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If it weren't for this bloke, HCC's "legal eagle" may never have landed


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That could well be the case Cambo.


Wirral had four senior council officers in trouble.


Prior to the Wirral whitewash, Penn had a widely-publicised history of defending senior council officers in trouble, as we can see here:




Sooooo....  Who yer gonna call?




You're not far from Wales are you?  The reason for posting these snippets is, as your council spirals down the plughole, there's the off chance he may pop up on the horizon, hove into view, and get commissioned for some work by a Director of Law residing not a million miles away from Herefordshire Town Hall... a chap who may want to return a favour.

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Thanks Megilleland.


If I remember  correctly, he was very quickly recovered, back in situ, savouring the cut and thrust, and commanding top dollar.


"The hair of the dog that bit you" comes to mind.  An approach that seems to have paid dividends for our Richard.

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Came across these. I assume it is the same Richard Penn.
I suppose it started here sometime Bradford Common Purpose



Ah yes, Common Purpose - from their website; 'for successful leaders to operate effectively they need a different approach to leadership - the ability to Lead Beyond Authority'.


As we've seen with the bullying issue, leading beyond authority ie keeping councillors (allegedly) in the dark, has been to the fore with this council.

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Impact Statement from Common Purpose......


    "As a result of Common Purpose courses, a growing number of people around the world are making a difference in their organisations, communities and wider society."


Yup. Their certainly making a difference alright.

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That could well be the case Cambo.


Wirral had four senior council officers in trouble.


Prior to the Wirral whitewash, Penn had a widely-publicised history of defending senior council officers in trouble, as we can see here:




Sooooo....  Who yer gonna call?




You're not far from Wales are you?  The reason for posting these snippets is, as your council spirals down the plughole, there's the off chance he may pop up on the horizon, hove into view, and get commissioned for some work by a Director of Law residing not a million miles away from Herefordshire Town Hall... a chap who may want to return a favour.

Thanks for the link to my blog Paul.

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Course, trying to get a decent conversation going down at the Commercial with the lads about stuff that really matters is becoming nigh on impossible.

Last night for bloody example, I fell inside the aforementioned battle cruiser, I said, 'lads Im here. What shall we talk about tonight?'.

Course, they all cried, 'Hoorah, the fat tw.at is here. Lets talk about girls we'd like to kiss'. I said, 'lads, we've done that twice this past month and I for one am sick of arguing over who I wish to kiss and who I don't wish to kiss. For the love of God and all that holy lets talk about something else'.

Course, there's silence isn't there. No mention of Bill Norman, Geoff Hughes's enormous portfolio of responsibility that's impossible to deal with or even this latest offering Richard Penn who, at the request of Wirral Council managed to clear and exonerate a bunch of public servants involved in an allegation of being involved in acts of misconduct whilst in a public office.

What about, if you won a million quid. We haven't done that for a while. Lets do that'. I said, 'No! I'll tell you what. We'll do, 'what's the worst thing that could happen to you'. We ain't done that one for ages.'

And so, this gathering of minds, who I like to call 'the lads', went into a huddle and after much deliberation the worst thing that they could come up with that could have happened to them would be, 'we lost fifty quid in a game of three card brag and when we left the pub a mysterious woman dressed in black holding a pair of garden shears chased them up the road and cut their heads off'.

I said, 'Is that it. Is that the bloody best you can do. Some old hag dressed in black chases you all up the road and cuts your heads off with garden shears. Is that the best you can do?'.

I said, 'Thats nothing. Thats nowhere near the worst thing that could happen to you. You lot have no imagination. What about losing fifty quid, getting chased up the road by the woman in black, escaping her shears, getting inside your house only to find you've been cuckolded by Bill Norman who grabs you, shoves you in a sack full of killer ferrets who bite and nibble away at your flesh while your wife howls, 'Bill you are a wonderful lover'. And then, after he's finished ravishing my wife he walks across to me as Im laid in the sack barely alive because of all the ferrets feasting on me and he then wires me up to the domestic electricity supply and electrocutes me to death and I pay the electric bill'.

Course, that shut them up. They knew that my worst was better than their worst and so, desperate to have a proper conversation, I said, 'I'm off up The Wirral to have a conversation with like minded souls who, through discourse, will challenge my intellectual ability'.

And I did. I left the lads and some One hundred and twelve miles later, up the A49, I fell through the doors of the Ring'o'Bells somewhere in the vicinity of West Kirby and said 'lads Im Bobby Fortyseven. I've journeyed one hundred and twelve miles up here from Hereford for a challenging conversation about the Council. What's on the agenda tonight?' 'Tonight', they said, 'we are talking about girls we'd like to kiss'.

And therein lies our problem. We don't care enough to ever ask ourselves the real questions. Is this Richard Penn ever going to tip up here and start feasting upon our public funds? Well, I'll tell you now, if he ever tips up outside my abode and starts asking me what my thoughts are on being tossed in a sack of ferrets I'll give him a piece of my mind.

We are all asleep! Yes we are. Do we trust our Members of Parliament anymore? Do we trust our Banks? Do you trust the Police or the many other once admired and respected institutions to do the right thing anymore?

Well if we have all these doubts about that lot, why on earth do we ever wonder if the Council hierarchy ain't up to mischief as well. They are at it. They are at it because the entire model of public service business is constructed to be abused and milked by those who have their hands on the levers of power.

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This body pops up in Wales. I got here from Robert Penn. Sounds like a Welsh Common Purpose and it has been going on for years.



Solace is the representative body for Chief Executives and senior managers working in the public sector in the UK. We are committed to promoting public sector excellence. We provide our members with opportunities for professional development and seek to influence debate around the future of public services to ensure that policy and legislation are informed by the experience and expertise of our members. Whilst the vast majority of our members work in local government, some occupy senior positions in health and social care organisations, police and fire authorities and central government departments.




Local authorities, and the wider public sector, are only beginning to grasp the implications of these changes. Digital innovation offers both great opportunities and great threats. New ways of working are being enabled that have the potential to transform the way councils function. Equally, without preparation, adaptation and foresight these changes could pose profound threats to the sector.





Firstly, we heard from Henry Branson of Eastbourne Borough Council. Henry presented Eastbourne’s journey of organisational change, supported by session sponsor Civica, over the last few years. Henry began by introducing Eastbourne’s (not unique) challenge: rising demand, falling costs and a political commitment to protect front-line services. He then moved into discussing Eastbourne’s two-stage process of change. Firstly, was the introduction of a programme of agile working to create immediate short-term gains. This involved moving to fully open-plan offices, centralising administrative support, digitising paperwork and investing in technology to enable truly flexible working.


Bobby will love this council speak.


Once embedded, Eastbourne continued their journey through the development and implementation of ‘The Future Model’. This is a new organisational model which seeks to eliminate traditional organisational silos, replacing function departments with horizontally integrated organisational structures based around triage, service processing, specialist advice and customer enabling. Though not a technology programme, this change relied heavily on technological change and digital innovation. Technology was needed to support a new single point of contact, to ensure the number of systems was kept to a minimum and different systems talked to each other & to support channel shift and demand management activities. In short, while technology did not provide the answer, it was critical to ensuring the answer worked.


And these Chief Officers have their own organisation in the EU to promote regionalism.


Profesional Development

Our ambition is to be the premier professional association for general managers across European local government.


So I suppose there will be more money on the gravy train when they have decimated the local authorities in the UK. Its definitely not the councillors we should be worried about. Its these megalomaniac officers.


The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history. [bertrand Russell, "The Conquest of Happiness"]




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It's a complete lack of self-awareness.


They do it to impress, not realising that in the eyes of ordinary, sentient, well-adjusted human beings like us, they're marking themselves out as complete and utter w a n k e r s.

That they most certainly are mr Cardin but one day it will catch up with them?!

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BloodyHell! Me whole day ruined. I've just seen it. Lord above, 'Horizontally integrated'! The barstard! No! The barstards! There must be two of them. The rotten author and the rotten typist. In my eyes, both are equally responsible.

If I were the typist and I had that little slice of pleasure shoved in front of me I would never, under and circumstances, have typed up this bucket of tripe. Never! And whoever did type it is just as responsible as the idiot who dreamt up this codswallop.

I'd like to take the pair of them from their Vertically Integrated position, place them in their Horizontally Integrated position, tether them both to some permanent fixture, pull down their pants and thrash them as my accomplice read the whole piece out over and over again.

That'd make them think twice! That'd stop this madness. If these fools knew that there were consequences to their actions, they'd think twice before transmitting this rubbish. And it is rubbish. I'm the purveyor of more rubbish than anyone and if I say it's rubbish, it's rubbish and anyone who says it ain't is a stinker and no ally of mine.

I'm being serious. At the very heart of all this rubbish is an arrogance that's infested our public services and I'd like it to stop. Sooner rather than later if that's alright with everyone else.

'Horizontally integrated'!!! To think that it's come to this. My God! The poor souls who serve these people and are compelled through duty to have to read this pigswill. I couldn't do it. I'd bloody resign. I would. I'd write me bloody notice out and shovel human shi.t down the sewage works rather than read their communications every single day of my working week. Whatsmore, having left to shovel the mountains of human shi.t that were there waiting for me every single morning of the week, I'd pick up my shovel and howl with joy knowing that instead of reading their codswallop I had chosen to shovel an endless pile of human shi.t.

Yep! I'm certain of it! Definitely! I'd gladly embrace my new employer, tell him, 'thanks for giving me the chance to shovel this huge mountain of sh.it. I won't let you down'. And I wouldn't. I'd be a loyal and grateful employee cognizant that I'd been plucked from a fate worse than death itself, which was, having to play a part in the transmission of their bloody pigswill.

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If you cross councillors or senior officers you do run the risk of retaliation. I have been on the receiving end myself.  I and a neighbour have been twice barricaded into our houses by logs being piled up at the end of our driveways.  It was a very dangerous and bizarre reaction to our continued complaints to the council. We knew who was behind this work.  Other local people who had complained suffered retaliation in different ways.  I also have a friend who bought a house through the Dutch auction process – a property which a councillor had really wanted and expected to get.  My friend has since suffered several “burglaries†at both his present and new property.


My apologies, but my technology does not run to linking to other sites.  However, if you look at John Brace’s blog today entitled “What does an election year, Cllr Phil Davies, Schools PFI and Lyndale School have in common†you will see that John Brace is now too on the receiving end of those who object to his ongoing critical comments.


Who said the Mafia only existed in Italy?

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With his previous workplace stress issues now consigned to the distant past, Richard Penn has been busy defending senior officers in trouble once again...




I still cannot fathom how bringing the senior officers' union ALACE in to investigate senior officer dodginess is going to result in anything but a whitewash !

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If you cross councillors or senior officers you do run the risk of retaliation.


My apologies, but my technology does not run to linking to other sites.  However, if you look at John Brace’s blog today entitled “What does an election year, Cllr Phil Davies, Schools PFI and Lyndale School have in common†you will see that John Brace is now too on the receiving end of those who object to his ongoing critical comments.


It's never good for anyone to take on the press though. :) And I have a very thick skin... I may be a nuisance at times but I'm still on speaking terms with those I criticise!

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  • 4 weeks later...

The senior officers are now falling like ninepins at Derby City Council.  Richard Penn (mentioned above) may be about to ride in on a white charger and rescue them.


Is he pushing for this gig?  Could he become the appointed Designated Independent Person required to investigate?




On Wirral, his services didn't come cheap.  Neither did the whitewash, which broke down as follows:


Mr Richard Penn's services: £47,020


Mr Bill Norman (no case to answer): £151,000


Mr David Green (no case to answer): £103,234


Mr Ian Coleman (no case to answer): £82,000


Mr David Taylor-Smith (no case to answer): £68,660



Total = £451,914

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Mr Lockwood, who had been in the top role at Harrow Council since 2007 and was earning £183,097-a-year, left with a lump sum pension payment of £138,651 and a £30,000 compensation payment - along with a £65,179-a-year pension.


But now, just nine months after losing the job, Mr Lockwood has been re-hired by the same council, which is now run by Labour.


The decision to re-hire him came after Labour councillors decided that a chief executive was 'crucial' to the good-running of the council, which has to cut £75million from its budget over the next four years.


Mr Lockwood, however, has been told that his old salary is no longer in place and that he will have to take a £20,000 pay cut, taking him to an annual salary of just over £160,000.


Bit different to the man who was let go at the end of a temporary job and has now been ordered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to work for the same firm for six months without pay. John McArthur, 59, says he is surviving on a monthly pension of £149 after the DWP stopped his unemployment benefit until January as punishment for his refusal to go on the 26-week community work placement (CWP).

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  • 2 weeks later...
Hereford Times News: 19th November 2014 by Bill Tanner

Council response to CRM failures to go to audit and governance committee
Herefordshire Council says failures identified in the “flawed and aggressive†implementation of a £1 million customer service IT system are unlikely to be repeated.
But the council’s response to its own audit and governance committee tacitly accepts project management failings  failures inherent in the implementation of the system known as CRM came down to project management.
The committee is due to formally hear the council’s response on November 26.
An investigation into CRM, instigated by a whistleblower under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, was undertaken by the council’s external auditors Grant Thornton earlier this year.
The concerned the procurement and implementation of CRM between 2009-2011.
As reported by the Hereford Times, Grant Thornton produced a report – presented to audit and corporate governance in   September – that found no evidence of impropriety in the procurement  process, but did find some areas where lessons could be learned for future major  project implementation.
The committee set up task group to research governance structures, systems and procedures relating to procurement and projects, including the avoidance of over reliance on any individual.
A new report now outlines what the council is doing differently with major projects since CRM.
That report says there is “good reason†to believe that the failures identified by Grant  Thornton are “unlikely to be repeatedâ€.
The report says the present senior management team - Chief Executive, Directors and Assistant Directors - is fewer in number and  different in make-up compared to 2010, with changes at all levels.
Though no comment is made on the 2010 team, the current team is said to have a “very clear sense†of the authority’s priorities and its future direction.
Today, as in the case of the 2010, significant service changes are discussed at management board level before being the subject of reports for  member decision.
Again, no comment is made on how matters were in 2010, but, today, such discussions are said to be inclusive and open, with officers attending encouraged to discuss issues and concerns.
As a result, the report says, decisions tend to be “implemented consistently†across directorates.
Grant Thornton noted an apparent absence of any independent report or cost benefit evaluation for CRM saying financial analysis was “neither transparent, owned by all parts of the Council, nor fully realisticâ€.
The committee will hear that in the four years since 2010, the council has “generally†become more experienced in procuring goods and services and “better able†to projecting the likely savings.
Sustained year on year budget reductions since 2010 have resulted in a “more realistic and robust†approach to budgeting and the projection of savings.
Grant Thornton found a “lack of corporate consultation†over the preparation of the business case for CRM, overseen by the former assistant director for customer services and communications who acted as  project executive with support from colleagues.
Projected savings were based on a roll out across all the council’s departments and services which did not happen.
According to Grant Thornton, the reason why is straightforward and able to be avoided in future.
The report says there was a lack of corporate consultation with the appearance of the relevant service departments - where the reductions in staff costs would arise - were properly consulted on the efficacy of the proposals or the robustness of the calculated savings.
In September, Grant Thornton called  the implementation of CRM “aggressive and flawed†to the extent that tensions rose between between management and staff.
This tension was especially evident in the council’s contact centre – the frontline for customer service.
A whistleblower who raised concerns related to the system claimed that these concerns were not fully followed up by senior councillors and officers.
These findings put to the council’s audit and governance committee.
The report to the committee said the business case for CRM  was not backed by "robust analysis" and is unlikely to have met its intended £1.6 million savings target.
Financial analysis for the project was  neither transparent nor "fully realistic" the report said.
The committee called for formal updates - within the next six months - on progress addressing issues identified in the report and set up a task group to  further examine the report’s findings.
 Members accepted that more needed to be done with the council’s current whistleblowing policy to make council staff confident of coming forward.
The CRM complainant – who remains anonymous - raised a number of concerns informally about the procurement and implementation of the project with senior officers and members of the Council over a period of time.
It is alleged that these concerns were not followed up in all instances by senior  members and officers.
Those officers who lead the CRM project are no longer with the council.
The complainant was reluctant to share relevant evidence with an investigation by the council’s external auditor Grant Thornton for fear of compromising their anonymity, making it difficult to verify the validity of the concerns expressed.
As a result, Grant Thornton advised the council – through the report – that it “may wish†to ensure its internal complaints procedures are “well understood and robust.â€
The CRM whistleblower went to Grant Thornton in January this year.
A subsequent investigation  under the Public Disclosure Act found that the business case for CRM system was not "fully owned" by all parts of the council, nor were the estimated cashable savings of £1.6 million identified in the business case backed by "robust analysis".
The report finds that those savings were, in fact, were premised on centralising services and cutting back office staff in individual departments, while CRM as a project did not subsequently extend to all of the services envisaged within the business case, making it "unlikely" that key elements of its cashable savings have been realised.
Evidence also suggested that the “aggressive†implementation of CRM may have  impacted on staff working particularly in the Contact Centre and that this resulted in tension between management and staff.  
However, the procurement processes around CRM were found to have been "appropriate".
Crucial to the council’s concept of a shared front office function, CRM went live in 2011 through a contract the council awarded to Ciber (UK) Ltd.
CRM was the subject of an options paper put to the council in November 2009, with an outline business case presented for acceptance the following February.
The relevant customer strategy was approved in May 2010 and the business case backed - with a benefits model - in October 2010.
But the report reveals that CRM subsequently did not offer complete visibility of all customer information or allow proactive responses to customer data  - which were key elements of the original plan.
The council concedes that CRM has only been partially successful and that its momentum has stalled.
Cuts are one reason cited for that stalling, with the council no longer able to fund the full implementation of the project.
Back office savings which were supposed to be delivered by CRM were "probably" delivered by other means the council says.
The Council's model - on which CRM was based – of providing services to meet all customer demand has changed to constraining demand and promoting self-service where practicable.
With insufficient corporate and departmental support to extending CRM further its was, the report says, difficult to gauge whether the £1m spent on the project so far provided value for money.
The original £1.5 million budget for CRM was subsequently under spent by £500,000 because the original business case was not fully implemented, with the system now possibly over engineered for its current use.
Preparation of the business case for CRM was overseen by the council’s then assistant  director for customer services and communications - who acted as project executive -  supported by a senior supplier and a day-to-day project manager who prepared the project initiation document which set out estimated net cost savings.
The report finds that it was "unclear" as to where the overall benefits of CRM were derived beyond actual baseline revenue reductions in the cost of service or in the  cost of project work already planned, savings that could be made through avoidance of future costs, or quality or productivity gains that cannot be equated to a  direct revenue reduction.
As such, the report says, the bulk of the cashable benefits arose in savings on back office costs through cutting staff as services were centralised.
The investigation found no evidence of any independent report or cost benefit evaluation of the project carried out by the council’s finance department - although there was finance input into preparation of the relevant financial information.
Instead, the project was IT led with the "robustness" of the business case weakened.
The report found that despite the promised of non-cashable benefits from the project, those benefits needed to be weighed against the costs and savings arising from the project.
This, the report said, was not possible as the financial analysis was neither transparent, owned by all parts of the Council, nor fully realistic.
The report does not address allegations of bullying believed to stem from the implementation of CRM, allegations that the council has said political leaders were “not required† to know about – in line with bullying cases within the authority.
This stance was confirmed in a statement issued to the Hereford Times as a formal response from former council leader Cllr John Jarvis and current leader Cllr Tony Johnson  as to how much they knew of bullying allegations “hushed up†by secret settlement and severance payments.
The payments were bound by confidentiality clauses meaning little detail can currently be made public.
Senior councillors - including political group leaders - have told the Hereford Times that they either had no formal - or informal briefings - on the bullying allegations or related payments made to resolve them in 2012 and 2013 or did not recall being given any indication of circumstances.
The overview and scrutiny committee was not given the opportunity to analyse the way in which the allegations were handled or resolved.
A combined total for the related pay outs is thought to run into six figures.
As reported by the Hereford Times, the council refuses to release even a ballpark figure for the payments and is backed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in refusing to release all but the most basic details of the allegations and resolutions. 
This ruling means  sum spent on settlement and severance payments to resolve allegations said to involve between 10 and 20 staff cannot be confirmed.



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So, they all still claim to know nothing, or can't remember if they were.


How extremely convenient.


Well done Bill, for keeping at this - I'm sure there are quite a few who would like this story to disappear.


I would have hoped that this whole debarcle would have been brought before the scrutiny committee, and can't quite understand why it isn't.

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IT and public bodies seem to be a toxic mix.

The politicians (with rare exceptions) don't understand IT. 
The managers of the public body are too old (with rare exceptions) to understand IT. 
The contractors do (in some rare cases) understand IT but a lot of them whilst they understand IT don't fully understand how a public body operates.

So there's a "training requirement" for politicians, managers and a few others in IT so they can understand how to do their respective roles. 

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