Husband and wife political double act, deputy leader Alison Butler and her architect husband councillor Paul Scott had an ‘insatiable’ drive to build houses in Croydon.
Butler who had worked in local government for most of her life serving as an aid to the late Croydon north MP Malcolm Wickes was in charge of housing and Scott, an architect and director at TP Bennett architects, was a vocal and leading member of the planning committee for the 13 years he was a councillor.
One of those interviewed spoke of how their combined roles in the cabinet, managing housing and planning portfolios’ had led to an ‘insatiable drive’ to build houses and this ‘working relationship may have had led to ‘poor governance behaviour.’
The Penn report sets out that, ‘changes to the Local Plan (a document that sets out how development including housing, business construction and infrastructure) in Croydon and an increase in housing development within the borough have also been ‘politically divisive and have become a key point of political contention.’
One interviewee said that there was a ‘winner takes all’ approach and that Croydon was a ‘highly political place and that party politics permeated everything there.”
Another employee gave an example of how council leader Newman had prescribed the choice to use The Campaign Company for community consultation work, even though the chosen company was run by a cabinet member (Cllr Butler’s) ex partner and employed her son.
They said whilst this was declared, the question was raised as to whether this was ‘acceptable conduct.’
From the interviewee’s experience with the former chief executive Negrini and cabinet lead for finance Hall, who they said were very similar, it would have been ‘career suicide’ to raise issues or challenge them.