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Thursday, 7 August 2014


In years gone by, when local government was very much less politicised, 'independent' councillors would never have allowed an officer to so mislead councillors.

Cllr Blakeman might be a member of the Labour Party, but her fight on behalf of less advantaged residents is a credit to her.

Without Cllr Blakeman's efforts this whole sordid SEN affair would have been swept under the carpet:so much for the Compassion Training programme.

Mr Holgate is regarded as a man of integrity. 
Let's hope he joins Cllr Blakeman in getting to the truth.

Dear Mr Holgate

The attachment to this e-mail sets out some comments from our previous SEN transport provider questioning some of the information recently provided by Mr. Christie to the Chairman of the Family and Children's Services Scrutiny Committee.

I was very concerned to read these comments, since if they are correct, it does seem that we as councillors received some very misleading and inaccurate information from the Executive Director. For example:

*       The statement that the contract with Crystals had been let for seven years. On the face of, this is correct, but it does not indicate that this was the third consecutive seven year contract, so in fact Crystals Coaches had held the RBKC contract for 21 years.

*       The statement that "when the contract was first let, there were certainly issues and difficulties at the beginning". This means, I assume, that these unidentified issues and difficulties happened 21 years ago - since when the contract has presumably run smoothly.

*       The statement that the maximum number of children on a vehicle being four "is not an industry requirement" - however, this was specified by RBKC in its contract with Crystals. What we were not told, therefore, is that this was another example of RBKC "sovereignty" that was lost in the new contract.

*       The statement that "industry practice is that most travel operators generally have self-employed staff of up to 50%" - however, the requirement for all staff to be fully employed was specified in RBKC's contract with Crystals. So again, councillors were not told that this was another example of RBKC's "sovereignty" disappearing.

*       The statement that "there is no mention of the extremely high Adult Services Costs, charged by Crystals". Crystals state that they have never held the contract for Adult Services. Either they did, or they didn't, but if they didn't, then this is a very seriously misleading piece of information to give to scrutiny councillors.

The significant point I am making is that, as councillors, we have a duty to scrutinise, especially contentious matters such as the new SEN contract. We also have a responsibility to get things right. If officers present us with misleading information, or seriously inaccurate information, then we are prevented from doing our job properly - the job that we were democratically elected to carry out.

IF the inaccuracies highlighted by Crystals are correct, then this is a very serious matter indeed, in which case:

*       I would be grateful to know what steps you will put in place to ensure that councillors are never again presented with such an inaccurate document on such an important subject.
*       I would like an assurance that these and the other inaccuracies highlighted by Crystals in the document were genuine mistakes and not included wilfully.
*       I would like to know how so many inaccuracies came to be in this document.
*       And I would like to know why it was not properly checked and corrected before being sent to the Chairman of the Committee and thence to the scrutiny councillors.

Kind regards.

Cllr. Judith Blakeman


  1. Thank heavens that someone is interested enough to hold Christie's feet to the fire. He sounds like an absolute worm. But the big question is "Why is the Chairman of the Children Services Scrutiny Committee not performing this role?". Could it be that the Chairman is a Tory poodle who has been sat on?

  2. Campden Resident7 August 2014 at 17:42

    What a gal! Go for it Judith

  3. This saga festers on because the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee has abdicated his responsibilities and is not interested in doing his job.

  4. Kensington Resident7 August 2014 at 20:19

    The Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee is Cllr David Lindsay. A Tory Councillor who has turned out to be a sad disappointment to those who follow the progress of Scrutiny Committee Chairmen. David started well and was full of promise. He developed a following. But then something happened and he just fizzled out. It is not clear what the problem was but now he is dead wood. Time to clear him out and fill the important job with a person who has the stomach for it.

    1. The chump is a sad Christian

  5. Devastating letter from Cllr Blakeman to the Chief Executive. The connivance of Christie cannot be ducked

  6. The Tri Borough is an impossible construct for Officers like Mr Christie to work in. Rather like being a guard in a German Concentration Camp. You have to do your best or commit hari kari

  7. When shit like this happens it takes a huge force of determination to put it right. And eggs get broken. Most people do not have the energy and courage to have a go. Maybe Cllr Blakeman has.

    Lesser mortals like Cllr Lindsay run for cover and hope the bad smell will go away. Such people are insects that need to be swatted.

    1. Insects on the pot? Bad news

  8. Kensington Tory (only just)7 August 2014 at 22:01

    Of course it is the utterly useless and self centered Cllr Campbell who has overall responsibility for the whole fiasco. Not a single public utterance has passed the silly woman's lips to condemn the cock up or express sympathy for the parents and the children. There is no evidence that sanctions have been taken or are contemplated. In fact the stupid woman demonstrates AGAIN what a total waste of space she is.

  9. The silence from the Tory Party is a disgrace. They all now know what they have put children through, this was clearly stated at the scrutiny committee by parents, head teachers and bus staff and still they do nothing. Councillor Blakeman is the only Councillor doing her job properly and actually safeguarding these children, the rest don't give a damn. If something happens from September to a child whilst it is being transported to school they will not be able to disregard their responsibilities as they will have knowingly put children in danger and that is a cold hard fact.

  10. This whole saga is a test of Leadership for Cllr Paget-Brown. How much longer can he afford to remain silent?

    1. Blakeman is showing her worth at last. Freed from the day to day responsibilities of leadership, she is doing what she does best: forensic analysis of Council disasters followed by detailed questioning to those in authority.

      This is awesome. This is what Councillors 'should' do. The lazy and complacent Tories may expect more of this from Blakeman, who is setting the bar high for the rest of the new Labour Councillors. Excellent stuff.

      As an officer told me just yesterday 'this is the result of inexperienced officers unable to write a proper brief'. Precisely so. It makes you wonder what other contracts are unravelling below the radar.

  11. Cllr Paget-Brown is unfortunately failing to rise to the challenge on many fronts. His blog on the Council website states that "Development, especially for housing, is the number one local issue right now". Quite right. But what Leadership initiatives is the Leader taking? None. What Leadership thought is going into the policy process? None. What difference is he making? None.

    Nick has surrounded himself with an expensive Cabinet. But collectively they are not producing any political innovation to solve the number one problem of the Borough. Just a comfortable coven of "chums".

    Collectively they are not even prepared to take a Leadership stand on the relatively small but important issue of the incompetent selection of a contractor to transport vulnerable children to school.

    All of this is complacency. K&C Tory style complacency.

    1. Sadly Paget-Brown is on notice. His colleagues have given him a year to prove himself - or be voted out. And now that Cllr. Cockell has failed for the final time to get his peerage, and Cllr. Moylan won't have his lucrative job with the Mayor of London after 2016, there are potential successors a-plenty. Pity, because at least Nick is a decent human being.

    2. Decent, yes. Competent, no.

      And unfortunately there is no one with that particular combination to succeed him.

  12. Labour is well and truly showing up the Tories on this one. And no, Cllr Palmer, I am not a Labour supporter

  13. Any Tory councillor wishing to receive one of the many financially rewarding RBKC cabinet or committee places is forced to turn into a flaccid stooge. One after another, promising new councillors become the 'yes' men of a corrupt patronage system.

    Disabled children and other disadvantaged citizens suffer.

    It's high time Cllr Paget Brown and Mr Holgate got a grip on this particular scandal.

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