Thursday, 29 April 2010

Harold Tinworth-gate

Everything's got to be a 'gate' these days so who am I to spoil the party?

So. Harold Tinworth. Who he? I hear you clamour.

Surprise surprise he's another consultant who's made quite a packet from NCC. £111k over four years according to the 'Post', which was where I first heard of him. I blogged about this briefly at the time.

Anyway, publicly at least, the Tories' angle seemed to be that JoCo needed a 'personal mentor' ner ner ne ner ner whereas Collins' defence was basically that no he didn't, not like some of those wimpy Chief Execs he'd got rid of in the past.

But that seemed to me to miss the point which is that there is a distinct lack of a paper trail for approving over £25k pa expenditure on behalf of NCC and as such, there's a bit of a stinky fish.

So I stuck in a Freedom of Info request and I've just got something back. While quite interesting, it doesn't get us much further forward on this most important point.

The interesting bit is the copy of the memo they sent me which seems to reflect a certain amount of discomfort that existed at the sort of work HT was doing. The official drafting the memo says, with some very classy understatement -

"Perhaps it is the fact that certain Executive Member/Senior Officer working relationships are not as close as in previous regimes, which brings this issue into spotlight?"

This was all around the time covered by the Hardmoor Associates report that famously described NCC as dysfunctional.

But the thing is, that's all this document is, a memo. It's not a Portfolio Holder's decision which it should be at the very least, considering the level of expenditure. So NCC have failed to provide the most important document that would get JoCo off the hook. Now, why do you think that could be?

Well, I'm chasing it up with NCC via the FoI process so hopefully we'll soon find out. Or not so soon more likely. Due to their failure to respond within the time limit it's already at the review stage so I've given them until the time limit for that to run out to get any further stuff to me. That runs out (I think) on 21 May.

In the meantime, marvel at the fact that Mr Tinworth's fees went from £600/day in December 2005 to £680/day by July 2008, an increase of over 13% in little more than 2 1/2 years. Compare and contrast with the sort of settlements local government employees have had over the same time period. After October 2008 NCC goes all secretive blaming 'commercial interests' which suggests to me there was another price rise after that.

As we say often around here, nice work if you can get it.

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