Labour’s Andrew Pelling’s Agenda For Further Action On Croydon’s Finance And Governance Crisis

Its good to see that some Labour Councillors are creatively thinking about what more needs to be done to improve Croydon Council’s finances and operations.  Here are Waddon Councillor Andrew Pelling’s 20 suggestions divided into themes.

Private Contracts

1. Oversee private sector contracts properly.

2. Don’t extend contracts without checking current need.

3. Good contract management reduces increase of residents’ other costly needs.

4. Apply contract financial penalties.

5. Make the private sector contractors perform better financially.

6. Create a weekly contracts committee to aid reducing contract costs and combating fraud.

Spot on. When I was an Opposition Councillor in Wandsworth (1982-6) I was involved in housing maintenance and works in default contracts tendering. As a result of my findings Internal Audit agreed changes to open up tendering to a wider range of building firms and pulling out of the mutli-Councils default contract and tendering out Wandsworth’s work to a new tender. Even the contractor that had to multi-contract put in a cheaper bid.

Fraud

7. Fund legal action to pursue fraud cases and combat corruption.

8. Stop using arms-length companies.

9. Employ forensic accountants to trace where £’s have gone at the Council & pursue the litigation to recover them.

I would add something I have tried to get accepted by the Audit Committee without success; a review of the financial effects of crime against the Council including to properties.

Generating Extra Income

10. A dedicated bidding team should capture all available government and agency funding.

11. Deliver timely planning decisions to bring investment and extra tax income to Croydon.

12. Secure more money from the over performing pension fund.

13. Have a full-time treasury officer and a full-time pensions officer.

I would add the re-introduction of a welfare rights team to help increase benefit income to residents, who will then have fewer problems paying any monies to the Council.

Managing Debt

14. Manage debt to reduce interest costs, thus saving many millions.

15. Lengthen debt maturity profile & account for this over longer time span to aid budget significantly.

I would add a regular write-off of bad debt that it is unlikely to be recovered. When I was a Councillor I showed that this would reduce the size of the debt and avoid the costs of pursuing debt that could not be recovered. On thing I found was that technical rent arrears were being treated as debt; technical because payments by Standing Orders meant that tenants were sometimes in credit and sometimes in ‘debt’.

Answer The Phone

16. Change blunt demand management. Get the basics right. Answer the ‘phone.

This could please a wide range of residents who want to speak to a real person and not have their emails etc ignored.

Asylum Seeker Children

17. Tell government we’ll go to court to recover Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children costs or else refuse to take more.

This is what we want to see, a Council that publicly challenges the Government’s failure. It  could also consider whether to take legal action against the Home Office for the conditions it keeps refugees in hotels in Croydon.

Share Services With Other Councils

18. Share services with other councils.

This has pros and cons. The experience of Wandsworth and Richmond needs to be examined, as does the Croydon/Lewisham street lighting contract. There is a loss of control in partnerships such as South West London  Waste Partnership.

Fair Government Grant

19. Lobby professionally for a fair government grant.

This is essential given the increasing inequalities in Croydon. Hopefully the results of the 2021 Census due out next year will provide robust information to make the case.

The other possible lobby is on whether North Croydon should receive Inner London weighting for services such as schools.  

Devolution

20. Trust council staff and the public to identify savings and pilot devolving budgets to more cost-conscious local communities.

The Labour administration has ignored my proposal that the whole machine be re-structured to create multi-disciplinary teams for each of the 16 Areas of Place overseen by Committees of Councillors and community and voluntary organisations.

What else do you suggest should be added to Andrew Pelling’s list?

Comments received

Communications

Check that all webcasts are working before the start time of meetings.

Ensure that minutes for ALL meetings are made available at least a week before each meeting.

Stop prevaricating and collating 3 or 4 sets of minutes always presented late.

Funding System

In the longer term, Croydon needs to work out what local government finance system/local taxation system it needs. The present situation, whereby all local authorities are totally dependent on central government decisions is indefensible – especially for a place like Croydon with such strong civic traditions.

Other

All practical stuff, that all should have been already in place!

Finance Committee

There should be a Finance Committee.

About seancreighton1947

I have lived in Norbury since July 2011. I blog on Croydon, Norbury and history events,news and issues. I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I have submitted views to Council Committees and gave evidence against the Whitgift Centre CPO and to the Local Plan Inquiry. I am a member of Norbury Village Residents Association and Chair of Norbury Community Land Trust, and represent both on the Love Norbury community organisations partnership Committee. I used to write for the former web/print Croydon Citizen. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics history database. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour, radical and suffrage movements, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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3 Responses to Labour’s Andrew Pelling’s Agenda For Further Action On Croydon’s Finance And Governance Crisis

  1. Pingback: Croydon Update 11 January | History & Social Action News and Events

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