Croydon Council has successfully appointed a permanent director of legal services and monitoring officer as it gears up for local elections and a new mayoral system.
Stephen Lawrence-Orumwense is set to join the council later this year. He joins with a wealth of experience in local government legal and monitoring roles, having served as the divisional head of legal services and deputy monitoring officer at Haringey Council for the past decade.
Prior to his time at Haringey, Stephen held a similar role with Croydon’s south London neighbours in Sutton Council.
The current monitoring officer, John Jones, left at the end of March and is thanked for his invaluable service to the council. Croydon has also been successful in appointing an interim officer to this role to oversee operations until Stephen is in position.
Andrew Hunkin will provide interim cover, coming from a corporate director of resources and monitoring officer position at South Northamptonshire Council, and many senior corporate resources roles before that.
Andrew and Stephen will in turn be responsible for the statutory monitoring officer function. This role oversees important constitutional changes including Croydon’s first elected mayor. They will guide preparations, which are already under way, for significant changes to Croydon’s governance arrangements as it adopts its new mayoral model.
This important position is responsible for ensuring all council work is compliant with the law and best practice. This includes, ensuring financial probity, management and internal control as well as oversight of democratic services. The monitoring officer provides advice to council, cabinet and scrutiny and overview committee on governance matters as well as managing investigations into potential breaches by councillors of member’s code of conduct.
As with all senior managers, the monitoring officer is responsible for joint delivery of the council’s ongoing Croydon Renewal Plan to achieve financial stability and is expected to uphold high public service standards. It is especially important that the monitoring officer demonstrates core public sector values of objectivity, openness and honesty in this key oversight role.
Stephen said: “It is great to be returning to south London and especially to join a vibrant council like Croydon. I have been impressed with the dedication of both members and officers that I have observed so far and look forward to working together later this year.
“I am excited to take on my position as director of legal services as well as the crucial role of monitoring officer, particularly as Croydon continues to diligently deliver its ambitious renewal programme on behalf of residents.”
Chief executive Katherine Kerswell said: “I am delighted to welcome Stephen to Croydon, as well as Andrew who has joined us on an interim basis. Both are strong appointments for the borough as we progress towards financial stability and prepare for our first directly elected mayor.
“I look forward to working together as we continue to strive for openness and accountability to all our residents.”