No pay-out for suspended director

By Dan Peters and Martin Ford | 22 July 2021

Croydon LBC’s suspended executive director of place has resigned with no pay-out, The MJ understands.

Shifa Mustafa was one of a number of executive directors suspended in February pending an investigation into potential wrongdoing at the authority that led to the collapse of its finances.

Executive director of health, wellbeing and adults, Guy Van Dichele, left earlier this year and is bringing claims for constructive dismissal and discrimination.

A council spokesperson confirmed that executive director of localities, Hazel Simmonds, who was also suspended, remained a council employee but they would not elaborate further on her status.

Last month Croydon’s appointments committee privately agreed to begin an independent investigation into the conduct of the corporate management team but it will only be able to look into Ms Simmonds as all others members of staff in scope have left the council.

Finance director Lisa Taylor and borough solicitor Jacqueline Harris-Baker have also resigned in recent months.

Despite the lifting of Section 114 notices issued last year, in practice spending controls remain in place as the council struggles to balance its budget, with a panel to monitor expenditure meeting twice daily.

According to latest estimates, Croydon is forecast to overspend its budget by the end of the financial year with the gap standing at £590,000 after taking into account use of the COVID-19 grant from the Government.

Officers have identified ‘opportunities’ that could mitigate the overspend by £8.7m, but face risks that could widen the budget gap by £11.8m – leaving a potential overspend of £3.7m by the end of 2021-22.

Reduced income from parking and increased costs of special education needs transport have contributed to the financial difficulties, in addition to planned savings totalling £1.7m now being in doubt.

Croydon has been granted a capitalisation direction worth up to £70m for 2020/21 and £50m for 2021-22.

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