Sunday 5 October 2014

Brent Labour Councillors must act on racism and bullying tomorrow

Former Brent Council Executive member James Powney returned to the subject of the current race discrimination and bullying scandal at Brent Council on his blog yesterday. LINK

This is what he had to say:
I notice that in a debate on Martin Francis blog some of the commentators appear to be confusing his position and mine.  My original post is here, and Martin has paraphrased it accurately, whilst adding his own view.  Hence the understandable confusion.

My view is that Brent Council had strong rules and procedures before 2012, including appropriate relationships between members and officers.  These were built up over many years since the nadir of the Tory administration in the 1990s, as explained here.  Since 2012, there has been a steady decline in the application of appropriate standards, leading to a situation where accusations of various forms of abuse, including racism and misuse of public money, are flying about.  This is, in my view, the result of the past couple of years where patronage and irrational decision making have increased, scrutiny has declined, and certain individuals appear to have been allowed to believe that they enjoy impunity from accountability.

My view is that it is up to elected councillors to step in and sort this out, whether the abuses are being committed by over mighty officers or whether they are being committed by elected members who are out of control (or indeed whether they are being influenced by people who fit in neither category). Given the composition of Brent Council, that primarily means the Labour Group.

The debate on Martin's blog can be found here
It would be a pity if Labour councillors meeting tomorrow as the Labour Group let personal antipathy towards James Powney (as a member of the old regime), myself (as a member of a rival political party or Graham Durham (well, as Graham Durham) get in the way of recognising the need to deal with this issue.

Up to this point the scandal has not hit national media but any risk assessment of the potential damage to the Council and perhaps the Labour Party's reputation would recognise that the matters needs to be dealt with decisively and action taken.

In the last fortnight I have received emails and phone calls from former and current Brent Council workers about working conditions at the Council, some of whom work at a senior level. They have been told they will be disciplined if they approach Councillors directly and those that have left have had gagging clauses imposed as part of the settlement.

I have inadvertently found myself in the position of being their only outlet because of the Council's actions.  Several have wept on the phone as they recall the effect on their health and emotional well-being as well as the impact on their families.

Councillors should recognise that it is their responsibility to ensure that their employees are treated fairly in an atmosphere free from harassment, bullying and fear.

It is as simple as that.

It is not something they can ignore.


Toby Chamberd said...

If Racism and Bullying in Brent Council is not immediately stamped out it sends a message to society in general that bullying and racism is acceptable.

I stood on a platform in Sudbury ward that I called for the immediate suspension of Ms Cara Davani.

I am ever thankful for those who voted for me. Perhaps to those who gave your faith in the main party, you may think again if serious action is not immediately taken in this matter.

Well done to Martin for keeping up the pressure to expose this horrible affair.

Toby Chambers

Anonymous said...

I have to thank you all for keeping this in the limelight. If there is nothing to fear and all involved in the Rosemary Clarke case are innocent, why not conduct an independent investigation. If there is really nothing to hide then an oorganisation that truly wants to vindicate themselves would do this.

I've never heard of such bad practice and corruption at every level. This needs to go National, local press is not sufficient any more.

No reply from Eric Pickles? ........let's take it higher. Truth and justice for Brent is all we want.

We only want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Surely residents and employees of Brent Council deserve that.

New staff are told during corporate induction that they are not allowed to speak to councillors about employment matters and they will be disciplined if they do. So, the question is what options are available.

Mr. Anony

Nan Tewari said...

I believe that staff appeals are no longer heard by councillors. I was told (and this came from the top) that this is because councillors (a) don't come forward to sit on the panels and that when they do (b) they are incompetent and make the 'wrong' decisions.

Anonymous said...

What residents need to understand that the current batch of councillors are only there for the 'beer'. Literally. Greedy bunch.