A “business pioneer” charged with helping regenerate Croydon has been ignored by the office that appointed him.

In October, the London Mayor’s office announced Julian Metcalfe, founder of sandwich shop Pret-a-Manger, would spearhead a new regeneration taskforce for the borough in the wake of the August riots.

Mayor Boris Johnson described the appointment as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” with Mr Metcalfe offering “a wealth of commercial experience to help champion investment”.

But the Croydon Guardian can reveal following a meeting with the Mayor’s representatives, Mr Metcalfe was informed he did not have the right “skills set” and could “confuse” the Mayor’s regeneration plans.

Asked what work he had done so far, Mr Metcalfe said: “I understand they’re dealing with some of the bigger issues first, their plan is to involve me later in the year.

“I offered to help because I was only too pleased to do what I could but my help is not needed quite yet.”

Opposition leader Councillor Tony Newman accused the Mayor’s office of “dithering” over Croydon’s regeneration.

He said: “This is depressing news and confirmation the both the Mayor and the council have left Croydon and our economic recovery in a shambles.

“It comes in the same week the officer for planning and regeneration left his job and on the back of Nestle leaving the borough.

“Perhaps is somebody had asked for his help they would not have gone.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: "The plans for the regeneration of Croydon are at the early stages but we expect the council, in conjunction with the GLA and other stakeholders, to start focussing the high street in the spring when it will consult in detail with its businesses.

“This is the ideal point where we can draw on Julian Metcalfe's unique business knowledge and expertise to help us deliver a renewed, vibrant and successful retail centre for this important part of the capital."