Thursday, 25 November 2010

No, We Always Do It This Way, Honest

FINALLY got a response to one of my outstanding FoIA enquiries. They'd failed to provide a response within the statutory time limit so I asked for a review. The time limit for that is up today and, lo and behold, it appears. As such they took the absolute maximum amount of time without the involvement of the Information Commissioner.

Still, they take the opportunity to reassure me that -

"...we are currently carrying out a thorough review of all our office procedures to minimise the possibility of any future delays." 

That looks familiar. Let's have a quick look at a reply to an older query from June 2009 that had also been delayed -

"Please be assured we are currently carrying out a thorough review of all our office procedures to minimise the possibility of any future delays."

That's quite a long review! I imagine that no stone has been left unturned in finding a solution to these delays and that 'reports' and 'action plans' are being wielded as we speak.

Anyway, to the substance. I was trying to find out the current employment status of One Nottingham's Chief Exec, Nigel Cooke. He'd been described as 'acting' for a while which seemed odd. It may also be relevant that he is a very old mate of Jon Collins, erstwhile Chair of ON.

It turns out that Mr Cooke is now the permanently appointed Chief Exec but he didn't have to apply for the job or be interviewed. He was 'slotted in' to the job in June this year. It is, however, entirely above board -

"The restructuring procedures, agreed with the Trade Unions, involve comparing the job description of the post holder, whose substantive post has been deleted (in this case, Head of Service, One Nottingham) with that of the new post (Head of One Nottingham).

There was found to be a match of 66% or more and therefore the person at risk was eligible to be redeployed into the new post. No other at risk people were found to have 66% or more match and therefore no ring fence interviews for the new post were held."

You see? That's how they always do it.

It's worth a bit more of a look though. I did have some involvement in considerations of redeployment issues at NCC when I worked there.

First thing is you are comparing the posts rather than any individual postholder's skills so you're not supposed to include any task included in any 'acting up' capacity. It's also worth mentioning that Cooke's previous job was Head of Service and this post reported to the Chief Executive. In other words they are saying that there was a 66% overlap between two senior management posts, one of whom reported to the other.

If that really was the case then that was some serious top heavy management. The only other explanation would be that the redeployment process was rigged and, despite the fact that I'm sure JoCo wants to see his old mate do well and also to ensure that he leaves a friendly face at the top of ON when he departs the chair, I have absolutely no reason to believe that to be the case.

Last little fact of note. The salary is of the range £57,288 to £66,762. That's quite a bit less than the new Director of the Crime and Drugs Partnership (Alan Given's replacement) who I am reliably informed started on £89k.

Addendum; in case you think this all sounds a bit conspiracy theory you might want to bear in mind that Collins is onto his fourth Chief Exec at NCC with well documented rows with Michael Frater who then went on to uncover corruption and mismanagement at Surrey County Council. Shortly after Collins assumed the chair of Notts Police Authority the Chief Exec was hoofed out and it's widely rumoured that his current favourite Alan Given is being lined up for the job. And of course the arrival of Collins as chair of One Nottingham and the departure of previous Chief Exec Andrew Balchin occurred suspiciously close together with Cooke 'acting up' to the role pretty much straight away. Coincidence? Yeah right.

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