Saturday, 18 June 2011

4 P's and the SS

by Cllr.Clive Hart

After several weeks of 'navel gazing' the new 'themed' cabinet portfolio structure has now finally been imposed on Thanet Council by the Conservative leader Cllr Bayford. His announcement came last week, a month after the elections. Hardly hitting the ground running.  
Now Thanet Labour was most certainly 'on the ball'. 2011 saw a newly agreed staff structure at Thanet Council, and following the elections on May 5th the council had to decide on a cabinet and shadow cabinet to cover the newly configured organisation. We in the Labour Group met immediately to decide who should make up our cabinet/shadow team. For good measure, as group leader I also contacted the new Chief Executive to make sure that a five member cabinet, covering the five new business streams, would be appropriate. I was informed it would work well. Consequently, we in the Labour Group duly supplied the Council with our list of five councillors who would form either the cabinet or shadow cabinet, depending on the outcome of the Annual meeting. Job done and dusted and all before the council meeting itself. What could be simpler?
Surprisingly, on the day before the council AGM, I was informed that should the Conservative leader Cllr Bayford be elected leader of the council on the night, he would be staying with the old 'pre-restructure' portfolio roles. These in no way fitted the new TDC structure and I made it clear that this situation was absolutely ridiculous. The Tories reorganistional moves following the elections were clearly falling well behind schedule and at the Annual meeting we were forced to accept the Conservative leaders extremely muddled way forward. 
Then, in the first week of June, a whole month after the elections, Cllr Bayford announced more changes to his cabinet portfolios that now confuse matters still further. Not five cabinet members covering the five senior management roles and the five business streams, no that would be far too simple. For reasons only he could try to explain Cllr Bayford has gone for five cabinet members covering his four dreamt up 'themes' (People - Place - Prosperity - Performance) and a 'spare' member covering shared services.
So now cabinet and shadow cabinet members at Thanet Council have to liaise with up to three different leading officers to cover the scope of their work, and far more importantly, highly paid councillor officers have to liaise with several different councillors in order to cover Cllr Bayford's four new 'themes'. If there was ever a plan to waste time and confuse all who have to deal with the council, the new Conservative 'themes' led cabinet is it!
However, Thanet's residents can rest assured that our Labour shadow team will do all that is necessary to carry out our respective roles and hold the Tory cabinet to account.

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