Monday, 29 November 2010

NCC Comms Chief Gets a Bit Upset

It seems that NCC's Director of Communications is back in the social media scene, this time blogging under his own name rather than hiding behind his 'Bulcote Cowby' moniker.

He seems to have got a bit hot under the collar (warning - there are asterisks) about an investigation about local authority mismanagement. Not the most neutral writing on the subject I'd agree, some of it does descend into Daily Mail reader porn but there are valid points in there and in some cases they seem to have been a bit kind. However, it seems to have hit one of Stephen's sensitive spots for some reason.

In an effort to play nicely I added a comment. I put quite a bit of thought into it so I was most upset to find that it is still 'awaiting moderation'. So here it is -

"Let me help with the link then people can see what you’re on about

Unfortunately some of the criticisms are valid. I take your point about not dropping employees as soon as they go off sick but high levels of sick leave can be symptomatic of a wider malaise such as workplace bullying. NCC got off very lightly with my constructive unfair dismissal damages, pity they spent around £20k on legal representation and an estimated £10k on staff time for senior managers who fancied a few days out of the office to go along and watch.

As for the junkets, some of these might well be considered unnecessary. Certain local civic dignitaries popping over to USA to investigate theme parks springs to mind, if it has to be done at all what’s wrong with Eurodisney? £40 on Squeasyjet and you’re laughing. And don’t get me started on MIPIM.

Oh alright then, there is absolutely no justification for anybody from NCC having attended MIPIM ever. The interviews with porky businessmen telling wonderful tales of parties, rubbing shoulders with a Lord, and, oh yes I got a couple of leads in Coventry and Derby. As for flogging the Guildhall, nobody needed to go to the Riviera to clinch that deal. Notice how the private sector has suddenly lost interest now NCC doesn’t want to throw and cash at it any more?

As for redundancy, again, councils can’t be criticised for complying with the law but high levels of redundancy can signify poor recruitment and retention issues and bad planning and, annoyingly, we have to accept that public employees advantageous redundancy terms compared to the private sector are a matter for public interest. The issues around early termination settlements is moot though and there can be no excuse for a council like NCC getting through 3 Chief Executives simply because of the Leader’s personality problems. The common man/woman in the street also wonder why it is that if they’re not up to the job they just get sacked with no pay off, yet top brass seem to do very well out of it. 

On the other hand, sometimes employers including councils do have to dismiss staff on performance grounds but councils’ HR services are uniformly so poor that they can end up creating an unfair dismissal case when there was no chance of one before. Nobody at NCC HR even understands their own policies and tend to interpret them as what they would like them to mean rather than what they say. Mind you they’re so badly written that’s not surprising.

Then of course there is the matter of pay offs as part of a compromise agreement due to the workplace bullying. All I can say on that is don’t bully your staff and force them to resign, eh Stephen?
Where the report shoots itself in the foot is quoting criticism from a consultant “who has advised the government and councils on efficiency and remuneration” criticising waste. Huge irony and a pity he doesn’t mention the untold sums wasted on consultants (who sometimes do little more than find another consultant and charge for two profit margins).

So I agree some of the criticism is unfair but councils could help by not providing ammunition. Sadly their usual response is to waste huge amounts of cash on control freak PR to try and paper over the cracks and pointless glossy Pravdas delivered to your door."

What a pity Stephen can't control the whole media and blogosphere so easily eh?

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