Croydon Council, which has been run by Labour since 2014, has seen its internal performance worsen every year since 2015.
That was the bleak news revealed to members of the Council’s General Purpose and Audit Committee (GPAC) on Wednesday evening by the Council’s own officers. Every year, the Council’s Internal Audit team highlights the number of Council processes it has reviewed which are running properly – those for which it has ‘Full Assurance’ or ‘Substantial Assurance’. In 2015, this was 75% of processes. It has fallen every year since, reaching 60% in 2019 and this year less than half of the Council’s processes were working properly. As a result, the Council’s internal audit report presented on Wednesday stated that it had only ‘Limited Assurance’ over the Council’s processes.
The Labour Council leadership has claimed that the Council’s current financial problems, which have led to them begging the Government for a bailout, are as a result of Covid. However, the Council’s Head of Internal Audit was clear that problems are longstanding. Asked if, as far as internal audit reports were concerned, the performance of the Council had been getting worse for 5 years he answered simply,
Also highlighted in Wednesday’s meeting was that Labour continues to increase the Council’s borrowing limit, which hasnow reached an eye-watering £1.7bn. Labour has raised the borrowing limit every year since it started running the Council, increasing borrowing £15,000 every single hour since May 2014.
Perhaps most shocking of all were the revelations by a consultant brought into the Council to investigate Labour’s financial mess. He revealed that the recommendation to Councillors that the Council should purchase the CollonadesRetail Park for more than £50m and the now bust Croydon Park Hotel for more than £30m had come through governance processes which were not fit for purpose.
Cllr Stuart Millson, the lead for the Conservatives on GPAC, said after the meeting,
“Today’s GPAC meeting should be devastating to the Labour Council, which is applying to the Government for a bailout to avoid becoming effectively bankrupt. Council Officers admit that one of the most important considerations for the Government will be whether the Council is able to deliver on its plan but the audit report shows that under Labour the Council has got worse and worse at delivering”.
“The Council Leadership has been asleep at the wheel – it’s clear that Croydon deserves better than Labour”.