Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Thanet Council meet in Secret to discuss done deal for Shared Services Director

For reasons best known to the likes of Richard Samuel Thanet Council’s Chief Executive, the public and press will be excluded today from a General Purposes committee meeting that will apparently discuss the appointment of Donna Reed as Shared Services Director.

Despite the fact that a press release was sent out earlier 5 days ago on June 3rd, even quoting Mr Samuel, and pointing out that Leaders and Chief Execs from Thanet, Dover and Canterbury councils have already chosen “unanimously”, Donna Reed to be the Shared Services Director, why the secrecy?

Since it appears to be a done deal, what are councillors likely to know or discuss that cannot be in the public domain, surely it cannot be the wages offered to Donna Reed as these have already been advertised at a modest £90,000 - £100,000.

top secret

So what’s the big secret, well, Item 4 claims the following reasons excluding the press and public:-

“Information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office holders under the authority.”

“Condition: Information is exempt to the extent that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.”

Now I might be missing something here but the salary has been advertised, local councils have already publicised the deal, so unless they haven’t agreed already the actual salary there is no need for secrecy?

Unless of coarse some councillors have sufficient backbone to ask why we need to create this post and pay so much money particularly in the middle of the countries greatest financial crisis since most of us can remember.

Why is that local authorities, always have to pay out extra money to save money, we’re told and I’ll believe it when I see it, that 3.5 million will be saved by three councils over the next four years. Yeah righteo,

Just remember that last year Thanet’s Conservatives gave away a fat 15% increases to Thanet’s top bods just as the recession was biting, one councillor told me if they hadn’t, they would have been head hunted, presumably by equally gullible councillors from elsewhere.

I suppose in days gone by, this sort of thing would have been sorted out, down the lodge, still if they are trying to save money surely they could do without the meeting?


  1. Perhaps judging by their record it might have been a good job to let some of the officers be head hunted so others equally able could be recruited. The useless one behind the gateway centre and M and S fiasco and China gateway now runs Ashford boro council - good luck to them! Although they start from a higher base i suppose!

  2. At the risk of being overly technical, if the item is deemed exempt, it need not be taken as a private matter. Councils have discretion over exempt material (Section 12 of the Local Government Act (Access to Information) 1985. However, if the material or subject is confidential rather than deemed exempt, they have no choice in the matter and must take it in Part 11. I know, I really must get out more.

  3. From Cllr Clive Hart.

    Please find below a statement I have made following the Tuesday 8th June General Purposes Committee meeting at TDC.

    I want to make it absolutely clear that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN THE STATEMENT refers to the individual appointed as the Shared Services Director whom I know to be an excellent public servant.

    All my comments refer to process:

    Early Wednesday morning (9th June) I wrote to the Thanet District Council Chief Executive Richard Samuel to FORMALLY COMPLAIN about the press release 'SHARED SERVICES DIRECTOR APPOINTED' published by Thanet District Council on Thursday, 03 June 2010 and the organisation of the General Purposes Committee held on Tuesday, 08 June 2010.

    Firstly, the press release announcing who was appointed was published a week before the meeting, yet I understand that the Council's Employment Procedure Rules require Director level appointments to be made at member level and that was the whole purpose of Tuesday's GPC meeting.

    I also found it somewhat hypocritical for the Chief Executive to selectively quote matters from the report to the GPC in a premature press release and then to attend the GPC meeting proper to argue that councillors should discuss the whole matter on confidential 'pink paper' in closed session and also exclude the press and the public.

    In that quote in the premature press release it was also stated that 'the selection process was extremely tough' when in actual fact the job was only advertised internally within the three East Kent authorities with no external competition whatsoever.

    Also, in the quote in the premature press release it said the three council leaders unanimously supported the appointment. The three leaders are all Conservative so there was no political balance whatsoever in that decision.

    The GPC meeting was arranged for 5pm in the afternoon. That may be a very nice and convenient ending to the working day for council officers but it proves very difficult for many councillors to attend. My group members had to make significant changes to busy working day schedules and I even had to stand in for a member whose work commitments simply did not allow her to attend at such a time.

    In short I would say that the 'man in in the street' would consider this whole matter as a previously 'done deal', rubber stamped behind closed doors, arranged for the benefit and comfort of high-level public sector employees only and supported by one political party only - the Conservative's.

    Probably worse still, the appointment will be made at a remuneration level 'artificially' raised through the shared services process in East Kent.

    This whole fiasco takes place in the week the Conservative Prime Minister tells us public sector workers have been 'insulated' from the harsh realities of the recession while everyone else was paying the price and that they had got 'way out of step' and needed to be brought back into line with the private sector.

    In local government in East Kent it appears there is one rule for the workers and another for senior management".

    Cllr Clive Hart.

  4. Perhaps it is as simple as with many press releases it was prepared in advance, but then mistakenly released early?

    A simple own goal error, which Clive has exploited, and exploited, and exploited; pre meeting to the press; at the meeting; and post meeting to press and blogs.

    Much of his statement is self important rubbish - as usual; at least two elements come form confidential information given during the meeting, which is rather more serious; and the hilarious bit is his sudden conversion to supporting the new Conservative (and Lib Dem?) Prime Minister. I am pondering sending him a Conservative Membership application form, now he has seen the light on the road to perdition!