More about that pay award

You’re probably thinking that our frequent coverage of the council chief executive’s pay award is more than a bit boring.  In which case, the council will have achieved its objective of waiting for the public to lose interest.  It’s a good strategy – and it may well work.  It’s up to us all to make sure that it doesn’t.

Anyway, we’re posting this item now, as there are only a few hours left to watch the news item on ‘BBC South Today’ which highlights concern about the award.  Peter has provided this link to it: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0007jlh  (Fast-forward by a little more than eight minutes to watch the relevant discussion.)

While we’re on this subject, below is the text of the e-mail that we sent all councillors at the outset.  One councillor was polite enough to reply, and we know that some are sympathetic to what we wrote.  But the Knoll Road fortress pulled up its drawbridge and the occupants are generally sheltering inside.  It would seem that a number of them are quoting the same text by the Conservative Group, which no longer refers to ‘pay’, but to ‘an additional duties allowance’.  Presumably they’re preparing to claim that procedures regarding increases in ‘pay’ don’t apply to ‘allowances’?

You’ll see that we called upon the current Leader to disown what seems to be a completely unacceptable act by their predecessor.  Predictably, they haven’t.  They’re tarred with the same brush, it seems.

“Councillors,

“I’m sure you’re fully aware of public disquiet over the Chief Executive’s salary increase.  Indeed, I believe that some of you share that disquiet.

“It’s not my intention here to question the size of the award – that’s a matter for another time.  But I have watched the council’s affairs for perhaps sixteen years, first as the chair of the Camberley Society, and more recently as the Camberley Eye.  I cannot remember any event during those years that has brought the council into such widespread disrepute.

“You know that some constituents are only too willing to accuse ‘the council’ of corruption and of acting in self-interest.  A belief that the salary increase was the ‘gift’ of the Leader, with no-one else involved, is likely to feed that suspicion for years to come.  Whenever the council says that it cannot afford to provide a service, or it increases council tax, residents will remember recent events, and the accusations will arise again. The damage that has been done is long term.

“In crisis management the normal advice is to over-react.  It is hard to recover from under-reacting.  I believe that the council – under your guidance – should follow this advice.  Specifically:

“- pay awards to senior council officers should always be publicised (not buried) on the council’s website – and also in Heathscene.  The full numbers should be explained simply (why is it that the Chief Executive has been paid far more than indicated in the council’s ‘pay scale’ document?  Isn’t this a nonsense?)

“- The Local Government Association strongly recommends using a remuneration committee.  Such a body – given a high-profile – should be set up to determine senior pay awards.  The council apparently has an Independent Remuneration Panel, but, as far as I can tell, the panel was not consulted about the Chief Executive’s award.

“- the fact that the chairs of every council committee come from the same party gives the impression of the same old nepotism, and it should be corrected.  It may be that the chairs are, in practice, often the best qualified to fill the roles, but they can still provide their expertise by supporting a leader from a different party.

“- at the individual level, the current Leader was the deputy of the previous Leader for years.  This suggests that they held the same views on many matters.  The new Leader MUST make it clear that they disown the action of their predecessor as far as the pay award is concerned, otherwise it would be reasonable to conclude that they support it.  (It would be a surprising breakdown in communication if the previous deputy did not know what their principal was doing.)  But I believe that the Leader has been mute, so far, about what has happened.  This is unwise.

“I suggest that the above be done openly, honestly, quickly and very visibly.”

10 thoughts on “More about that pay award

  1. The Conservative Group on SHBC appears deeply offended that they should be asked to account for their action, or inaction, in this case. They have become used to not being challenged and this is a bit of a (long overdue) shock to them. The petition is going well and I hope it continues to attract support. My thanks go to The Camberley Eye and the recently elected Lib Dem councillors for bringing this to our attention.

  2. Thanks David for your commitment to this issue – it seems that the TV and Radio coverage, coupled with the petition, is beginning to highlight this unbelievable state of affairs to a wider audience.

  3. Simple Surrey Heath Residents stop paying Council Tax on mass until the Council are transparent no wonder the previous Chief Exec retired/quit/pushed before the S… hit the fan

  4. David, I really appreciate your ‘take’ on matters Camberley.Thank you. From personal experience …. SHBC appears to be a waste of time and money … on a grand scale. The public interest takes second place after narrow and internal goals. The efforts, to avoid responsibility for anything (that I have seen and have been witness to) and the total disregard for the Public Good are a master-class in obfuscation. Deniability … is the name of the game!  The CEO does not respond to emails. Neither do Councillors for Our Ward .. Town. And, one of these useless people is soon to be mayor!  As you know I represent the Owners/Tenants at St Georges Crt …. I could write a book. I have even written to Mr Gove about the ineptitude of SHBC …. ! No proper response.  We, Mike Tierney and I, met with Charlotte Morley. She was the one in charge of Enforcement at the time SGC was completed. She did not declare that fact. And, when asked by me why the Breaches of the Planning Conditions (and Building Control problems etc) were not being declared …. her response was that Builders have ‘Rights’ as well!? The facts were eventually acknowledged after the 6 year window for a Breach of Contract action was possible. They, SHBC Officers and Councillors, did nothing for 6 years! Nothing. Conditions were Undischarged but not stated publicly for over 6 years. We, the Public, were not aware of the LGO’s remit …. all complaints by us were dismissed because we had not Complained within 1 year of knowing about our Breaches etc! And, then an Officer wrote to me declaring that as the LGO had dismissed our Complaints …. they had acted correctly!?  I attended, by invitation, a ‘study group/hearing’ about Town Centre development …. They clearly wished to make through routes from High St to Park St via Obelisk Way and Princess Way …. and demolish the Arcade! I objected to being part of this … the Covered shopping is a most important and unique to Camberley.  Recently, 2018, SHBC tried to add additional (via the PAC) Resident Parking places in our Car Park. This was passed. Completely ignoring the Objections and the Fact that WE, SGCCM Ltd, hold the Lease and Control the Entrance to that Car Park! If SHBC refund the amount that we have expended maintaining our barrier etc …. no problem! But nothing was offered …. ?!! And so on and on. The ‘Peter Principle’ rules supreme at/in SHBC! Cheers, Ian

  5. Don’t Let it Slide

    To choose not to take any action to correct or improve a particular situation or someone’s actions or behaviour.

    The following email has been sent to SHBC Councillors. Would you also send it to them? Their email addresses are found at
    https://surreyheath.moderngov.co.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1

    Also if you haven’t signed the petition on the CEO’s pay rise go to

    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/surrey-heath-borough-council-s-ceo-s-pay-increase-of-37-to-ps197-000

    And please forward this to as many residents as possible

    SHBC Chief Executive’s pay rises £53,000, 37%, to £197,000
    Dear Councillors,
    Shame on you for not denouncing the 37% pay increase awarded to the Chief Executive. You do not care about the people working for the council or council taxpayers. To pretend this excessive pay rise was anything other than a pay rise is ludicrous. If it looks like a dog, walks like a dog and barks like a dog, then it’s a 37%, £53,000 pay rise.

    The residents of the Borough will do something to put right this injustice. To paraphrase Edmund Burke’s famous quote “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.”

    • Thanks Peter, your words will be a blog item tomorrow (along with something else for a little light relief). As you know, I’ve already written to all councillors. I’ve also written twice to the Executive Head of Finance (I included the Contact Centre in the addressees of the second message to make sure it gets through….). I will be submitting an FOI enquiry. Then, if I’m not satisfied, a complaint using the official SHBC procedure. Then, if warranted, a complaint to the Ombudsman. It would be so easy for the council to tell us the exact procedure that was followed when awarding the pay rise – at least, it would be easy if the correct process was followed. The fact that the council is opting for an independent review implies that it’s hoping that the full facts won’t emerge or that we’ll be bored with the subject by the time they do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.