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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Rocks in the Road Ahead

Left: Rocks Ahead

The Dame has noticed much informed comment from those 'in the know' that the Tri Borough arrangement is a prelude to a deepening and broadening relationship with 'Steve' Greenhalgh's Hammersmith & Fulham. This should make us very fearful.
H&F is a very different animal, in every way, from the very regal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea: we have little in common and, as wise heads have pointed out, H&F could quite easily return to it's Labour roots.
It's like an old dowager duchess marrying Ronnie Wood-it just won't work....

So far anticipated savings have been mere chaff. Celebrated local government guru, Professor Tony Travers has emphasised that savings would be at the expense of service levels.

Cockell and Myers have implied if things don't pan out everybody can pack up their tents and go home. The Dame fears it will not that easy. If there is a political change there will be much horse trading and if there isn't you can be sure tough guy Greenhalgh will not give the Rotten Borough a smooth ride home in the Leader's £115k Bentley.
Those with long memories will remember how the ghastly Heath mis-sold the Common Market. It was, he said, merely a way of trading together without tariffs. Only decades later we realised we had been sold into slavery.
There are parallels with the Tri Borough arrangement. The top jobs are firmly in the hands of the Greenhalgh Gang and the prospect of Rock Fielding Mellen becoming Leader is not comforting-
if (and when) there are tears before bedtime. Once in we will never escape.

The Dame leaves her readers with this thought...

Sir Cockell blithely fritters millions on pet projects, such as Holland Park Opera or Chelsea Care,
yet refused to spend a mere £150k or so with a top line management consultancy. Any management consultancy would have quickly seen the dangers on the road ahead. Could it be that Cockell and Myers were so determined on the Tri Borough project that they feared a professional might force a review?

This project could seriously affect the health and wealth of residents, yet Cockell refused to bring in a management consultancy professional. Has anyone ever heard of two companies merging without having sets of skilled advisers on board? But what is really scary is that neither Cockell nor Myers has an iota of business experience. Lambs to slaughter comes to mind.....


  1. Cllr Joanna Gardner, the ex Mayor who famously used the Bentley and driver to do her personal shopping, is having her wakiki bird moment. She is determined to find out who the Hornet is

  2. It will be difficult, Joanna. But you could approach Inspector Palmer and ask for his help. Matthew is running a private investigation business alongside his council duties. Except for Council meetings and toilet visits (frequent) he can be found in the Members Room. Titles, Leaders and Conservatives especially welcome.

    TLC Palmer has become a legend

  3. The Hon Jo will never know who the Dame is....
    The Dame is many and is one..

  4. Retired Chief Executive9 November 2011 at 10:06

    I spent many years directing mergers and integrations of organisations. We learnt that there are a few cardinal rules that need to be followed in order to avoid the new entity collapsing into hopelessness.

    One of the rules is that the new Chief Executive of a merged organisation needs to be recruited from outside. Otherwise it will not be long before mistrust and the breakdown of confidence happens. No matter how good Mr Myers is, the parties have made a grave and elementary error appointing him as joint Chief Executive of Hammersmith and Kensington.

    Westminster is sensibly standing back from these arrangements.

    There is a great body of knowledge in the business world (but not in Government) about handling mergers. The Hornet's suggestion that Management Consultants should have been engaged by Cllr Cockell is very sensible.

  5. Person Familiar With The Situation9 November 2011 at 10:12

    Cllr Cockell pioneered the Tri Borough idea as part of his campaign to get noticed and take him to the next level of his political career in the LGA and the House of Lords.

    Cockell's cry of "cost saving" caught the mood of the moment and pushed his boat out. Unfortunately the risk is huge and the penalties may be even greater because those who are running with the idea have never attempted anything like this before. It is outside of their competence.

  6. 10.12 your warning is well taken. Cllr Cockell and his Cabinet, egged on by the public spirited Cllr Fiona Buxton, launched into business with Chelsea Care after the Cabinet approved a "councillor prepared" business plan. Tax payers money was punted into a venture that was confidently predicted to show an 18 month breakeven.

    After three years the Recievers were called in and taxpayers take £1 million of losses on the nose

    The champion of the venture (Cllr Buxton) is nowhere to be seen. And Cllr Cockell clucks that it was not his decision. It was the Cabinet.

    Residents beware.....

  7. Officers were dead against Chelsea Care from the start. And said so loudly.

  8. Kensington Resident9 November 2011 at 10:34

    Cllr Buxton is one of those dangerous individuals who bully and hector at meetings. And those around her mistake these attributes as "dynamism". Unfortunately her track record is a mess.

    I observed Cllr Buxton closely when she was on the Board of the Kensington PCT, making policy decisions about how tax payers money should be spent on the NHS. Invariably she arrived late to meetings (to get noticed), dumped masses of stuff on the Boardroom table (to exagerate her importance), and challenged the Chairman frequently (to establish her authority).

    While I was around, I cannot recall one single value addition that resulted from all her posturing and rudeness. Even the limited Cllr Pat Mason (also a member of the Board) outshone her.

  9. What is this Tri Borough about? No one has told residents about it

  10. Lassitude at a local government level means that turnout is derisory. Residents just give up in despair.
    And then along comes the Tri Borough. No one-not even it's propagandists understand the dangers.
    It is of such over arching importance that there should have been a referendum. Instead it has been put in the hands of Cockell- a failed businessman-Lightfoot, who organised Chelsea Care-Paget-Brown, who has never run a business.
    Oh and Myers- a social worker made good

  11. I am concerned that they don't seem to have taken expert advice on this. A Chelsea Care-style debacle on a much grander scale is feared, and should that come to pass the responsible parties will try to dodge responsibility as they typically do. Pooter no doubt believes that he will be long gone and in the House of Lords by the time serious problems come to light.

    As for Hammersmith and Fulham, a courser, more viscious Council is difficult to imagine. The thought of hitching our wagon to the thugs currently in charge there should fill us with despair. Should Labour regain LBHF in 2014 then the clash of culture will be unworkable. The Upstairs Councillors in RBKC simply won't abide the Downstairs staff from LBHF having a real say in how things are run in the snooty Royal Borough.

  12. Another One Who Knows9 November 2011 at 11:30

    The good news is, that with Mr. Lamont's trial deferred until the new year, Cllr. Cockell will get his peerage in the New Year's Honours and we can have a new Leader. After he is exonerated by the Standards Committee later this month, he will at that point not be contaminated by anything that may subsequently emerge.

  13. Dear Another One Who Knows,

    Ladybird has missed the lastest on Lamont's trial. Please do share details!

  14. The Lords is now a dumping ground for crooks, thieves and the dross of political life. It should be closed down.Hanham and Ritchie are just two examples of two lightweights being shoved upstairs and now we have Cockell next. What a joke

  15. Ladybird apologises for the spelling errors in her 11.27 post. She will try to do better in future.

  16. Kensington Resident9 November 2011 at 11:42

    At the Scrutiny Committee last month to look into Chelsea Care, the forensic Cllr David Lindsay put his finger on the problem. "The Cabinet approved a business plan with a trading margin of 16% when the industry works on a margin of 3%. There was no explanation of how the increased margin would be obtained".

    The sensible Cllr Todd Forman bravely observed that "business ventures are outside the competence of councillors. If the the Council wants to do this kind of thing they should take a minority stake in the business and leave the risk judgements to the private sector".

    In the meantime, Head In The Clouds Cockell writes that "I am satisfied that my Cabinet had appropriate information before it, in order to compare the benefits and risks. The staff were not able to bring to life the business proposition and the directors were unable to remedy this deficit".

    Prophetic words from Cllr Cockell. In this instance, he cost taxpayers £1 million. Now he is embarked on the £2 billion Tri Borough project and has endorsed an even more compromised implementation plan.

  17. This frightening

  18. I dropped a word....

    This is frightening

  19. Another example of K&C councillors demonstrating incompetence in business matters was the flawed plan to use £80k of tax money to fund a production of Holland Park Opera at the Richmond Theatre. A "good" return of £20k was promised.

    A very "good" return, in a notoriously risky business.

    Of course the venture lost £17k. A very "bad" return for a notoriously out of control Council

  20. Cllr Cockell did not endorse the Tri Borough implementation plan, 11.42. According to Mr Myers the responsibility was delegated to Cllr Palmer and Cllr Fielding-Mellen.


  21. Oh goodness me.

    In a couple of years when service levels have collapsed and costs have gone through the roof, Cllr Cockell will write:

    "I am satisfied that Cllr Palmer and Cllr Fielding-Mellen had appropriate information before them, in order to compare the benefits and the risks of the Tri Borough".

  22. Another One Who Knows9 November 2011 at 13:02

    Kensington Resident wisely states that the forensic Cllr David Lindsay put his finger on the problem. "The Cabinet approved a business plan with a trading margin of 16% when the industry works on a margin of 3%. There was no explanation of how the increased margin would be obtained". Cllr Lindsay was the other member of Cllr Palmer's scrutiny group that white-washed the Chelsea Care problem. If Cllr Lindsay was aware of the profit disparity, why did this not appear in Cllr Palmer's report, or in the report on the liquidation of Chelsea Care that the scrutiny committee considered? Was Cllr Lindsay gagged? If so, it was very brave of him to raise the matter publicly. And very foolish of Cllr Palmer to publicise his own ignorance by not mentioning this key issue in his report.

  23. Like all dictatorships, information in Hornton Street is carefully "stage managed"

    Very dangerous tactic with independent minded people like Cllr Foreman and Cllr Lindsay on the job

  24. Don't forget that Cllr Palmer gave his apologies for the scrutiny committee meeting where his report on Chelsea Care was discussed. His failure to face a meeting where he might be asked tough questions speaks volumes.

    Bullies don't like being held to account...


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