drastic steps this century.

Taylor must have arrived at Kensington and Chelsea with some impeccable references. The TPA’s figures show that her predecessor there was paid £142,280 in 2021-2022.

With Taylor joining last October, she was probably among the last executive appointments made under that borough’s veteran CEO, Barry Quirk (salary: £219,318).

Quirk, who retired last November before taking up a consultancy with the Local Government Association, is also known as the husband of Katherine Kerswell, the very same Croydon CEO who the previous year had suspended Taylor from her council finance job…

Kerswell only got round to implementing some of the recommendations of the LGA’s Richard Penn last month, after a two-year delay. It was all far too late for Kerswell to take any disciplinary action against those erstwhile directors who she suspended, but subsequently resigned.

£220,626: Helen Bailey, Sutton’s CEO

Without any disciplinary action being taken by Croydon Council against Simpson, Taylor and van Dichele, they were all properly entitled to seek work elsewhere. But the reports to professional bodies, as recommended by Penn, had they been submitted more promptly, may have had some influence with potential employers.

Kerswell, meanwhile, has not delayed seeking some increase in her own salary (£192,474), having been understood to have approached the LGA for assistance in making a case for being given a bit of a boost.

Looking at Croydon old boys Simpson and van Dichele doing so well on the other side of the borough boundary, Kerswell might seek to compare her pay packet at the cash-strapped council to Sutton’s CEO, Helen Bailey, who according to the TPA’s figures for 2021-2022 was paid a lavish-looking £220,626 (salary: £185,244; pension: £35,382).

Trebles all-round!

Read more: Kerswell’s council keeps payments to top earners secret
Read more: Newman and the Negrini pay-off: no papers, no notes, no reasons
Read more: £400,000 ‘golden handshake’ is Negrini’s reward for failure
Read more: Negrini lands cushty consultancy with ex-council supplier

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at
  • As featured on Google News Showcase
  • Our comments section on every report provides all readers with an immediate “right of reply” on all our content
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine

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
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Guy van Dichele, Katherine Kerswell, Lisa Taylor, Richard Simpson, Section 114 notice, The Penn Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Three former exec directors are back on councils’ gravy train

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    Until there is a full investigation into the events leading to the loss of public funds and that includes the relevant changes in legislation inc the 2011 Government Act along with giving loans to replace funding and allowing untrained inexperienced and unqualified people (employed and elected) to spend with no audits or oversight this festering boil of Public disrepute will continue.
    After investigation – then a full and open public inquiry and publication of all the acts should take place and changes made to ensure it is never repeated.

    Everything is is just speculation ableit informed

    Sadly at this stage the truth being made public and the culprits known along with the root causes isvery unlikely to ever happen.
    It is likely that he main if not only reason for that not happening, at this stage, is that the blame goes to areas those in positions of authority currently do not want it ever to go and would deem it not in their ”public interest” to have that happen.

    It seems they would prefer to have the entire administrative and political structure fall into complete disrepute instead. By doing so, also making a mockery of the Judiciary and Police by default as being incapable of unilaterally investigating and bringing to justice serious misuse of public funds and acts which in other arena’s would be in front of the CPS and the Court and on the BBC in minutes.
    but that would be pointing to the true causes and those responsible and ruin those minions little honours.

    What a shining example is being set for young adults!

    • Jason W says:

      You are in cloud-cuckoo land. Or you fell out of the naive tree and hit every branch coming down

    • Sarah Gills says:

      It has been investigated inside out. People just don’t like the answers. A mix of staggering incompetence, naivety, inexperience, arrogance, underfunding and lack of accountability.

      There is no one smoking gun. A whole swathe of people are to blame. And not just those who worked at Croydon.

  2. Lancaster says:

    Ian, an investigation will never happen and is not possible. Records are simply not kept. Most senior staff on the 7th floor are unable to find yesterday’s email, let alone its attachment.

Leave a Reply