The two men blamed for the financial crisis which brought the borough to its knees have announced their resignations tonight amidst claims of a ‘witch hunt’ and ‘threats’ made to family members.
Former Labour council leader Tony Newman and ex cabinet member for finance Simon Hall, within an hour of each other, posted on Twitter that they had stood down as councillors from Croydon Council which declared bankruptcy in November.
The decision by the politicians appears to have been forced by the draft contents of a Local Government Association probe by Richard Penn in to financial mismanagement at the council which names both Newman and Hall.
Newman who had been a councillor for 27 years accused the investigation of being a ‘witch hunt and a shambles’.
Revealing in the Tweet that he is taking advice from leading counsel he says there are ‘many issues’ with the draft report produced by Penn which he says contains ‘factually inaccurate and baseless allegations’.
Former cabinet lead for finance Cllr Simon Hall, who is an accountant by profession, had resigned an hour before Newman after 16 years as a councillor.
He similarly complained, having taken advice from legal counsel: “I view complaints against me from a flawed factually inaccurate draft report as baseless. But scapegoating and threat to family made situation untenable.”
In his resignation letter the father-of-three said he was leaving the council a year before he had intended adding: “There has been a baseless attempt to scapegoat me, as I have always acted in the best interest of New Addington and Croydon. If all of this were not serious enough, there has been an invasion of my and my family’s privacy and harassment, which has led to me having to take additional security measures to keep my family safe, on the advice of police.”
A government review published in February exposed that the former Labour council leader created an “inner circle of a small number of cabinet members who were controlling in their management of the council and its finances”.
It also stated that council officers were pressured to reword cabinet reports to present a more favourable picture of the finances.
Cllr Newman and Cllr Hall were both placed on “administrative suspension” by the Labour Party, pending an investigation.
They are apparently both being named in a report Penn’s report, which has not yet been released, but by standing down are unlikely to face disciplinary action”