14 February 2012

Sounds like someone is sick of Nick

Here is the latest weekly message from the Chief Executive non stick Nick Walkley. 

Mr Mustard likes this message; there is definitely a different tone to it. It looks like he may have rumbled that in a Premier league of Chief Execs he wouldn't make the play-offs ( pay-off is a more likely end to his season ).

From: First Team
Sent: 10 February 2012 15:15
To: AllStaff
Subject: Weekly message from the Chief Executive
A week of listening and learning for me. Excellent.

On Tuesday, Gareth Daniel (Chief Executive of Brent Council) chaired the Efficiency and Improvement Network of the West London Alliance. How many of these talking shops are there. A manager could spend every day at a meeting of one sort or another and never do any real work.
His introduction to the event was a direct challenge to the 80 or so managers there: that it was no longer acceptable to be content with running an efficient service. Every public servant had a duty to join up with other councils and other sectors, to seek further efficiency and learning. The tone was sharp and focused, and a wake-up call to all present. Of course, one needs to be running an efficient council in the first place. Procurement is one service that is hopelessly deficient.

On Wednesday we hosted the Chief Executive of Oldham Council. On a walkabout of Beaufort Park and Grahame Park, he was challenging about the pace and approach we are taking to regenerate that area. The insights he brought to bear from his authority, where there is less money and far greater deprivation, will help us move those schemes on. Don't you love these management speak words, he was "challenging". It would be nice to know what he actually said. Maybe he will write about his visit on his own blog It is well worth a read.

A difficult conversation between a local resident, a Chief Executive from another borough, Andrew Travers and myself will be a reference for me in to the future. Another conversation which would have been very interesting to listen to. If you are that resident please get in touch with Mr Mustard or any other Barnet blogger of your choice. It does rather sound like that one resident was not a big fan of what the council are doing in the Grahame Park area.

As Gareth Daniel said, it can be very easy to listen to colleagues from neighbouring boroughs or other sectors and think "we do that" or "tried that, didn't quite work" but we now must move beyond that defensiveness as we have to find new ways of delivering with ever fewer resources. Back to Brent. Defensive, Barnet, why would that be? Perhaps because so much is so wrong, so much change is going on that is out of control, and because you are taking a pasting?


Should you bump into Nick here are some questions you could ask him:
  • Are you really in charge/control of OneBarnet ?
  • Can you explain OneBarnet to me in 140 characters? (a tweet)
  • Why are so many consultants needed when the council has 462 managers?
  • Why do you let your staff use services companies to avoid PAYE whilst you pay it?
  • Are you happy that loyal employees get transferred to Croydon or Bangalore?
  • Do you truly believe that the council is Open, Transparent or Democratic?
  • Is increasing Barnet's already large population every year a good idea?
  • Shouldn't Barnet's old buildings and museums be preserved?
  • Are you thinking of leaving Barnet Council?
  • How do you think the council should respond to bloggers?
  • Is Barnet Council better run now than before you became Chief Executive?
Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. Perhaps the Chief Executive of Oldham Council was talking to Nick about their experience of outsourcing undertaken by Unity Partnerhsip a JV between Mouchel and Barnet's own implementation partner Agilisys. Perhaps he mentioned how their outsourcing partner moved jobs out of Oldham to nearby Rochdale where their outsourcing partners have another contract with an incentive to bring in jobs. Or perhaps it was Trowers & Hamlins, Barnets legfal advisors who introduced nick to Oldahm given they advised on Oldham outsourcing contract that was criticised in a scrutiny report in 2010 by people using the call centre about delays; confusion over who does what on highways; criticism of the ICT service; a call for improvement and efficiency on building management and services; no significant economies of scale because Unity has not expanded its services, and no new business centre has been built. On highways, the report called for more value for money, because Unity is paid a percentage of the schemes, with no incentive to keep costs low. Timescales are also excessive.

    I do hope Nick was listening.

  2. You know so much Mr Reasonable.

    Barnet Council really should make use of you; they find your critical friend questions at committee meetings a bother even though you know more about council work than most councillors.

  3. Mr Walkley: if you have developed an interest in difficult conversations, please remember that Mrs Angry is very happy to oblige, should you wish to engage in debate. Ah: but it is rather difficult to have a difficult conversation when those residents are forbidden from raising difficult issues at their own Forums, and when every process of consultation in Barnet is so carefully managed so as to stifle any dissident opinons, is it not?


I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.