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Bonkers Blog July 2014

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10 July - Top cats have nine lives and take all the cream

It’s probably not a coincidence that the day of the public services strike has produced more than the usual number of messages from council staff, not all anonymous. Bexley council has been considering the changes required to its management structures as you can see from this current statement…
And what have they come up with? Something revolutionary; a Director becomes Deputy Chief Executive with a pay rise! So that’s two fingers up to Eric Pickles the Communities Secretary who doesn’t believe Bexley warrants a Chief Executive, let alone a Deputy.

The contrast between the looming service cuts, 300 (full time equivalent) jobs going and the creation of a Deputy Chief Executive is a recipe for discontent. Children’s Services, where Bexley council has been spending millions, literally, on more staff and modern IT systems is not immune from the unhappiness.

I have been reminded that Bexley hasn’t always had a poor OFSTED rating for Safeguarding Children, that is a comparatively recent development. According to Will Tuckley speaking at a cabinet meeting, people lost their jobs (today’s messages name three and claim there were more) when things went pear shaped but no familiar faces from the top of the tree.

Only a few days ago a judge dealing with a family case at the High Court was extremely critical of Bexley council. Nothing goes right and today’s correspondents have no doubt as to where the problem lies. The Deputy Director of Children’s Social Care. Not for the first time someone has been prepared to say that the lady concerned is very good friends with Teresa O’Neill, the council leader, and with the leader “proactively refusing to appoint people with any knowledge of children’s services” the outlook must be bleak.

Close relationships are perhaps the key to holding on to a £131,000 salary and benefits package when everything is collapsing around you. When Rhys Lawrie died on the same Deputy Director’s watch she brought in an old friend to write the Serious Case Review.

In the opinion of at least one Bexley council employee, the way the bosses cover their backs, give golden handshakes on early retirement (Peter Ellershaw has volunteered to go as predicted yesterday) and find pretexts on which to bump up their own pay is “obscene”. I imagine many will agree with him or her.


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