Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thanet Labour boss issues statement over Chief Executive premature press release

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.


  1. Have TDC scrapped the position previously held by the new shared services director?

    If they do it would save the council at least half the amount they need to find following the governments TDC grant cut of £207,000 announced yesterday. If you are interested the poorest parts of the county and country received the biggest cuts. Maidstone and Sevenoaks for instance just £0!

  2. Would be the same clive hart who could'nt get enough people to vote for him as a kcc councillor?

  3. Anon 12.58, is wasnt just Clive Hart. As you must know if you have an interest in local politics, it was due to a poor turn out and an anti Lasbour and Brown vote right across Kent and the country in general. Many good hard working labour county councillors were not return through no fault of their own. Just remeber that only 20% of people entitled to vote in Kent voted for conservative.
    The next round of local elections will tell a different story.

  4. Is TDC just run for the officers?

  5. But in addition to the national trend people realised Clive Hart just is useless

  6. I wouldn't say Clive is useless perhaps misplaced in the Labour party which at the top level forgot working people.

    Anyhow for me the issue is the dual standards that operate, if it was necessary for Donna Reed's appointment to be discussed in private as it were, surely Mr Samuel having commented publicly ought to consider his position?

  7. Perhaps, Tony, 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!