Earlier this week the council took the incredibly difficult step of issuing a section 114 notice. This is a legal notice a council has to issue when it thinks it’s on track to spend more money than it has and cannot balance its budget in year.
When I became Leader of Croydon three weeks ago I promised a new, more open approach which offers the decisive leadership needed to tackle the problems we face and deal with them head-on.
That’s why we are not only publicly accepting the seriousness of our financial position, but we have also published our action plan to address many of the problems identified by our auditors.
The section 114 notice means that the council will now freeze all new non-essential spending – there won’t be any disruption to vital services but it will mean new spending is limited. We will also continue our urgent work on a new more sustainable long-term budget for the council.
The financial problems the council is facing have multiple causes and, while a decade of austerity, historic under-funding and the Covid-19 crisis have had a major impact on our finances, we’ve got to be honest that the council has also made mistakes.
Our situation means that we will need financial support from government to get through the coming year. We’ve made this clear to them and are waiting for their response – the section 114 notice is a part of making that case.
We’re not going to fix these problems overnight and there will be difficult decisions ahead, but I want to reassure local people that the council will still be here to support you.
My priority is rebuilding a financially-sustainable organisation, which provides the value for money and high-quality services that residents deserve and I am confident we will achieve that.
Action plan to address the Report in the Public Interest
Alongside the section 114 notice we have also published an action plan which sets out how we plan to respond to each of the issues raised in the recent Report in the Public Interest (RIPI). You can find the full action plan here.
The council will be holding a full debate on 19 November to discuss the Report in the Public Interest and to agree the action plan. Due to Covid-19 restrictions this meeting will be held virtually but it will be webcast live on our website here.
Finally, I want to say I know how difficult and worrying the recent news about the council’s finances has been for partners and the residents we all serve.
I’ve lived in Croydon all my life so I know how angry local people will feel that the council has got itself into this place. My job is to take the action needed to turn it around, and I can reassure you that my absolute priority as the council’s newly-elected leader is to put this right.
I will keep you updated as we progress this work. This is a difficult time for Croydon, but together we will come through it.
COVID 19 update
We are now halfway through the period of national restrictions and as our vital work to protect the borough continues, I want to express my heartfelt thanks once again for all you are doing to help keep Croydon safe.
I want to particularly thank all of those who are having to celebrate Diwali differently this week – I know how incredibly challenging it has been for everyone to be unable to see family and friends on special occasions this year.
But with case numbers locally continuing to rise among all age groups it is vital that we continue to make these sacrifices for a bit longer, and reduce our contact with others to protect our loved ones from Covid-19.
So I’d like to wish a happy Diwali to all those of you who are celebrating and also ask you to please do safely and look after yourselves. Keep following the national restrictions – you can find the guidance here – and the advice on hands, face, space.
Also, if you are entitled to a free flu jab, then please make sure you have one. We all need to take extra care of ourselves this winter and this is a simple step that can help you to stay safe and well.
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council