The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

[NB, some of the items below will be a little difficult to read, for which we apologise.  They’re copied directly from the on-llne advice of crisis management experts, and we wanted to reproduce their words exactly.]

Let’s keep things simple.  ALL we want to know about the CEO’s ‘pay rise’ is ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’.

WE don’t think that our straightforward needs have been met.  The majority of  councillors can”t think that they’ve been met either – otherwise they’d tell us so rather than waste resources on an independent review.  Indeed, to the best of our knowledge, not one councillor has said in public that we have already been told the ‘the truth, the whole truth……’

Is it that NO-ONE knows, or can find out, the ‘truth, the whole truth…’?  We very much doubt it.  The people ‘at the top’ have – or certainly should have – the authority to discover what happened.  So, why haven’t they told us?  It really is difficult to think of any honest and open reason for their silence.  It really is easy to think that they’re wanting to cover something up.

Now we wrote to all councillors at the beginning of this saga that the ‘widespread disrepute’ was doing long-term damage.  Actions needed to be taken ‘openly, honestly, quickly and very visibly’.  That was three weeks ago – yet a convincing response was needed in the ‘first fifteen minutes’:

Going further. The council Leader sent an internal letter to staff and councillors. Apparently when contacted by the local paper, ‘The council did not want to add any further comment.’  That wasn’t the brightest move:

It’s noticeable that Tory councillors (we mention them because they’re the most implicated in this saga, and not because they’re Tories) are tending to resort to a common position and not to speak out as individuals.

Finally,

Quote: honesty and clarity are key….. Always be honest…

It’s fair to say that the limited honesty shown by ‘the council’ may be expedient in the short term for some individuals.  But they’re sacrificing the long-term trustworthiness of the council in the process.

 

 

A trashed bollard!

We don’t know, of course, exactly how this bollard in Park Street came to grief.  But we did notice it in a ‘distressed state’ just after the car show…..

(A little while after we took this photo, the bollard’s round ‘top cap’ – lying on the ground – ‘disappeared’.  But we doubt it’s much use to anyone except for its scrap value.)

CEO pay – you couldn’t make it up

A few days ago, Surrey Live – the on-line local newspaper – mentioned for the second time  the saga of the council Chief Executive’s ‘pay rise’.

We all know the background by now, of course..  But what continues to irk the Eye is the lack of any statement by the CEO or the current Leader about their involvement in the story..  We presume that their silence means ‘guilty’ – and we assume that prolonged silence means ‘very guilty’.

Anyway, the text of the Surrey Live article doesn’t help their case very much.  Read the end of this extract:

“The pay increase was approved by the former leader of the borough who has since retired. In a letter sent to all staff and councillors on Friday (August 16), current council leader Richard Brooks urged councillors to treat her with the “same fair processes” as she does her own staff, adding: “I know over the last few weeks Karen has endured a large amount of public reaction because of her position. I hope everyone will recognise their responsibility to all our employees, including Karen, who has no right of public reply.”

“The council did not want to add any further comment.”

We reckon the ‘no right of public reply’ is a fiction.  And, anyway, it’s not the same thing as being banned from speaking. But even when invited to comment, the council stayed silent.  Why?

The suspicious behaviour of the main participants – the current Leader and the CEO – has brought the council – the honest councillors and the hardworking staff – into such disrepute that they should both do the decent thing and stand down.

It’s got a hole lot worse…

What looked like a minor job in Lower Charles Street the other day has become something a bit more serious.  There’s still no access northbound to the A30 – a lot of vehicles only discover this at the last minute, though there’s a not-totally-helpful warning sign in Park Street.

It’ll almost certainly be a while before things are back to normal.

CEO pay – another petition and a thought

A second petition has been started which, in brief, objects to the CEO’s recent ‘pay award’.  The petition is on the council’s own ‘petition website’, which, we suspect, means it has to go through relatively few hoops before being accepted by the council.You’ll find the petition at https://petitions.surreyheath.gov.uk/CEOPAY/

It seems to us that the pay award was justified solely on the basis of ‘additional duties’.  There’s no suggestion that a FULL performance assessment had been carried out.  That’s one that took account of the fact that the London Road Block redevelopment – a key council priority – was running over a year late when the award was made.  Then there was the mismanagement of Main Square car park in the peak 2018 Christmas shopping period, just before the award.  At the time we wrote: “we came perilously close to writing an item today to advise people NOT to drive to Camberley to shop. The council’s management of Main Square car park has been utterly incompetent.”  Harming the town’s retail trade is hardly a plus point.  And we remember all too well the council nonsense – ‘signed off’ by both the previous Leader and the Chief Executive – of saying that Camberley would be turned into a ‘Top 100 Town’ by 2018, but with the council having no clear idea of how progress would be measured.  (We guess that the nonsense has now been quietly dropped.)  Nor need we say anything about the council’s aim of “turning the theatre around so that it operates at nil cost to the Council.”  The aim hasn’t been achieved.

Going further… Don’t ask what happened to the redevelopment of the Land East of Knoll Road.  That project was planned for ‘delivery’ by the end of 2018, but here’s not much evidence of it yet.  Upgrading Princess Way is running about a year late…  And it took the council thirteen years to come up with a scheme for a replacement Arena; a scheme which provoked local residents into protesting so strongly that the plans had to be changed.

So, we trust that in deciding to make the ‘pay award’, the Chief Executive’s overall performance was reviewed.  Concentrating on just one aspect might come to a very unbalanced conclusion.

Note – we’re not actually challenging the size of the pay award.  It’s whether due process, taking all factors into account, was strictly followed.

 

 

Lower Charles Street northbound closed

Not for the first time, part of the road surface in Lower Charles Street has sunk.  Repairs were underway yesterday; unfortunately this meant that there was no access onto the A30.  Northbound vehicles could get as far as the roundabout by the Atrium, but they then had to go back the way they came.

It didn’t look as if the repairs would take too long – provided they just involve filling the hole rather than mending something underground.  Today will tell!