Today we have finally been able to publish the Penn report – an independent investigation into the reasons for the council’s financial collapse and the actions of politicians and senior officers who were in power at the time.
You can read the report at www.croydon.gov.uk/penn
Whilst I’m frustrated that it has taken this long to be able to share this report with local people, I’m pleased that councillors from all parties agreed that it is in the public interest to do so.
Understandably, residents want answers about what caused their council to fail on such a catastrophic scale – particularly as they continue to pay the price.
As Executive Mayor I am committed to getting those answers and holding those responsible to account.
Publishing the Penn report is a first step – our next will be to look at what further action we can take to bring those involved to justice.
Hopefully we can then close this regrettable chapter of Croydon’s history and focus all our energy on rebuilding our council for the future and restoring trust and pride in our borough.
This week at Cabinet, the council set out its proposed budget for 2023/24. As I have previously outlined, we are having to take some very tough decisions locally to ensure we can provide and protect the everyday services the people of Croydon rely on.
Therefore, the 2023/24 budget includes some key areas of work necessary to set a balanced budget:
- It proposes £36m of savings next year, details of which are set out in the report;
- a new multi-million-pound transformation programme to redesign how the council operates;
- a significant asset disposal programme to fund capitalisation and reduce long-term debt, and
- a council tax increase of 14.99% – the equivalent of £4.51 a week for the average property;
- alongside a new £2m hardship fund and the proposed expansion of the Council Tax Support Scheme.
I am regularly asked by residents why the council is in this position and I want to be clear about where we are and what we need to do to fix this. As such, I have drafted responses to some frequently asked questions which I would encourage you to take a look at on the website here.
London Borough of Culture
As LGBT+ History Month draws to a close, we can all look forward to Croydon PrideFest returning to Wandle Park on 15 July 2023, with the date announced this week.
The council is proud to be supporting this much-loved community event through our London Borough of Culture programme – it’s long been a highlight of our calendar and 2023 will be extra special.
I’ve been asked how Croydon can afford to be London Borough of Culture given its financial situation. Croydon’s London Borough of Culture is funded entirely from external grants, from partners including the Greater London Authority, Arts Council England, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and specific ring-fenced funding, not from the council’s general funds. This unique community-led programme is already bringing in millions of pounds of much-needed investment for Croydon.
It’s a great example of how I want Croydon to work in future, with the council using its powers to bid for investment in our borough and acting as a facilitator to help community groups access funding.
Anniversary of invasion of Ukraine
As we mark this very sad milestone, we are flying the Ukrainian flag over Croydon Town Hall, and this evening the building will be lit blue and yellow to demonstrate our unwavering support for the people of Ukraine.
Many residents will have joined me in observing the national one-minute-silence today, paying tribute to the Ukrainians’ incredible courage in the face of adversity. We remember the devastating cost of this year and the thousands killed and millions forced from their homes.
Since the invasion, through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, 240 Croydon households have opened their homes to 698 people fleeing the war. Thank you once again to these residents – your warmth and compassion, which is so typical of the Croydon I know, represents the very best of our borough.
Thanks also to the council staff and our partners, who have worked tirelessly to provide our Ukrainian guests with support.
Croydon is proud of you, and proud to stand with Ukraine.
Executive Mayor of Croydon