We appear to have another example of an NCC committee getting a bit mixed up over the difference between keeping something from the public because it's in the public interest and doing so because it's politically embarrassing.
This time it's the Appointments and Conditions of Service Committee who are meeting next month to discuss a report on how to reduce expenditure on temporary and agency staff and the (probably deceptively) benign sounding 'managing the impact on colleagues of the financial challenges affecting the council'.
These are the only two issues on the agenda and they are both due to be discussed in secret yet, bizarrely, the standard info for spectators is added at the bottom of the agenda -
"CITIZENS ATTENDING MEETINGS ARE ASKED TO ARRIVE AT LEAST FIFTEEN MINUTES BEFORE THE START OF THE MEETING TO BE ISSUED WITH VISITOR BADGES"
Might have been an idea to add that there really isn't any point because you're not going to see anything.
NCC has been criticised before about its spend on consultants and temporary staff, mostly on here but also by UNISON. And before you say they're not the same thing we do seem to find consultants being drafted in as temporary or 'interim' managers, sometimes using consultants who in turn employ other consultants. So it's likely that a discussion of their use will result in embarrassing disclosures. On the other hand, the agenda item is being described as as 'approach and phase 1 report' so it seems unlikely that it will involve discussing PricewaterhouseCoopers' most intimate business secrets and the few confidential financial matters that do creep in could easily be banished to an exempt appendix. But no, NCC makes the lot secret and my bet is that, if challenged, they would indeed justify it on there being financial matters involved. It's just coincidence that the embarrassing stuff also gets kept under wraps you understand. No really.
Of course this is nothing new, the call-in sub-committee tried to hide the fact that Harold Tinworth was planning to provide political advice at taxpayers' expense and Hassan Ahmed and Graham Chapman made the decision to end CEHRNN's funding in secret and since then Ahmed's downright duplicitous behaviour and conflict of interest in making the decision has come to light.