Town Hall staff braced for £31m more cuts and job losses

CROYDON IN CRISIS: In an internal email to staff, the £192,000 per year chief executive has laid the groundwork for the next round of redundancies in departments including personnel and planning.

No Access: there’s dozens more job losses coming at Fisher’s Folly in the coming months

While her council was congratulating itself over its “progress” with the budget, Katherine Kerswell, the £192,000 per year CEO, was this morning doing what she does best: patronising her staff and readying them for more redundancies.

It is council staff who will be paying for the illusory “success” claimed by Kerswell and Croydon’s Mayor, Jason Perry, with dozens likely to lose their jobs as part of the £31million of cuts written in to the 2024-2025 budget.

Kerswell’s memo today was to prepare the groundwork ahead of the next round of “consultations”. It is reckoned that more than 500 council posts have been left vacant or axed since 2020, the process having started even before Croydon issued its first Section 114 notice in November that year.

Facing cuts: there are to be cuts in the planning department. But will its director, Heather Cheesbrough (centre) hang on to her job?

Judging by Appendix B1 in the council’s budget papers “New savings and growth” (released today ahead of next week’s scrutiny committee and cabinet meetings), it appears that there are further job cuts planned in Human Resources, the safeguarding team, procurement (presumably because the cash-strapped council ain’t going to be procuring very much for a while), educational capital delivery team (no new schools planned), and in spatial planning and regeneration (which should be a blow for £150,000-plus per year director Heather Cheesbrough, unless she is one of those to go).

Cuts to planning are likely to be really counter-productive. There have been countless complaints of the council’s planning department being slow to process applications because it is understaffed. And what happens if Westfield really do pitch up with a revised scheme for the long-overdue regeneration of the town centre, as they have been threatening to do all year?

But while there are job cuts coming across a range of council departments, there’s a couple of places which remain growth areas at the crisis-hit council.

“They are employing more lawyers and accountants, so that’ll help deliver all those essential services the residents are after,” according to one world-weary insider at Fisher’s Folly.

Patronising: Katherine Kerswell

In her little round-robin to staff, Kerswell started off with bare-faced deception: “You will see from the figures that we are in a very different position to the one we were in this time last year.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. With budget cuts, another Council Tax hike, another £38million emergency loan from Government for 2024-2025, with more loans requested for the next three years, and still no debt write-off as most people agree is essential to reduce the council’s debt burden. Croydon is very much still in the same hole it was in 12 months ago.

Kerswell simpered on: “The progress we have made would not have been possible without the focus and effort you have given to deliver savings and spot areas where we can be more efficient, all while continuing to offer the best services we can to residents.

“What remains clear, however, is that the council’s debt burden is still our biggest financial issue. We do not have a solution for that right now, but finding the right resolution is at the centre of all the conversations we are having with Government.

“We must agree a package of support that will enable Croydon to have a sustainable financial future.” Without the half-a-billion debt write-off, nothing is going to change any time soon.

Kerswell soon got to the crunch: more job cuts (although how a reduced personnel department will cope with another round of redundancies is anyone’s guess).

“You will see that the documents do reference certain areas in the organisation and services that have been put forward as places where we could potentially make savings.

“Before writing to you today I asked directors to speak to the teams that are directly referenced in the document, to give more information on why these savings have been suggested.

“These are still only draft proposals; today is not the start of a formal consultation period for any staff potentially impacted by proposed service changes.”

Not at all reassuringly, Kerswell added, “Everything will go through the proper process and governance.” Because as many council staff, past and present, that has not always been the case.

Between them, Kerswell and Tory Mayor Jason Perry, probably after paying a very large amount to a consultant of some kind, have devised a slogan to describe their mission at Croydon Council: “Less but better”.

According to a council insider, “Everyone can see how they are delivering on the first part of that. But with this next round of redundancies, they will never be able to justify the claim of doing anything ‘better’.”

Read more: Perry claims ‘progress’ and gets set to hike Council Tax again
Read more: ‘There is no solution in sight’ warns council’s finance chief
Read more: ‘Uncertainty faced by all local authorities is unprecedented’

  • 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
  • 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 Council Tax, Croydon Council, Heather Cheesbrough, Improvement Board, Katherine Kerswell, Mayor Jason Perry, Planning, Section 114 notice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Town Hall staff braced for £31m more cuts and job losses

  1. Don McNair says:

    Why don’t we start by saving almost £300,000 by offloading the unnecessary ballast of her and piss poor Perry

  2. Laurence Fisher says:

    I assume Kerswell has factored in the service costs of a private security firm to ensure her safety at work and home during all this?

    • Ian Kierans says:

      It would probably be a Council cost.

      but joking aside – Ms Kerswell should not require security for doing a public role whether with good or poor performance.

      Nor should anyone in Public service.

      We may not like the outcomes from public executives decisions and should be able to soundly and vocally challange them. but if there was ever a need for security to do a public role required, then in principle I would be volunteering for free to do that, as I believe many would also do – even if we did not like the persons actions or decisions.

  3. John B says:

    The first step along the road to recovery would be to sell Bernard Weatherill House for residential development and move staff to adjacent empty commercial premises such as Direct Line House. A number of the floors are already empty so the building is not being used to its full potential in any event. The next step is to sell Fairfield Halls which, unpopular as the decision may be, is necessary as the venue is a money pit.

    • MatthewP says:

      Yes! With Fairfield Halls. It is inadequate. That £60 million was wasted. The council could have built a much better multi-purpose indoor arena where St George’s Walk is or out of town.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      To sell the building now would perhaps cause a greater loss of a capital asset and at the same time lead to increased costs to service what remains of the Council.

      It is slowly being better utilised and I think there are plans for even better utilisation moving forward. There will be less empty spaces and I suspect within 12 months it may be at 80% capacity. But things change rapidly in the current environment.

      • Much of Fisher’s Folly is let out at commercial rates, leaving only limited space for its intended use, as the local authority’s head office.

        None of which will ever explain why the build and fit-out cost a decade ago, at around £140million, was twice, or more, than the cost of similar office buildings elsewhere in the capital.

        Did someone get very rich very quickly from the Tory council’s CCURV scheme which came under the cabinet portfolio of [checks notes] someone called J Perry?

  4. Jess says:

    Incompetence and lack of governance have destroyed Croydon. The town centre is a wasteland. Homes have been destroyed and we have empty, unaffordable flats everywhere. We’re paying through our nose whilst those who caused so much damage to the town have been rewarded for their failures and no-one has been held to account – except by Inside Croydon.

    So let’s at least remember their names on these pages: Jo Negrini, Tony Newman, Paul Scott, Shifa Mustafa, Nicola Townsend, Alison Butler, Heather Cheesborough, Ross Gentry, Simon Hall.

    Feel free to add to the list.

    • Don McNair says:

      How can you possibly leave the illustrious retreating Kerswell and piss poor Perry off of this list

    • Angus Hewlett says:

      The question we should be asking, under an allegedly capitalist system, is why those flats are able to remain both empty and unaffordable (if that is indeed the case – judging by the lights on in the evening, the new towers by East Croydon are already well-populated, which is far less the case for similar builds around e.g. Vauxhall. Ditto Queens Square).

      Supply and demand is supposed to take care of this. Developers have to drop the price until they can sell a reasonable proportion (60/70%?) of what they’ve built.

      Foreign investors who buy and leave buildings empty are a big factor in zone 1. Much less so in Croydon.

      The far bigger problem in Croydon is empty lots and unfinished buildings where the developer went bankrupt or pulled the plug before being able to complete. The Nestle building, St Georges Walk, Exchange Square.

      Lots of new flats is a good thing for the town centre, as long as they’re priced so that somebody who wants to can afford to live in them.

  5. Lancaster says:

    Kerswell is a one-trick-pony. What other achievements have been noted other than deleting posts that directly deliver services ?

    As for redundancies in HR & ‘Oh-Dear’… This department do nothing other than to tell managers to read the intranet and do it yourself; all the while re-writing their own job descriptions to bolster their own individual grades and salaries… as they write the process and know how to achieve ridiculous and unfounded grades and remunerations themselves; while managers and staff struggle to grade post close to that being paid in the private sector. Then we wonder why council staff posts are filled by the incompetent ? The only time HR do anything is when a director wants something and then their service is distinctly different to that offered to the rest of the organisation staff and managers!

    As for Procurement; a waste of space, get rid of them all. Hard and soft services… bollocks; they have not a single clue what buying in a business environment means. Again its all…. ‘ read the intranet, we have written a policy; do it yourself ‘. Then when the poor unsupported manager has problems its all their fault and Procurement just point to the intranet.

    Get some real business people with private sector ‘experience’ in there. One would be worth 20 of the existing incompetence / incumbent.

  6. Ian Kierans says:

    Employing more Accountants and Lawyers? Of course. How else are they going to manage the costs and defend all those cases of negligence and failing in their duties? It appears we are now at the point that its cheaper to pay damages than to fix anything.

    With all the staff having to leave can we get rid of their senior executives also?

    As the Council shrinks surely the Senior executive roles and the CEO role has diminished and should undergo a re-evaluation and down grade of salary in this new slimmed down administration also?

    Do we even need a CEO?
    Cost benefit analysis please.

  7. Maverick says:

    You could not make this up…she says it’s to save money…if that’s the case ,then why then bring back Steve “ Useless “ Iles as a consultant just weeks after him leaving . I’m sure he’s on a good screw at the residents expense! Unfortunately it’s those at the coal face that always get the axe while those at the top just keep fearing their nest .

Leave a Reply