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Bonkers Blog March 2016

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3 March (Part 1) - Pay peanuts, get a monkey?

O'NeillSome arcane council rule must dictate that the appointment of a new Chief Executive requires an Extraordinary Council meeting and last night one was squeezed in before the regular 19:30 meeting. Ms. Steward’s appointment was approved in six minutes.

I attended mainly for the experience of being thrown out and at Item 3 the Council duly gave themselves the authority to exclude the public - only me at that stage. This is the correct procedure which Councillor Cheryl Bacon didn’t bother to observe on 10th December 2015. In the event it didn’t happen because no councillor chose to comment on Bexley’s dirty secrets.

Council Leader O’Neill said that the appointment of a new CE was “a daunting task” and it was “crucial to the future of our borough” and with those few words launched an attack on Councillor Deadman the Labour leader. Apparently he had been right behind former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles who said soon after his appointment to ministerial rank that he saw no good reason for any council to employ both a full time Leader and a Chief Executive.

At the same time Mr. Bryant had collected 2,219 signatures for a petition against Mr. Tuckley (the former Chief Executive) being the sixth highest paid council official in the country and calling for the application of more of Mr. Pickles’ recommendations.

Teresa O’Neill, such is her belief in democracy, refused to accept the petition so it was never debated but she did offer the opinion that it was necessary to pay the highest salaries to attract the best brains. Though she appears to have partially changed her mind, she agrees neither with Eric Pickles or Alan Deadman. Councillor Deadman’s suggestion that the Council could save £200,000 a year by dispensing with a Chief Executive meant “he had no understanding of the Chief Executive’s importance”. Who will tell Mr. Pickles?

According to Teresa O’Neill no one else is able to spend Bexley’s £440,000,000 a year and shared Chief Executives in other boroughs had not proved to be a success. She failed to explain how it was that Bexley will have gone more than six months and through a critical budget setting period, apparently successfully, without a Chief Executive.

However in a sharp reversal of previous policy Bexley’s Chief Executive will be the lowest paid in London instead of enjoying a public service salary among the very highest in the land. The Leader hoped that Mrs. Gill Steward “will take Bexley to a new place” - please not Cornwall - whilst most of us were hoping it was Teresa O’Neill who might find pastures new.

The appointment of Ms. Steward was approved unanimously by the Conservative members whilst the Labour members stuck to their principles. No UKIP members were present.

Bexley Council's Press Release.


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