Monday, 26 May 2014

Clean up tasks for the new Labour Brent Executive

As the new Labour group prepares to meet to decide the size, portfolios and membership of the new Executive, just a reminder of the issues that need to be addressed.

First there is the matter of the Human Resources management at the Council and associated issues of interim contracts and salaries paid into private companies.

The Green Party has called for an independent investigation of:

1. Corporate Management Team officers being paid through their private companies rather than normal pay roll
2. The contractual arrangements for CMT officers and interim appointments
3. Previous employment and business connections between senior offices appointed by Brent Council on an interim basis
4. The working culture of the Human Resources department 
5. Brent Council's Whistle Blowing Policy to ensure that it adequately protects whistle-blowers from harassment and retribution

To which a reader has added:
6. Instances of council policies, procedures, standing orders, scheme of delegation etc being circumvented.

Secondly, there is the important issue of the appointment of Chief Executive.  Christine Gilbert's acting role was extended by the Brent Executive  until after the local elections on the recommendation of Fiona Ledden, Head of Legal and Procurement. The report stated:
The recruitment process for a new permanent  Chief Executive should be delayed because the current recruitment process for  three other CEs in London boroughs would limit the quality of candidates, to allow the restructuring of council senior management to go ahead smoothly, and  to ensure continuity and reputation management over the move to the Civic Centre and the 2014 local elections. 
At the time Paul Lorber, Liberal Democrat leader of the opposition, opposed the extension and raised the important issue of how the permanent appointment would be made.  Given the new overwhelmingly Labour composition of the council and the revelations about previous connections between members of the Corporate Management Team at Ofsted and Tower Hamlets, as well as personal relationship connections, a transparent recruitment process is essential.

Such a process would exclude from the recruitment process any officer with such connections and include opposition councillors as well as Labour backbenchers.

Thirdly, there is the task of ending all interim arrangements so that a permanent team with fully compliant contracts and paid through the council payroll are in place for the next four years. 


  1. Don't hold much hope that those at the top will listen.

    So far they have not responded to any issues and top management might see the victory on Thursday as a vote of confidence in the approach taken over the last couple of years. It will probably be business as usual this week and beyond.

    It is to be hoped, Barry Gardiner's comments might have fired a warning shot to those at the top.

    Will they listen ?

    Doubt It !

    1. This approach just abandons the argument and the principles behind it. It's not a question of hope. Given the points set out in Martin's item above it should be ASSUMED that there will be a recognition, now that the election is out of the way, that these matters need to be urgently and honestly addressed.
      Taking item 6 as an example, not to investigate the circumventions clearly set out on Wembley Matters over the last 2 weeks would be to reveal as a sham many of the 'council policies, procedures, standing orders, scheme of delegation etc' adopted in the past and render laughable any future attempts at claiming a principled, honest, fair approach on such matters.
      No matter how many votes it thinks it has backing it, Labour in Brent is still operating in a democracy with functioning newspapers, local radio and tv and, as this blog illustrates, an increasingly well-informed, vocal and engaged online 'mob' to answer to.
      Mike Hine

    2. Wishful thinking Mike.

      Yes ! lets not Hope, but lets Assume those in power will consider the interests of the common people above those of their own !

      Perhaps there is a god after all ! Looking after our interests ?

    3. There is some hope, and if there is any decency left in the borough then any reasonable person would assume that these matters will be urgently and honestly addressed.

      I have received a short reply (after the election) from Councillor Butt, and I expect to be meeting with him soon after the Council's AGM on 4 June. The purpose will be to discuss both my unanswered letter to him on 4 February 2014 (and the, then, other party leaders) about Senior Council Officers not respecting Brent's Constitution AND the various allegations raised against Senior Officers in various blogs and comments on them on "Wembley Matters" in recent weeks.

      Cllr. Butt has acknowledged that 'the points I have been highlighting' need to be discussed. That is a small step in the right direction, but a lot more will still need to be done. Please help to keep the pressure on, by drawing these matters to the attention of others, including the press and media, and contacting your Councillors to let them know that something MUST be done about it.

      Philip Grant.

    4. Pity he did not address them before the election.

      We all known why he kept silent before the election !

      If these matters had become wider public knowledge and Lib Dems had also jumped on the issues, the election result might have been different.

      It would be nice to see Councillor Butt accept that Ms Gilbert's contract is best not renewed and there are very good reasons for it not to be renewed.

      Perhaps internally Labour might like to force the issue.

      It certainly does not go down well with the electorate if more cuts have to be made and yet the top management are not forced to make cuts in their remuneration.

      £200,000 plus for Ms Gilbert and nearly the same for Ms Davani given she only works 4 days ?

      Hopefully the Unions might start using their influence and start protesting with "A summer of discontent," followed by "A Winter of discontent," if immediate changes at the top are not swiftly made.

      That would certainly teach them how real people feel.

      It would be a step in the right direction with a 2015 election and UKIP biting at everyone's heels, if we did have mass strikes over these issues. It would clearly indicate the public mood and is exactly what UKIP thrive on.

      Councillor Butt, are you going to give UKIP the opportunity to capitalize on issues that are your making ?

  2. Re-posting comments from previous blog 'Brent Greens call for independent investigation into Brent Council revelations',, 19 May:

    i) re personal companies:

    'Here's what Jeremy Corbyn, Islington North (Labour) MP, thinks about the use of personal companies:

    "Anyone working directly for the public sector in any capacity should be employed by, and accountable to, the public sector. There should be utter transparency about their employment, and we should not have these ludicrous schemes that are probably to do with tax avoidance and lack of accountability"’ (20 May 2014 16:20);

    ii) re investigations:

    'The 'Kensal Rise EmailGate' affair has been mentioned a couple of times in comments on the previous blogs. It would be interesting to know precisely how the fake online support of the original planning application for change-of-use of Kensal Rise Library was initially handled. Was all available evidence passed to the police from the off, or were officers more concerned with limiting the damage to the council's reputation and individuals' jobs when it emerged what a dodgy IT system Brent was using? As a computer specialist said at the time: 'It's not very clever of Brent to collect comments via a system that is this easy to spoof. Thy could easily take a few precautions, this kind of thing will only become more frequent'. It's certainly the case that it was only in February this year that a specific complaint about the fraudulent use of one Kensal Rise resident's address was passed to the police. Until then, the resident hadn't even received an acknowledgement from the council (or the police), five months after she alerted both to the theft of her business name and address'.

    According to his Twitter account, new Kensal Green councillor Dan Filson is taking a specific interest in to the fake emails affair. Cllr Filson - who failed to support the postponement of the latest planning application in to the change of use of the library building pending the outcome of the police investigation - needs to ask why it took five months for some specific information to be handed to the police, and why matters went first to the Kensington & Chelsea force before reaching Brent as would have been expected once the NFIB re-opened the inquiry.

    1. Get to work Councillor Filson.

      You have been given a mandate from the electorate, so lets see action and a full investigation over EmailGate and not just a white wash.

      UKIP will have a field day in Brent come 2015 if EmailGate becomes a white wash. So don't blow it, by giving in to the bureaucrats at the top who caused this mess and seem have been trying to cover their tracks.

      UKIP will thrive on any corruption at the top, as people are sadly turning to UKIP as mainstream parties are letting them down. Don't let us down Councillor Dan

      The electorate would now rather have the truth, than a white wash to protect everyone involved, even if it means the building remains empty.

      Corruption has to be stopped and you have the power to stop it.

    2. PS Point ii) above was originally posted on 20 May 16.26.

    3. From a Kensal resident:

      'I first met Dan two years ago at the pop-up when he tried to slight the FKRL campaign by undermining the relevance of the pop-up and our presence on the street corner each day; he tried to defend the Powney/John led closures then, when I argued that Brent needn't give away two freeholds [Kensal Rise and Cricklewood] for nothing. Six months ago, he turned up on my door-step arguing that he'd always thought giving away the KRL building freehold a "barmy" decision by Brent council - at that time Brent Labour was fearing an electoral backlash'.

    4. Good test of any politician of any party is how many times they've ever dared to deviate from the party or faction 'line'. I know nothing about Mr Filson beyond what I've seen on here. However, 'I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance'.

    5. Typical !

      Councillor Dan Filson over to you.

      Lets see if you hold your promise that giving away both Cricklewood and Kensal Rise library was "Barmy"

      Well get them back for us in whole not in part of a building.

    6. Just spotted on Dan Filson's Twitter a/c (@Dan_Filson) -

      'So easy to forget one's own name!'

      Wonder how much harder it'll be to remember his words re Brent's 'barmy' decision to give away the freehold of KRL...?