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Thursday, 16 July 2015


It is the right of every parent to 'home school their children.

So the Dame was flabbergasted to read in the Evening Standard the council had spent tens of thousands of pounds on a legal action against Mrs Sortello. 
Then, at the eleventh hour, decided to withdraw from the prosecution.
To rationalise its wastefulness it claimed it dropped the case as it had now been provided with the 'relevant information'. The Dame understands this is a downright lie and just a ruse to justify the reckless pursuit of a highly intelligent and committed mother.

One suspects that officers have just a bit too much time on their hands......

And, on that self same subject, the Dame thinks it a good idea for some officers in the 'soft' departments to be seconded to work in the wealth creating sector for six months. 
One doubts they would last more than a day.

Read the story in the Standard HERE


  1. This case is one example of the chaos and madness within the education department since the merger with the other two incompetent and lower standard boroughs. It is the tip of the iceberg of what is happening to children.

    1. This is a wake up call for the Leader, Cllr Paget-Brown. The affable Teddy Bear is too wrapped up in clover and sipping coffee with his Kitchen Cabinet of Cllr Barbara Campbell and Cllr Elizabeth Rutherford. He needs to get it together and sort out his team - stating with the swift ejection of Elizabeth Campbell from the Cabinet. How much more evidence does the dude require to figure out that she is a liability?

  2. exactly so.... Thousands of pounds p*ssed against the wall for no reason whatsoever. Yet, day centres for special needs children are either being closed or scaled down to almost non-existence.
    It is also a very poor reflection on the Council's legal team and their grasp of reality. Why on Earth have they not obtained all the possible evidence from the parents before proceeding further? Incompetence would perhaps be the right word... and the subsequent 'back peddaling'

  3. This kind of balls up is exactly what happens when box ticking bureaucrats get out of control and when a useless Cabinet Member (Cllr Elizabeth Campbell) is put in charge of "Children and Families".

    Publicly accountable Councils cannot and should not tolerate the kind of failure of Leadership that Cllr Campbell continues to demonstrate on an industrial scale. Until the woman is fired the Royal Borough will continue to be "caught short" in the most embarrassing and futile way

    1. My goodness, how we need residents like Mrs Sotello. Without the bloody minded determination of tax payers like her to take on bullies and puffed up politicians, the social fabric would be mortally wounded.

      Mrs Sotello is worthy of the ranks of the Dame's Private Office - the determination and bloody mindedness of campaigns past to expose and eject rodents like Pooter Cockle and disgraced ex Cllr Phleps

  4. Cllr Campbell just does what she is told to do by Andrew Christie, the Executive Director. She is incapable of evaluating anything for herself - look at the fiasco of special needs transport for severely disabled children that she blithely signed off without bothering to find out what it was all about.

    1. It was not so many years ago that the children at Holland Park School were setting fire to parked cars in Campden Hill Road. This was a clear sign that regime change was needed - the Headmaster had presided over a culture that disintegrated into pure lawlessness. It is what happens when there is a failure of Leadership.

      We see a similar situation in Adult and Children's Services in Hornton Street. It is beyond the ability of Cllr Elizabeth Campbell to lead a Department with success. She has abdicated responsibility to a box ticking bureaucrat who does not have the first idea of what a democratic system of Government requires and what is appropriate from a customer facing department.

      Paget-Brown needs to get this sorted quickly. It was possible to stop the kids setting fire to cars on Campden Hill - but some eggs needed to be broken. Paget-Brown needs to start with the scalp of puffed up Liz

    2. The sad Thatcher impersonator that goes by the name of Elizabeth Campbell is long past her sell by date. The penalties of over promotion are being inflicted on residents on an industrial scale.

  5. Campbell's husband had to take away her credit card, cheque book and driving licence. The family was in peril.

  6. Paget-Brown is the problem. A weak and ineffectual Leader. But a very nice person.

    Cabinet Members Campbell, Fielding-Mellen and Coleridge are monuments to failed judgement.

  7. In actual fact this has nothing to do with Elizabeth Campbell she is not responsible for education. It is Emma Will who is responsible for education.

    1. Is Emma Will a dud too?

  8. There is no leadership in this council from the top right through to the departments such as education, accounts, social care, housing. The officers run the show, most of them are ex Westminster or Hammersmith idiots. The majority of officers who knew their jobs left when the Tri Borough came into being, they knew it was unworkable. The cabinet members do not understand their roles, responsibilities or the legal duties they must comply with. They depend blindly on the officers leading them, which is dangerous, this education case is one example, it used to be the other way round.

    This method of non management or accountability leads to nasty camps,empire building officers who don't give a damn about residents young, old and vulnerable. They have no respect for the money they have to manage and have a narcissistic way of thinking that the residents of this Borough have had too much, which is not the case.

    Two seriously damaging areas led by Westminster's disastrous incompetent commissioners have been Special Needs Children's Schools transport, accounts and wages the latter has left staff without wages and for the first time in history the Borough owing businesses and charities a fortune.

    Nick has asked enough questions, drunk enough tea and smiled sweetly for too long at the camera, it's about time he took the reigns and actually did something, demanded his cabinet members did their job and ensured they are trained to understand their roles. He should also stop Westminster recommissioning any services that will affect residents of this borough he has enough evidence of their incompetence.

    For the first time in its history this Borough is now heading to rock bottom.

  9. Retired Chief Executive18 July 2015 at 21:55

    When the Tri Borough was being dreamed up in 2011 by the then Leader of the Royal Borough, it was a disaster waiting to happen. The Leader was intent on making a splash to get noticed in Conservative Central Office as part of his campaign to obtain a Knighthood.

    I wrote to Cllr Cockell as follows:

    The first challenge is always that Chairmen like to run their own company and are reluctant to give up power. But any organisation can only serve one "brain" otherwise it becomes dysfunctional. We are planning to proceed with three Leaders and three Cabinets. The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST.

    The Chief Executive selected to run a merged operation has to be recruited from outside the shareholders. If he comes from one of the hosts there will always be suspicion from the others and authority will be undermined and then it breaks down. (Westminster will keep its Chief Executive and Mr Myers has been selected as joint CEO by K&C and Hammersmith). The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST.

    Profit maximisation or cost minimisation (to save 28% cut by Central Govt) cannot be the objective of an organisation. Both are by products of actions and strategies. If costs are too high then the objective should be, for example, to save money by taking out activities (eg Holland Park Opera subsidy) or work in a way that benchmarks against best in class (eg number of staff per £ of service delivered). The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST

    If costs have to be reduced by re engineering an organisation, then lines of control have to be shortened and power concentrated. But we are building a shared power organisation and distributed organisation. The TRI Borough FAILS THIS TEST

  10. Retired Chief Executive (continued)18 July 2015 at 21:56

    If a new way of delivering a critical function (such as an accounting system) is to be introduced, then the old system needs to run in parallel with the new system until the new system demonstrates that it works. It never does first time. Tri Borough implementation arrangements (Hosting) FAILS THIS TEST

    Merger and integration is high risk. There is no point contemplating it unless savings of ca 30% can be demonstrated on paper (and empirically only about 10% will be obtained). The three Boroughs spend about £2 billion. 30% is £800 million. But Tri Borough savings are projected to be ca £20m to £30m. Paltry in the scheme of things and they will be swept away by risk. The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST.

    The personality of the Chief Executive needs to be understood and a performance/reward framework put in place to match his behaviour to the desired outcome. In my judgement Mr Myers is power crazy and the dual appraisal arrangement by K&C and Hammersmith is a classic "divide and rule" trap. The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST

    The Chief Executive needs to report to a single master. Mr Myers will report to two masters. The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST

    Shareholder/owner sanctions over the Chief Executive need to be symmetric. Hammersmith has rights to give Mr Myers three months notice. K&C is open ended.(And it effectively means that Mr Myers will become a creature of Hammersmith). The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST.

    Shareholder/owner drivers need to be aligned. Westminster and K&C have guaranteed Conservative majorities.The Leaders are on a long leash. Hammersmith is a marginal council (survival mode). The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST

    Shareholder/owner constituencies need to be aligned. The demographics of Hammersmith are fundamentally different from K&C/Westminster. The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST

    We should not expect staff to deliver and perform outside of their competence (Cllr Palmer's Special Report re Chelsea Care is a classic example of this). Mr Myers and those appointed so far to senior positions have no joint venture experience. They will have to learn on the job while the expectation will be immediate delivery of cost savings and the maintenance of service levels. The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST


    In my experience an integration programme will fail if any one of the rules above are broken. It is as clear to me, as night follows day, that what is contemplated in Mr Myers memo to councillors dated 3rd October 2011 will result in hugely inferior services at vastly increased cost.

  11. Retired Chief Executive come out of retirement and sort out the mess. You have eloquently and expertly stated the facts. Sadly most of the Council will have to read this slowly and out loud to understand it and still residents suffer.

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