According to the minutes of the Chief Officers’ Employment Panel from November 1, 2016, it seems that the council’s Corporate Director, Community, feels that the rules of recruitment process don’t apply to him.
The function of the panel – chaired by interim leader, Cllr Sachin Shah, is approve employment of Chief Officers – pretty much what the title says. So when the council looks to recruit a chief officer, such as the Divisional Director of Housing, you’d expect any properly functioning council to seek approval to do such recruitment to the panel. In fact, this is made clear under section (f) of the ‘purpose of committee’ pages: “to approve remuneration packages of £100,000 or over for any Council post.”
But not in Harrow.
The Corporate Director, Community, seems to have ignored due process, and gone out to commence recruitment without gathering such approval up front, perhaps relying on the old adage that it’s better to seek forgiveness than permission – which doesn’t necessarily apply when you’re possibly spending over £114,000 of residents’ money.
The minutes go on to say, “The Member [presumably one of the Conservative members, perhaps the only people in the room trying to not waste money] expressed the view that there was a lack of detail in the report, no comparison of the two grades, no comparison in terms of costs and no indication of savings in terms of agency costs.”
They continue, “A Member [presumably the same one as above] questioned why Cabinet Members had not highlighted the remuneration package for this post and stated that Members should be aware of the recruitment process and alerted officers. Another Member [again, probably Conservative] expressed concern that candidates had been applying for a role without the financial arrangements in place.”
The Corporate Director, Community, said he had “been unaware of the need to seek the Panel’s approval to the remuneration package.” So that’s alright then.
Note: Harrow’s stock of council housing is smaller than Brent’s (who are also paying up to £114,000).