Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Historical Montague Burton Heads 'Stolen'

The stone heads recently removed from the pillar next to the Broadmarsh Bus Station have been stolen from a Nottingham City Council storage depot, according to the BBC.

These things were pretty big and heavy and coincidentally were in need of espensive repairs.


Yeah right.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

Cheesy title I know but you have to realise I have ambitions towards low level tabloid journalism and it was either that or something about rats and sinking ships.

Anyway, according to the 'Post', NCC is to lose another Corporate Director as Barry Horne is leaving.

This comes after the recent announcement that Sallyanne Johnson was taking voluntary redundancy following the disbanding of the Adult Services Department.

Horne was in charge of the Environment and Regeneration department and like Johnson was trousering about £145k a year.

Everyone seems to be falling over themselves to stress how 'amicable' this all is and how it is by 'mutual consent' although I'm suspicious about the lack of the word 'voluntary' being used anywhere.

What's more the 'Appointments and Conditions of Service' committee has been beavering away in secret for some time now plotting the restructure of senior management and occasionally the odd bit of info pops out.

For example, shortly before Johnson's announcement ACSO minuted an agreement to consult on voluntary severence for a senior officer. However, recently I've been hearing that the Corporate Directors that were left were having to apply for jobs in the new structure and before Horne announced he was going ACSO had been interviewing for a non specified post in connection with the restructure. Then at their meeting on 5 January they recorded that they were unable to recruit to it.

I appreciate that this is putting two and two together and making about 13 but it has made me wonder just how amicable his leaving is. I suppose that will depend on how much silver crosses his palm and what he does next.

Anybody willing to take a bet on him joining a firm of uber consultants like PwC?

Monday, 25 January 2010

Housing Benefits Still Shit

Things aren't going so well for Lisa Black. Not only did she make a complete twat of herself at my employment tribunal last year she is also failing to lead the Housing Benefits service out of its inability to get its sums right.

Last February I wrote about how NCC had the worst accuracy scores for Housing Benefits processing in the whole of the East Midlands.

That concerned figures for 2007. Now the Audit Commission has stated that things are getting worse, saying in a progress report to the Council's Audit Committee -

"We found a higher number of errors in the processing of individual claims than in
previous years, although the overall effect on the amount of subsidy due to the Council
was small. We will be discussing with officers why the number of errors in our samples
has increased."

The thing is, NCC's internal audit service reported on Housing Benefits' chronic inaccuracy record to the Audit Committee last February, as I wrote about here.

And yet the Audit Committee seems to have been satisfied with a glib assurance that -

"...quality control errors in individual benefit claims’ processing, highlighted during the audit, were being addressed through joint working between officers and the Audit Commission..."

Surely somebody high up should be taking responsibility for this?

More on the Stonebridge Farm Debacle

Signs of a complete lack of joined up thinking at NCC, on the one hand they are shaving land off Stonebridge Farm but on the other the on Tuesday St Anns and Dales Area Committee is being presented with a draft strategy for developing food growing opportunities in Nottingham which very much relies on facillities like, um, Stonebridge Farm.

To be fair the document acknowledges that -

"... until now there has been no central point to bring together all the work regarding food growing taking place across the Council..."

which is probably at least partly why these situations arise.

The 'Protect Stonebridge City Farm' campaign is encouraging interested parties to attend the area committee meeting which is open to the public and is being held at 7pm in the Committee Room at the Council House later today (Tuesday) 26 January. You can also follow their campaign on 'Twitter'.

Talking of Twitter, NCC's Portfolio Holder for Environment and Climate Change Katrina Bull has been tweeting away about her enthusiasm for locally grown veg and wondering aloud whether it would be possible for such local goodies to be served in school dinners.

Obviously this is to be applauded but she's so far been silent on my requests for her views on the Stonebridge issue.

Maybe you'll have more luck, if you do tweeting you can find her @katrinabull.

Let's Throw Away Some MORE Money

Well, we have a computer again although I'm seriously thinking of starting a 'Curry's Warranty Repair LOLs' blog. Have a look at my Twitter stream for an idea of the absolute shitness of these people.

Anyway, to business as there's quite a bit of catching up to do. We'll start small.

Last October I wrote about the decision to pay PricewaterhouseCoopers to provide a temporary Head of Service for Neighbourhood Regeneration at a massively inflated cost.

Well, it seems that there is a similar arrangement for provision of a temporary Head of City Services, although I don't know which of the 'framework interim management companies' it is this time although I'd bet £1.50 of my own money that it's PwC.

Bizarrely, the person they have provided is a consultant themselves called Phil Matley of PPM Consultancy.

So NCC has in fact employed a consultant to find them a consultant. Madness.

Anyway, finally the penny has dropped and somebody has realised that NCC might save a bit of money by contracting with Mr Matley directly, although they don't seem to want to admit how much was being paid before and how much was being creamed off by a profiteering private sector corporate robber baron will be saved by the new arrangements.

Now why didn't they think of doing that in the first place?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Some Petitions...

Was going to write a bit more about these but I'm restricted for time so this'l have to do.

I mentioned before the sudden announcement of the Viccy Leisure Centre's early closure but I think I should also link to the campaign website. So I have.

They have also started a new petition against the closure which I think is worth a link of its own, so here it is.

Another local campaign also deserves more of my atention, so I hope my blogging coleague Alanadale won't mind me poaching his write up about the campaign to stop NCC encroaching on Stonebridge City Farm in order to provide more car parking.

They to have a petition against the plans and it can be found here.

Go sign. Then make all your friends sign.

Again, sorry to both campaigns about the brevity but I'm a very slow typist and I'm temporarily forced into the world of public internet access, best of luck to you both.

Tales from the Tribunal 5...To Stupidity - and Beyond!

We are curently broadcasting to you from Nottingham Central Library which has a certain irony...

Anyway. You may remember I posted back in November about a little mystery regarding whether a certain solicitor had neglected to ask a certain manager for information that the Employment Tribunal had ordered him to provide? Well it's been solved, the solicitor has coughed.

You might have guessed that the manager concerned was Lisa Black and the solicitor was my old mate John Ludford-Thomas, now reduced to making pointless threats at bloggers.

When I wrote back to him about his silly threat I added an extra bit which I didn't post to the blog as follows -

"PS While I've got your attention please can you confirm whether you did in fact ask Lisa Black for her notes of the Karen ******* and Fizz ***** step 2 meetings as you were required to do by the disclosure order issued by Employment Judge MacMillan on 3 September 2009.

You will be aware that Lisa Black stated on oath that you did not approach her despite your clear knowledge that she was the deciding officer in these cases and that this was the reason why her notes were not provided, causing Nottingham City Council to be in breach of that order."

Well he's replied and here it is -

"With regard to the manuscript notes of the evidence given by Dave Miles to the step 2 meetings in the grievances raised by Karen ******* and Fizz *****, I can confirm that I did not ask Lisa Black for any such notes because I believed I had the notes of these meetings amongst paperwork already obtained. As you know, the notes I had were disclosed to you as part of the bundle of documents for the Employment Tribunal Full Hearing in your case."

What a silly senior solicitor he is. He'd been in charge of the case for over 9 months by this stage so he damn well knew about the full extent of Lisa Black's involvement.

It reminds me of a pivotal issue in one of the internal disputes that Lisa decided when I was still working at NCC.

When there are two sides to a dispute, which there usually is, a drunken amoeba would be capable of realising that all evidence should be provided to both sides.

Not Lisa Black. She commissioned a whole raft of statements from other team members (seriously compromising my privacy in the process but that's by the by) without telling me but passing it all over to the other side. I didn't find out until after she had made her decision.

Her explanation of this was that it "didn't occur" to her to give me the information as well. She wasn't even embarrassed. Remember this is a Head of Service here.

It's this rush to own up to complete stupidity that makes me a little but suspicious that some people see doing so as better than admitting that they did something deliberately in bad faith. I have to say I ran into it quite a lot during my disputes with NCC.

Thing is, I've always assumed that they were full of BS. However, I'm now honestly beginning to think that maybe they are all really that stupid.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Victoria Leisure Centre About to Close?

Received an email from the Save Viccy Baths Campaign -

''After a long period of silence from the Council we have learned that they intend to close the Victoria Leisure Centre at the end of March 2010 - but worse, the staff will be relocated in FEBRUARY making it more likely that it will close earlier than then. There are NO approved plans for the new leisure centre and not even any planning permssion to start redevelopment.

The Council are doing this as part of the cost-cutting exercise they have put in place to recoup their Icelandic losses. They estimate they will save £395,000 by closing the Centre early, despite their promise to keep it open until 2011.''

Just an extract I'm afraid but I'm limited when posting via email. Sounds like JoCo and the lads are playing a bit fast and loose, I certainly don't remember early closure with no definite rebuild plans being mentioned previously.

The campaigners are holding a public meeting on WEDNESDAY JANUARY 13 at 6pm at the Training Suite, Victoria Leisure Centre to discuss plans to save the Victoria Baths from closure and demolition.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Happy New Year and stuff

Its 2010 and I start the new year unable to blog properly due to the official NCCLols laptop taking ill and having to go to computer hospital.

Still, hopefully it won't be away too long because in the meantime I'm reduced to looking at the interwebs via my phone and posting this via email, all of which is a right royal pain in the jacksie.

It feels like a bit of a novelty seeing a new year in without an employment tribunal hanging over me. As a result I do feel slightly more chilled than at the same time last year.

Happy New Year (nearly*) Everybody!

*Not including one or two individuals you can probably guess and a couple who I haven't mentioned. Yet.