Thursday 29 January 2015

Will 'cronyism' allegations re-emerge after new Brent Council appointment?

I heard yesterday that Lorraine Langham had been offered one of the newly created Corporate Management Team jobs at Brent Council after interview.  The job of Chief Operating Officer is part of the senior management restructuring carried out by Christine Gilbert and Cara Davani. It is a one year fixed term appointment at salary of £125-142k. LINK

The restructuring saw the departure, with compensation, of Fiona Ledden, Head of Legal and Procurement and Ben Spinks, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, over the Christmas holiday.

I sought confirmation of the appointment from Brent Council press office at 9.30am this morning but they have still not got back to me at 2,15pm. However, I do think the appointment, if it has been made, is important background to the deliberations of the General Purposes Committee which will be discussing Michael Pavey's HR review at 6pm this evening.

Lorraine Langham, like several of the present CMT, has previouslly worked for Tower Hamlets Council and Ofsted. (See table below). Like Gilbert and Davani she also has her own private company. She is no stranger to controversy over her alleged friendship with Christine Gilbert as this hit the headlines in 2007 and again in February last year. LINK

The Daily Express reported:
In 2006 the wife of Labour minister Tony McNulty, Christine Gilbert, was appointed as Chief Inspector of Schools at the watchdog.

Within a year, Ms Gilbert had appointed a number of former colleagues to key positions within Ofsted.

Ms Gilbert - the former chief executive of Tower Hamlets council - recruited her friend Lorraine Langham to be Ofsted's £120,000-a-year director of corporate services.

Ms Langham had worked for Ms Gilbert at Tower Hamlets as communications chief through a company she ran called Verve Communications.

That company was paid £923,000 from Tower Hamlets over a two-year period.

The then-MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, George Galloway, said at the time:  "You have a situation where this woman is a propagandist for probably the worst council in Britain and, lo and behold, she gets a job with her best pal.

"There is not a whiff of cronyism, there is a stench of cronyism.

"You would have thought Labour would have learned something but, clearly, they believe they are above scrutiny."

Ms Gilbert and Ofsted denied the allegation at the time, saying Ms Langham had been appointed after a thorough and transparent recruitment process.

Ms Langham remains Ofsted’s chief operating officer.
I am sure that this was also a 'thorough and transparent recruitment process' and that Brent HR made sure any connections and associations were declared.

Tony McNulty is a Labour Party activist working hard for a Labour General Election victory in Brent and Christine Gilbert is Brent's neutral Returning Officer.

For those losing track of Brent Council's version of 'Only Connect' here is a useful table:

Brent Position
Tower Hamlets position
Ofsted Position
Private companies
Christine Gilbert
Acting Chief Executive (current)
Chief Executive
Chief Inspector
Christine Gilbert Associates
Cara Davani
Director of Human Resources (current)
Drew up Gilbert’s contract
Second respondent in Employment Tribunal Case
Director Human Resources
Organisation change and HR Consultant
Cara Davani Ltd
Clive Heaphy
Director of Finance (left Brent after Gross Misconduct charges withdrawn.)
Drew up Cara Davani’s contract, Now at HS2. His treatment was contrasted with that of Rosemarie Clarke in  the Employment Tribunal Judgment and was the basis of the Racial Discrimination finding

Interim Director of Finance

Thomas Cattermole
Head of Executive and Members’ Service (current)

Christine Gilbert’s Executive Assistant

Lorraine Langham
Chief Operating Officer (Current TBC)
Various interim roles
Director of Corporate Services
Verve Communications

The membership of the General Purposes Committee (if there are no substitutions) is exactly the same as the Cabinet except that Cllr Mashari is not a member of GP. Cllr Suresh Kansagara, leader of the Kenton Conservatives joins his Labour colleagues on GP.


Anonymous said...

"Tony McNulty is a Labour Party activist working hard for a Labour General Election victory in Brent."

Rubbish! No-one has seen him since he was overlooked by Brent Central CLP in favour of Dawn Butler.

Anonymous said...

She actually had an interview! There's posh ........

Anonymous said...

Now, there's one I didn't know, many thanks

Anonymous said...

Martin you are missing the main connection Cllr Butt. Who is a big fan of Lutfur Rehman.

Martin Francis said...

OK. I thought I saw him pictured on Twitter with one of those smiling 'teams' and outside the George in Kingsbury. Working hard on Twitter @Tony_McNulty though with this message:

Hope Labour backbenchers realise that from now until the election the eyes of the Kingdom and the media are upon them - don't let us down.

Anonymous said...

When I heard that the post of Ben Spinks, as Assistant Chief Executive, was being scrapped as part of the restructuring of Brent's senior management, I thought that this was to save money for our cash-strapped Council. I also thought that it would mean that Christine Gilbert would actually have to fulfil the role of (still interim) Chief Executive, for which she is paid around £190k a year. More fool me!

Now I read that the restructuring is creating a NEW high level job, of Chief Operating Officer, paying £125-142k (I think Ben Spinks was on the £90-120k pay band). That in itself makes very little sense for the running of Brent Council's affairs (unless you are the Chief Executive, and wish to delegate large chunks of the work you are paid to do), but for the job to go to another Gilbert / Davani crony adds insult to injury. I don't often agree with George Galloway, but "you would have thought Labour would have learned something but, clearly, they believe they are above scrutiny", just about sums it up.

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

Message to Ms Langham and Ms Gilbert:
When people start to trust George Galloway's estimation of you, you really are deeply in the doo-doo.

Anonymous said...

The so-called restructure is just a way of them bringing in their cronies to milk the gravy train that is broke Brent. Tom Catermole had a post created for him on a very high salary, what exactly does he do. Seem to be now solely Butt's PA. Head of Comms now earns much more than previous Head. The whole point of cost cutting is to save money not splash it about. Lunatics and asylum springs to mind

Anonymous said...

This stinks. Have forwarded to Private Eye Rotten Boroughs ed, Tim Minogue.

Anonymous said...

Well let's wait to see Davani's boyfriend get the job of chief legal officer

Anonymous said...

The frightening thing is that Ms Langham from the above chart shows she works via verve Communications.

With the top management not now being directly employed by Brent there is not direct accountability.

Martin Francis said...

It is likely that as with Christine Gilbert and Cara Davani that she will be on Brent payroll and maintain her private company at the same time for other work.

Anonymous said...

What they have done is gotten rid of Sue Harper Strategic Director, Environment and Neighbourhoods and created this super post to bring in their friend. Heard Andy Potts did not get the Chief Legal post, guess that would have just too much bull for staff to stomach. Heard Pavey's report has been published, what a load of tosh.

Anonymous said...

It's all so true of the above. makes me really angry when some are on such high salaries and don't have a clue what to do in their jobs - and yet there are cuts being made using the 'penny wise, pound foolish' method.