SHBC; crisis mis-management, and a petition

The story of the pay rise awarded to the Chief Executive hasn’t yet reached a conclusion.

Below, we’re reproducing a comment about the pay rise that Peter put on this blog yesterday.  We’re doing this to ensure that his words are both highlighted and repeated on Facebook.

“There has been RADIO COVERAGE of this on BBC Radio Surrey, yesterday at 8am https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07hwr7v

“BBC Surrey – Breakfast on BBC Surrey, 08/08/2019
Mark Carter sits in alongside Lesley McCabe. Morning news, travel, weather and sport.  http://www.bbc.co.uk

“AND TONIGHT ON BBC SOUTH TODAY AT 1.30pm and 18.30pm.

“ALSO A PETITION HAS BEEN STARTED TODAY
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/surrey-heath-borough-council-s-ceo-s-pay-increase-of-37-to-ps197-000

“If you feel able please sign it and then ask others in Surrey Heath to do the same.

“Hopefully this won’t go away until council taxpayers are satisfied that they have the full story.”

We wrote to all the borough councillors at the start of this saga.  Part of what we said was:  “In crisis management the normal advice is to over-react.  It is hard to recover from under-reacting.”  Clearly, the council didn’t understand this strategy – if it had ‘over-reacted’ at the outset by openly publishing a full explanation, there would have been no newsworthy story to broadcast on radio and TV.  The council would not have brought itself into such public disrepute.

However, the council is now attempting to regain control.  Its latest statement is “…a number of enquires have been received on the matter.[and] at the request of the Chief Executive, the Performance & Finance Scrutiny Committee will be asked to consider the appointment of an independent investigator to examine the procedure followed to award the additional duties allowance.”

Notice the word ‘procedure’.  We don’t want a witch-hunt, but if individuals showed a serious ‘error of judgement’, this has to be revealed.  The Scrutiny Committee’s responsibilities include to: “review and scrutinise the decisions made by and PERFORMANCE OF THE LEADER/EXECUTIVE/Portfolio Holders” so it would be in order to examine idividual performance as well as the procedures followed.

Further, we wrote to councillors: “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.”  As yet, the Leader (who, of course, was previously the Deputy Leader) has not done this, and the review as proposed by the Chief Executor would not examine their involvement.  This is unacceptable.

There are three immediate questions: who will write the terms of reference of the investigator? Will they be made public before they are finalised? How much will the investigator cost tax-payers?  Remember, if the council had only been open at the outset, the investigation would have been unnecessary.

An on-going puzzle is why councillors haven’t apparently triggered action by the Scrutiny Committee already.  We quote: “A scrutiny committee meeting may be called…. by any five councillors”.  Reassuringly, if five out of our thirty five councillors are not satisfied by the current situation, they can also call upon the Scrutiny Committee to act.  An interesting prospect ahead.

 

4 thoughts on “SHBC; crisis mis-management, and a petition

  1. The credibility of the council in general, and the Tory councillors in particular, is at an all-time low. This is a mess that wouldn’t have arisen if the pay rise had been awarded in accordance with council procedures. The council will now pull out all the stops to ensure that those responsible avoid any criticism. No doubt “lessons will be learned”.

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