Croydon’s Improvement and Assurance Panel

A government appointed panel providing external advice, challenge and expertise, along with assurance to the Secretary of State as we continue to deliver our renewal plans.

A government appointed panel providing external advice, challenge and expertise, along with assurance to the Secretary of State as we continue to deliver our renewal plans.

Croydon’s government-appointed panel provide external advice, challenge and expertise to the council as we lead and deliver our improvement plans. 
The panel report back to the Secretary of State (Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) to give assurance that we are delivering at the scale and pace needed.  

The council has been working closely with the panel since 2020. In July 2023, its role was formally strengthened, and membership revised. Croydon still leads its recovery, but, as a last resort, the panel have the power to direct the council to make decisions if they feel we are falling behind or not delivering on our Best Value Duty. 
July 2023: Government documentation relating to the strengthening of the panel’s role can be viewed here. Statutory intervention: London Borough of Croydon - GOV.UK (

Documents relating to the non-statutory rapid review and follow-up recovery and improvement work at the London Borough of Croydon  can be viewed at: GOV.UK - Non-statutory review of the London Borough of Croydon

Exit strategy

The Improvement and Assurance Panel's exit strategy sets out the panel's plan for leaving Croydon in July 2025 or sooner, confident that we are on a sustainable pathway of continuous improvement. The exit strategy has been developed by the panel, in close partnership with the council, and highlights the strong commitment by both to resolve our challenges.

The five themes of the exit strategy draw upon the priorities in the Mayor’s Business Plan and work that is already planned or under way, these themes are: 

  • governance
  • culture and leadership
  • financial stability
  • service performance
  • capacity and capability to improve

Download and read the exit strategy (PDF, 303KB).

Panel members

Tony McArdle, independent chair and governance lead 

Tony McArdle

Tony McArdle has recently been lead commissioner for the Government’s successful intervention in Northamptonshire County Council. He also chairs the SEND Leadership Board for the Department for Education and is an independent advisor to the current SEND Review. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tony was engaged by the Department of Health as regional convenor for the East of England, leading the engagement between government and local authorities. 

Tony was chief executive of Lincolnshire County Council between 2005 and 2018. He took up post at a time when the council was suffering from significant corporate governance and service failures and was under the immediate threat of government intervention. He left Lincolnshire with the authority enjoying a reputation as progressive and innovative, with a strong profile and an established record of high-quality service delivery.

Prior to moving to Lincolnshire, Tony was chief executive of the Borough Council of Wellingborough for seven years. He has held interim appointments in other councils and has also been involved in delivering elements of the Council of Europe's programme to improve local government practice in Croatia, Bulgaria and Russia.
Tony chaired the Association of County Chief Executives from 2015 to 2017. He also served as an infantry officer in the Army Reserve for 22 years.


Phil Brookes, independent external member (commercial and asset disposal) 

Phil Brookes

Phil Brookes has been a crown representative at the cabinet office for the last six years and has worked with a number of the strategic suppliers to central government across facilities management and construction.

Phil previously worked in a number of senior roles in the construction and utility sectors, most recently with Balfour Beatty. He recently took part in the non-statutory review of Nottingham City Council, leading on the commercial analysis.

Jon Wilson, independent external member (adult social care)

Jon Wilson

Jon is currently the director of adults and communities at Leicestershire County Council, responsible for the delivery of adult social care, and community and wellbeing services to residents. He is accountable as the statutory director of adult social services (DASS). His role also encompasses the delivery of cultural services, including library services, museums and archives, adult education and creative learning services. He is responsible for the overall management of the department, which has 1800 staff and £330m expenditure per annum, reporting to members and the chief executive on all matters relating to departmental performance, quality and risk. Jon is leading the department’s transformation programme, involving cultural change alongside efficiency savings and the delivery of improved outcomes for service users and residents.

Sector- wide responsibilities have included regional chair of the East Midlands ADASS branch, member of the East Midlands Clinical Senate and member of the East Midlands Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care.

Prior to joining Leicestershire County Council in May 2015, Jon worked for Nottinghamshire County Council for nine years, leading the provision of social care services to people with learning disability, physical disability, mental ill health and other associated care needs.

Jon started his career in social care in Sheffield in 1985 having moved there from his home town of Bradford to attend college in 1981. He is a social worker by profession, although has spent most of his professional life in management and leadership roles in both local authority and NHS organisations. Jon completed his formal education with the award of an MSc in Partnership Working in Health and Social Care at Birmingham University in 2006.

Brian Roberts (finance)

Brian Roberts is a qualified accountant with over 40 years of public sector experience. 

Photograph of panel member Brian Roberts

He is a former President of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, and is the current chair of their Financial Management and Governance Panel. He is a non-executive director for the UK Municipal Bond Agency and Local Government Mutual.  Brian has been finance commissioner for the Government’s successful intervention in Northamptonshire County Council. He was Director of Corporate Resources and Deputy Chief Executive at Leicestershire County Council from 2005-2018, during which time Leicestershire was awarded Council of the Year and IMPOWER most productive council of the year. Prior to this he was Director of Finance at Staffordshire County Council from 1993-2005.  He has also served as President of the Society of County Treasurers, the Association of Local Government Treasurers, and acted as a finance advisor to the Local Government Association. 


Pamela Leonce (housing)

Photograph of Panel member Pamela Leonce

Pamela is a housing professional with extensive experience at executive level across 

housing, health, social care and the criminal justice sectors. She is chair of the board at Inquilab Housing Association, a board member at Local Space and Midland Heart Housing Association and trustee at Brook. She has previously acted as a board member at Milton Keynes Council a sustainability advisor to the Mayor of London and, more recently, worked with the National Housing Federation on the revised Code of Governance for the housing sector.