Friday, 30 October 2009

Oh, THAT much, possibly...

Some interesting info come through from the 'What do they Know?' site about top NCC bods' pay packets.

Apparently, each year the full Council annual meeting must be provided with a statement of salaries of the Chief Exec and the Corporate Directors, as well as those of any officer receiving more than 65% of the Chief Exec's salary.

So, here is the most recent one. As you can see, JoTo gets £165k and the five Corporate Directors each get £144, 653 per annum. No other figures are given.

This implies therefore that no other NCC officers receive more than 65% of JoTo's salary i.e. £107,250 pa. That's quite a gap between the Corporate Directors' salaries and the next tier down.

So, nobody gets a salary in the range £107,250 - £144,653 then eh? Looking again at the 2008/9 Statement of Accounts i.e. the year previous to that which the above salaries relate to, we find five people in the £140,000 - £149,999 remuneration band which is consistent with the Corporate Directors' salaries above, three people in the £110,000 - £119,999 band and one in the £120,000 - £129,999 band. Where have these four gone?

It seems unlikely that the posts have completely disappeared, nor is there room for them to have moved into higher bands. It's possible that they are representative of severance payments, the table in the SoA does appear to include Michael Frater's.

The other possible explanation is that some posts were left off the list sent to the full Council Annual Meeting. That seems unlikely really.

With more clarity on the senior salaries issue, we also seem to get more mud.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Another Day, Another 'Cash to PwC' Story...

I sometimes wonder if NCC is keeping PwC in profit single handedly.

Apparently, the Head of Service for Neighbourhood Regeneration at NCC has left/is leaving. Apparently it's absolutely VITAL that a replacement is found immediately because of all the high profile projects the previous postholder was leading on.

So, presumably the previous incumbent gave at least two months notice of leaving, due to the urgency recruitment got underway quickly, advert out, say, after a month, interviews approximately six weeks later, new person has to give notice on their current job, vacancy is open for three months max. Somebody acts up in the meantime, after all there is bound to be somebody who has been closely involved in at least some of these vital projects no?

No. That's not the Nottingham City Council way. What you do is go straight to old mates PricewaterhouseCoopers and get them to supply somebody. Maximum of 22 weeks mind, we don't want to go mad. After all that will only cost us £68,000.

Uh what? £68k for 22 weeks? An equivalent cost of £161k a year? You serious?

A Head of Service is not a particularly senior manager, they normally report to a Director, who reports to a Corporate Director who in turn reports to the Chief Executive (the lovable JoTo). So what's referred to as '4th tier' then, a middle manager. Not normally the level of post whose loss causes the wheels to fall off the wagon, even though NCC's wheels are mostly held on with chewing gum.

Oh look here's a clue as to what might be going on. In the box for comments from human resources we find

"It is understood that the person identified, while known to the Director, has been identified by PwC based on..." (my emphasis).

When in doubt, get one of your mates in, THAT'S the NCC way. In return you've got somebody putting a good word in should you find yourself looking for alternative employment at a 'leading' consultancy firm sometime in the future.

Update; comment under 'Sneaky' suggests that using consultants in this way is to get round the recruitment freeze due to the upcoming redundancies. Makes sense. The analysis that is, not the recruitment freeze...

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Nottingham City Council in 'Dodgy Communiations' Shock....Again

The Evening Post has reported that NCC has been criticised over it's communications, in particular the Stalinist banners that get hung up all round the Market Square.

The District Auditor said that the ones hung up on the Council House earlier this year saying "2 stars, Improving well" were "borderline legal". Cllr Chapman interprets this meaning that the DA " happy with the current initiative". My bullshitometer has just exploded.

Before this latest incident came up I had been thinking of writing about the previous two incidents in 2005 and 2007 when NCC had been told off for having dodgy banners about the place, however it didn't seem very current and I put my rather limited energies into more recent matters.

As one of NCC's 'Statements of Internal Control' notes, the Audit Commission had issued statutory recommendations regarding unlawful publicity materials issued in 1999/2000. Later criticisms of banner campaigns during early 2007 (the notorious 'Proud' and 'Ambitious' campaigns), a mere three months before the local elections led the AC to conclude that the statutory recommendations had not been complied with, leading to NCC introducing further action. In March this, the 'Standards Committee' further discussed publicity issues when it considered NCC's response to proposed changes to the Code of Practice on local government publicity.

So why do they keep getting caught out? The issue has been discussed to death and it's not as if publicity is short of resources. It has a budget of about £2.7m pa and its own senior officer at Director level.

Frankly, if all the Audit Commission is ever going to do is write a stiff letter it's hardly surprising if councillors play fast and loose with the law. JoCo and his mates are hardly known for their reticence and the opposition on the council is just too small (and in the case of the Tories too useless, at least the Lib Dems do at least make an effort to challenge things, it was them who complained about the recent publicity issue). The Commission needs to hold senior councillors to account on this issue. In 2007, after one of the earlier incidents, Nottingham seriously bucked the political trend in the local elections, returning an increased Labour majority. Coincidence? I don't think so, these things have an effect.

However, I can't help wondering if that Director, Stephen Barker (we've had fun with him on here before) is also a big part of the problem. He is known to be close to JoCo and the inner circle and also appears to be close to the Sheriff, accompanying him on his recent US junket chasing Robin Hood. Such personal closeness to the politics may result in his judgment being impaired in terms of the political neutrality of the communications initiatives that he is in charge of. It is part of the role of senior management to provide advice on such issues.

Friday, 16 October 2009


I often write about NCC's prolific use of consultants and generally like to mention how much cash said consultant's trouser each time.

However, they've found a new trick to stop me doing this. Although they have to report a decision to use a firm of consultants they are hiding behind their 'framework agreement' with PricewaterhouseCoopers in order to avoid disclosing the cost of each project. See this decision notice to use PwC for a review of business support.

Ah yes. This was in the local media a while back but I forgot to mention that NCC spends 8.7% of its staffing budget on consultants (approx £12.1m), the highest proportion in Nottinghamshire. It also spends 7.1% of the staff budget on agency workers.

See this report from UNISON for more details.

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Somebody gave me a wee nudgette about the 2008/9 Statement of Accounts now being up on the NCC website. I'm sure there's lots of buried treasure in there and once I've stocked up on 'will to live' pills I might have a proper rifle through and see what's what.

In the meantime however, can I suggest that you leaf through to page 56 where you will find a breakdown of senior staff salaries in bands.

As context let me remind you that councillors are currently considering a secret review of senior salaries and of course that they not long ago decided that several hundred redundancies were needed to help balance the books (sorry, "support vulnerable people").

So, what's in the box?

Well, the lowest band in the table is for posts with salaries of between £50,000 and £59,999 and we can see that the number of staff within this range has shot up by over 21% between 2007/8 and 2008/9 from 133 to 161. Bear in mind here that the highest nationally negotiated pay scale was £41,204 in 2008/9.

It gets worse (or better, depending on your point of view). The number of senior officers receiving between £80,000 and £89,999 has risen from 12 to 21 and those 'earning' between £140,000 to £149,999 has gone up from 3 to 5.

But here's the big one. In 2007/8 there was one officer in the £190,000 to £199,999 pay band but in 2008/9 this band was empty.

However, a new pay band has been added to the table for the single employee who received somewhere between £240,000 and £249,999 *pause for sharp intake of breath*...

I wonder who it can be? Initial suspicions naturally point to the Chief Executive, Jane Todd but it can't be her because when she was appointed in December 2008 she made a big song and dance about only accepting £165k pa instead of the advertised £185k. And it also appears that she was actually on secondment for most of the year concerned and that apparently isn't included.

Presume it must be Michael Frater's payoff, either that or it was Beryl the cleaner's lucky day...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Staggers Says...

I did (very) briefly feel sorry for Richard 'Stag Night' Antcliff, NCC's Chief Anti-Social Behaviour Officer (actually, surely that should be anti Anti-Social Behaviour Officer).

Because, after THAT incident with the stag night, there were never any charges brought against him. So I think I'm already on record as saying that I think he is entitled to be a bit miffed about that dawn raid the rozzers subjected him to. I know I would be. And of course the papers, locally and nationally, were full of his arrest but we heard nothing of his letting off. Very unfair.

But let's not for one second imagine that there is even the beginnings of a suggestion that there was any kind of backroom deal between Mr Antcliff's employers, Nottingham City Council, and the Police of the County and City of Nottingham. Because despite the fact that that both organisations work together very closely in the Crime and Drugs Partnership, as well as the (anti) anti-social behaviour agenda that Mr Antcliff is in charge of, I have reliable inside knowledge* that this sort of thing just doesn't go on round here. You know you can rely on me but obviously you wouldn't expect me to reveal my sources.

So, with my my new found admiration for 'Staggers', as I amusingly now choose to call him, I was very disappointed to see him talk like an ignorant fucking twat in the 'Post'.

He said the following -

"When we survey people, the things that trouble them the most are not robbery, burglary and other crimes, but the low level anti-social, rubbish and grime stuff"

Oh really. I'd like to see the data that show's that. There is a summary of the results of that consultation they did a while back but it's a bit light on actual numbers. For example, I would like to see the numbers of people who had ACTUALLY BEEN FUCKING ROBBED OR BURGLED who then went on to say that 'grime stuff' was the thing that kept them awake at night.

You see, compared to the number of people who do run into 'grime stuff', the number of people who have been robbed or burgled is relatively low, thankfully. But, speaking from experience of both being robbed and burgled myself, the robbery and burglary tend to be a lot more distressing for the individuals concerned. You will probably lose some property, you may even think that you might die.

Whereas 'grime stuff' might just grump you out a bit, probably very briefly, depending how much time you spend up your own arse. A respectable statistician would have a way of dealing with that before delivering a balanced conclusion.

But fuck'em eh? Staggers says that more people care about 'grime stuff' so that's more important than robbery and burglary. Stand's to reason don't it? He's got the survey and you can't argue with that.

Roll out the fixed penalty notices then, Carl's voluntary army are waiting for something to do.

*Ok, I admit it, I don't really have any inside knowledge that this stuff never happens.

Monday, 5 October 2009

We Want You as a New Recruit...

...but we're not going to pay you.

That's the message that Carl Froch is being paid £1000/hour to deliver on behalf of Nottingham City Council.

Carl is trying to persuade you that becoming an 'Auxiliary' (i.e. voluntary) Community Protection Officer is a great idea and that doing so means that you are a 'champion' like him.

If anybody is thinking of taking him up on his kind offer can I please beg that you consider an alternative? Sign up as a volunteer at the Citizens Advice Bureau instead? You'll learn a lot more, do more useful things and you don't have to wear a uniform or get spat at by teenagers.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Copyright Alert

Not criticising this event in any way at all, in fact it looks like a lovely idea, just think that calling it the Bestwood 'BAFTA' might land somebody in a bit of copyright trouble, that's all.

Can I suggest a swift re-brand?

Now, Now, Children, Stop Swearing

Every now and then I lose the will to live. Ok, pretty much every day I lose the will to live at some point largely because I insist on paying a daily visit to the NCC website to see what our local representatives and their minions have been up to. The arrival of the full council meeting minutes is always good for a little weep as very little actually gets decided, it's more an opportunity for a bit of political argy bargy with planted questions from the nonentity cannon fodder who can't get on any of the committees.

This one caught my eye -

"Councillor Lee asked the following question of the Leader of the Council:–

Would the Leader agree that foul and abusive language in our Parks is unacceptable and would he extend our respect initiative into the City’s Public Parks and Open Spaces?

Councillor Collins replied as follows:-

Thank you Lord Mayor and can I thank Councillor Lee for his question and yes, I do agree that foul and abusive language in our parks is unacceptable and will discuss with the CDP ways that the respect initiative can be extended in the city’s open spaces."

Is this what we want our elected representatives wasting their time on? Nothing better to do than to than try and worm your way into Pope Collins' inner circle? What next, ban farting in the bath?

Councillor Lee is of course one of those who got themselves elected as Lib Dems in the 2003 election at the height of the Iraq War backlash against Labour (and no disrespect to the Lib Dems but in Nottingham they are rather a small pond compared to Labour so a little fish would have a much better chance of being selected). He then defected to Labour via a token period as an Independent to try and make it look like that wasn't what he was planning to do all along. Of course he doesn't mention that little detail in his bio.

To me, and hopefully anybody else who has as much as a passing interest in democracy, that's a hell of a lot more offensive than a bit of swearing in the park. And it's not as if there aren't enough measures already in the various Public Order and Protection from Harassment Acts for the Police to use in appropriate circumstances. And we'll leave it with the police if you don't mind, any of those plastic warden types tries to give me an on-the-spot ticket for swearing will find it re-entering his person via a new bumhole.

Anyway, before Councillor Lee tries to ban swearing in blogs I'd just like to say this. In your stupid potato face Rob Lee you turd-brained turncoat of a twat.

And there is another appearance of the same old 'poor widdle me' passive aggressive silliness I wrote about the other day, this time from Cllr Bull.

Admittedly there were arguably some mitigating circumstances for NCC's hottest councillor, there had been a bit of an ambush of green inked 'questions from the public' and Cllr Bull clearly felt she'd done quite a bit for them already but this sort of thing -

"I have to say though, that I am somewhat disappointed in the questions asked, since I have been working with the group of Churchfield Lane residents directly for over 3 years on these issues."

Well, it's not very dignified is it, kind of a bit schoolma'amish. And she does go on as well, wittering on for seven long paragraphs about all the work she'd done.

Bit of advice. They're not listening. The green ink brigade have their view of the world and nothing you do for them or say will shake it. Keep it simple and factual and get to the pub a bit earlier.

Although I do admit, I did feel a bit sorry for poor old Cllr 'Trembling' Trimble who had to deal with yet another question from Tory Leader Cllr Price on behalf of the exceedingly posh and members-only Wollaton Park Golf Club. Who said class war stereotypes are dead?