This evening Croydon’s Councillors will be voting on a motion of no confidence in the leader of the Council, Councillor Tony Newman, and the Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources, Councillor Simon Hall. They have presided over a near catastrophic collapse in the Council’s finances since they took power in 2014, for which the people of Croydon will be paying a price for many years to come. They need to go.
The list of their failures is a long one. Here are just a few examples:
- Even before the coronavirus pandemic they had run up £1.5 billion of debt, the largest by far of any London council. The debt is now even greater
- They set up a developer, Brick by Brick, that was more than a year late, and wildly overspent, on its first major project, the upgrading of the Fairfield Halls. Brick by Brick is responsible for over £200 million of the Council’s debt
- They ventured into speculative property investments, wasting £30 million buying the Croydon Park Hotel – which has since gone bust
- They wasted a further £53 million on buying the Colonnades, which in common with other retail assets will have crashed in value
- Whilst increasing the risks to the finances, they failed to increase reserves to improve resilience
Reports suggest that Croydon is one of only a very small number of the more than three hundred councils in the country, and the only London Borough, in this parlous position. To paraphrase the late Brian Clough, Croydon may not be the worst led Council in the UK, but it’s in the top one.
In typical fashion this less than dynamic duo blame the government. Every other Council has had to deal with the financial situation, yet Croydon, led by Councillors Newman and Hall, stands out for its failure. The Chief Executive has gone, with a reported substantial pay-off. It is time for Councillors Newman and Hall to follow her out the door.