Tory Mayor now blames police for slow investigation – after having submitted complaint over former council leaders more than two years after the council received recommendations that it should do so.
By KEN LEE, Town Hall reporter
In an extraordinary admission, Croydon Mayor Jason Perry says that the council has still not submitted any formal complaints about the conduct of former senior staff to their professional bodies.
Piss-poor Perry was speaking to The Municipal Journal, the house magazine of local authority workers, in which he claimed that any complaints that the council might have about its former staffers have still not been submitted while he and the council’s chief executive, Katherine Kerswell, wait for a police investigation to be concluded.
In March this year, the council belatedly resolved to submit formal complaints to the professional bodies for lawyers, accountants and other specialisms related to the past conduct of former senior employees.
Perry has chosen to blame the Metropolitan Police for the latest delays in action.
“Jason Perry has bemoaned the speed of the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into the council’s former leadership over the authority’s financial collapse,” The MJ reported yesterday.
“Mayor Perry told The MJ the police had given him no timescales for their investigation.”
And they quoted part-time Perry as saying: “I’d love it to be quicker but they’re very complicated cases.” No shit, Sherlock.
“Misconduct in public office is a high bar,” Perry said, demonstrating again an accomplished capacity for stating the bleedin’ obvious.
The MJ added: “The council also plans to refer reports into the conduct of its previous senior leaders to ‘appropriate professional bodies’ including the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, but it has to wait until the police probe has concluded.”
A Katharine Street source, told about this latest admission of inaction by Perry and the council, said: “It’s what everyone at Croydon Council has always known about Jason Perry: he’s all mouth.
“He’s utterly useless, and won’t do a thing unless he has the say-so of the council CEO. Nothing has changed. Nothing will change.
“They all talk the talk. But no senior council official, like Kerswell, wants to see erstwhile colleagues penalised or caught out for incompetence, or worse… It would set a very awkward precedent.”
November 11, this Saturday, will be the third anniversary of Croydon Council issuing its first (of three, so far) Section 114 notice, an admission of it being unable to deliver a balanced budget.
In February 2021, Richard Penn, an experienced senior figure in local government, delivered his report to Croydon’s then new CEO, Kerswell, outlining various instances of possible wrong-doing at the council, by executive directors as well as senior councillors.
The Penn Report recommended filing specific complaints to the police and to the relevant professional bodies.
Penn said that his report and his recommendations should be considered and actioned by the borough’s councillors.
“Members…”, meaning councillors, not council officials “… are also requested to consider referring this initial investigatory report to the Metropolitan Police for assessment of any further action being warranted in regard to the handling of public money and conduct in public office,” Penn wrote almost three years ago, referring to Labour’s former council leader, Tony Newman, and his cabinet member for finance, Simon Hall.
But Kerswell refused to release or publish the Penn Report.
Perry won the mayoral election in May 2022 in part because of his undertaking to take firm action against the people responsible for the council’s financial collapse, and to publish the Penn Report.
But it was another nine months before Perry managed to prise the Penn Report off Kerswell’s desk and finally put a version into the public domain. Inside Croydon had published the Penn Report six months earlier, in October 2022.
It wasn’t until March this year – long after all those investigated by Penn had scarpered from Croydon Council, no longer subject to disciplinary action from their employers – that Perry finally got the council to agree to submit reports to the police, and to the relevant professional bodies.
Now, another nine months later, Perry has admitted he hasn’t even managed to do that.
We can probably guess how Perry’s getting along with getting Jo “Negreedy” Negrini to repay any of her £437,973 golden handshake…
- Check out our archive of coverage, in which we published extracts from the Penn Report:
- Penn Report wanted police probe into possible misconduct
- No referrals sent to staff’s professional bodies
- Negrini staged a power-grab over councillors
- Cover-ups and denial over Brick by Brick failure
- Men who led council to bankruptcy say they did nothing wrong
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