Croydon are the first London borough since Hackney in 2000 and only the second council in England in 20 years to have to issue a Section 114 notice: Croydon In Crisis: Council forced to declare itself bankrupt. (11 November 2020) A Section 114 notice bans all new expenditure at a council with the exception of statutory services for protecting vulnerable people: What is a Section 114 notice? What will it mean for the council? (11 November 2020) Having to issue a Section 114 notice means that the day to day running of Croydon Council will be handed over to government appointed commissioners.
One contributory factor that led to Croydon Council’s demise was the poor performance of the housebuilding company it set up, Brick by Brick Croydon Limited. The council was the sole shareholder in this enterprise. This is how Inside Croydon covered the contribution of Brick by Brick to the financial woes of the council: The Audit Report: Brick by Brick has paid nothing to council. (24 October 2020)
Why are we paying attention to the woes of a London borough nestling up against the border with Surrey? Because it could be a harbinger of what may be coming Thurrock’s way. Residents of Thurrock and regular readers of this blog will be well aware of the furore surrounding Thurrock Council’s speculative borrowing: Under pressure? (27 October 2020) We should make it clear that as things stand at the moment, the issue with Thurrock Council and their borrowing is their almost total lack of transparency and accountability to the residents they’re supposed to be serving. However, without being alarmist, if this speculative borrowing goes pear shaped, then the council will be in serious trouble and being forced to issue a Section 114 notice could be a possibility.
We recommend keeping a close eye on what Thurrock Council are up to and supporting local journalists such as Neil Speight of Thurrock Nub News who tirelessly hold them to account. To watch what unfolds when a council effectively goes bust, we recommend the citizen journalism of Inside Croydon. For anarchic piss taking of a local authority sinking into the mire, the South Norwood Tourist Board Facebook page is always good value:)
Croydon may have beaten Thurrock to it but we could potentially be heading in the same direction. Croydon could well be the canary in the coal mine with many more to follow. As we’ve written before, more times than we care to remember, the system of local governance we endure is not fit for purpose. It’s now starting to unravel with unpredictable consequences. It’s going to be a bumpy ride…