Friday, 28 August 2009

Management Issues

For the second meeting in a row, the Appointments and Conditions of Service Committee is considering a review of senior salary levels at NCC.

So what can I tell you about their thoughts? Bugger all, pretty much. It's all going on behind closed doors, as decided under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972. This provision allows councils to vote to consider an item of business without the public being present if it involves 'exempt information'.

Exempt Information is defined by Schedule 12A of the Act and includes any labour relations matter and this will of course include senior posts. However, there is a proviso in most cases which requires a public interest consideration and discussions should only be kept private if the public interest of doing so outweighs any public interest of it being public.

Interestingly, at the 7 July meeting, the committee was also discussing a report about discretionary compensation which, from context appears to concern the payment of higher than statutory severence payments. However, again I don't know for sure as it's all exempt so the minutes only contain the barest bones of what was discussed. But apparently it was option (d) that won them over...

There appears to be some wider interest in such matters. The Beeb recently reported that the Audit Commission is about to look into the issue of big pay-offs to council Chief Execs, in particular ater a fallout with the political leadership. They don't actually mention Jon Collins and Michael Frater but I reckon that, bearing in mind JoCo's, ah, 'temperament', NCC should be watching this one very carefully, it stands to save us £100ks in the long run.

So, back to my original point. If NCC is conducting a review of senior salaries can they really justify doing it in private? After all, they quite happily disclosed Jane Todd's temporary salary before she got the permanent job. Senior managers accept that there is an element of public scrutiny of how much they get paid. So is this a 'public interest' question or a 'political embarrassment' question? Not that NCC seems to see any difference between the two.

In other news, which doesn't reflect too well on NCC's senior management, the 'Post' is reporting on the last staff survey at NCC. There's a summary here, it doesn't make pretty reading.


Anonymous said...

It begs the question doesn't it of how 'public' should public servants be? Although most of us wouldn't want details of our salaries being known to all and sundry, it's our taxes that pay their salaries so there is a much stronger case for these discussions - or the results of them - being open and transparent.

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