Sunday, 14 June 2015

Brent revises process for dismissal of Chief Excutive & other senior officers

Cabinet will be asked to adopt new procedures and changes in standing orders at their meeting on June 22nd regarding the dismissal of senior staff, including the Chief Executive.  Other staff to whom it applies are the Chief Finance Officer and the Monitoring Officer.

In 2012 the then Brent Director of Finance, Chris Heaphy, was suspended over gross misconduct allegations( later withdrawn) shortly after Chief Executive, Gareth Daniel was ousted by Muhammed Butt. LINK

The proposal institutes a Dismissal Advisory Committee which includes'independent persons':

The Council will be required to invite independent persons to form part of a panel in the following priority order:
·      an independent person who has been appointed by the Council and who is registered as a local government elector in the borough of Brent;
·      any other independent person who has been appointed by the Council;

·      an independent person who has been appointed by another council or
other councils.

The Council has appointed one independent person to deal with Member Code of Conduct complaints but the 2015 Regulations explicitly allow theCouncil to utilise independent persons appointed by other councils.

This is why it is proposed that the Chief Operating Officer be authorised to explore the possibility of sharing independent persons appointed by other councils with a view to establishing a pool of 5 independent persons from which 3 can be selected to form a panel

Such a shared system may be a more cost effective and efficient use of a limited number of independent persons.
The Chief Operating Officer, who wrote the report, is Lorraine Langham, late of Ofsted and Tower Hamlets.

Apart from concerns that might arise from the above, there is an Alice in Wonderland feel about the flow chart.

In the top half of the chart you will see that action (or a decision not to act) is in the hands of the General Purposes Committee. The GPC consists of 7 Labour Cabinet Members and one Conservative opposition member.

In the bottom half you can see that the GPC notifies the Cabinet. In effect this is the 7 Cabinet members plus one Tory notifying 8 Cabinet members (Cllr Mashari is added to the 7).

They then have a kind of internal debate with themselves where they might object as Cabinet and reconsider as GPC, before the Dismissal Advisory Panel comes into play...

The Council will be asked to formally approve the appointment of Carolyn Downs as Chief Executive and Head of Paid Services with effect from September 7th 2015 LINK


Alison Hopkins said...

General Purposes always used to be non Cabinet. What's the point of it now?

Anonymous said...

I was also going to make the point that the key to this question is making General Purposes Committee more independent of the Cabinet. Its role, under Brent's Constitution, is to deal with matters which are specifically excluded from being matters that are dealt with by Cabinet. Only one of the G P Committee's eight members has to be a Cabinet member, and that is presumably so that there can be some direct liaison between the two committees.

In an email to Cllr Butt (copied to the other Cabinet members and the Labour Chief Whip) a few days before the Labour Group meeting last month, and in advance of the Council's annual meeting, I wrote:
'... you should explain to your Labour back-bench councillors why they should accept even less democratic involvement in the running of the Council they were elected to serve on. Surely what they, and Brent, need is more participation, with more and better independent scrutiny, and the majority of seats on committees such as General Purposes and Senior Staff Appointments.'

There are some encouraging signs on the scrutiny side, but Labour back-benchers do need to ensure that their Leader hands over more power to other councillors, rather than trying to control nearly everything that the Council does.

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

'The Chief Operating Officer, who wrote the report, is Lorraine Langham, late of Ofsted and Tower Hamlets'...

More Ofsted/Tower Hamlets cronyism - or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

There also needs to be something in writing that says the Head/Director should not be in bed with the Employment Lawyer as this is a conflict of interest. Don't know why they should have to be told, but seeing as you can't depend on people to be decent, let's get something in writing.

Anonymous said...

Lets hope Shahidul Miah ( Bllomsbury Resouraing) is not brought in as a so-called 'independent' person as I understand he is one of their Tower Hamlets back scratchers. And, to boot, not overly knowledgable or well qualified.

Anonymous said...

Well said, 21:58! Seconded.