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Martin Corney has resigned as the chief executive of the Whitgift Foundation, Inside Croydon can reveal.
The Whitgift Foundation, which traces its origins back more than 400 years, is Croydon’s largest landlord and operates the town centre almshouses, a care home and three large fee-paying schools.
The property and private education business, registered as a charity, has been facing growing financial uncertainties because of the decade-long delays in redeveloping the Whitgift Centre shopping mall, where it owns the freehold. It has also been at the eye of a storm over the decision announced in September to close the Old Palace girls’ school.
Corney, who was closely involved in bringing Westfield to Croydon on the promise to redevelop the Whitgift Centre, has been on long-term sick leave from work since May.
He had held the principal role at the Foundation since 2003.
Staff at the Foundation received the news of Corney’s resignation – it is being framed as retirement – in a brief internal email on Thursday which suggested that the chief executive was stepping down because of “personal reasons” and expressed gratitude for his many years of work at the Foundation.
In a statement issued to Inside Croydon this morning, the Whitgift Foundation said: “Martin Corney has taken the difficult decision to leave the Foundation for personal reasons after over 20 years’ dedicated service.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Martin for all he has done for the Foundation and wish him well for the future.”
The Foundation provided no information on what arrangements have been made to replace Corney, although in last week’s statement to staff they said: “The processes that have been in place during his absence for managing the organisation will continue whilst the Governors and Executive Team consider future senior leadership arrangements.”
From their own website it appears that the most senior employee at the charity now is the chief finance officer Michael Webb. It was Webb who authorised waiving all fees for those Old Palace girls who left the school by October half-term, prompting an exodus of around 300 pupils in the space of a few weeks.
Corney is said to have been supportive of Old Palace, and had been a frequent visitor to the school.
Corney’s departure comes with the Foundation facing a possible legal challenge from angry parents of girls at Old Palace for the manner in which the closure decision was reached and communicated, announced just a couple of weeks into the new academic year.
- Click here for Inside Croydon’s unmatched, in-depth 13-year archive of the calamity surrounding the aborted redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre
Read more: Old Palace parents threaten legal action over school closure
Read more: Foundation abandoned new school plan after taking £70m loan
Read more: Hammer blow for Whitgift Centre with new delay to masterplan
Read more: Falling rolls and rising fees: how Old Palace got squeezed
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