Tuesday 4 May. 5pm. Annual Meeting of Council
Formal Mayor making, party political balance on Committees, election of independent Chair for General Purposes & Audit Committee. The 1000+ Croydon residents who have died of COVID will be remembered.
The balance of Committee membership between the two parties may change as a result of the 6 May by-elections.
Two documents are essential reading as they list the roles of individual Councillors – important to know if you are lobbying or want to draw a problem to their attention, or make a suggestion. The second lists Councillors on external bodies including local organisations.
Patsy Cummings has an enormous workload, which raises the question of whether it will have to be re-considered if she is elected as GLA member on 6 May.
Wednesday 5 May. 7.45pm. Sir Joseph Wilson Swan: a life of light bulb moments”,
Zoom talk by Dr John Ridley about Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914), one of a group of Victorian inventors whose work impacted upon the world. Although best known for inventing his incandescent light bulb, he was also active in other areas such as photography, engraving and the manufacture of artificial silk.
If you are not a member of CNHSS and want to join in please email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 11 May. 6.30pm. Scrutiny Health & Social Care Sub-Committee
Covid-19 Vaccination Uptake – Residents in Care Homes and Care Staff in all settings; Overview of the 2021-22 Adults Budget. The Sub-Committee is asked to review the information provided to reach a conclusion on the following:- 1. Are the budget savings within Adult Social Care achievable? 2. Does the leadership team have sufficient line of sight over the savings programme? 3. Is there sufficient political oversight over the savings programme? 4. Are the financial monitoring systems in place sufficient to allow effective tracking of the budget? 5. Are the performance monitoring systems in place sufficient to allow any unforeseen impact, as a result of the savings programme, on vulnerable residents to be picked up and addressed at an early stage?
Thursday 13 May. Closure Date To Be Croydon’s New Chief Executive!!!
Monday 21 June. Hoped for Re-opening of Fairfield Halls
New website www.fairfield.co.uk
Croydon’s Housing And Homelessness Crisis
The Council spends over £200,000 a year on housing the homeless in hotels. Yet another case of maintenance negligence was come to light. Croydon Central Labour MP sets out her views on what needs to happen. Will the letting of Greystar’s Ten Degree modular tower block on George St push up the average private rent level, which will then fuel rent rises across Croydon?
Sarah Jones states:
‘After the ITV news report into the conditions of properties at Regina Road, Croydon Council has launched a full inquiry to establish how this was allowed to happen. The council is reviewing the conditions in all of their high-rise blocks as a matter of urgency.
The horrific scenes reported on ITV has shocked the community – no one should have to live like that. We know there is an underlying and fundamental lack of affordable housing, but it is alarming that any tenants of the council could live in such horrific accommodation, despite so many attempts to get the Council to act. I am calling for fundamental changes to improve our housing provision in Croydon and make sure that no one has to suffer such terrible living conditions again. We need:
- A tenant’s charter of rights and responsibilities where tenants are equal partners with the council
- An investigation into repairs and maintenance, including the conduct of Axis, the company contracted to carry out council housing repairs.
- A new forum for people in temporary accommodation to raise concerns and seek advice
- A review of how many other London boroughs are placing families in temporary accommodation in Croydon
- A review of the housing association provision within the borough
- A regular routine of walk-abouts with Cllrs, MPs, housing officers and the police across the borough
- 500 people have asked for my help on housing issues since 2017, it is clear that we have a housing crisis and the fundamental lack of affordable housing and government policy is driving a lack of decent housing.’
Can Croydon Comeback?
A reader comments:
‘Democracy and the listening to residents has long disappeared in Croydon in favour of individuals ambition. Croydon has to rethink and be honest, remember arts quarter document and the local plan. Getting a mayor will only reduce democracy.
Croydon has lost a lot of its community and that cannot be rebuilt by demolition of the past and rebuilding as an overcrowded metropolis.
Every green space and brown site building replaced by flats damages the quality of life and environment.
People of an area is what makes an area and community, not bulldozing and creating the Croydon of ambition. That will take longer than building a few new buildings. That is the question as to whether Croydon can comeback.’
Croydon’s Economic Recovery
Economic recovery will probably occur through small steps, like the building of the new Lidl on Purley Way, pop-up shops in an article published by Croydon Bid, the funding obtained by Croydon Commitment to lead a two-year Employability Programme, called Ways2Work, and and whether Croydon can benefit from developments such as the continued operation of from a proposed new building for the existing metal recycling and management bsite facility in Lambeth on land off Windsor Grove, adjoining the railway at West Norwood, which Croydon is being consulted on – inc. in planning list above.
The BID website is: https://croydonbid.com
Croydon Cultural News
The April Croydonist postings are:
- interview with artist Skye
- interview with Elizabeth Shepphard on her latest book
- the Purley Pear Tree Mural
- Croydon’s history of magic and spiritualism
- Norwood’s Blue Plaque Run
South Norwood Library Campaign has explained its position, the latest planning applications list has been published, a primary school now has a roof garden, and the police have had a high arrest rate in operations in Croydon and Bromley.
The Work of the General Purposes & Audit Committee
Key points in the Annual Report of the Council’s General Purposes & Audit Committee which it considered this week include:
- that ‘internal control still has some way to go’
- ‘several organisation wide audit reports that are still draft but are currently unsatisfactory’
- the ‘planned internal audit has not been completed on time this year’ partly because of COVID ‘furloughing of our audit contractor’s staff’
- the ‘020/21 accounts cannot be completed until the 2019/20 Audit is completed’
Internal Audit Update
The internal audit update report to GPAC highlighted the following issues:
- ‘Housing voids were not being properly monitored, with housing void reports not been prepared or shared monthly’.
- Reconciliation of the Housing Repairs system were not being conducted monthly.
- Reconciliations of the Payroll system were not evidenced as checked.
- Quarterly debt write offs had not been conducted for parking enforcement or accounts receivable.
There were still in completed follow-up audits from 2016/17, including:
- staff being unable ‘to locate the original full definitive signed contract with City Suburban Tree Surgeons.’
The 2018/19 follow-up audits were incomplete, especially with respect to:
- payments against orders identified as means tests were not on file for six out of the sample of 10 adoption allowances tested.
- the % of Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs) completed within the statutory 20- week period was only 78%.
- ‘(T)here are some 7,762 housing assets…. for which there was no identifier of whether asbestos was either identified, strongly presumed, presumed or was not found’ in respect of roads, general rent dwellings, service tenancies and garages.
There was much better completion of the 2019/20 follow-up audit matters. Outstanding matters include:
- Lettings Allocations and Assessments application forms are not compliant with the Data Protection Act 2018 or the General Data Protection Regulation.
- the apportionment of costs, for the Adult Community Occupational Therapy Service between the Croydon Clinical Commission Group and the Council had not been formally agreed.
- at 18 September 2019 there were 197 waiting clients, 180 of whom had been on the waiting list more than 3 months and as at February 2021 ‘Waiting lists remain high due to increase in demand, Covid and staff shortage, although interim arrangements have helped reduce waiting lists.’
- ‘(T)he licence for access to carry out works in respect of property at Fairfield, College Green issued to BXB did not include specific contract conditions relating to quality or deadline for delivery.’
- ‘The conditional sale of the Fairfield Car Park agreement was still in draft at the time of the substantive internal audit fieldwork in February 2020.’
- ‘The Executive Director Place, a director of BXB, was the chair of the Fairfield Board meetings which is a conflict of interests.’
- The Enforcement Agents Contract Notice was open for 27 days only and not 30 as required by The Public Contracts Regulations 2015.
GPAC also considered a financial update report, which included an action plan of 75 recommendations. Those already implemented included:
- Financial governance: new arrangements are in place for budget setting involving all cabinet and ELT members in the budget development process through budget development meetings.
- The council’s medium term financial strategy (MTFS) has been reviewed and updated.
- The MTFS sets out a plan to build up reserves over three years to provide the council with adequate resilience.
- Previously unreported financial risks have been identified and included in forecasts.
- Work has been commissioned to develop a new 30 year plan for the HRA and a new Asset Management Plan.
- A review of the capital programme has been completed.
- Budget savings proposals put forward for 2021/22 have received additional validation by PWC.
- Budget monitoring is carried out monthly and reported to ELT and cabinet members, with reports to Cabinet quarterly but moving to monthly in the new financial year.
- A savings tracker has been developed and implemented to ensure budget reductions effected promptly and reported.
Monitoring measures are:
- meetings with the officers who hold actions in order to assess progress.
- the action plan will be reviewed as part of the annual audit plan, to ensure that the actions agreed are completed fully.
- progress will be reported regularly to the Renewing Croydon Steering Group, the Improvement Board and GPAC.