Croydon Council has accepted the findings of a rapid review carried out on behalf of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and reaffirmed its commitment to get the council’s finances back on track.
In response to the report, which has been published today, council leader Councillor Hamida Ali made clear that the stability of the council’s finances and strengthening its governance remains her absolute priority.
The non-statutory review, which was led by Chris Wood and carried out in October 2020, highlights serious concerns around the council’s past financial management.
However the review team noted the council’s ‘transparency, honesty and candour’ in relation to its situation and were impressed by the ‘strong commitment from all quarters’ to resolve the challenges it is facing. In their report, they noted the significant action already underway at Croydon and highlighted the energy with which officers and the new administration are working to mount an effective recovery.
“We fully accept the findings of the rapid review and the serious concerns around the council’s financial position and past governance.
“Since I became leader, I have been clear that my absolute priority is to get Croydon’s finances back on track and strengthen our governance so that we can deliver good essential services and value for money for residents.
“I welcome the review team’s recognition of the extensive action we are already undertaking to tackle our financial challenges, and the determination shared by my cabinet, myself, and officers throughout the organisation, to put things right.
“Since the review took place in October we have continued to make strong progress against our improvement plans and while we have a very long way to go, I am confident that we are on the right track to become the council we want and need to be.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council
In response to the report, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, has also formally announced a series of measures that outline the next steps for Croydon, including confirmation of the Government-appointed improvement and assurance panel.
The panel will provide external advice, challenge and expertise to the council along with assurance to the Secretary of State as the council continues to deliver its renewal plans. They will measure the council’s progress against the milestones the council has set and report to MHCLG on a quarterly basis.
Panel members include:
- Independent Chair and governance lead – Tony McArdle, (ex-CEO of Lincolnshire CC and currently Lead Commissioner at Northamptonshire CC;
- Independent external member (finance lead) – Margaret Lee (currently Executive Director, Corporate and Customer Services and previously CFO, Essex CC); and
- Independent external member (commercial and asset disposal) – Phil Brookes (Crown Representative).
Councillor Hamida Ali said: “I really welcome the panel and their role to bring their expertise to bear through challenge and advice as we seek to drive forward and deliver our renewal plans at pace.
“We have already made significant progress but there is a long way to go and we will continue to engage fully with the panel and MHCLG as we continue this vital work.
“I have already met with the Chair and the panel and had constructive conversations and I look forward to continuing the positive discussions that we have begun.”
Tony McArdle said: “The Secretary of State has made clear his expectations for our role. We are here to guide and support Croydon in turning this position around, and to assure him of progress to that end. There is much to do and we have already begun work. We look forward to being part of the recovery that everyone we have met assures us is their aim. It will certainly be ours.”
Read the rapid review report here
Read a letter from Robert Jenrick MP to head of the review here: