Nothing surprises me any more where the goings on of Thanet council are concerned. I mentioned earlier this week the meeting of TDC’s general purposes committee, which was held in secret.
Its all relatively simple but here in a nutshell is my summary, Donna Reed was after consideration by Chief Exec’s and Council Leaders from Dover, Canterbury and Thanet chosen to be the new Shared Services Director. This then had to be confirmed by elected members of our council after hearing a report to the General Purposes Committee.
For whatever reason, officers advised or insisted that this meeting, be held in secret, although most of the details including approximate salary level had been placed in the public domain.
TDC’s Richard Samuel last week apparently quoted from the report, according to Clive Hart, Thanet’s Labour Leader, in a press release and then argued at the General Purposes meeting details should be kept from the public.
Reading Clive Harts statement its difficult not conclude that dual standards seem to operate at Thanet Council, I sometimes get the impression that the council is run for the convenience of senior officers and the conservative group.
If you feel that’s an exaggeration ask yourself why conservatives councillors and I assume officers have spent large sums of your money drawing up blogging protocols, these people must think we’re all stupid.
Anyhow Clive’s Statement follows (this was lifted from the comments of a earlier posting on the secret meeting):
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.