Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Public (dis) appointments

If you recall, a few months ago, the Tory/Liberal Democrat 'Progressive Partnership' (sic) finally managed to ditch Llin Homer as chief exec of Birmingham City Council. They've now announced that the successful candidate will be limited to a maximum remuneration of £195,000 a year. This sounds a lot, but you do need to remember that this is the senior executive managerial role in the biggest council in the UK - effectively a business operation that turns round billions of pounds a year in the service of around a million people. The salary should therefore be competitive with other local authorities.

Birmingham Forward and John James from the Institute of Directors have both called for a higher salary to be offered to tempt the right candidate - with John James actually calling for someone in the Digby Jones mould to be brought in as a
'strong chief executive who can provide leadership and direct the politicians wherever possible.'
Pardon me for being old-fashioned, but isn't that the wrong way round? Although, to be fair - the current bunch need a lot of directing. Straight down to the job centre, if I had my way.

Funny how Diggers keeps being mentioned in relation to a role in running the city, isn't it? And the Post do keep banging on about their love of an elected mayor.

I actually suspect that we can find the right person for a salary around that figure, but my concern is more with the recruitment process. The recent history of Birmingham City Council senior appointments is less than brilliant.

Last autumn, we had the appointment of a head of communications who just happened to be a former senior Rover manager (remember them? they eagerly loaned Whitless a top-of-the-range sports car because he was such a fine ambassador for the company). Curiously, the post wasn't advertised and there seems to have been a strange dearth of alternative candidates to write the most turgidly awful press releases.

Earlier in the year, they appointed a new head of Equalities and Diversity, one Mashuq Ally. He was, a few years ago, dean of the faculty of arts at Lampeter, until he left following a disagreement over his supervision of a PhD thesis supposedly written by a member of the Saudi royal family studying at the university. An internal report from the university contains the damning statement that he 'knowingly acted improperly and abused his position' and a note that the university would not be providing a reference for him. Employers aren't required to provide references, but it would certainly raise some huge questions if I was seeking to employ somebody and received that kind of response.

Dr Ally then went on to be the director of the Commission for Racial Equality in Wales, only to leave after a couple of years following allegations of professional misconduct over business projects and inappropriate behaviour towards colleagues. He then took a job with South East Wales Racial Equality Council, but didn't last out his probationary period and was gone in nine months after an allegation of 'an improper personal relationship' with a colleague came to light. And now, he turns up in Birmingham.

I can't wait to see who they get to be chief exec.

1 comment:

Ornette said...

The failure of the Labour Group to take any action over the appointment of the Head of Comms. was shameful. Why, one wonders, were they so feeble?