Shuffling the pack

14 Dec

Reshuffle

Sir Robin has written to councillors to announce some changes to his team of ‘mayoral advisors’, including a couple of additions to the already bulging executive payroll.

Cllr Ellie Robinson (Forest Gate North) is taking over responsibility for Commercial Opportunities, leading “work to make the Council more commercial, to ensure we have a strong income stream to mitigate the loss of government funding.” This probably means resurrecting the mayor’s crass MoneyWorks payday loans idea, flagged in the 2014 manifesto but largely forgotten since. The other money-spinning manifesto promise, a kind of BrightHouse competitor to flog white goods to the poor on the never-never, has also vanished from sight. Perhaps Ellie will be tasked with reviving that too. 

Having passed over the commercial brief, Cllr Forhad Hussain (Plaistow North) will be able to spend more time with Ken Clark, working on ‘Community Neighbourhoods.’ Lucky man.

Ellie’s previous role as lead for OneSource, the partnership with Havering council to share back office services, will be taken up by deputy mayor, Cllr Lester Hudson (Wall End). According to Sir Robin, this “will enable us to better harness the synergies between strategic and operational finance work.” Beings as the perennially useless “Three Jobs” is already cabinet lead for finance AND he chairs the audit board AND he chairs the investment and accounts committee, this further consolidation of financial responsibility looks like a governance disaster waiting to happen. 

Cllr David Christie (Beckton) gets responsibility for the “Newham 2020 transformation programme” and the “reconfiguring of our services.” Which will make him the public face of everything that goes wrong in local public services for the next five years. 

Joining the ’special responsibility allowance’ gravy train for the first time are Cllrs Julianne Marriott (East Ham Central) and Tonii Wilson (Beckton).

Cllr Wilson will be taking Ellie Robinson’s seat on the OneSource board. With 14 previous directorships – all at companies which are now dissolved – she brings a wealth of boardroom experience.

Cllr Marriott is a surprise addition to the team. As recently as last June she was one of nine councillors excluded by the mayor from a budget pow-wow at a swanky hotel in Chigwell. But time (and money, no doubt) heals all wounds. Like Forhad Hussain she will be spending a lot of time with Ken Clark in her new role. The mayor assures councillors that her appointment to the Regeneration brief “will give us more capacity to ensure we are delivering regeneration that genuinely transforms people’s lives.” Perhaps by scheduling extra buses to ship them out of town before their homes are bulldozed to make way for yet another ‘luxury development’? 

Residents interested in finding out what any of these ‘jobs’ actually entails or what councillors will be doing to prove they are worth their additional allowances will be out of luck. There won’t be anything resembling a job description on the website for months. And even then nothing by way of performance targets. Luckily for our mayoral advisors, if there are no targets they can’t miss them. Trebles all round!

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