Each Cabinet meeting has an enlightening item entitled ‘Investing in the Borough’. These papers are generally waved through by the Labour Administration, because they’ve usually spent so much of the three-hour Cabinet meeting back-slapping themselves in self-congratulation at what a great job they are doing, that the end papers on the agenda usually get passed without any scrutiny. Considering that details are only given on contracts over £500,000 - and are not reported as even a headline unless the contract is over £100,000 - the casual observer can see that this is significant public money being spent with very little scrutiny.
In July, however, we had the pleasure of finally getting to ask some questions of the Cabinet Member for Resources and Financial Governance, on contracts he and his team are awarding on our behalf.
One such contract was for document storage, where it turns out Croydon have spent £591,200 since Labour took office in 2014 - including £56,000 in 2021/22. It turns out though that the Council has been operating on an ad hoc rolling basis since 2017 and that, in those four years, have been in breach of their own Tenders and Contracts regulations!
The Cabinet Member admitted that the Council will be re-tendering 300 of their 500 Borough-wide contracts just this year. The cynic in me says that it is unlikely that 60% of all contracts the Council are party to are due for renewal in one single year, so the question I asked (and failed to get an answer to) was how many other contracts were breaching the Tenders and Contracts Code and how much extra has this cost the Council since 2014 through blindness and ineptitude?
I doubt an answer will be forthcoming as that would be to admit to failure, but considering the Council is over £1.5bn in debt; has just taken on another £120m debt in order to balance the books, and have Brick by Brick costing up to £200m in lost loans and funding, such failure of contract management and financial control is shamefully illustrative of what a disaster Croydon Labour have been in running Croydon Council.