Croydon’s Executive Mayor Jason Perry has pledged to do all in his power to bring those responsible to account after an independent report into reasons for the financial collapse of the council was published today (24 February). Read the report www.croydon.gov.uk/penn
The Penn report was commissioned through the Local Government Association (LGA), after auditors Grant Thornton issued the council with its first Report in the Public Interest (RIPI) in November 2020. The RIPI highlighted serious financial and governance failings as ‘corporate blindness’ within the organisation and made a number of recommendations for improvement.
The investigation conducted by Richard Penn – a senior LGA associate and expert on senior management performance – looked at, among other issues, the actions of Croydon’s senior managers and politicians to assess what formal action, if any, needed to be taken.
Penn, who interviewed 64 staff and councillors and some external partners as part of his investigations, has recommended that the council refers his report to the police and to look into whether former chief executive Jo Negrini’s financial settlement can be recovered.
The council will now review these recommendations alongside the findings of the critical investigation into potential fraud surrounding the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls after it concludes next month. A decision on taking further formal action will be made at the Appointments and Disciplinary Committee on 23 March 2023.
“The residents of Croydon and council staff quite rightly want and deserve to see justice done as they continue to pay the price for those who recklessly destroyed this council’s finances and the reputation of our borough – and I am determined to make sure that this happens for them and for Croydon.
“I made a clear commitment to publish the Penn report because it is in the public interest and I’m pleased that we have finally been able to do so. The process has taken longer than anyone would have wanted and, while I respect due process, it is crucial that we now act quickly on the recommendations and hold those responsible for the financial collapse of Croydon Council to account.”
Jason Perry, Executive Mayor of Croydon
At their next meeting the Appointments and Disciplinary Committee will:
- receive the Kroll investigation into potential fraud during the Fairfield Halls refurbishment;
- consider referring former members and officers to the police and to their professional bodies;
- consider whether legal action can be taken to recover the financial settlement paid to former chief executive, Jo Negrini.
The council has always been determined to publish the Penn report but has been clear throughout the process that it had to conclude other investigations, including staff disciplinaries, and follow all the required legal processes before being able to do so.
The decision to publish was agreed at yesterday’s Appointments and Disciplinary Committee (23 February).