Friday, 18 February 2011

Harry Phibbs: non-jobber

Over at Conservative Home, Hammersmith's favourite Councillor, Harry Phibbs lashes out at the rise of "council non-jobs."

Phibbs quotes local government minister Bob Neill as saying that:

“Crazy non-jobs like cheerleading development officers and press officers tasked with spinning propaganda on bin collections provide no value to the public."

Now I'm not sure what point Bob is trying to make here, but is he really suggesting that councils shouldn't employ press officers?

Or is "spinning propaganda on bin collections" something that only Bob Neill's press officers are allowed to do?

And as for the "cheerleading development officer," well unlike Bob and Harry I've taken all of five minutes to look into this story, and while it's true that Falkirk council did employ such a person it's not quite the publicly funded non-job Taxpayers Alliance led them to believe.

"In particular, questions were asked about the relevance of the ‘Cheerleading Development Officer’ posts. These posts are paid in full from newly acquired funding from the Lottery Fund – PE and Sport (NOF) aimed at encouraging young people to increase their level of physical activity. They are part of a larger programme of activities, including dance, as well as more traditional sports such as football.

In this case, like many others, the funding came from a bid submitted by the council to the New Opportunities Fund, for additional funding for the benefit of the Falkirk area."

So that's a council successfully getting third party funding, in order to encourage local kids to take up sport. Isn't that exactly the kind of Big Society the government's so keen on?

Because the truth is, as I've written before, the worth of a job is not always easy to judge from the ridiculous titles we give to them.

Speaking of which, I left the following comment underneath Harry Phibbs' post this morning.

Is this the same Harry Phibbs who is currently Hammersmith's cabinet member for "community engagement"? What a non-jobber!

For some reason they've chosen not to publish it. Bloody politically correct nanny-staters...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Boris Johnson slammed by brother Jo

Tory MP Jo Johnson has slammed Transport for London for "failing residents" with an "unacceptable" change to a bus route.

His underlings on the local council have also hit out, calling on the head of TfL to resign over their "shambolic" handling of the issue.

Now I'm not sure whether it has slipped Jo's notice, but the last time I checked the Chair of Transport for London was none other than his brother Boris Johnson.

Perhaps he should take it up with him?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

A new blog for London

The nice people at Snipe have given myself, and fellow Londonites Darryl Chamberlain and Peter Watts a new blog for London:

So far I've:

And called for Boris Johnson to get far more powers and London's 32 private fiefdoms to get far less.

There's also lots from Darryl and Peter on Greenwich Market, London's most ubiquitous underground entrepreneur and plenty more besides.

We're on the lookout for stories (and sponsors) so if you'd like to get involved, please get in touch.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Brian Coleman slammed for "completely excessive" meal

The man charged with making up to 25% cuts to the London Fire Brigade splashed thousands of pounds from the budget on a "completely excessive" meal for his colleagues.

Chairman of the Fire Authority Brian Coleman used £2338 from the Brigade’s communications budget to pay for flowers and a three-course lunch for a retiring colleague.

Authority members, the Deputy Mayor, and senior officials were served a 'Trio of Orkney Salmon' for starters, 'Corn-fed breast of Norfolk chicken served with date and apple stuffing' for mains, and an 'individual chocolate truffle with vanilla cream sauce,' for dessert.

The austerity-busting meal, served in the authority’s boardroom, was washed down with four bottles of Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc and another four bottles of Peaks Pinot Noir.

Even the cost of taking the Chairman to the lunch was covered by the taxpayer after he successfully claimed for car mileage and the congestion charge.

Other guests on the day included the wife of a former fire authority member and Brian Coleman’s own mother Gladys. Of the 44 guests invited, only 30 accepted amid concerns at the cost.

Green Party London Assembly Member Darren Johnson chose not to attend, saying that 

"It is reasonable that long serving members of staff should have their contribution formally recognised on retirement but the the amount spent does seem completely excessive at a time of harsh public sector cuts."

Details of the meal were released following a Freedom of Information request made by this blog.

This is not the first time that these events have been held by the Fire Authority.

Two years ago Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon revealed that a similar lunch was held to welcome City Hall’s new Chief Executive Leo Boland. Boland was a former colleague of Coleman at Barnet Council.

A spokesperson for the Fire Authority said: "An event was purposely held at Brigade headquarters to minimise costs, in honour of a retiring officer who has given more than 30 years of public service."

Friday, 4 February 2011

Leo Boland: reports of my departure are greatly exaggerated

Is Leo Boland's departure from City Hall all that it seems? Some in the Glass Gonad think not.

After conversations with a number of inhabitants, I put the following question to the Mayor's office:

"I'm told that Leo Boland has already left City Hall on a combination of sick leave and "gardening leave". Can you please confirm whether Leo is still attending City Hall on a regular full time basis?"

To which I was told:

"This is not true, Leo is at work as usual."

Which is all very strange.

So where are these rumours of his disappearance coming from? Could it just be that he's moved office again and been misplaced?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Leo Boland to delete himself

Leo Boland, Boris JohnsonA review launched by GLA Chief Executive Leo Boland into whether he should make himself redundant has concluded that he can and probably should.

A memo sent out to all GLA staff this morning confirms that:

"The review... sets out that there is no legal requirement for the GLA to have a Chief Executive and that the two statutory functions currently carried out as part of the post - that of Head of Paid Service and Greater London Returning Officer, could be carried out by other suitably qualified officers...

"On the basis of this, and following discussions between Assembly Group Leaders and the Mayor, a report has gone to the Assembly proposing to begin formal consultation on the possible deletion of the Chief Executive’s post.... 

Not to mention the sizeable pay-off that Mr. Boland would receive after being in the job for just two years.

All of which should raise the following questions to Boris Johnson:

If Boland wasn't required, why did you appoint him in the first place, and why did you give him a 12 per cent pay rise on the previous occupant?

Chief Executive of the GLA in 2007-8 


Chief Executive of the GLA in 2009 


And why if his role was so unimportant, did you spend so much time and money on three separate new offices for him?

Maybe it's time for another review?