Yesterday, Croydon Council was forced to hold an Extraordinary Council Meeting, following the release of a SECOND Report In The Public Interest on Labour’s unlawful actions surrounding the Fairfield Halls.
These Reports are issued extremely rarely, because the threshold to commission them is so high – but that hasn’t stopped Labour being issued two of them in the last two years alone. Croydon is the only Council to have been issued two reports in such a short space of time, a damning indictment of their failings over the last eight years.
The first section of the meeting was a presentation from Grant Thornton, the Council’s independent auditors, who confirmed:
• The Labour-run Council handed the refurbishment contract to their wholly-owned development company, Brick By Brick, without letting any other company bid;
• At no point did Labour give Brick By Brick a list of things they wanted done, nor did they attempt to properly work out the cost of the works;
• The total cost of the works rocketed to £67.5m, more than double the £30m budgeted. What’s more, this huge increase was never agreed by Cabinet or Council;
• No evidence of a Sales Agreement – alongside other fundamentally important documents – between the Labour-led Council and Brick By Brick could be found.
After the auditors finished their presentation, Councillors were invited to ask questions both to them and to the Labour Cabinet. The Council then moved to vote on the recommendations made in the Report.
At this point, Croydon’s Conservative Opposition moved to add an amendment that the Council send the Report to the police. Speaking in the Council Chamber, Cllr. Lynne Hale (standing in for Cllr. Jason Perry) said:
“The Report in the Public Interest covers some of the failures and incompetence, but not all of it. Residents across Croydon have been seriously let down by this Labour Administration. Residents are looking for accountability; for the people who failed to do their jobs responsibly, honestly and legally, to be held to account. It’s time this happened.
“The public have completely lost trust in Labour and if two RIPI’s in 15 months aren’t signalling loud and clear that something is seriously wrong and that it’s time for change in Croydon – I don’t know what is. Croydon deserves so much better than this broken Labour administration.”
Despite the Labour Councillors claiming that they ‘fully accept’ the report which labelled their actions as unlawful, every Labour Councillor attending voted against sending the report to the police, with the final vote being 30-20 against.
Croydon’s Conservative Opposition will not be leaving the matter there, however. It is our opinion that Croydonians want to see a full, thorough investigation into this Labour Council’s unlawful actions. Since the Council has not formally sent the report to the police, we will do so ourselves. It is time that all those involved were held to account in the proper way.