Croydon could face second public interest report

By Martin Ford | 29 November 2021

Croydon LBC is facing the potential of a second report in the public interest by its external auditor within a little over a year.

Grant Thornton has been looking into the redevelopment of the Fairfield Halls arts centre by the council-owned firm Brick by Brick.

The council provided loans of more than £70m to the company to fund the project, which was completed in 2019.

Croydon’s interim director of finance, investment and risk, Richard Ennis, told the council's audit committee at a meeting last week the auditor could publish the report in the first two weeks of December.

He said: ‘They’ve gone out to consult with affected parties on the potential that they will issue a second report in the public interest for the council following the main report in the public interest.'

Grant Thornton has informed Mr Ennis it is currently considering the responses received with its legal team.

Croydon was accused of ‘corporate blindness’ in a public interest report in October last year, which was followed a month later by a Section 114 notice.

The Government has agreed to a capitalisation request of £70m for last year and another provisionally worth £50m for the current financial year.

At last week’s meeting Mr Ennis said the council would ‘push hard’ to secure another £25m direction for next year.

He said he believed it would take three to four years to turn around the council’s finances.

Mr Ennis added: ‘There’s an awful lot to put right here.'

The council’s improvement and assurance panel is due to report to the Government on Croydon’s progress next month.

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