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Oct 04 2013

Harrow Council Publishes Statement of Accounts 2012-2013

harrow_council_logoProblems sleeping? You’ll be delighted to know that the Council has published it’s Statement of Accounts for 2012-2013 on it’s website for your reading pleasure.

115 pages cheerily take you through every last penny.

Those who are interested in the cost of the council’s management might be interested to know the total remuneration that the senior officers receive, detailed nicely on page 67. Can be bothered to look? Here’s a couple of tidbits:

  • Chief Executive Michael Lockwood has a package of £226,233 p.a., down just over £1,000 from last year, despite some well spun news in the last year or so that the senior officers were taking a pay cut of several percent.
  • The much-loved Director of Placeshaping took home £343,296 in the  year, which included over £175,000 in ‘exit payments’
  • The Benefits in Kind paid to the Corporate Director of Community, Health and Wellbeing is an eye-watering £6,707, due to some arrears for previous years. No, we don’t understand it either…

If anybody wants to go through it and pick the meat off the bones, please leave your comments below.

 

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34 comments

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  1. j p hobbs

    Wow a quarter up to a half million quid no wonder the F IN rates are so high .

  2. j p hobbs

    Do they blush all the way home ?

  3. Melanie

    Former Director of Place Shaping, who tried to sell Education Land without bothering to get permission from the Secretary of State. Who said “schools no longer use it” but had no paper work to back up that statement. Whose own disciples used the defence in the Public Inquiry that the land cannot be a village green as it’s “so intensively used by schools”. Who sent in representatives from The Consortium to ‘misinform’ Headteachers and who was made redundant just 4 months before he was due to retire and no one explains why it was worth wasting that kind of money. Now, after 5 years of fighting to save our own education land, the new administration is crying poverty. Maybe there is no money, but why should residents have to pay the price for Councillors and Council Officers incompetence? Maybe an independent inquiry could look in to what the devil the place shaping department were playing at. That might reap some rewards.

  4. j p hobbs

    But now we know why there is no money the greedy Bs have taken it all home

  5. Marcello Borgese

    Question to the new Council Leader, Cllr Hall. Do you believe that the Chief Exec and his senior managers are doing a good job? I know you’ve only just taken over (known as the Gordon Brown Defence) but he was put there by the last Tory administration of which you were a member. I know running a council is not a trivial job but he has had seven years to show us what he can do and I think that’s long enough for you to be able to make a judgement. In those seven years he has accumulated total pay of well over £1,000,000 so I would invite comments from the people of Harrow as to whether we’ve had value for money or not.

  6. All things good

    Agreed Marcello! The Chief exec is so aloof, and has been asked many times on different forums to have a public surgery at least once a month to listen to residents concerns. He has never taken up this offer, and I wonder why? If Harrow really was a listening council then the chief exec would surely want to find out first hand the residents concerns about some of the council officers! I do not think we have had value for money, and I do think that some of the senior managers should not be in the positions that they are. The Chief exec and his staff would do well to remember we the taxpayers pay their salaries, and therefore have a right to be able to question them. Perhaps a council meeting once a month in the chambers for harrow residents to air their concerns?

  7. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    A Council meeting every month? I’d be up for one every week – you’re easily pleased!

  8. All things good

    Cllr Stoodley I thought I would ease the chief exec into it once a month, rather than once a week as he is a very busy man, or so he would have us all believe? Anyway a suggestion for you, as you are a Councillor maybe you can take this idea to the powers that be within the Council? Please do let us know how you get on and what their answer is? I think it is a fabulous idea!

  9. ricky123

    All things good, that is a brilliant idea but why would you want to ease the chief exec in, surly he should know everything thats going on after 7 years, what worries me is that we probably know more whats going on than he does. I go along with Cllr Stoodley it should be once a week.

  10. All things good

    Ricky 123 thank you for supporting this idea, something has got to change as the communication between the Council and the ordinary resident is certainly in many cases not what it should be. I did say once a month ‘tongue in cheek’, and I fully agree once a week would be even better. However we need the ball to roll on this, ie more posters on here showing their support for this idea, and for Cllr Stoodley and other councillors along with Susan Hall to very kindly put this proposal to the Council. So if anyone is in agreement with this, please get as many comments on here as you possibly can to drum up support!

  11. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    So what would you like-a sort of extended public question time in Council Chambers but not just to the Cabinet-also to your local ward Cllrs & backbenchers? Start time say 8pm for an hour if it’s once a week-would that suffice? Of course on a busy night we could extend the guillotine if there are lots of questions. It would have to be Friday if you want it weekly – there are committees and meetings scattered all over the evenings Mon-Thurs.

  12. Susan Hall

    Evening all! Having just returned from Council I read your comments with great interest. The idea of Councillor Question Time is an excellent one and actually so good that this is exactly what we Conservatives did between 2006 and 2010. Quarterly meetings all around the Borough asking residents to come and ask us Questions about Policy or to ask us specific questions about your area. I would be delighted to do it again as we have just taken over the Council and I will make arrangements. It is a great pity that Labour refused to do them when they took over from us in 2010 The only difference this time is that I think it will have to be at the Council Offices as we cannot spend money on halls around the Borough at the moment. However if we had requests to do so then I would look at that too. We as a Cabinet do not have the monopoly on good ideas and I would welcome the interaction with our residents. We Conservatives are here to make Harrow Cleaner, Safer and Fairer and if a question time is what our residents want then that is what they will get. I will ask for arrangements to be made and I will announce the dates on this site. Hope this meets with iharrow readers approval.

  13. 4Democracy

    Good for you for taking it forward Susan , will you be asking the Chief Exec to attend from time to time?!

  14. All things good

    Susan thank you for picking up on my suggestion., we finally have a Leader who appears to care about their residents. However, the thread above is not so much about a Cllr question time, although that is also a great idea, and would be very welcome. The residents would welcome the opportunity more to air their concerns in front of the Chief exec, have the opportunity to question him and some of the other senior officers?. If both of these could be arranged I am sure you would have many grateful residents, including myself. Thank you again!

  15. Susan Hall

    Councils are a strange thing. The Politicians make the decisions, or at least in theory they do, they certainly have to sign off the decisions and Officers advise therefore the Politicians are the accountable ones and have to front these things up. As far as I am concerned I am happy to front things up and I am exceptionally happy to make the decisions. When Officers are put in the firing line then it basically means that there are very weak Politicians and that cannot be good for democracy. Whilst we make mistakes we are elected and should always do our best which I grant is not always easy as most decisions please some and not others, thats the way it is. I am now looking forward to the question times and I hope to be meeting you all at last (although perhaps I already know many of you, who knows?)

  16. ricky123

    Hi Susan, thats great, I would like to suggest we take it a bit further as a lot of Harrows residents will not be able to get to the Civic, also I think that it will be so popular their wont be enough room to fit them in, so I would like to send it out live stream, I have the equipment to do this so everyone in Harrow will be able to tune in just like they do on Thursdays BBC question time. If they are watching it live there is also an opportunity for the ones that cant make it to phone in their question. With live streaming you could have a weekly audience of thousands rather than just a few hundred at the Civic. This also eliminates the fact of renting halls around the borough etc.

  17. Georgia x

    I do hope more local people take an active part in scrutinising these accounts. Knowledge is power.

    I also hope that the Council go on to publish detailed accounts of how they distribute our money for years to come.

    I think that transparency is the best way forward and it is good for residents to know where their money is being spent.

    Georgia x

  18. Susan Hall

    Ricky, an interesting thought. Leave this with me. Georgia I totally believe in transparency, we deal with residents money and they need to know where we are directing it.

  19. All things good

    Ricky 123 a fabulous idea! Susan I understand your comments but please do not be offended when I say it does not happen that way. I have known of Cllrs in Harrow where when an issue is put before them, they have not bothered to respond, or have offered to help only to be warned off by senior council officers. I can see that you are a good person who really wants to hear the concerns of your residents, but Marcello has a valid point in his post above. It is only fair that the residents are given the opportunity to question the chief executive as well? One other question can you please give an update as to what is happening within Childrens services after the serious comments made by Catherine Doran a few weeks ago?

  20. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    Yeah yeah yeah Susan lots of talk but what do you actually suggest? A bit of boring melancholy detail required here because it doesn’t sound like they’re happy with monthly Public Cabinet Questions-sounds like they want something more, as I already mentioned twice on this thread before you joined in! So guys and girls, what are you looking for – weekly public Question Time sessions in Council Chambers with every Cllr in there? Or the weedy pathetic system we have at the moment whereby you only get to ask questions at a Cabinet Meeting or a full-blown Council Meeting, at both of which you can only ask questions of Cabinet.

  21. ricky123

    It may be an idea to have a ward a week, Cllrs from that ward on the panel and people can come for that particular session regarding their ward. Maybe the leader & chief Exec could come every two weeks etc. You could even take it a bit further and have the Police Commander, MPs and guests in every two or three months. There is a lot of scope here, If we live stream it and have it on a regular day people will get to know about it and tune in on a regular basis. Anyway, I have the equipment to do this, I have loads of ideas that we could do The problem is:
    IS THIS GOING TO HAPPEN OR ARE WE GOING TO TALK ABOUT IT FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS.

  22. All things good

    I personally would go for weekly if not at the very most monthly question time sessions with all Cllrs present, and most definitely the chief exec in the Council chambers, and some of the senior managers within the Council present also. It is time for Michael Lockwood to come and meet and hear any issues that his residents have concerns about, this can be the only fair and right way forward!

  23. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    I’d be all up for either of the last two suggestions.

  24. Susan Hall

    I note all the above comments. Weekly meetings in the Chamber would be impossible as many of us are in meetings 4 nights a week anyway and also have community functions that we have to and want to attend on Friday nights and over the weekend this is so that we can get out and talk to the electorate. We must also bear in mind the cost as the Council Chamber has to be manned and its very often booked out. I am working on some dates, lets start with what we used to do and then take it from there. I should also point out that we do not get many resident questions put to Cabinet at every monthly meeting let alone Council so I do wonder if the general public are interested in attending, its a shame more do not.

  25. ricky123

    I am not sure that many people know about cabinet meetings etc, this could be something new with a lot of publicity. If people knew of this I am sure you would get massive interest.

  26. Marcello Borgese

    This is going a bit off-topic. I gather the Chief Exec is not directly accountable to the public – I know this because whenever I ask to speak to someone more senior than the front-line staff I get the response that ‘managers don’t speak with the public’. They are accountable to the Cabinet so we (the public who pay their wages) can only challenge the councillors with regards to senior council managers. I am happy to be corrected on this if I’m wrong.

    So the chances of getting The Chief Exec to answer questions in front of a group of Harrow Council Tax Payers are pretty remote. He may even ask for more pay if he were forced to do it!

    This was about how much of our hard-earned gets pocketed by Chief Exec and his senior managers. Do we think they are doing a good job? Are they offering us good VFM? Is the Chief Exec so good for Harrow that he deserves to become a millionaire from ‘running’ the council. I don’t know the answer (although I have an opinion) which is why I posted the question for Council Leader Hall. It’s not a trick question – is it not the council leader’s duty to ensure we get highly competent managers and therefore value for our council tax?

  27. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    I don’t believe there’d be much extra cost to using the Chamber on a Friday evening. The security people are there anyway already and we own the building so the only extra cost would be the lighting – a negligable cost. There are never any meetings scheduled for a Friday evening so all Cllrs are free on a Friday night and they do not have to take on other engagements on a Friday night if they don’t want to. So sorry Susan I disagree with those two points. As to popularity, it seems to depend on how vicious the decision is…Bently Priory, Taxi-Cards, SNT, The Hive, Whitchurch fields, unlocking park gates & John Lyon swimming pool sure stirred the people into action with petitions, demos with placards outside the civic and plenty of questions…so maybe if Susi does a real fab job no one’ll kick off so no further questioning time would be wanted by the good citizens of Harrow?(!)

  28. j p hobbs

    OHHHH Wooly Stools you forgot the Stealth Cameras , how could you , mind you seems everyone else has ?

  29. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    Yeah – I forgot the stealth cameras…coz so far no demo! If you really want to get a decision u-turned you have to demo with placards outside the Civic, ask loads of public questions to Cabinet and be plastered all over the local papers. Hasn’t happened with stealth cameras dear boy!

  30. Praxis Reform

    It might be worth my pointing out (as someone that’s researched the different methods) that holding a demonstration is pretty much at the bottom of the list of effective methods of creating change. Though politicians love to think that somehow protest marches are illustrative of what they think of as “democracy”.

    However, campaigns against nuclear weapons were ignored, the Iraq invasion protests were ignored, the Occupy protestors were ignored, while lately, Bedroom tax protests have been ignored, I could list a whole lot more.

    As the old saying goes, no matter who you vote for, the Government always wins.

  31. j p hobbs

    Well !!!, re Stealth camera . Jeremy said he was organising the protest ages ago , still nothing and my local Lib/Dems said they were doing a news letter ages ago still nothing and your lot have just ignored it , the massive amount of fines must be keeping all you guys afloat . shame on the lot of you .

  32. Cllr Willie Stoodley

    My dear Praxis – always with da negative waves! Stop being so despondantly cynical and have a little faith, baby! What about the West Harrow parking review that freed up over 30 spaces? What about the Labour Group’s dog-poo bin removal policy that was reversed by the ILG? What about the Labour Group’s policy of leaving the parks and cemetaries unlocked at night that was reversed by the ILG? What about the Planning Committee’s deferral of Vaughn School pending the supply of further information? What about the Planning Committee’s refusal of the planning permission for Pickwick Walk? What about the Planning Committee’s deferral of the “bed-in-a-shed” application pending supply of further information? What about the Planning Committee’s refusal of planning permission for the stadium at “The Hive”? All these decisions happened because of MASSIVE PRESSURE from the public by way of petitions, lobbying MPs and Cllrs, demonstrations and articles in the local press. It does sometimes work Praxis, but it takes MASSIVE PRESSURE – if you just go “tut” or wine and whinge on Iharrow you’re not very likely to get anything changed!

  33. Cllr Willie Stoodley

    @ j p – same advice as above!

    PS – I should add that “happened” is a generalisation – there are always greater or lesser extents of “sway” with respect to public opinion but nevertheless, it can work as demonstrated above.

  34. Praxis Reform

    My dear Cllr Stoodley, what a perfect political answer, we the voters of the London borough of Harrow should be grateful that its politicians have overturned ideas that were just too stupid to begin with.

    I’m sure a piece of House of Commons notepaper works wonders at the council, as no doubt Councillors and Council workers fear questions about their competence being asked in Parliament and broadcast on TV.

    For the rest of us, it’s a matter of overcoming media bias and generating enough interests in matters that aren’t immediately obvious to the rest of the population, or technical issues which people will tend to look at and say “ah, that’ll never happen to me, not interested”.

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