Archive for February 23rd, 2012

We had one of those rare outbreaks of co-operation between the Lutfur Rahman Independents and Labour at the full council meeting last night when the 2012/3 budget went through first time but only after a series of Labour amendments were accepted by the Mayor.

I’ll blog more about that later but there was one incident worth mentioning here now: an attempt by the Independents to cut the allowance for leader of the second largest political group – who just happens to be the borough’s best muck-finder, Tory Peter Golds. The way this seemed to come about was actually pretty pathetic.

After Peter had raised issues of probity within the council chamber and dared to criticise a highly paid officer for not standing up to the Nolan principles of transparency, he was targeted by Lutfur’s cabinet. While this rowing was taking place, Lutfur’s mayoral advisers in the public gallery were getting rather excited…you know, in the way that political anoraks do in such a bubble. So much so, that the meeting stopped for a couple of seconds when there was a loud thud: Lutfur’s chief of staff Murziline Parchment had actually tripped up as she ran to confer with the cabinet member for finance Cllr Alibor Choudhury.

A bit later, Alibor tried to introduce an “emergency amendment”. What could it be? Lutfur’s £8.39 an hour boundary review adviser Axel Landin broke into giggles and whispered knowingly to a colleague: “This is going to be brilliant.”

Well, what Alibor, who must have spent months poring over documents to come up with a £1bn budget, was proposing was to use half an hour of the council meeting to debate a £5,000 saving. He wanted to halve Peter’s extra allowance from £10,000 to about £5,000.

Petty and pathetic. And Labour sided with the Tories to boot it out.

The reason I mention this here is because if they were genuinely concerned about saving money they wouldn’t be about to waste far more of our cash on the council’s most lucrative position.

When former chief executive Kevan Collins resigned last year, Aman Dalvi stepped into his shoes as the interim boss. I raised some concerns about his track record, but from what I’ve heard, he’s been doing a good job. But will he last?

Almost completely unknown to people at large, the council has been advertising for a new permanent chief executive on its website here. You have four days left to apply if you fancy the job. But you’ll have to persuade the council’s recruitment consultants, Penna, to get past the first hurdle. Here is the job as advertised on Penna’s website:

People, Place, Pride, Performance…

Chief Executive
Attractive salary
3 year fixed-term contract

…just four of the many attractions of being chief executive in Tower Hamlets, the high-performing urban borough with astonishing diversity, challenges, ideas and energy. It is a borough where local decisions – on housing, regeneration, jobs, education and the environment – resonate across the national political landscape.

It presents a truly unique opportunity for an experienced chief executive with the character, resilience and drive to deliver on uncompromising and ambitious priorities.

For further information and a confidential discussion please contact our retained consultants at Penna: Julie Towers on 07764 791 736 (julie.towers@penna.com) or Jonathan Swain on 07500 961 727 (jonathan.swain@penna.com).

To apply please send a comprehensive CV including referees and salary expectations along with a detailed covering letter setting out how you meet the specification and what experience you can bring to this role.

Closing date: 27th February 2012.

The job description and person specification are here and here.

You’ll notice that it doesn’t specify the salary range. But because I was interested in maybe applying for it myself, of course, I rang Penna this morning…the salary range is between £165,000 and £194,000 a year, including London weighting and travel allowance.

I asked why it was only a three-year contract and they said: “Because it needs to fit in with the mayoral cycle. The next elections are in 2015 and it might be that the Mayor or any new Mayor might want to review things. It will give them an opportunity to rethink. There is a chance to roll the contract on.”

Now, recruitment consultants are normally paid a commission of about 30 per cent of the salary for the position they’re filling, so that works out at some £60,000 down the drain for what could be a temporary position. I suspect that Penna will even get this cash if Aman Dalvi is appointed, which would be absurd.

Perhaps Alibor and the rest of Lutfur’s shipped-in advisers should start looking at the bigger picture before playing playground politics over £5,000.

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