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Parting gift

12 Jul

My thanks to the eagle-eyed reader who spotted that Douglas Trainer was paid £75,350.00 as “Compensation for loss of employment” when he left Newham Council in March.

In section 34 of the Draft Statement of Accounts 2017/18, relating to Officers’ Remuneration (page 79) it is stated that Mr D Trainer – Director of Customer and Strategic Services was paid the following:

  • Salary, Fees & Allowances £112,790
  • Compensation for loss of employment £75,350
  • Council’s contribution to Pension Fund £23,122

This arrives at a total Remuneration Package of £211,262.

This would make Mr Trainer the highest paid employee of the Council in 2017/18.

You will recall chief executive Kim Bromley-Derry’s email to councillors of 16 March which said:

“I would like to inform you that Douglas Trainer, Director of Customer and Strategic Services, has decided to leave us to pursue new opportunities elsewhere”

If it was his decision to leave, why was he given a £75,350 parting gift?

This happened on Sir Robin’s watch. His successor – or her cabinet member for finance – should ask Mr Bromley-Derry for an explanation. And also whether Nick Bracken and Deborah Hindson, who both resigned from senior positions after the mayoral election, have received similar payments. We shouldn’t have to wait for next year’s accounts to find out.

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Rejecting Lakminism

23 Mar

Motion passed by West Ham Labour Party last night:

“Whether or not a political candidate has children is never an issue for men and nor should it be for women. It’s deeply inappropriate that anyone in the Labour Party – a party committed to equality- should make it so.

“The West Ham Women’s Forum aspires to a Newham in which a woman’s family status is never a barrier to achievement. There is much to be done nationally and locally to achieve this, whether further improving the child care offer for our residents or respecting the opportunities or private choices of party members and politicians. We urge all MPs, Councillors and Labour Party members to commit to this vision and work with us to achieve it.”

Lakmini Shah, take note.

Trainer out

16 Mar

Small beer compared to today’s other big news, but Douglas Trainer has left Newham Council.

In an email to councillors, chief executive Kim Bromley-Derry writes:

Dear Members

I would like to inform you that Douglas Trainer, Director of Customer and Strategic Services, has decided to leave us to pursue new opportunities elsewhere.

Douglas joined Newham Council in January 2011 as Head of Communications before taking up duties as Assistant Chief Executive in 2016 and most recently as Director of Customer and Strategic Services.

During his time here Douglas used his experience in public relations and public affairs to instil across the organisation an increased awareness of wider strategic, reputational, and policy matters.

We thank him for his contribution to delivering the council’s strategic priorities and many of our resident-facing activities.

Douglas’ contact details have been updated and he’s now available on [email redacted] and [phone redacted].

He is having some leaving drinks [details redacted] to which, he says, you are all invited.

This won’t come as much of a surprise, as rumours of his departure having been circulating for a while, along with lurid stories of him being marched out of the building.

It seems Mr Trainer got himself on the wrong side of chief operating officer Nick Bracken. And there was only ever going to be one winner in that fight.

All in all, not a great day for the Scottish community in Newham.

Lyn Rokhs

9 Mar

Oops!

2 Mar

I’ve written before bemoaning the shoddy state of record-keeping and a generally lax attitude to quality assurance at Newham council.

But a paper going to cabinet next week just about takes the biscuit.

This report seeks approval to the correction of the Minutes of the Cabinet Meeting on 20 February 2014

Yes, you read that right. They need to correct a four year-old set of minutes.

Why? Because the minutes of that meeting omitted to record a key decision in relation to setting up Red Door Ventures, the council-owned private rented development vehicle. That decision was to

Agree that the company be provided with funding through state aid compliant loans and grant facilities

So the council has been lending money – A LOT OF MONEY – over the past four years to Red Door Ventures without any properly recorded authority to do so.

Cabinet will undoubtedly agree to

correct the minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on the 20th February 2014 and ratify decisions made under the purported delegated authority, made in good faith, pursuant to the omitted recommendation.

But this is, to say the least, an embarrassing oversight.

On its face, this is an administrative cock up rather than Sir Robin over-reaching his legal authority (in contrast to the Collegiate 6th Form, where he did something he had absolutely no power to do). It is reminiscent of the unapproved £10 million overspend on the East Ham Town Hall campus project. That was also blamed on unnamed officers. The politicians, who should ultimately be accountable, just shrugged it off.

It all reflects extremely poorly on someone who is seeking a fifth term of office, claiming to the candidate of experience and competence.

And another one

17 Feb

This time it’s Cllr Frances Clarke, cabinet member for financial inclusion and health promotion:

Dear All

I have decided not to stand again as a councillor. I shall instead be focussing on community issues including safety in  tower blocks nationally. This year is the 50th anniversary of the collapse of Ronan Point and once again we are seeing evidence of similar blocks in other parts of London with serious structural defects. This is an issue I was involved in the past and particularly in light of the Grenfell tragedy it has become a priority again. In Newham in the 80s a joint campaign of tenants and Newham council successfully led to the demolition of 9 unsafe 22 storey blocks. We went on to work nationally campaigning to make blocks safe or get them demolished.

Thank you to everyone I have worked with, it has been a privilege; thank you to Robin for giving me the opportunity to lead on MoneyWorks and the promotion of early diagnosis of cancer.

Standing down

17 Feb

Beckton Cllr David Christie is standing down. He has written to his comrades and colleagues:

I wanted to let you know that I have decided not to stand as a councillor in May. It has been a difficult decision but I think it is the right one.

It has been an honour to represent Beckton ward for the last 8 years. I grew up here and I am so proud to have been able to represent this area and to make a difference to my community.

I am very grateful for the support that many of you have offered me and I wish you all good fortune in the future.

Running Newham council is such an important role and touches everyday life in so many ways. For me, this job has always been about making a difference to individual’s lives and this council has been able to do more than any other because of a single minded focus to support people on low incomes and to build opportunities for them and their families. That is why I have supported Robin over the last few years and hope that he will be Mayor for one final term in May. However, I am choosing to stand down now, at a time when I am proud of my achievements and can take this chance to pursue new opportunities in my career and in politics.

Given the situation we have been in over the last few months, it is a matter of much regret that I have not been able to properly discuss manifesto ideas with many of you in the way I would have wanted. I hope that whatever happens over the next few weeks, that I can contribute to the future policy agenda in Newham.

We were all elected under a Newham Labour brand. Don’t forget that, Look out for each other and see you out on a #labourdoorstep very soon!