Friday 23 January 2015

Pavey Review not yet available but notes on Constitutional challenge released

The Agenda for Thuursday's meeting of the General Purposes Committee has now been published. The meeting is due to discuss the Pavey Review of Brent Human Resources but the report is not yet available on the Agenda web page.

I understand this is because there are some late additions being made. Instead of the report there is a placeholder:
Following the loss of an employment tribunal case in September, 2014, Councillor Pavey, Deputy Leader, who has Cabinet responsibility for Equalities and the Council’s role as employer, agreed to take stock of the Council’s policies and practice to see where improvements could be made.  Councillor Pavey has now completed his review and will present the findings to the General Purposes Committee.
Although the fullest possible report is obviously desirable, it is unfortunate that members of the committee, the press and the public won't have time to consider it in detail before the meeting.

The Annual Brent Diversity Profile LINK  has been published and this graphic tells its own story about racial equality (Sc3 is the lowest and Hay the highest). Overall % of council workers who are BME is 62%):

Meanwhile the indefatigible Philip Grant is now able to pass on notes of his meeting with Brent Council Leader Muhammed Butt following a resident's successful Freedom of Information request.

Philip asked for a meeting to raise his concerns over the Council's respect of its constitution.

Cllr. Butt had agreed that Mr Grant should take a note of their discussions, and that these should be sent to him for checking, with a view to producing an agreed accurate record of those discussions. It was Cllr. Butt's change of mind on that agreement which means that the Council now claims they are no more than Mr Grant's 'own personal recollection of the meeting'.

Regular readers of Wembley Matters will be able to put a name to the anonymised "AB", especially if they follow those initials in alphabetical order.


Alison Hopkins said...

I don't recall the Senior Staff appointments committee interviewing "AB" for her permanent appointment.

Anonymous said...

Back to that beneficiary of Martin's teenage advice in the Commons, Alec Douglas-Home. In those days new leaders of the Tory party didn't have to go through anything so vulgar as a selection process: they simply 'emerged'. Those who saw themselves as an 'elite' preferred it that way.
Others may be able to suggest more similarities between Butt and Gilbert's way of running Brent and 1960s Tory party internal democracy.
Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

well she had her status on the intranet as permanent long before she would have been 'appointed'. I find Butt's remarks 'The allegations made on this matter were absolutely incorrect, and he was glad to have the chance to put that on record' about her misuse of the oyster cards very interesting. Surely there has to be a way of bringing both of them up on charges of bringing the council into disrepute. Looks like Butt used the Citizenship Ceremony to get himself out of that meeting, isn't it the mayor who normally attends and not the Leader. Very Dubious

Anonymous said...

An interesting comment, Alison.

My record of what was said by Muhammed Butt, as included in my notes, is an accurate one, and I will repeat the relevant paragraph here:
'MB said the Council was a public body, and that it followed procedures which were open and transparent. In the particular case which PG had mentioned, the post had been advertised and there was an open competition involving other candidates who were also interviewed before AB was appointed by a member panel. The allegations made on this matter were absolutely incorrect, and he was glad to have the chance to put that on record.'

It was because Cllr. Butt specifically told me that he wanted his reply put "on record" that I was surprised at his later refusal to agree that the notes should be made publicly available.

The facts about the appointment of Brent's (Operational) Director of Human Resources in 2013 should have been documented, e.g. when and where was the post advertised, how many applicants were there and who were they, who short-listed the candidates, how many candidates were interviewed, on what date were the interviews held, and who were the members of the interview panel / appointments committee?

That information must be held somewhere at the Civic Centre, and there are people who work (or worked) there, or who were involved as councillors in the senior staff appointments process, who know the answers to these points. If you are reading this, and are one of those people, please share that information with us. Thank you.

Philip Grant.

Alison Hopkins said...

Philip, I was on the appointments committee for a while, and I'm reasonably sure that was before December 2013. I didn't attend every interview panel by any means - mostly they clashed with other committee meetings. I certainly don't recall one for Head of HR. I think the one I went to was for a Finance director. Nothing controversial took place.

I've just had a look back at General Purposes, which I was also a committee member of. (Sorry, lousy grammar.) In July 2013, AB was described as Interim. I remember going to that one, and not being wildly impressed with the personnel policies that were presented, to say the least. They were deeply fuzzy and badly written, and could have had a good employment lawyer destroy them. The next one I went to was November 2013, and AB was shown as Director by then.

Having looked at Brent's calendar, I can't find any record of the Staff Appointments sub committee meeting after July 2013. That's the committee that ought to have interviewed - and I find that deeply worrying. I'll ask Lorber if he has anything, but I think an FoI would be very interesting.

I hasten to add that I'm not being evasive, I'm perplexed. A tickle in the back of my brain says that AB was sort of just THERE one day - and I'm not at all sure that any formal comittee interviewed her. It's the same smoke and mirrors that surrounds Christine Gilbert in my mind.

Anonymous said...

'AB was sort of just THERE one day': perfect description of a chosen one 'emerging' (see 17.25 above).

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure the closing date for the job application for Operational Director of HR was 28 June 2013 or close to that date but she had her status on the intranet changed from temporary to permanent and her title changed to Operational Director long before the closing date for the job application. I remember because staff were up in arms about it. Where is she anyways she hasn't been seen for a while?

Alison Hopkins said...

Indeed. I used to read council emails, minutes and so forth pretty thoroughly, and I've decent recall: my day job dictated that! I really do not remember anything formal at all.

Anonymous said...

This was only 3 years ago and certain files have to be kept for certain number of years so all these should still be on file. FOI anyone?

Anonymous said...

Appointment of Cara Davani as Director of HR:

Following the information given, that it would have been the Senior Staff Appointments Sub-Committee who should have made this appointment, I have checked the details for this on the Brent Council website.

According to the minutes posted on that website, Cara Davani was appointed as Operational Director, Human Resources at a meeting of the sub-committee held on Monday 15 July 2013 at 9am. The Councillors present at that meeting were Cllr. Butt (Chair), Cllr. Ruth Moher, Cllr. Crane and Cllr. Kansagra. The minutes record that 'Apologies for absence were received from: Councillor Lorber.' There is nothing to say why neither of Cllr. Lorber's "alternates", 1. Cllr. Brown, or 2. Cllr. Hopkins, were there in his place.

The minutes of the meeting read:

1. Declarations of interests: None declared.

2. Exclusion of Press and Public: RESOLVED:
that the press and public be excluded from the meeting as the following item falls within the following category of exempt information as specified in Paragraph 3, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, namely: 1. Information relating to any individual.

3. Appointment to the post of Operational Director HR: Following interviews for the post of Operational Director, Human Resources, it was:
RESOLVED: that Cara Davani be appointed.

The meeting closed at Time Not Specified.


If anyone has any comments on the accuracy of these minutes, or the circumstances as to why no Lib Dem councillors were present at the meeting, please feel free to attach them as a reply to this comment.

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Pavey Review is going the same way as the Chilcott Report

Alison Hopkins said...

I was out of the country. Daniel was almost certainly working.

One of the issues with those staff appointment committees was that they were always very short notice, so not as easy to work around as the programmed ones. Can't be helped, given their function.

Anonymous said...

You are so full of it, Alison.