Maternity blues

23 Mar

More embarrassment has been heaped on the mayor and his fellow councillors over the expulsion of Charlene McLean.

The Evening Standard covered the story under the headline Councillor ‘dumped’ from authority over time off after giving birth prematurely.

The story says local party members are outraged and quotes one ‘angry member’:

“This is a working class mother who had time off during a very difficult pregnancy and was then caring for an unwell, premature baby.

“Despite that, she was injudiciously dumped from the council. Charlene is a dedicated Labour member committed to her residents but not seen as a leadership loyalist. That’s valuable on a council with no opposition.”

The normally supine Newham Recorder also got in on the act, headlining their story New mum dropped as Stratford councillor in maternity leave dispute.

Both stories include the council’s claim that then-councillor McLean was misadvised by an unnamed officer and that neither senior officials nor the executive were aware of this.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Newham Council said: “In this case, an officer provided incorrect information to another member regarding statutory maternity leave and it appears this advice was passed on to Ms McLean.

“Neither the council’s executive or the council’s monitoring officer were aware that incorrect information had been provided to Ms McLean.

“Had the council officer or Ms McLean informed the monitoring officer or the council’s executive, steps would have been taken to agree an extended period of absence for Ms McLean.”

But documents released under the Freedom of Information Act throw this claim into dispute. Mike Law asked last year for details of the amount of individual casework allocated to councillors between June and September. The reply he got in October includes this:

McLean Maternity Leave 1 

He then asked a follow up about case work in October, November and December. That was answered last week:

McLean maternity leave 2

The information governance team knew she was on maternity leave, but we are supposed to believe Sir Robin and none of his executive did.

One of Charlene McLean’s fellow councillors in Stratford & New Town is Richard Crawford. Aside from being a long-standing friend and drinking buddy of Sir Robin’s he is also the full-time, 5-days-a-week mayoral advisor on ‘resident experience’. Odd that he either never noticed Cllr McLean’s absence nor thought to mention it.

Equally odd is that the other councillor who was on maternity leave at the same time had the fact announced on her profile page on the council website:

McLean maternity leave 3

Both of Farah Nazeer’s fellow ward councillors are members of Sir Robin’s inner circle of full-time advisors. They knew she was pregnant and was on maternity leave, but apparently failed to spot Charlene McLean was in the same condition.

The council’s executive are not the only ones who were selectively inattentive. I am told Labour chief whip Steve Brayshaw called two other councillors in – Sheila Thomas and Amajit Singh – to make sure they remained legal whilst ignoring Charlene McLean’s absence.

There is something deeply rotten in the state of Newham Labour. Claims of mayoral and executive ignorance are transparently an attempt to cover that up.

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2 Responses to “Maternity blues”

  1. law27 March 23, 2015 at 15:18 #

    As an addendum to this excellent post, the Recorder states that the Mayor wrote to the Chief Executive expressing his outrage. This would have believe that 1/ Wales wasted time and ink writing to someone who has an office on the same floor as him at the Ministry of Truth, and 2/ the Chief Executive dismissed a sitting Labour councillor without first consulting the Leader of the Labour Group… who happens to be the Mayor, Robin Wales. I smell bullshit.

    A source tells me Cllr McClean’s dismissal was orchestrated to enable another Wales flunky to obtain a cardinal’s hat. If that was the case it appears to have backfired miserably.

    • law27 March 23, 2015 at 15:19 #

      *have us believe*

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