Regular readers will know that I have previously been critical of the Council circumventing proper recruitment procedures by shoulder-tapping individuals and handing them jobs without formal advertising or competitive interview.
I am pleased to confirm that the recent appointment of a position of “Strategic Communications and Policy Lead (Housing)” was recruited by a formal process. Remuneration for the post is £54,468 per annum (pro rata) with excellent benefits .
The initial staff requisition was signed off by the relevant
Cabinet Member for Housing who was subsequently defeated in the District
Council elections in May.
The role was advertised on three external jobs websites as well as the Council’s own website. The advert was first published in the public domain on Friday 12th April and the closing date for applications was Tuesday 23rd April which allowed a full seven working days for people to apply for the position (assuming they found it within the timescale which fell amid the season of election campaigning).
Given the level of remuneration (over £50k plus benefits), it is perhaps surprising that only two people applied for the role and only one was shortlisted for interview.
By contrast, a recent recruitment for a ‘Head of Leisure’ at SKDC attracted nearly 20 applications although this was via a recruitment consultancy and the post was advertised for almost a month.
Nevertheless, congratulations are due to the successful applicant who has previous experience of working in the Communications Team at South Kesteven albeit as an external consultant with Emulus Communications Ltd. Small world though, innit!?
I am delighted to report that the South Kesteven Cabinet will hold a formal meeting, open to the public, at the Eventus Centre in Market Deeping tomorrow (6th September, 2018 at 2pm)
Some people need to get out more often, especially Councillors, and this is what I have been arguing since I joined South Kesteven Council back in 2015. To be specific, I have been suggesting that at least one formal committee meeting each year should be held in each of the smaller towns i.e. Bourne, Stamford and Market Deeping. Continue reading →
Not very long ago, one of my constituents had her green bin refused because it had an onion in it and I had to go and investigate why.
After speaking to SKDC, then LCC, then the recycling plant at Langar, I finally got a clear answer from WRAP.
To save your phone bill and all the tedium of doing this yourself, I’ll tell you that, in the eyes of the Food Hygiene industry, anything that has been into a kitchen could theoretically have been in contact with a chopping board or knife infected by rotten meat or E-coli or whatever. As no-one can tell whether a particular apple has visited a kitchen we have to assume they are all dangerous.
It sounds ridiculous but it is the law and, like any organisation, South Kesteven always has to abide by the law.
The best thing to do with uncooked fruit is to put it on your compost heap.
Report to Market Deeping Full Council – July 11th 2018
Apart from watching World Cup football, I’ve had another busy month. Here are the edited highlights:
Friends of Mill Field
Since my last report, Friends of Mill Field have heard news from the Independent arbiter of the Village Green application. There will be a public inquiry into the application which will probably take place in November.
In an attempt to ‘lock the stable door’, the County Council has taken the gormless decision to register a landowner deposit to declare that they wish to put an end to the recreational use of the land.
I am trying to find out how many people responded to the so-called consultation about potential development on the land.
SKDC’s new Head of Town Centres, Paul Allen, contacted me for a meeting about growing the town’s economy, including an update on the Saturday market. I invited Cllr Virginia Moran to join me the meeting as I know she has done a significant amount of work planning this year’s Christmas market as well as acting as liaison with SKDC regarding the proposed Saturday market. We gave Mr Allen a short tour of Market Deeping explaining the key issues faced by retailers, residents and visitors.
Over 500 people responded to the recent SKDC consultation regarding a weekly market in the old market place. More than 85% of the responses were positive and the County Council is now being consulted because they are technically responsible for the market place. Assuming the County Council don’t drag their feet, the market could be launched in the autumn. Continue reading →
Last week I blogged that Gravitas Housing Ltd has been planning to build houses in Bourne and that there are no definitive public evidence that South Kesteven’s Local Authority Controlled Company (LACC) is planning anything else.
On 10th January, the Deputy Leader, Cllr Kelham Cooke, decided formally to sell the Wherry’s Lane site to Gravitas Housing Ltd. If I have understood correctly, the council also agreed to lend £250,000 to Gravitas in order that they could afford to buy the land.
So, after securing the land and almost a year of Shareholder Meetings held behind closed doors, the Gravitas Directors (who are all employed by SKDC) decided to request planning permission for the erection of 25 dwellings on Wherry’s Lane in Bourne. A valid application was received by SKDC planning department on 27th March 2018 (which had been prepared by a consultancy in Louth!). Continue reading →
Gravitas Housing Ltd is a company established and wholly owned by South Kesteven District Council.
What is a LACC?
In order to become more agile, flexible and able to generate revenue, many Council’s have chosen to establish Local Authority Controlled Companies (LACCs or sometimes pronounced ‘Lac-Co’).
Some LACCs have been very successful, for example Norfolk Property Services (NPS) which now has a group structure and trades as Norse Commercial Services delivering services to the public in many local authority areas (geographic areas and service areas).
Other Local Authority commercial ventures have been a nightmare, e.g. Solutions SK which was described as a ‘Four-Star shambles‘ when it lost £4.7million pounds in a year. When I say ‘lost’ I mean they couldn’t find it. The highly paid Directors employed for their commercial acumen couldn’t explain where it had gone. There was no question of fraud, only incompetence on a grand scale. I happy to report that the ‘SK’ in ‘Solutions SK’ refers to Stockport not South Kesteven. Presumably they couldn’t even spell Stockport Council when they set up the LACC.
Gravitas slowly takes off
Back in 2015, South Kesteven Councillors decided that the LACC vehicle was a band-wagon worth jumping on to and so a Shareholders Committee was formed. This is an advisory group to keep the company directors on track. Due to the need for political balance, the membership consists of four Tories and one Independent (which is me).
The first meeting was scheduled 4th July 2016 but this was cancelled. Another date was set for 6th September 2016 but this was also cancelled. The Shareholder Committee finally met for the first time on 3rd October 2016 Continue reading →