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Aug 01 2014

Harrow’s Chief Exec “Consultation” – All clear now?

harrow_council_logoReaders of the Harrow Times might have been somewhat confused by this article (since corrected) which suggested that the council “…would be consulting staff and the public…” on bringing back a £180,000+ Chief Executive.

Well, that’s not actually quite true. We don’t blame the Harrow Times entirely for the mistake, and reading Dave’s reply today (we didn’t know he worked Fridays, so that was a surprise this morning) he said:

Can I reiterate the point that minimal consultation was carried out when the initial post was deleted (post holder only), and that our manifesto commitment of a consultation on this issue, which the people of Harrow elected us on, has been fulfilled. This is in no way an exclusion of the people of Harrow, because I very much feel they had their say on Susan Halls Leadership…

20140801_public_consultationSo, in other words, since Dave’s struggling, he says that yes, the public were consulted on whether or not to bring back a Chief Executive on the basis that the Labour Group made that pledge in their manifesto, and residents, having read the manifesto and voted for Labour, were, de facto, consulted on the possibility of bringing back a Chief Exec.

In the meantime, the Times seems to have agreed with us that the public aren’t to be consulted on how £180,000+ of their council tax is spent, as they’ve now updated the article to clarify that the public won’t be consulted.

However, he does throw another curved ball into the mix, which we hadn’t thought of, when he said, in the same email:

Can I please clarify, that the Consultation on the senior staffing model of Harrow Council has indeed been asked of Harrow Council Staff (nearly 5000 employees), of which a large proportion of them are Harrow residents.

Our bolding above, by the way. So, we’ve now gone down the ludicrous slope of asking non-residents how they think residents’ council tax should be spent. It would be interesting to find the post codes of the staff consulted (which would likely be refused if an FOI request was made, but we’ll try it anyway) to see how many of them actually are Harrow residents.

Finally, to confuse the issue, and to keep harking back to the deletion of the role and that particular lack of consultation, perhaps Dave should consider that residents may feel that they require a greater level of consultation when their money is being spent, as opposed to when it’s being saved. Basically, Dave, if you give me five hundred quid, I’ll not ask too many questions of you. But if you come up and hold your hand out and demand a monkey out of me, you can bet I’d want to know the who, what, why, where and when about it.

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  1. Linda Robinson

    Has Dave forgotten that more Harrow electors voted for the Tories than for his party? So that doesn’t leave him with a leg to stand on when he insists that Labour’s manifesto commitment represents a mandate to consult on bringing back the Chief Exec’s position. Public consultations don’t work like elections, where people’s views have to be rounded together into arbitrary geographical areas. If the pledge and the vote really did amount to a reliable means of ascertaining whether people did or didn’t want a Chief Exec, then you’d have to say a greater number of people said “no thanks, we don’t need one” because they supported a manifesto without that promise. Dave feels that people “very much had their say on Susan Hall’s leadership” and in a way he’s right – more people voted for her party than his. So by his own reasoning that must mean they thought her scrapping of the overpaid post was their preferred option.
    Of course, in reality, relatively few voters had much idea what was in either of their manifestos and most were completely unaware that Michael Lockwood even existed let alone that he’d been ousted. It is totally spurious to infer that because a proportion of staff live in Harrow, asking them for their opinion on a staffing issue is tantamount to asking the borough’s residents. Carry on with this claptrap, Dave, and you risk becoming a laughing stock. Please say something that makes sense, for a change.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Are we really going to hear this ‘more Harrow voters voted conservative’ rhetoric for the next 4 years (as though it actually means anything useful in this context)? If you don’t like the current voting system then criticise that, not the voters Linda R.

      Similarly define the ‘relatively few voters’ you refer to – are you saying we don’t read actually the papers in Harrow, either – or that YOU speak for the people, because they can’t?

      Again the most relevant group to decide if we should have a Chief Executive or not are those in the council who are most directly affected and most aware of the issues – the council staff, surely?

  2. Concerned Harrovian

    Both the Council staff and the new chief executive will be paid for out of Council Tax. Are you saying that the public should be excluded from the decision?. If you look at the poll on the Harrow Times you will see the public are voting two to one against the appointment of a CEO.

    When is Cllr Dave going to stream council meetings so the public can make informed decisions about what is being done on our behalf? Ricky123 has volunteered to help with this and has been ignored.

    When is right to ignore the wishes of the voters?

    1. Someonewhocares

      Are you somehow implying that residents were actually consulted about the ‘removal’ of the Chief Executive? As we know they weren’t. Yes I read the Harrow Times article but they did not mention he still gets 1/3rd. of his salary anyway as a pension of course. “The public”? What percentage of Harrow voters have axtually replied to this poll, do you know? Besides, Harrow Council have a long record (regardless of leadership) of simply ignoring polls they don’t like.

      I do agree that council meetings should be ‘streamed’ however!

  3. Angelina

    Well said Concerned Harrovian! Someonewhocares……..It cannot be right that all of the residents of Harrow are not consulted on this, we are all just as important as each other. It has been proved up and down the country that Councils can and do operate effectively without a chief executive, and Harrow it appears was doing quite nicely without one thanks to Susan Hall. If Cllr Perry needs to bring a chief exec back in then that begs the question is Cllr Perry up to the job of Leader of the Council? If Susan Hall could run it without one then why can’t David Perry? Perhaps there is more to this than meets the eye? What is abundantly obvious here that in the short period of time Labour have been in charge it has become more of a closed shop. Cllr Perry I cannot stress enough how disillusioned many people are becoming with your lack of communication with the voting public. Did you not say you would start interacting on here with people? So far silence. Look at Harrow Times Poll the majority do not want a Chief exec……..please listen, and please start streaming meetings as many other councils already do this.

    1. Someonewhocares

      ‘Proved up and down the country’? Where specifically – and were these LONDON boroughs?
      How many other important day-to-day issues were we all not consulted on? What is so fundamentally different about this particular issue?

      However yes, openness and transparency are vital – but has been lacking for some years…

  4. Mike N

    What percentage of the workforce of Harrow Council actually live in Harrow I wonder? Those that don’t then get to vote on an important Harrow issue whilst the tax paying public don’t ! So Someonewhocares do you still think that the ‘ most relevant group to decide’ is stil only the
    Harrow Council
    workers ?

    1. Someonewhocares

      See opening paragraphs:

      Can I please clarify, that the Consultation on the senior staffing model of Harrow Council has indeed been asked of Harrow Council Staff (nearly 5000 employees), of which a large proportion of them are Harrow residents.

      1. iharrow.com

        How many is a “large proportion” of them? I ask, because I genuinely don’t know. It may easily be that 90% of them are Harrow residents; likewise, it could easily be that 90% of them live out of borough. I simply don’t know (although I have an FOI request to try and find out). What I do know is is that the school staff were apparently notified, and their views invited, with mere days to go until the end of term, so I would suspect – and again, I don’t know, but I’ve asked the question – that significant numbers of them won’t have had sufficient time (or inclination?) to respond before disappearing on holiday for 5-6 weeks.

        There are an awful lot of unknowns in this whole consultation. Whilst I may not care very much if the council saves £180k by axing what it considers a superfluous post, I do subsequently care very much indeed if it feels it has to bring it back because the administration’s part-time leader needs the help. That’s an awful lot of potholes that could be filled.

        The Daily Mail has an article about ‘fat cat’ council bosses, who would otherwise simply be labelled the “town clerk” which makes interesting reading.

  5. Rupike Dave

    Good luck with your FOI request Paul. That CEO will have his feet under the desk for years before you get a sniff of a reply. It is a done deal, and someone within the council will already have a candidate lined up. They always do. The old boy network has always been alive and well within Harrow Council. I agree with your point about the part-time leader needing help. Seems to me that he got this job under false pretences and is making a right mug out of us tax payers. What exactly does he do for his part time wages then? If we get a full time CEO on £180K then why do we need Dave? Its a no brainer for me. After all, we are told that we need to save money so it makes sense to have either a CEO or the Leader of the Council – not both

  6. Someonewhocares

    It’s a good question.. A ‘large proportion’ in this context should be more than two-thirds,
    But maybe Mr. Lockwood knows, shall I ask him?

    Saw that ‘fat cats’ information, some are paid the best part of 1/2 million!

  7. Mike N

    Do you think that Michael Lockwood, or any other local authority chief executive would have a clue about who works for them and doesn’t
    live in council area? They
    would just ask someone well below them to find out. More
    reason why the top brass
    should be weeded out.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Yes, of the c.500 local authorities some heads will definitely know how many of their employees live in the area, and yes, any CEO will usually ask ‘someone else’ (probably in HR) for the figures, surely just like they would in any big organisation?

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