Wednesday 14 May 2014

Revisiting Christine Gilbert's appointment extension

In view of the current interest in senior officer appointments at Brent Council I reproduce this from a blog I posted in June 2013 LINK :

Christine Gilbert confirmed as Brent Interim Chief Executive for another year

Brent Council last night approved the extension of Christine Gilbert's appointment as Interim Chief Executive until after the elections in May 2014.  See my previous story LINK

The move was opposed by Paul Lorber, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, who said that there was no reason why the appointment of a new CEO should not be made not. He declared that he did not accept the reasoning behind the officer's report which argued that a delay would provide stability and safeguarding of the Council's reputation over the period of the move to the Civic Centre and the May 2014 local elections.

He said that the interim appointment had been made by officers in consultation with the Leader of the Council and that members should be fully involved if a candidate capable of working with any prospective leader were to be appointed. He also said that the new post holder should be on the council's payroll rather than have his or her salary paid into a private company.

Labour's majority, assisted by the vote of Barry Cheese who appears to be a semi-detached Lib Dem at present, ensured that Christine Gilbert, wife of ex-Labour MP and Minister Tony McNulty kept her Brent job along with her second job with Haringey Council.

This is the Report and Recommendation voted through: LINK


Anonymous said...

Did Councillor Burt as the leader at the time appoint Ms Gilbert ?

Again all seems very much like a Family affair with Tony McNulty in the expenses frame at the time and partner of Ms Gilbert.

It all might be innocent, but there are far too many interconnections without any real scrutiny for Me Gilbert to remain in her post.

End of contract coming for you Ms Gilbert come 23 May

Anonymous said...

Whether Brent Council's decision in June 2013 to appoint Christine Gilbert for another year as Interim Chief Executive has proved the argument made in the officer's report, that the delay in appointing a new permanent Chief Executive would 'safeguard the Council's reputation', is open to debate.

Who was the officer making the report to the Full Council meeting on 24 June 2013? The names at the end of the document are Fiona Ledden, Director of Legal and Procurement, and Cara Davani, Interim Operational Director (HR). Their recommendation to keep Christine Gilbert in her position apparently came with the full backing of Brent's Executive.

The report to Council makes clear that it was not solely their opinion of what was best in this matter. They had taken advice from top consultants in the field, Gatenby Sanderson Ltd, and other top HR firms. I have had a quick look at the Gatenby Sanderson website, and they are specialists in fields such as recruiting and supplying high level "Interims", with advice for potential candidates such as:
'A career in interim management can be exceptionally rewarding ... .' (Readers of Wembley Matters are realising how true this is!)

It is not just "Interims" such as Cara Davani and Christine Gilbert who are benfitting from this trade in short-term senior management posts. The July 2013 monthly "spend" details on Brent Council's "Transparency" website show that two payments were made to Gatenby Sanderson Ltd on behalf of Brent's Human Resources Directorate (probably for invoices relating to services provided in June 2013). These payments were for £13,709 and £47,675 respectively.

It would be interesting to know what these payments were actually for. These suggestions are purely speculative, and very cynical, but could the first possibly be for the advice that Brent should keep its Interim Chief Executive for a further year, and the second for the renewal of a contract for a further year of a highly paid Interim who they had helped Brent to find at short notice the previous year?

Philip Grant

Anonymous said...

Q. Wasn't Gilbert already in post for a few months as an interim before this announcement was made? Q.How did that appointment come about? more questions, questions, questions....

Anonymous said...

The gravy train continues for Brent Councils Top Brass.

While the rest of use suffer in silence

Martin Francis said...

This is the Report tabled at Full Council:

Anonymous said...

What seems to be needed is some form of senior executive scrutiny board.

I am actually shocked that Ms Gilbert, Ms Davani and co appear to be self appointed with very little scrutiny, particularly in terms of conflict of interest !

When these senior officers are being paid so much, there needs to be far greater public scrutiny.

The report by Gatenby Sanderson Ltd should be open and available for the general public to view and scrutinize.

Large corporations have been recently feeling the fallout from excessive executive pay and Public Officers should be held to account.

Nan Tewari said...

Sent to the District Auditor on 4 Dec 2012.

Staff at Brent Council are just recognising how former CEO, Gareth Daniel, was effectively deposed in “a Machiavellian coup” for the furtherance of personal gain. The senior officer also said that the entire Authority, had been played by a master manipulator - dog breeder and temp extraordinaire, Cara Davani. The Council Leader has done nothing about the situation despite briefing by concerned senior staff.

How could Chief Executive appointed by a Labour administration, and who had survived 14 years working with a Conservative Administration and with an exacting Liberal Democrat leader who fully understands public administration, somehow fall out irreconcilably with a newly appointed Labour leader?

Add to this the astonishing speed with which interim successor, Christine Gilbert, was announced. The plot thickened with the inexplicable departure of Director of Finance, Clive Heaphy.

Ms Davani was in complete charge of the HR function since joining on £700 a day in March 2012. It has been reported in the local press that the CEO and Leader of the Council had undergone mediation however, interestingly, nothing is known about how the mediator was chosen and after the mediation broke down the CEO departed.

Ms Davani has also embarked on a personal programme of targeting various individuals in the HR department in order to hive off their functions to her fellow associates in the company The HR Lounge, all of whom are on expensive daily pay rates. She has gone to the lengths of warning HR staff that they will be sacked if they disclose details of any of the pay rates of any of the people she has appointed. Ms Davani’s megalomania extends to ordering staff to go out and purchase her lunch, claiming that she is much too busy to do so herself and to check with her, hourly, whether she wishes to be served coffee.

Surprisingly, for a recruitment at this level, even on an interim basis, the appointment of Christine Gilbert, to replace Gareth Daniel, took place with astonishing speed. At first, staff thought it might have had some party political element to it until they realized that Ms Davani, Sara Williams (also an interim appointee to Children and Families) and Christine Gilbert had all worked together at OFSTED and Tower Hamlets. Another co-incidence is that OFSTED and Tower Hamlets were said to be troubled organizations at the time that this trio was working for them. If the Brent experience is anything to go by, it seems that any organization with weaknesses, like Brent, is ripe for exploitation by these unscrupulous people for their own personal gain.

"It was only after the last quarterly CMT meeting on Friday 16th November that it dawned on us what had happened. Yet it is all being done so cleverly that the only evidence is circumstantial, ” said a staff member. Ms Davani attended for the first time in the eight in post – she does not come in on Fridays. It was also the first meeting for the newly appointed Chief Executive, Christine Gilbert. Ms Davani led on all except two of the items on the agenda. It was really only then that the penny dropped for the majority who attended the meeting as to where Ms Davani fitted into all that had happened and into what is being permitted to continue to happen.

Eight months later, she has left a trail of chaos and mayhem in her wake having produced no discernible improvement in the HR department. Despite the havoc she has wreaked, she has managed to secure a further nine month extension to her contract to enable her to continue in precisely the same way, all at the expense of Brent’s hard-pressed council tax payers.

These happenings reflect a flagrant misuse of public funds and completely undermines the democratic process. The public is being let down in its expectation that its Local Authority behaves in accordance with the Nolan Principles and that there are sufficient safeguards in place to prevent it from being hijacked by any individual for their own personal gain.

Anonymous said...


Ms Davani still does not work Friday's working a 4 day week, despite a huge salary and has been claiming for over 2 years now since March 2012 !

Anonymous said...

Who appointed Ms Davani in the first place ?

Anonymous said...

Budget and scrutiny committee Report 2 / 12/ 2013

Cara Davani advised that non-permanent staff daily rates of pay were always higher than the same post with permanent staff, however non-permanent staff would not be paid where they had not worked that day and did not receive any holiday or sick pay. A number of initiatives were underway for tightening the recruitment of non-permanent staff and managers were responsible for the recruitment of interims and contractors and must demonstrate value for money in the business case for extending an existing assignment which needed to be signed off by the Service Director, the Operational Director of HR and Finance.

Very little seems to have been done in scrutinizing Ms Cara Davani's "long term contract" that seems excessive and furthermore retaining Ms Gilbert on such a never ending contract seems to again be at the expense of the Public Purse.

The report does scrutinize £58K for a single consultant spend in Legal and Procurement. The report does not scrutinize specifically what this was for. But we can all now have a guess, that this was HR costs to re-affirm there is nobody more suitable other than Ms Davani and Ms Gilbert for their posts.

Anonymous said...

Has Ms Cara Davani disclosed that
Professor Dave Muller
Principal, Suffolk New College was up until resigning on 30/5/2013 Company Secretary of Cara Davani Ltd ?

Ms Davani should be beyond reproach, if she is expecting to remain in post.

If she has not declared certain things, she should immediately be suspended from her post for her conduct, if it at any way breaches Brent Councils Code of Conduct.

Anonymous said...

Was Christine Gilbert appointed as Interim Chief Executive or as Brent's Head Teacher?
It's amazing what you can find on the internet:

Anonymous said...

Just goes to show how poor Ms Gilbert's Chief Executive skills really are.

When see watched all this happen and did absolutely nothing accept collecting an enormously far CHEQUE thanks to Brent Tax payers

Anonymous said...

Nice address thanks to Brent taxpayers !

Christine Gilbert Associates Limited
123 Pall Mall

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely sickening and I am so angry. The leadership has allowed this to happen. Happen right under our noses. Services are being cut left right and centre and this is what is going on. If they did nothing about it then they should all be sacked. They are all working for themselves. Leave Brent alone Davani this gravy train is done.

Anonymous said...

Aawwww i'm not sure about this Christine Gilbert, but she sounds a bit shifty. In fact they all do.

Anonymous said...

Nan you need to get these blogs cascaded to a wider community so we can help you fight this battle. It needs more publicity. Wembley does matter, as well as tax payers money especially for those that live in the area.