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Monday, 31 October 2011

Boris Acts-But Extremely Slowly-As Usual. Are There Any More??

Simon Walsh


 left:Walsh charged with child porn offences


Boris Johnson today sacked an aide after it emerged he had been charged with a child pornography offence.
He removed barrister Simon Walsh from the London fire authority, the cross-party body that controls the London fire brigade, after realising the seriousness of the charges.
The Mayor was initially reluctant to lose Walsh, 49, but City Hall acted this morning after being contacted by the Standard. Scotland Yard said Walsh faced two charges: one of possessing an extreme pornographic image which was likely to result in serious injury, and another of making an indecent photograph of a child on a computer, without the child present. Sources said that the Mayor had been concerned at Walsh's apparent failure to reveal the extent of the charges by fire authority chiefs.

Poaching and Gamekeeping


 left: Hanham...poaching and gamekeeping


The Dame's old friend Baroness Hanham 'of this parish'
has been fine tuning  bits of the Localism Bill-as it applies to the operation of local authority Standards Committees'.
Fortunately, the Baroness, being ex Leader of the Rotten Borough is well up to speed on the shady ways of the Rotten Borough, so she has been very clever and insisted on an amendment which demands that committees operate according to some high falutin' standards.
Interestingly, it was Lady Hanham who gave Cockell great moral support when he was severely criticised for his luxury overseas trips and grossly over the top dinners. And it was she who did so much to ensure he never appeared before the Standards Committee!
The Dame thinks Lady H was just a little tongue in cheek, but anyway this is how she is expecting our very own Standards Committee to operate. From experience, the Dame would say an impossibility.....



(a) selflessness;
(b) integrity;
(c) objectivity;
(d) accountability;
(e) openness;
(f) honesty;
(g) leadership.

Raised Hands

left: Greg Hands

The Dame is pleased to hear Greg Hands M.P. has been made a Government Whip in last week's reshuffle of Ministerial posts. The appointments were made by the Prime Minister on 14 October and approved by HM The Queen later that evening.
This is the first time that the sitting M.P. for Chelsea has been a Government Minister since 1994, and the first time since 1997 for the sitting M.P. for Fulham.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Holt the Dame

The Dame is deeply saddened. One of the most decent of councillors is her old friend and neighbour in Gloucester Rd,  Cllr Tony Holt. Tony is a jolly good chap BUT like so many of his other decent colleagues, refuses-in that very English way- 'to rock the boat'. In refusing to do so he becomes part of the problem.
Tony has angrily described the Dame and her work as, 'dreadful'.


 left: A fuming Cllr Tony Holt!


He may be right. The Dame hopes that she inspires dread in those who would work against the interests of residents. Come on Tony...show whatever stuff you are made of !

Banker Cockell Lends More Millions Of Our Money to Design Museum and Slashes Front Line Services


 left: A Fool and Our Money are soon parted

The Dame has another terrifying £1 million 'Chelsea Care moment' coming on... why?
 Because that 'business genius' Sir Pooter Cockell has decided to ingratiate himself with Terence Conran by offering a £2.6 million loan to the Design Museum so "it can meet the planning requirement relating to the rebuilding of the Commonwealth Institute": according to the Cabinet Coordinator.
What on earth has the Design Museum to do with financially struggling residents?

When it comes to Cockell splashing our cash around the maxim,  'a fool and our money are soon parted', says it all: the million pound loss at Chelsea Care proved that.
Why did the Cabinet member for Finance (Cllr Lightfoot) permit this after his recent analysis that "if there is a Sugar Daddy like K&C funding Chelsea Care, everyone knows it is a bottomless pit. We have to learn this lesson".
Quote from the Chelsea Care Scrutiny Cte, Monday 17th October

Obviously, the author of 'We have no more money left' was over sanguine or went unheard by his Leader!

Pooter is putty in the hands of the rich and famous-hence his childlike delight when invited to dine with the Barclay Bros at the Ritz. Mr Myers even allowed him to use the Bentley to get there because, as the pompous Myers so dumbly said, 'it was cheaper than a taxi'!
So several questions need answering. The primary one being why K&C taxpayers should be exposed to this loan? And why is Cockell being so economic with the details.
'Cockup' Cockell needs to give some answers....and NOW.



 left: luxury eating houses owned by Conran.......
        








Very pertinent comment below..... 

Retired Chief Executive has left a new comment on your post "Banker Cockell lends another few million of our money...":

The danger of mixing public and private money in this way is that it sends a signal to the other private backers.

They now know that they can pull out and K&C is on the hook.

Why did the Cabinet member for Finance (Cllr Lightfoot) permit this after his recent analysis that "if there is a Sugar Daddy like K&C funding Chelsea Care, everyone knows it is a bottomless pit. We have to learn this lesson".

Thursday, 27 October 2011

News From Cllr Palmer

It is rare for the Dame to pick upon comments-particularly those posted by the very odd Up Yours: as we know he is none other than that strangest of councillors, Matthew Palmer. This is what he had to say...

Up Yours said...
Cllr Ahern served in Merrick Cockell's Cabinet at the same time as Cllr Moylon. In Kensington and Chelsea we have collective responsibility. It is what gentlemen do. Cllr Ahern should not be critical of a fellow Cabinet member. It is out of line.

 The Dame makes these points in reply.

Below: Up Yours aka Cllr Palmer

  • his colleague Cllr Moylan prefers his name to be spelled the Irish way-not like some synthetic textile-Moylon
  • If Collective Responsibility is the 'name of the game'  it means that the financial fiasco that was Chelsea Care was down to the entire Cabinet-not Palmer alone.
  • Daniel Moylan is far from being a gentleman-judging from the way he treats fellow councillors, officers and residents.
  • Cllr Ahern, as far as we know, has not been critical of any colleague.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Portobello People Power supported by Planning Committee



The Dame was delighted to hear the following....

"On Tuesday evening RBKC Planning Committee voted 4 to 1 to reject the latest planning application to regularize the notorious plastic shopfront of All Saints' megastore on the corner of Westbourne Grove & Portobello Road. A considerable crowd of residents & supporters of "Save the Portobello Road Market" cheered as the decision was announced. "

The happy crowd then moved en masse to a nearby watering hole! Well done the Planning Committee for hearing the people

Another item of welcome news for Portobello is that HM Planning Inspectorate has announced its intention to take a closer look at the future of trading in the Admiral Vernon antiques arcade."

 
 
 
 Wednesday, 26 October 2011 
 

An exclusive message from Pooter Cockell for LGA members and readers of Dame Hornet

 
 
 
 
 
Dear Colleagues,

This week began with a very constructive meeting with Lord Chris Smith and Dr Paul Leinster, Chairman and Chief Executive respectively of the Environment Agency. As well as discussing planning and climate change adaptation, we focused on the progress councils are making in respect to their new responsibilities under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, and the provision of environmental information such as coastal erosions maps. His Lordship was very jokey about my First Class airfares and my climate changing 6 MPG 150 litre V 100 Bentley limo!

I was pleased to catch up last week with Louise Casey, Victims Commissioner but recently appointed by the Prime Minister to lead the Government's response to the recent civil disturbances with a new DCLG team under her. I will be meeting with Louise again shortly as she undertakes this role to ensure local government's perspective is strongly and accurately represented. (memo to me...I  must remember to whack in my expenses)
I also enjoyed attending and speaking at the National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC) last week. It was a great opportunity to consider the challenges ahead. 
 

Finally, looking forward, the LGA will be holding an event on 16 November, Top pay the local way
This is an area that I have huge experience in. My 2 colleagues, Cllrs La Baronessa Ritchie, Danny Moylan and myself are now pulling in nearly £450,000 a year and my friend Mr Myers is on £280,000 so we are very expert in RBK&C about TOP PAY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT WAY!
 
This has been organised in response to the forthcoming provisions within the Localism Act and the recommendations within the Hutton Report, and will act as a hub to allow discussion and analysis around the issue of senior salaries. I am pleased to confirm that Bob Neill MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) will be attending.

Best wishes,

Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell
Chairman, Local Government Association

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Tri Borough-An Accident Waiting To Happen



left: Merrick and Derek off on their 'Big Adventure'

The Dame had a fascinating lunch this weekend with two Conservative councillors from Hammersmith & Fulham. Without being snobbish The Dame has to say she found them rather coarse- though not quite as coarse, of course, as Cllr Moylan-but far from refined. What they told the Dame, after quite few bottles of rather cheap wine and  packets of pork scratchings, was disquieting.
Their Leader, Cllr 'Steve' Greenhalgh appeared to be the object of their total admiration and loyalty.  But what they are particularly proud of the effortless way he has got just what he wanted in the Tri Borough negotiations.  All his top staff have taken the top jobs and he has managed to negotiate a 3 month termination arrangement to fire Mr Myers, the joint Chief Executive should things not pan out.... from Steve's point of view.

From the K&C perspective we should be very worried. Our current Leader, Merrick Cockell, is years past his sell by date. He has no ongoing interest in how the new arrangements will work. Instead, to the satisfaction of street fighter, 'Steve' Greenhalgh, Cockell is proposing a boy to do a man's job. That boy is Rock Fielding Mellen, a callow, effete and inexperienced aristocratic youth.
Rock FM has a knack of getting up people's noses' with his snooty manner but he will be putty in the hands of that 'super operator' Steve Greenhalgh, the working class, no nonsense Yorkshireman who has been running rings around Cllr Cockell in the negotiations

The big event for Kensington and Chelsea in the next five years (the period when the new Leader of the Borough will be finding his or her feet) will be the little understood Tri-Borough organisation that is being constructed between K&C, Hammersmith and Westminster.

The idea of Tri Borough is to save £10 million of council tax for K&C by integrating the organisations of the three Boroughs with a combined turnover of £2 billion. Measured as a percentage of turnover, the projected saving is a joke. In terms of risk, the measurement is stratospheric.
The Dame has been poking around. Thanks to a Kensington tax payer, (with 20 years of Board level experience building joint ventures and integrating organisations), she has found out quite a lot of the dangerous detail.  This resident has written to his Ward councillors with a hard hitting analysis based upon the 12 rules of integration. He claims the Tri Borough experiment is doomed and will deliver “a greatly reduced level of service at greatly increased cost”

The Leader of K&C is in the “lame duck” phase of his tenure. He will be departing early in 2012 and is more concerned about his peerage than the future. By contrast, the Leaders of Westminster and Hammersmith are relatively new and are dealing for their futures.
Westminster is having second thoughts about the Tri Borough arrangements (the fanfare last year earned brownie points for Cllr Cockell in Central Office where he pursues a place in the House of Lords.)
Now Westminster is noticeably absent from the current integration plans and-thanks to several Councillors, the brakes have been rapidly applied.

So a clarion call  to residents and council tax payers, especially those of you with children at schools in the Borough or in need of Adult Social Care in the near future. Get up to speed with what is going on and if you are sufficiently worried, make life hell for your Ward councillors.

Any public company doing an integration exercise of this magnitude would have bought on board a top flight management consultant with expertise in mergers. Our Council is leaving it to Merrick Cockell, a man with a spectacularly unsuccessful business career and Derek Myers, a social worker turned Chief Executive. It is a combination which bodes badly for the future....






The Tri Borough. Stormy waters ahead according to Financial Times


The Dame is concerned about the railroading of the Tri Borough arrangement presented to K&C councillors-and thus residents/taxpayers as a 'fait accompli'. If a public company it would have been put to shareholders. The implications for residents- if it goes wrong- (and the portents are not encouraging) are serious in the extreme. Time for residents to react, to question and remember that K&C have just burnt nearly a million of your money on Chelsea Care.


left: London guru Travers...casting grave doubts

This is what the FT had to say....

Top Local Governance expert at the LSE, Professor Tony Traver
has issued a bleak warning of the political risks associated with the Myers/Cockell plan to get into bed with hard man leader of Hammersmith & Fulham, Stephen Greenhalgh. Speaking to Bob Sherwood of the Financial Times he instanced a frightening scenario whereby H&F is regained by Labour: not an unlikely scenario considering it was Labour for two decades. Travers said such a shift of power might not make the Tri Borough plan inoperable but there are more immediate potential problems ahead. One was the vast cultural gap between the councillors of the two Boroughs. Defining the difference Travers pointed out that K&C councillors have "always been very different creatures" to those of H&F and Westminster, who were seen as "more mainstream businesslike boroughs aggressive in pursuing a low council tax policy". Clearly under Cockell the thrust was to fritter as much money as possible on schemes such as the £27 million Exhibition Rd; millions on Holland Park Opera and the many other examples of ego projects such as Holland Park School.
He went on to say that a Chief Executive "will have to be sensitive to the different approaches in different Boroughs". Reading between the lines Travers seems to be hinting at the fact that councillors at K&C, the Leader and Cabinet, get paid substantially more than their less grand colleagues in H&F! Mind you, the Dame understands that Greenhalgh has been invited for spins in the £115k Bentley as Mr Myers would say, 'to save taxi fares'

On a more serious note the Professor cautions that K&C councillors will need to be aware of the impact that stretched services will have on their electoral success. Pooled services will inevitably lead to a degrading of services.

Professor Travers ended by warning that would be trouble ahead if councillors perceived that they were not getting services tailored to their areas.

To Portobello Market Lovers...

Supporters of Portobello Market have learned that HM Planning Inspectorate will hold a full hearing on the future of Admiral Vernon antiques arcade; there is a Council Planning committee meeting on All Saints' notorious plastic shopfront. Meeting at Kensington Town Hall today at 6.30 sharp. Everyone welcome, and even the Dame, a lover of decorative Edwardian fans may well pass by.....

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Steven Forbes, Chelsea Care and £400,000





 left: Forbes paid over £400,000 by RBKC since late 2006



A source within Hornton Street suggested The Dame take a close interest in the role Steven Forbes played in the demise of Chelsea Care.
When the management of Chelsea Care went belly up he became as “interim” MD: presumably he was still in post when CC went into liquidation. 

So who is this man who suddenly gets parachuted in as Interim MD to oversee it's final failure? 
  1.      what qualifications/credentials did he have
  2.      what was he paid
  3.      who authorised his appointment
All we know is that since late 2006 a little known company called Forbes Hewett has been has been paid over £410,000 by RBK&C.

The Dame hopes that further information will come her way. The comment section is a useful way to anonymously contribute.....

Daniel Moylan-a Health Warning

The Dame has noticed a misplaced belief that somehow, because of his bullying and dictatorial approach, Daniel Moylan might be a good chap to lead the Rotten Borough into the shiny new era of the Tri-Borough arrangement. How little do people remember of history....Fortunately, the dear old Dame does...

The other day she was with her 'walker,' Ex Worshipful Mayor Phelps, in the China Department at Peter Jones. As she looked at Sloane Square, in all it's autumnal glory, ex Cllr Phelps reminded her how close it had become to looking like Spaghetti Junction. How right he was...for it was just a few years ago that Danny Boy attempted to wreck Sloane Square, depriving the Royal Borough of an historic and iconic feature.

By good fortune Moylan's plan was halted by tens of thousands of residents. It was cripplingly expensive for residents and a constant battle against Moylan and the Council as they tried to bully and coerce residents into submission. It was the most unedifying example of a 'dirty tricks' campaign being played against taxpayers and residents.
The destruction of Sloane Square was only stopped in it's tracks when the campaigners threatened to put up their own candidates at the next election:it was then Cockell buckled and stopped the project. However, Moylan has always threatened that one day he would get his way:no surprise there. He has always sneered at resident's opinions.
The campaign was driven by a remarkable couple-the Doctors James and Margaret Thompson.
Each time we look upon Sloane Square we need to remember their brave fight against a man who gave not a toss for the views of residents. The Dame will be taking a further look at Doctor Thompson a little later.
Leopards and bullies never change their spots. Daniel Moylan comes with a huge Health Warning to residents. His interest is self interest.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Save Portobello-Stop All Saints

 left: a horribly atypical All Saints Store

The many thousands who follow The Dame will recall that 2 years ago fashion store All Saints built a spectacular 'Victorianesque'  plastic & glass shopfront on the prominent corner of Westbourne Grove & Portobello Road - a site formerly home to 300 antique dealers in Lipka antiques arcade. Planning permission played no part in the project. Following a public outcry, RBKC Planning Committee unanimously rejected a retrospective application for the new shopfront - on officers' recommendation.

The original approved plan was for genteel painted wood - 6 identical; symmetrical Victorian style shopfronts; each with a pair of glazed doors between 2 windows, with high upstands on Westbourne Grove. The Portobello flanking wall had to be largely painted stucco with a modest glazed door. The plans were appropriate for a conservation area; but have been airbrushed from history.

The new proposal is to strip away the notorious plastic cladding; attach a few bits of wood; paint alleged hardwood & install even more glass to the Portobello flanking wall. The shop windows will retain plastic 'lead' lights; despite the fact the 'lead' falls off the glass! Remarkably, officers now recommend the Committee to approve this architectural travesty.

At little over a week's notice, the Committee will reconsider the All Saints planning application @ Kensington Town Hall on Tuesday 25th October @ 6 for 6.30pm; it's the first item on the agenda.
All those concerned for the authenticity of Victorian Kensington please join family & friends to support the "Save the Portobello Road Market" campaign & the built environment.

We Are All At It Together

£120,000-a-year Tory tells desperate mother to 'live in real world'

Peter Dominiczak, City Hall Correspondent
19 Oct 2011

One of Britain's highest paid councillors told a single mother facing eviction to "live in the real world" when she asked for his advice.

Which RBKC cllr could it be ?

* Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell
* Cllr The Baronessa Ritchie
* Cllr Daniel Moylan


Answer: NONE...it happens to be that dreadful apology for a Tory, 'BrainDead' Brian Coleman. Though thinking about there is only a cigarette paper's difference between these greedy people. But it could not be any of them anyway: our lot are picking up £130k a year. But then we are the Royal Borough.....

The Dame Writes to Mr Pickles-at the request of Sir Cockle

The Dame had the honour to receive this missive from Sir Pooter Cockle. Clearly he is thoroughly enjoying hobnobbing with the 'great and the good' and feeling quite the power broker....








Sir Cockle specifically invited her Dameship to feed directly to Mr Pickles her perspective: so here goes:

Dear Secretary of State
* you asked the Chief Executive of RBK&C to reduce his £280,000 a year salary by 10% saying none should earn more than the Prime Minister-Mr Myers refuses
* you asked RBK&C to use the £170 million in reserves to prevent cutbacks to frontline services-Sir Cockell refused
* you asked RBK&C to scrap it's Pravda style Royal Borough newspaper-cost £400k pa- Sir Cockell refused
* you asked that councillors stop doublejobbing. Cllrs Cockell, Ritchie and Moylan refuse to give up their £130,000 a year taxpayer funded jobs.
Why does Sir Cockle not take you seriously?
 Yours 
The Dame Hornet
 










    













A message from the Chairman


Dear Colleagues,

After the first cabinet reshuffle for sometime, we now have a new Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening MP. An ex-shadow CLG Minister and economy guru, I will be pushing for an early meeting with her alongside Cllr Peter Box (Chair, LGA Economy and Transport Board) in order to bring her up to speed on the LGA's work with the Department for Transport, particularly around the subject of transport devolution and what local authorities can offer to help move this initiative forward as swiftly as possible.

Keeping with Secretaries of State, I met with Eric Pickles this week alongside the four LGA Political Group Leaders. We held a productive meeting looking at issues such as the local government resource review, council tax localisation, and riot recovery. In respect to the latter, there are still a limited number of places available at the summit we are holding on 27 October. I hope you will be able to attend to feed in your perspective direct to Mr Pickles who will be there to consider what further local government can offer in terms of tackling the underlying social problems behind the disturbances. One issue which we will undoubtedly explore at the event is that of community budgets, something you will know we continue to champion here at the LGA on behalf of the sector. Indeed, I was pleased to speak in detail on this subject at a joint LGA/DCLG/Department for Education conference this week.

Finally, I will also be speaking alongside a number of Ministers this week at the National Children and Adult Services Conference which starts this Wednesday at the London ExCel. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley MP, Social Care Minister Paul Burstow MP, Education Secretary Michael Gove MP, and new Shadow Heath Secretary Andy Burnham MP will be among those speaking. If you're unable to attend in person, you can follow the event online through the tweets and blog entries to obtain the latest on the discussions.

Best wishes,

Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell
Chairman, Local Government Association

A Problem Deferred....

 



left: what Cllr Lightfoot, Leader in Waiting, should have said to Chelsea Care


When Sir M Cockle decides to defer things there is usually an ulterior motive. So we should all be wondering why he has decided the Chelsea Care Liquidation reports should now be discussed at Cabinet- NOT as planned for this Thursday,  BUT on 17 November. Clearly, a few flies have got into the ointment somewhere....
Could it be the District Auditor has decided to stick his nose into the ramshackle way Cockle's attempt to play the entrepreneur has gone so hideously( and expensively wrong)-for taxpayers? 

One notices, as an afterthought, that Cllr Lightfoot used to advise a bank, a Chancellor of the Exchequer and is author of a little known tome, 'We Have No More Money'. Clearly this economic brainbox was not thinking of Chelsea Care when he came up with the title. As they say, 'If you can't do it-teach it'. And he plans to become Leader...as Ex disgraced Mayor, Barry Phelps was prone to say, 'you could not make it up'.....

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Who Scrutinises The Scrutineers?

Cabinet Scrutiny Committee on 17th October

The main item on the Agenda was the failure of Chelsea Care, set up by Cabinet at their meeting in September 2008. Chelsea Care is currently in liquidation.


 left: everybody pointing fingers


Two reports were tabled. A liquidation report by the Director of Finance and a report by a special Working Group, Chaired by Cllr Palmer, to report on the reasons for failure. Amazingly, Cllr Palmer did not even turn up to the meeting. A clear dereliction of duty. But there was a huge and impassioned discussion, characterised by participants mostly out of their depth and/or trying to cover themselves. Sad for a Scrutiny Committee. But a picture did emerge through the fog for the finely tuned antenna…..

Cllr Lightfoot mentioned that the Cabinet were keen to set up Chelsea Care but the officers were not keen for politicians to get involved in business. There was quite a bit of arm twisting. Cllr Blakeman said that she opposed the second tranche of equity, £150k, but was overridden by the project champions Cllrs Ahern and Palmer. Cllr Blakeman also said that there are substantial and unreported hidden costs. 

Cllr Lindsay said that the special report by Cllr Palmer into the failure of the venture left out one vital point. The business plan was predicated on an operating margin of 16% but the industry works on a margin of 3%: something that any venture capitalist worth his salt would have known.

Cllr Forman made a number of contributions that showed he understands business. But the heavies (led by Cllr Molylan) quickly silenced him. Cllr Forman needs to try harder.

Finally there was quite an extraordinary contribution from Mr Myers, the Chief Executive, who said that the objective for Chelsea Care was to encourage competition in the market and lower costs. This was successful and the council is now buying care at a lower cost! And councillors should take comfort that even some of the big boys like Southern Cross get into trouble. Can this really be a Chief Executive?? And who is he trying to please? Does he know so little about the business that he can really think the problems of the two companies have any relativity? Southern Cross went down because it was loaded up with debt by financial engineers: Chelsea Care went down because, as Cllr Lindsay wisely pointed out,the business plan was based on wrong assumptions. For Myers to ingratiate himself with councillors by pretending that the business plan was un-flawed is not worthy of him.

The full Cabinet will discuss Chelsea Care on Thursday this week.Time to hold our breath.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Let Battle Commence-But Don't Hold Your Breath


Cllr Lightfoot Throws His Hat Into The Ring


left: Leadership material?

Cllr Warwick Lightfoot has told friends that he intends to stand for the Leadership of Kensington and Chelsea when the position becomes vacant. This means that there will be at least four people competing for the post, including Cllr Tim Ahern, Cllr Nick Paget-Brown and Cllr Timothy Coleridge.All four are in the Cabinet and all have voiced concern that the current Leader, Cllr Cockell, has remained in post too long and has become stale. None of them have the courage of their convictions and have been prepared to mount a challenge. Radical change in Hornton Street is required; this pussy footing around is not a good sign. Let's clean out the stables!
Who is best qualified? The question is challenging. Taxpayers need to assure themselves of a few things before deciding
They must insist on a rigid term-no more endless squatting a la Cockell: and a promise to reduce the ludicrously high allowance of £1100 a week engineered by the greedy Cockell with the help of Mr Myers, his minder.
 Two of the candidates are rich and two are poor.  Three have served as Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea. Two are extroverted and two are introverted. Two (Cllr Paget-Brown and Cllr Lightfoot) stood in the election to be West London Representative at the GLA but lost out to Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse.
A shortfall in the line up so far is the absence of a woman candidate-surprising considering the egos in that part of the chamber. Cllr Julie Mills, the current Mayor, thinks she is the bees knees but judging from her performance at the opening of the Portobello Lavatories, she is not leadership material. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO6QIhnxFQg&noredirect=1
Cllr Fiona Buxton is said to have ability but(sadly) she has ruled herself out because of family commitments. Cllr Joanna Gardiner is ambitious but could not handle the job. Power quickly went to her head during her Mayoral year when she decided to use the Bentley and driver to do her personal shopping: definitely an unsafe pair of hands. Cllr Victoria Borwick stood against Boris Johnson to be the Conservative Mayor of London and came a strong second. She currently serves on the GLA and is a spokesperson for Law and Order and Environment, but her intentions are not known. Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, Cabinet Member for Education and Libraries, has excelled herself as “toad” to the current Leader and has demonstrated no intellectual bandwidth whatsoever. But she thinks mightily of herself.
The dark horse is of course Cllr Daniel Moylan. The oxygen and publicity of a leadership contest might be too tempting for him. The boy, Cllr Fielding Mellen is definitely dust in this contest, which will frustrate his puppet master, Cllr Cockell. The Dame hears that Cllr Lightfoot has promised his close friend Cllr Palmer that he will run his election campaign (just like ex Cllr Phelps ran the Cockell leadership campaign and managed to beat Cllr Moylan by the Chairman’s single casting vote). If Cllr Lightfoot will listen to a gypsy warning, the brain dead (and political liability) Cllr Palmer is not the person to let within a million miles of a contested election.
It is time for the candidates to start their campaigns and tell us why they think they would be a good Leader. With this number of contenders, maybe there should even be a “Primary”. Step forward Cllr Christopher Buckmaster, Chairman of Kensington and Chelsea Conservatives. We need a bit of order in the system.

Myers Rolls In It

Derek Myers is just about the highest paid Town Clerk in the UK. RBKC is the easiest to run, and richest council in the land. Yet he feels he is worth the near £280,000 a year we pay him.
When he retires he will get a lump sum of £267,000, and a pension pot(which he refuses to detail) providing c £135,000 a year.

left: no wonder he looks so happy.....a very rich fat cat Mr Myers

His wife, a senior civil servant, is more than likely to pick up a similar amount. So one can visualise something in the order of £230,000 a year swilling into the Myerss' bank account....nice work if you can get it. So one might think that with all this cash about his expenses would be rather modest.
Far from it: Credit card spending for the Rotten Borough is close to £500,000 a year. It would be nice if Mr Myers would come clean and tell us how much of this is down to him. Come on Myers: it is our money and we have a right to know.

War in Courtfield

The Dame was at a tea party in Courtfield Gardens yesterday. She was regaled by a fellow guest with a most extraordinary story about toys being thrown out of the pram at a Courtfield Ward Association meeting. Over the clatter of tea cups the Dame's great friend, Her Grace, the Dowager Duchesss of xxxxx( too much Downton Abbey Dame ed) told her that the Chairman of the Ward Colonel xxxxxx had gone to war with the ghastly arriviste stockbroker's grandson Sir Anthony Coates.(thank you Up Yours for the clarification. It would seem that the Coatess' made money in share trading before marrying above themselves into the aristocracy)

 left: angry colonel

In fury, the Colonel stomped off throwing his resignation on the table in disgust. Then another committee member said she would not sit at the same table as the LMVH adorned Mr Frazer-Howells: she too resigned.
Sadly, Cllr Holt, a very decent cove, who loathes Coates tried to rustle up support for the Colonel but it never got to a vote: the Colonel just pushed off.
Some more 'inside knowledge' needed on this one please....so thank you 'anonymous' for this comment

 "The resignation of Lt Colonel James Fairey as Chairman of Courtfield Ward is a sad loss to local Conservatives. James was tireless in his efforts and through his contacts built up a thriving social scene and interesting meetings for residents. Lord Archer has twice addressed us."


Yet another inside view.....Courfield Committee Member....

"It is not only Coates who gets up the nostrils of Coutfield residents (the man has a most unfortunate manner).
But the even more odious Frazer-Howells likes to show himself at meetings and events. We are mortified that Elsa has also resigned after giving an ultimatum - "I cannot bear to sit at the same table as that man". Elsa is a huge loss because she did all of our catering for the events that Col Fairey organised. Now we have no Chairman and no hostess."

Merrick Cockell sets his 'attack dog' on Daily Telegraph

Council bosses use credit cards for lavish lifestyles...The Daily Telegraph

Sir Merrick Cockell is chairman of  the LGA. Today his Chief Executive, £220,000 a year John Ransford said: “These chief executives are responsible for huge organisations with budgets of up to £1 billion a year, running services that are vital to every family in Britain. It is part and parcel of the job that they have to travel to meet top people from the public and private sectors, and this can involve stays in hotels and the proportionate use of hospitality.”


 left: LGA chairman Cockell tells LGA to 'go on the attack'

The Dame understands that Sir Cockle instructed Ransford to take an aggressive stance with the Daily Telegraph, justifying the taxpayer funded expenses, credit cards, Michelin starred restaurants, exclusive golf resorts and luxury spas'. Part of the expenses involved bills for personal training came to £220,000. They have taken courses in “understanding corporate manslaughter,” “tribal leadership” and “learning how to relax under pressure”. Could the Tribal Leadership have anything to do with Sir Cockle's very cosy relationship with Tribal Plc.
It is clear that Merrick Cockell told Ransford to go 'on the attack'. Well he would would wouldn't he? Cockell is a man with a well publicised record for using taxpayers' money...
As The Standard reported Cockell had....
.....two lavish trips to New York at local taxpayers' expense, it emerged today.
Merrick Cockell, Conservative leader of Kensington and Chelsea, flew first class, ate at one of the most prestigious restaurants in the city and stayed in a five-star hotel.
He was also entertained in London by a series of property developers, including being lunched at the Ritz.
The disclosure comes after Mayor Boris Johnson's deputy, Ian Clement, had his corporate credit card confiscated for using it to pay for supermarket shopping and upgrades to business-class flights.
Mr Cockell made two trips to New York. During the first, in January 2007, he dined at The Four Seasons, one of the city's most famous restaurants. It has hosted John F Kennedy and wife Jackie, American Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Henry Kissinger. New York magazine describes it as where "members of the town's power menagerie gather".
The dinner cost $185 (£98.68 at the exchange rate at the time). Mr Cockell did not declare who he ate with.


To hear the utterly useless Eric Pickles bleating on about the wrongness of it all is just surreal. Why does he not take his friend Cockell to one side and give him an earful.....

left: Pickles telling Cockell to 'stop it'

According to Heidi Blake in the Telegraph.....

.......senior executives regularly flew first class(just like Cockell!) and stayed in exotic destinations such as Shanghai, Tuscany and San Francisco;spent thousands of pounds on tickets to stadium concerts and prestigious sporting events, and even used public money to buy suits, iPads and vintage wine.
One town hall chief executive charged the taxpayer more than £100 to buy presents for his chauffeur on an all-expenses paid trip to the Champagne region of France, while another bought silk ties from “London’s oldest tailor.
The former chief executive of Barnet, enjoyed an afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason.
Colin Hilton, the former chief executive of Liverpool City Council, spent £1,152 taking colleagues to a sold out Coldplay concert, while, John Jory of Reigate and Banstead charged the taxpayer £922 for two “away-days” at the Surrey Downs Golf Club.
The disclosures are likely to provoke public fury at a time when councils are axing more than 170,000 jobs, closing libraries and cutting spending on care for the elderly. Council tax has more than doubled over the past decade as local authorities have insisted they need more money to survive.
The documents show that chief executives have lavished £6,500 on gifts to their staff including vintage wines and champagnes, whisky, flowers and chocolates.
They have also spent £12,000 shopping at high street stores including Harrods, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A Fuming Dame!

The Dame is livid....



Above: A livid  Dame

Evidently some naughty person has found the Rock FM video and has threatened to put it up on YouTube.
The Dame won't tolerate this sort of persecution from Sir Cockle(yes, it is he....)
Having already 'stiffed' young Rock his plan is to make him look silly and naive to a worldwide audience.
Does he not realise the damage that it will do to Rock's political career?

Let us all pull together and persuade YouTube not to allow Rock's unfortunate video address 'to go viral'

The Town Clerk 'avin A Larf....

 left: A sheepish looking Cllr Palmer



This extract from Mr Myers's(Town Clerk) Report on Tri Borough arrangements referred snidely to Cllr Palmer's 'procurement passion'.
Obviously Mr Myers made this statement knowing that upcoming was the disaster that is Chelsea Care. It is good that our Town Clerk can inject some humour and irony into his reports !


The Extract

8.  
 
Councillor Palmer is passionate about the need for better procurement...... and ......  It’s an area where scrutiny committees will be able to continue to keep council officers on their toes!!!!
  
Palmers'passions and prowess' have 'procured' a loss of over  £1 million for the fiasco that is Chelsea Care sanctioned by him as a 'good use of taxpayer money'. The Dame cannot abide the vulgar 'Lord' Sugar but he was dead right in pointing out the uselessness of Cllr Palmer (aka Up Yours)

as one 'insider' recently commented in the Hornet....

"The project was doomed to failure long before Cllr. Palmer assumed responsibility for scrutinising it. However, he insisted it was viable and then delayed producing his report because he could not find anyone to blame for the fiasco other than his Beloved Leader."

Friday, 14 October 2011

Do As We Say-Not As We Do



left: the 6 mpg £120k Bentley favoured by Sir Cockle

The Dame is grateful to gorgeous and hardworking Emma Heseltine of the K&C Chronicle for this story and the hyper perceptive reader comment.

"This year, Kensington and Chelsea Council's community bus will be out and about and officers will be on board to talk about how the council is reducing its own emissions, saving money and adapting to climate change, and how residents can do the same.
The bus will be at Worlds End Plaza on Tuesday October 25 from 9am to 4pm, then at Sainsbury's in Ladbroke Grove two days later, at the same times.
For more information, contact the environment team on 020 7341 5166 or email"environment@rbkc.gov.uk.

 What is the Council doing wasting resources on this pointless exercise? It is not a job for a hard pressed local council. As the reader comments why the hell are the Council running two gas guzzlers- a vast 6 MPG Bentley and Jaguar. What cant and hypocrisy and just job creation opportunities for under worked officers.

A Kensington&Chelsea Chronicle reader comments...

As with all matters RBKC, hypocrites!
Inter alia, they could:
1) Sell off, for starters, their gas guzzling Bentley bought for Derek Myers and used by Cockell;
2) Stop taking tax payer funded international trips - all unnecessary;
3) Wasting resources by couriering documents to councillors abroad.
Better still, get rid of all the hot air filled windbags, aka, RBKC councillors.

 

The Guilty Men- Chelsea Care-less with our money

The Dame has decided to give greater currency to this comment from Another Who Knows. He has wisely said....

"The project was doomed to failure long before Cllr. Palmer assumed responsibility for scrutinising it. However, he(Palmer) insisted it was viable and then delayed producing his report because he could not find anyone to blame for the fiasco other than his Beloved Leader."

The lesson to be learned here is that whatever Cllr Palmer touches tends to go belly up in a spectacular way, and at great cost to taxpayers-and yet Sir Cockle has put Palmer in charge of Procurement! In the eternal words of ex Cllr and Worshipful Mayor Mr Phelps, 'you could not make it up'.....

RBKC REPORTS ON CARELESS CHELSEA CARE

Amusing that Sir Cockle, who proclaims grandly, ' Council business must be conducted openly' does as much as he can to hide yet another of his financial flops! Also interesting to note these two points emerging from the Report and the fact he tries to shove the blame on Mr Holgate-one of the best public finance men around.... anyway here is the link
A million down the tubes

The independent members of the Committee agreed that, in
hindsight, the venture was doomed to failure, from a commercial
perspective, from the start.  It was a plausible notion, albeit rather
optimistic, but the absence of a clear business plan covering how the
company would grow its private business meant that it never
achieved “escape velocity”.  Whilst they accepted the Council’s
deliberate wish to experiment and not to exercise direct control,
they felt that insufficient vetting of the business plan at the start
had been a fundamental mistake.
 

Typically, rather than taking the financial onus for the shambles which he, Sir Cockle, initiated and approved, he tries to shift the blame. Well, the Dame knows that officers from Finance were dubious from the outset about the viability of the project. But then who dares oppose Sir Cockle.....fortunately Cllr Palmer is 'on the case'; so that means danger ahead!



The Committee was pleased to hear from Mr. Holgate that key
lessons had been learnt and that the proposed Staff Mutual for the
Youth Service involved complete clarity at the start about the (more
substantial) minimum trade the Staff Mutual might get from the
Council.  
Subject to the above, the report was received and noted.











Chelsea Care- A predicted disaster-£1 million wasted

Der Leader has a less than shimmering business track record. So no surprise to know Chelsea Care(his creation and funded by us poor sods at vast cost) has gone the way of Abingdon Cockell we are not remotely surprised. And when we hear that well known entrepreneur ex 'very failed' Sugar Apprentice, Cllr Tallboy Palmer is going to 'investigate' we know that the truth will never out.
So expect soon the Dame to open up this 'can of worms' but in the meantime we reproduce this comment from a resident.....

Chelsea Care "in liquidation" was entirely predictable. The liquidators have expressed the opinion that the venture was doomed from the start and there was "no meaningful business plan".

When the project was approved by Cabinet in 2008, Residents wrote to Cllr Cockell and warned that he should not be using tax payers money in the risk business. But of course the self seeking Cockell dismissed the protest, just like he dismissed the protest about using K&C council tax to underwrite a performance by Holland Park Opera at the Richmond Theatre. A sure fire profit opportunity he said. But of course the initiative lost £17,000.

Chelsea Care has cost us a cool £1 million.

Councillors need to learn how to stick to the knitting (clearing dustbins and sweeping the parks). There are too many busy bodies in Hornton Street with not enough to do and too much money to spend.
 






left: the Chelsea care can of worms

RBKC To Appoint Honorary Recorder


Andrew Pierce of the Daily Mail, that deflater of overblown local government egos' wrote some months ago about Sir Cockell and his delusions of grandeur.......
But it's his expenses as a council leader that are even more controversial.
There is the £115,000 Bentley, complete with number plate 'RBKC', which was intended for the 'exclusive use of the mayor'. Freedom of Information requests reveal Cockell claims to use the limo to 'save taxi fares'.
He spent £800,000 of the council's budget creating four 'ceremonial' roles, including a mace-bearer and two assistant mace-bearers, and decking them out in ruffs and silk coats - while other councils across the country are making painful, swingeing cuts.”
The Dame has just heard our Leader has a new 'ceremonial' initiative-one perplexing his colleagues and causing mirth amongst the officers; particularly those about to lose their jobs. Here goes....
Der Leader Cockell loves the low opera of Gilbert and Sullivan. As he idly hummed The Lord High Admiral a brilliant idea came to him-one which would re-establish the authority and dignity of his beleagured Council-now the laughing-stock of London. It was of such simple elegance he wondered why Mr Myers had not come up with it: after all it could create an opportunity for Mr Myers to 'clerk' the job and boost his £280k a year 'take'.


left: The Rotten Borough Honorary Recorder in full ceremonial rig


The quite peculiar suggestion was to appoint an Honorary Recorder and it was made to Full Council on 12 October. What is an Honorary Recorder and what is it for? It seems it is a purely honorary, ceremonial position (ie, you don't have to do anything but appear at a civic function in some ridiculous get-up once a year. Feathered hat or a wig, you might well ask?).

Now the Dame is really puzzled. She thought, 'we don't have a Court in the Rotten Borough so what would the Honorary Recorder get up to'....and would he need a new Bentley?

During the debate, some senior Councillors suggested it was so we could 'take legal advice' - despite the fact that many Cllrs are lawyers themselves, and there is a vast and well-funded legal department for that precise purpose. The best justification of the evening, however, came from none other than Der Leader himself, who gave a very interesting spin on Localism that should go straight back to Eric Pickles. Apparently, despite no one knowing what the role is for, or even having heard of such a thing, the Leader states that this is an example of 'Localism at its best'.

Priceless.

But the Leader's ambitions for ceremony and authority do not stop there. At the December Council meeting there will be a debate and decision made on the need to fill another gaping hole in the Rotten Borough's Court of Mutual Admiration: it seems we have an urgent need for a Lord High Executioner. Suggestions please, direct to the Leader (though you will find he may already have someone in mind). '




Fielding Mellen censored and £5,000 down the plughole

A loyal reader has just commented that the Dame's link to Rock's video has been disabled. This is not amusing. Our Council has just blown £5,000 on a video which saw daylight for just days before angry colleagues demanded it be removed. Is this what cost cutting is all about?


The Dame won't abide envy and jealously.
It seems that when she showcased Rock's Report to Residents certain councillors(and she won't name and shame) were furious that the young upstart had been given a standing start in the Leadership race by patron, Der Leader. The Dame warned young Rock to beware of Der Leader's Machivellian ways so was unsurprised to see that Mr Fitzpatrick of PRs' handiwork had been removed from the Rotten Borough's website. Anyway, for those who still wish to see it here it is....
Video

Getting Priorities Right-Moylan in tearful address

The other day the taxpayer funded £140,000 a year Danny 'Boys' Moylan took to the council chamber floor and made an impassioned speech in defence of residents.

 left: a man transformed

Hardened and cynical councillors were moved to tears as he regaled them with a story of how the swingeing cuts-authorised by his nemesis, Der Leader, had ripped the heart out of community.  As he spoke his large frame wobbled with emotions and huge crocodile tears rolled down his puffy and pallid cheeks.What could have caused this outpouring of emotion? Tearful residents in the public gallery were astonished by this 'road to Damascus' conversion of the former hard man and devout Catholic.
Was Danny Boy about to plead for Elaine Macdonald whose carer's allowance was 'snatched' so fripperies like the new 150 litre V50 Bentley limo(used by Der Leader to save taxis fares, according to Mr Myers) could be maintained?

left: Elaine Macdonald....a true victim of cuts

Tragically, the answer was no. Under Standing Order 19, where Councillors can speak for two minutes about Matters of Local Concern, Moylan was keen to point out his concern for residents accustomed to attending drawing classes at Leighton House. Apparently there had previously been two courses of classes of 16 weeks each per year. However in a shocking and callous move, this has been 'wilfully cut back' to two courses of eight weeks each. This is due to the installation of an Artist in Residence who allegedly needs the space. But, as Danny Boys said, 'Where is the work?' It would seem that the former Deputy Leader has just commenced his leadership campaign....and The Dame is keen to apply for this delicious sinecure.....

Sunday, 9 October 2011

You Could Not Make it Up...Cockell talks PR!

PR Week report on Der Leaders' views about how PR can be used to mislead taxpayers...how fortunate the Dame is there to put them right and what utter nonsense Cockle spouts. It is even more embarrassing knowing that his own useless PR Dept costs us £ millions a year: does he think we are all stupid?




left: greedy Der Leader

Der Leader has hit out at 'cringeworthy' public sector comms. ....'no more 'defence mode'....'lets go on the attack' he challenges us all!
Must be talking about his vast £120,000 a year allowance and gluttony at taxpayers' expense in NewYork  Merrick goes greedy in the Big Apple-The Standard
In his inaugural speech as chairman at last week's LGA conference, Cockell said: 'We know that nothing has a greater impact on our public reputation than perceptions about the extent to which we deliver value for money, the degree to which we are seen as flexible and responsive, and the level of overall competence that the public ascribes to us.'
He added that some council communication with the public can be 'cringeworthy'. Could he be talking about the £500,000 opening of the Portobello lavatories organised by the £90,000 a year head of Rotten Borough PR Mr Fitzpatrick
See link for this....really cringeworthy event!!! Bogging Off

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A week is a long time at City Hall-Boris says No to London Moylan Airport

Daniel Moylan has been hard at work on a massive report telling Boss Boris we need a £40bn airport in the Thames. 
 left: Boris pushing a cheesecake into Danny's face

He even castigated ministers for ignoring his Report. He must be feeling very isolated now that the Boss has publicly distanced himself from his Orwellian vision of the future. One assumes that he had lined up his chum, Lord Rogers to design the terminals....bad luck Danny. And by the way what did your 50,000 page report cost us poor buggers? Time Johnson got a grip....

 

 Boris Johnson rows back from his £40bn Estuary airport

Just a few weeks ago Daniel Moylan, our £140k pa Dep Ch of TfL came out with this in The Standard....

"One of Boris Johnson's top advisers today launched a stinging attack on the Government in a bid to force them to "wake up" to the need for new airport near London.
Daniel Moylan, deputy chairman of Transport for London, has claimed that the Coalition's aviation policy is wrong and warned that London risks no longer being considered a "world city" if the need for increased air capacity in the South-East is ignored."
Mr Moylan, who has advised Mr Johnson on his project to build a floating airport in the Thames Estuary, added that the capital will become a "branch line" on the world stage and could lose jobs and foreign investment.

 Today Boss Boris casually announced to Ian Dale on a Talk Talk Programme that....

 "he is no longer committed to a Thames Estuary airport and has hinted that new high-speed rail links could now be the answer." What a volte face-and in just a week.
Any businessman taking these sorts of decisions 'on the hoof' would get the boot.

 


Stop Press! Young Rock hold Delboy Myers to Account!!



left: Hard Rock holding 'Delboy' Myers to account
A sense of humour is not something Delboy Myers is noted for. However, as the Rotten Borough 'puppetmaster', he is 'sans pareil'(that means second to none, Palmer). In the  confidential email below our near £300k a year Town Clerk, shows off his obsequious side. (btw....why not do as Mr Pickles asks and give up 10% of your obscenely high salary to 'protect front line services-after all, we are all in it together.)
Now Myers  has been known to say, "I need the members"-another way of saying that one has to let councillors think they are vital to the democratic process: the reality is that Myers runs the show. So the Dame has to reproduce this embarrassing piece of unintelligible gobbledygook.
The idea of young Rock Fielding Mellen holding Delboy 'to account' is as wonderful as it is surreal. The idea of the effete Rock FM pushing Myers around is hilarious!
It gets worse when Delboy goes on to mention dear old Palmers' various 'passions' (thank you Dame, for not detailing them. Ed)
What Delboy has so creatively done is give our senior councillors an excellent, Fagin like impression, that he is just their 'ever so 'umble servant'. The truth is different: from Cockell downwards the councillors dance to Puppetmaster Myers tune......




From: "Derek.Myers@rbkc.gov.uk" <Derek.Myers@rbkc.gov.uk>
To: Councillors@rbkc.gov.uk
Sent: Monday, 3 October 2011, 10:33
Subject: Bi-borough and Tri-borough project - update on issues raised

Dear Councillors
 
Councillor Feilding-Mellen and I have hosted two sessions to discuss and deal with questions on the implementation of the Bi-borough and Tri-borough arrangements.
 
The first session was on 14 July and the second session was on 19 September and this note seeks to deal with issues which were raised at that session but seemed at the time to deserve rather more thought.
 
Inevitably our thinking continues to develop and I would be happy to deal with any issues that arise from this note, or matters where I am not being clear.
 
On your behalf, Councillor Feilding-Mellen continues to hold me to account for the implementation of the agreed plans, and he is also a member of the Leaders’ Board, which supervises the implementation across the three boroughs.
 
The issues raised and my thoughts by way of response are as follows:
 
1.    Could we see a staff organisation chart for the new arrangements?
 
A draft organisation chart was made available at the second workshop and I think it was also discussed at the Conservative Party awayday on 24 September.
 
The organisation chart continues to evolve as appointments are made and job titles and other nomenclature is settled.
 
The easiest way to give you access to the latest version is on line, and you can see the latest version through this link 
 
2.    What might we do about cross borough Scrutiny?
 
Discussions had moved on at an informal level.  It is clear that there is no great appetite measured across the three boroughs for a formal system of three borough Scrutiny, but there is more interest in a greater degree of informal contact, probably around particular issues.
 
The current settled position therefore is that no new Tri-borough Scrutiny apparatus is to be designed and that generally Scrutiny Councillors seem happy with the interpretation that it is their job to ensure that however services are organised (whether single borough, Bi-borough or Tri-borough) it is their job to ensure that local residents get the services that they are entitled to, given the budget decisions the Council has made.
 
There are practical points however, in that with a smaller senior staff cadre, it won’t always be possible for Tri-borough or even Bi-borough chief officers to be reporting to single borough Scrutiny Committees, potentially on the same night, or on the same issues, but the undertaking is that these multi-borough services will make sure they are in a position to send senior staff where they are needed.
 
I hope it is understood that we are currently in transition from single-borough arrangements to multi-borough arrangements and on the whole these do not become ‘live’ until April 2012.
 
For the rest of this municipal year then, Scrutiny arrangements will continue to scrutinise single-borough services on a single-borough basis.
 
3.    What does hosting mean?
 
Hosting is the term that we have used to explain how a single authority will become the employer of the management team of a multi-borough service.  Currently the arrangements are for senior Library staff to be hosted by Westminster; senior Children’s staff to be hosted by Kensington and Chelsea and senior Adult Social Care staff to be hosted by Hammersmith and Fulham.
 
A nuance in this is that hosting will obviously cover pay and conditions and hold employment contracts and therefore exercise discipline over these staff.  It also means that staff will be hosted on that Council’s IT systems so Members and the public will eventually get used to the fact that notwithstanding they are emailing about a Kensington and Chelsea issue, they may be emailing (for Adult Social Care for example) an officer with a Hammersmith and Fulham email address.
 
I understand that psychologically this will feel odd, but I am afraid it is a necessary compromise, given the fact that the security procedures across the three Councils server systems prevent automatic forwarding of emails between these systems.
 
Other technical solutions may become available to us through time.
 
4.    Safeguards for joint contracts
 
The point made was that we need to ensure that single-borough interests are not subsumed inappropriately in a rush for asserted benefits through multi-borough purchasing.  This is a point well made, but it is difficult to give more than reassurance that we are alive to this issue at the present time.
 
5.    Will performance and benchmarking be recorded before Tri-borough so that we can see how it compares before and after?
 
We are relatively rich in comparable information between the three boroughs at present and clearly the intention is that service standards should not fall as a result of this new way of working.  Some service standards may be re-set, if we decide that we no longer wish to spend the amount of money it takes to maintain certain standards, but that is a matter related to our budget requirements and not our organisational requirements.
 
This puts us in a good position to compare ‘before and after’.  Clearly many of the looked for benefits from new ways of working come from the ability to save money, either directly through less managers, or indirectly through different ways of working and we expect to have robust systems in place for tracking these savings.
 
6.    Are these changes reversible?
 
I gave an assurance at both meetings that these changes are reversible. 
 
Clearly there are consequences in pulling out of these joint arrangements, but that only means that any such decision could not be taken casually.  First draft legal agreements are now being drawn up between the three Councils and these will be supervised by the Leaders’ Board over the next few months with an intention that they be finalised by March 2012.  The ‘notice period’ for withdrawal from the Bi/Tri-borough arrangements is to be 12 months, unless Councils other than the withdrawing Council agree to a shorter period.
 
Other clauses in the contracts will provide for any circumstances where an individual borough asserts that it has lost confidence in a senior Tri-borough (or Bi-borough) postholder.
 
7.    Will we continue to monitor customer satisfaction?
 
There are various measures in place to measure the satisfaction of our residents with our services.  These are inevitably quite high level, but there is no intention to change any of our current arrangements.  I think however, that we will pick up resident dissatisfaction through an increase in complaints, as well as seeing dips in proportions of people in quite large samples, describing themselves as less satisfied.
 
8.    Will this lead to better procurement?
 
Councillor Palmer is passionate about the need for better procurement and this is an aspiration we all share.  We should be able to leverage a benefit from comparing and contrasting what three boroughs do already and also bring together the expertise in each of the individual Councils.  It’s an area where scrutiny committees will be able to continue to keep council officers on their toes.
 
9.    Do we need to revise the officer/Member code?
 
This question dealt with the convention, certainly within Kensington and Chelsea, that Councillors only deal with chief officers.  This convention has been eased somewhat in recent years and currently Members have contact with a variety of senior staff from Head of Service upwards.
 
It would be best to consolidate this current practice, as suitable for the new arrangements. 
 
It is self evident that chief officers, serving three boroughs could not personally deal with communications from over 150 Councillors, although I know that they would wish to be informed about any serious issues of complaint or concern.
 
We will be publishing clear guidelines so that Councillors know who to contact about what issues, as we switch into the Bi-borough and Tri-borough arrangements with effect from January 2012 (for Environmental Services) and April 2012 (for Adult Social Care, Children and Library services).
 
Our convention in RBKC is that Councillors only call officers by their surnames.  No change to this convention has been proposed.
 
 
I trust you receive this in the spirit that it was written.  There is a lot about these new arrangements which we will need to refine with the benefit of experience.
 
You will know that once successfully delivered, the changes will save Kensington and Chelsea taxpayers in excess of £10m, which can either be used to hold down Council Tax or maintain vital front line services.

 
Derek Myers
Town Clerk and Chief Executive
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
020 7361 2299