In an unexpected move Croydon Council has appointed its own chief executive to the board of Fairfield Halls, a position usually taken by elected councilors.
Jon Rouse joins four councillor appointees on the board of Fairfield Halls. His position means a non-elected employee of the council will have input in all decisions taken by the board at Fairfield Halls.
Mr Rouse said he was very pleased. “My ambition is to help the board and the council take Fairfield forward as a fitting centre for a wide range of entertainment for another 50 years or more.”
The chief executive of Fairfield Halls, Derek Barr, supports Mr Rouse’s appointment. “Jon is supportive of culture in Croydon … and we are confident he will make a positive contribution to the future of Fairfield.”
However, concerns over his appointment have been raised. Councillor Tony Newman questioned the nature of the choice: “The whole point of local democracy is that politicians can be held democratically accountable for the decisions they make.”
There are 15 members on Fairfield Hall’s board. Of these, ten are independent and the council nominates five. Mr Rouse joins three elected council board members: Helen Pollard, Dudley Mead and George Ayres. There is currently no nominee for the fifth position.
Fairfield Halls’ future is uncertain after council funding was drastically cut. Plans have been submitted to create a “theatre consortium” in Croydon which would include Fairfield Halls and Clocktower Croydon, but so far no decision has been reached.