Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Philip Grant's victory at Scrutiny Committee a positive sign for the future?

Brent's new Scrutiny Committee got off to a promising start yesterday evening when it approved an amendment to the minutes of the last Commiteee Meeting that has been requested by Philip Grant. Philip had been denied the opportunity to speak at that meeting, the last of the old Committee, because he would not agree to the condition that he should not mention the findings of the Employment Tribunal which found Brent Council and Cara Davani had racially discrimination against an employee, victimised her and constructively dismissed her.

Despite officer advice from Peter Goss that the amendment would unbalance the Minutes, being a paragraph long, the Committee voted to accept the amendment:
Minutes of Scrutiny Committee on 30 April 2015 a proposed amendment to item 2.
a) The minute as it appears in the draft minutes published on the Brent Council website on 8 June 2015:-

2. Deputations (if any) Minutes: 

The Chair advised that a request to speak had been received from Mr Grant with respect to the Equalities and HR Policies and Practices Review and draft Action Plan. The committee was informed that in line with advice provided by Brent’s Chief Legal Officer, it would not be appropriate to discuss an ongoing legal case. Mr Grant advised that he would not be able to make his deputation under these terms. The committee subsequently agreed not to receive the deputation. Councillor Allie expressed the view that the deputation should be heard. 

That permission to address the committee be not granted, in accordance with legal advice provided.

b) Amendment requested by Philip Grant, the Brent resident who had given valid notice to speak as Deputation at that meeting:- 

Delete the sentence:

Mr Grant advised that he would not be able to make his deputation under these terms.... and replace it with

Mr Grant advised that he could not accept the restriction which the Chief Legal Officer wished to impose, and went on to explain why. He said that Cllr. Paveys review had been set up to learn the lessons from that Employment Tribunal case, and one of the points he wished to make in his deputation was that an important lesson from it had not been learned. Reference to the case was also necessary to explain what he wished to say about the draft Action Plan, which Scrutiny Committee was being asked to give its views on. The case was relevant to the committees consideration of item 9 on its agenda, and could not be ignored. The Council lawyer present advised that the case was not fully concluded, so should not be referred to. Mr Grant responded that he would only be referring to findings of fact in the Tribunals Judgment of September 2014, which was not under appeal. Those findings were final, so he could not see how any reference to them would prejudice the position of any party to the remaining remedyhearing.
It is good to see the Committee acting independently as well as Philip Grant's persistence paying off.


Anonymous said...

So much for patronage, eh?

Anonymous said...

Shop window Sam, shop window

Anonymous said...

Did you slap yourself on the back after you accepted that amendment Sam, did you?

Anonymous said...

Hail Phillip!!! May you be granted with good health, inner strength and guidance to keep up the great work! The autocratic and unprincipled powers that be will not be able to cover up for the bullies' and gag concerned residents, employees' and a few of the more principled elected leaders of the council, forever!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I did not attend yesterday evening's Scrutiny Committee meeting, as Cllr. Filson had advised me that he would be putting forward the amendment to the minutes which I had requested. Although he was not on the committee for the meeting on 30 April, he had been in attendance at the meeting, and when I submitted my request for an amendment, he replied to me and all the others involved who I had sent it to: 'I think the proposed amended minute fairly reflects what I thought I heard him say, and I was sitting fairly close nearby.'

I will be sending a short email to Cllr. Filson to thank him for his consideration over my request, which I believe puts the record straight, whereas the original wording could be read as meaning that I had simply accepted the condition which Brent's legal officers and the then Chair of Scrutiny were seeking to impose on me.

In the interests of openness and transparency, I should say that the paths of Dan Filson and I have crossed in the past, many years ago, when we both worked at the same time in a London District of the Inland Revenue. My work was mainly in examining complex business and company accounts, but there were times when Dan had to refer "technical" points involving tax law to me for advice. I do not believe that this past contact had any influence on his handling of my request for an amendment to the minutes, as I am sure that he would have done the same for anyone in the same position. I believe that the ethos of the Inland Revenue (at least as it was then) of integrity and fairness is something that we both share.

I don't know what the anonymous comments above (re. Sam) are about, but let's concentrate on the positives here. This looks to be an encouraging restart for Scrutiny in Brent, and I look forward to seeing this borne out in future.

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

I disagree - Nan in other posts has made clear that any kind of consultation and involvement is a bad thing so I am against letting this Peer Gint talk at these things. Its just a state whitewash.

Martin Francis said...

Much mischief in these exchanges I think. No more personal digs etc, please.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Phillip - I agree with you. It's good that the minutes were amended to ensure people are not misled onthis disgraceful matter... It certainly is a start 'in the interests of openness and transparency'.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to publish the personal digs, Martin...

Anonymous said...

It's too early to justify the preening of the committee members. If the Scrutiny Committee are this smug and self-congratulatory (see Cllr Stopp's twitter account) after one amendment to the minutes it will become a body just as much in need of scrutiny as the council it is supposed to be scrutinising.

Anonymous said...

Nan and other WM readers has done tremendous work in opening the debate and exposing the shenannagens withing Brent Council. It's a shame Henrik Ibsen isn't alive today as he could have written a best selling play with Nan and others' which, almost definitely, have opened a greater debate in relation to corruption of those who hold high positions in public office...

Anonymous said...

You're all getting excited about an amendment to minutes regarding why a member of the public was silenced. If this Scrutiny Committee was serious about scrutiny it would have allowed Philip to make the deputation he wa previously denied.

Martin Francis said...

13.15 I was signalling my intention not to publish any more digs.

Martin Francis said...

Apart from one member, Mary Daly, this is an entirely new committee to the one that denied Philip Grant permission to speak.

Nan. said...

1) Cllr Filson has shown some understanding of the fact that minutes of a meeting are meant to be a reflection of the decisions of the meeting and the way in which the decisions were arrived at. Given the profound illiteracy demonstrated hitherto by Brent Council on matters of committee procedure, standing orders etc, this is to be welcomed.

2) Philip has done a huge amount of background work in exposing the behind-the-scenes involvements and interactions of the Tower Hamlets /Ofsted /dog training cronies and in highlighting just how, once conflicts of interest take hold, they simply spawn even more and greater conflicts unless some way is found of excising them completely.

3) The word 'consultation' has become devalued like much of the English language that has been hijacked by management-speak, e.g. we all know that 'efficiency savings' would reduce service provision just as much as 'cuts' would!

When our representatives are scrutinising what the highly paid management aparatchiks are actually doing, they need to maintain their wits about them and ask direct questions such as -

"please demonstrate to our satisfaction how you complied with your legal obligation to take into account the views of the people whose money you are spending and who we are representing";

"what changes did you make to your original draft proposals as a result of the views expressed by members of the public?".

Anonymous said...

yes, and if they were serious about remedying the injustices perpetrated by the previous members they would have allowed Philip to make his deputation last night

Anonymous said...

The point about a Deputation is that it has to relate to an item on the agenda. In my case, I had applied to present a Deputation about Cllr. Pavey's review and the Action Plan arising from it, as that was on the agenda. Scrutiny Committee was to consider a report from Christine Gilbert and Cara Davani, with those officers present at the meeting who could be asked questions by committee members, and I had some suggested questions lined up!

30 April was the key opportunity to put the people behind the victimisation and constructive dismissal of Rosemarie Clarke "on the spot", at an open meeting of a Council committee. Unfortunately, the old Scrutiny Committee complied with the wishes of the Council's top management, and Cllr. Butt, in denying me the opportunity to speak, but thanks to Martin through this blog site, I was not silenced:-

Trying to give my original Deputation at yesterday evening's meeting would have had little point, and the damage done to those they were trying to protect, by not allowing me to speak, may prove to have been almost as much as if they had done the right thing and let me present my Deputation. Getting the minutes amended was a small victory, in that it at least puts on permanent record how spineless and perverse the old committee's decision was.

Thank you, everyone, for your support and encouragement. My efforts have not been for myself, but to try to get a measure of justice for Rosemarie, and others like her who have suffered as a result of Cara Davani's style of HR practice, and to try to change the way that Brent Council operates "for the better". One last push, to try to see that Ms CD does not undeservedly get rewarded for her efforts, and then I will be taking a much needed holiday!

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

FOOTNOTE (for the record):

Martin ended his blog article above by saying that it was good to see my persistence paying off. Well, I am having to continue to be persistent in order to ensure that the amendment is included in the Scrutiny Committee minutes for the 30 April meeting. I looked out for the "final" minutes of that meeting to appear on the Brent Council website, and they did in the first week of July, at the same time as the draft minutes for the 16 June meeting.

The draft minutes show that at the June meeting, the committee made amendments under two items of the 30 April minutes, and 'RESOLVED ... that subject to the above amendments, the minutes of the meeting held on 30 April 2015 be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.' The "final" minutes for the 30 April meeting posted on the Council's website showed the amended wording which had been agreed for item 7, but for item 2, Deputations, it showed the same wording as the draft version (including the misleading sentence which I had successfully asked to have removed), but with a note added below it, saying: '[This minute was amended by the following meeting held on 16 June 2015]'

On 8 July, I emailed Peter Goss (Democratic Services Manager) to point out this error, and asked him to ensure that it was corrected to include the amended text for item 2, as agreed by Scrutiny Committee on 16 June. I requested that this should be done before the committee met on 14 July, and that he should let me know as soon as the corrected minutes were available to view on the Council's website.

By the morning of 14 July I had heard nothing from Mr Goss, and the minutes of the 30 April meeting were still in their incorrect form. I sent an email to Cllr. Filson, Chair of Scrutiny Committee, with copy to Peter Goss, saying that I wished to raise the matter of the incorrect minutes under "matters arising" at that evening's meeting. This was on the basis that the amendment to item 2 agreed at the meeting on 16 June had not been carried out, so that the minutes shown on the Council's website were not as approved by Scrutiny Committee, and therefore not an accurate record of the 30 April meeting.

In the circumstances, you might have expected an apology from Mr Goss. Instead, this was the answer I received from him:
'The minutes have to first be removed from the web site, amended and then re-published. Given that the current version makes it very clear that they have been amended, this has not been a priority within everything else that needs doing. The Chair has made his view clear that the change should be made and it will be when time permits.'

At the meeting on 14 July, under item 4, Matters Arising, Cllr. Filson said that the amendments to the 30 April minutes agreed at the meeting on 16 June had not been correctly carried out, but that they would be, with a correct version being available soon on the Council's website. I wonder if Mr Goss, who was acting as Clerk at the meeting, will record that comment in the minutes of the Scrutiny Committee meeting on 14 July 2015?

Philip Grant.