Monday, 29 September 2008

If the cap fits

The complaint against Cllr Alan Gloak is not a matter for me nor a subject upon which I wish to make any comment. The poor man was seen openly weeping in County Hall today. It would have seemed partisan to give him a hug, but I smiled in empathy as he lurched down the stairs. The high standards of this authority and its reputation for excellence in every field speak louder, surely, than politically motivated charges against a vulnerable public figure. Cllr Gloak, like me, is a victim of gossip. But the public should rest assured that there is ample machinery in place to deal with matters of financial and personal probity. As readers may know elected councillors are subject to the displines of the Standards Board and local monitoring committees. Council officials, on the other hand, subscribe to a strict code of conduct and must declare any interests upon an official register. This should be a considerable reassurance to all electors and interested parties. The registers, of necessity, contain personal data which identifies and relates to individual members of staff. This means that the registers are covered by the Data Protection Act 1998 and must be kept secret from anyone who does not have a strict need to know. In other words people in my position are duty bound to make declarations and people like you have no right at all to know what has been declared. I hope that is now clear.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Chough Off

If you want to know the truth I didn't like Cornwall. It was a blessed relief not to be offered the job of running the new Unitary Authority down there. Truro makes Taunton glitter and buzz like New York. It is the sort of one-eyed town that would be greatly improved by demolition. The pasties are dangerously inedible. The people are sour. The politicians even more more talentless and stupid than some of ours. And considerably more bitter and twisted. I am tempted to report the whole lot of them to tjhe Standards Board for misrepresenting the awful things that have been said about me. Then there is the language. What in the name of all things reasonable is the purpose of attempting to preserve a tongue that has less life in it than their blessed Pyrrhocorax (the rare - and incredibly ugly - Chough) ? The Cornish don't have enough words for everyday use. Most of them communicate in crude sign language anyway. They are dangerously interbred and harbour a quite insane belief in their own superiority. I took one look and vowed never to cross the Tamar again. So goodbye Kernow and "Dyharajow".....apologies.....for having disturbed your third-rate county with my boundless excellence.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Our Ancient New Chairman

Please raise a glass to my very good septuagenarian friend Jay Tidmarsh. Jay has agreed to become SouthWest One’s new “Independent”Chairman. I can’t think of anyone better qualified. He’s just handed back his ceremonial kit after 11 years as Lord Lieutenant of Bristol. A more amiable old buffer one could rarely hope to meet. Jay was educated at Taunton School and worked for the Imperial Tobacco Company so he knows quite a lot about killing by stealth. He learned even more as a Commissioned Officer with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.It is also possible that Jay helped kill the British footwear industry before setting up his own manufacturing company, Dycem Limited which now makes clever things to help the police. He can no doubt do a bit of extra business with Moira Hamlin and Colin Port at SouthWest One's board meetings. He has a major interest in the development of local radio – or, rather, in the development of fat profits from the radio industry. He was Chairman of Radio West Ltd and a founding Director of GWR Radio plc and has a string of other directorships as long as your arm. Jay feathered his nest very successfully and then tried to do a bit of good on the side by lending his name to all manner of worthy causes. Soon after the riots in Toxteth, Liverpool, he was one of a dozen business people who helped establish the Bristol Initiative in 1992 as a means of promoting partnership between the civic authorities and the business community in addressing social and economic problems. His other current charitable involvements reflect his wide range of interests, everything from the bladder to bells: Bristol Urological Institute; Army Benevolent Fund; Avon Ambulance Service Staff Benevolent Fund; Avon Outward Bound; Avon & Somerset Police Community Trust; Avon Youth Association; Brace (Alzheimer’s Research); Bristol Archdeaconry Charitable Trust; Bristol Benevolent Institution; Bristol Cancer Help Centre; Bristol Commonwealth Society; Bristol Drugs Project; Bristol Macmillan Cancer Relief Appeal; Christchurch Lands Trust; Clifton Down Charitable Trust; East Bristol Advice & Information Centre; Fortuna Charitable Trust; Greater Bristol Foundation; Initiative Charitable Trust; Jessie May Trust; Life Education Centre; Lifeskills; New Sinfonia; Royal Bath & West of England Society; Vassall Centre Trust.His interests are eclectic; the Merchant Venturers society; Prison Visitors Association; the Dolphin Society; and St Stephen’s Ringers. Jay Tidmarsh lists his hobbies as rugby, the visual arts, collecting playing cards, walking, photography, French and New World wine, and travel. I have absolutely no doubt that IBM will want to whisk him away very soon to inspect their facilities in America, where there will also be ample opportunity to sample his favourite wines at their expense. Chug-a-lug Jay, and welcome aboard

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Time is running out

The goals are clear, the challenge starts here. I am looking to find the best CHIEF PROCUREMENT OFFICER in the country. The job comes with a Competitive Salary and your own "Our Man in Havana" hat - just like mine. This pivotal and high profile role has arisen at Southwest One, the joint venture company recently established between Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Avon and Somerset Police and IBM, to deliver better value for money while improving access to services for local residents. Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer, Southwest One, your principal goals will be to provide the essential vision, thought leadership, strategic direction and guidance for the management of third party spend of approximately £500m, together with supporting the delivery of substantial benefits. In driving collaborative and strategic procurement, a key priority will be to develop and implement leading edge Category Management and Supplier Relationship Management together with providing innovative approaches and practices across the supply chain.Your substantial record of achievement at senior management level will need to include visionary procurement transformation in a complex environment, involving the delivery of world class procurement strategies across different categories and supply markets, reducing risk and maximising value for money.
A passion for hyperbole is expected.

If you want to take on the challenge then send for more information and an application pack, by emailing quoting reference 2284SD or telephoning 01823 356209. Closing date 5pm, 2nd October 2008. (Please state hat size in your application)

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Goodbye and Hello

There will soon be a fresh face at the top table to replace my trusted colleague and this County's able Solicitor, David Corry. David is opting for retirement - how I envy him. He is a genuinely good and caring human being who has, perhaps, sometimes allowed his Christianity to cloud his decisions. I mean the remark to be taken more as a tribute to his persona. But this, after all, is a hard game. It demands iron wills of all those practitioners who seek change for the better. David will, I know, pray that we continue to get it right and we will hope that he enjoys the quieter side of life from now on. His workload will fall to a man I know well and have now persuaded to join our team. Meic Sullivan-Gould makes Rumpole of the Bailey seem like a rank amateur. He is the archetypal lawyers', lawyer. Meic will run rings round everyone. He did the job in style at Hackney and Basingstoke. He's heading over to Taunton very soon.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Truncheon Vouchers

The new independent chair of SouthWest One is the wise choice. Indeed she was my personal recommendation. They don't come more independent than Moira. She is a clinical psychologist by trade and a force to be reckoned with. There will of course be some stupid people who will argue that she is too closely aligned with police matters to take an overview of the entire SouthWest One remit. This is ridiculous. SouthWest One was always destined to be a company servicing the needs of our courageous constabulary not just here in Somerset but perhaps throughout the UK. Moira is the best placed person to keep an eye on all this and keep her new colleague on the board, Colin Port, company too.

Look at some of her current responsibilities:

Member of the following committees:

Chair of Appointments Committee
Chair of Remuneration Committee
Finance Committee
Capital Asset Management Sub-Committee
Standards Committee
Human Resources Committee
Police Authority Representative on the following bodies:
Association of Police Authorities (APA) Deputy Chair
APA Plenary Meetings (as Chair)
Somerset Strategic Partnership
Police Community Trust (Chair)
Regional ACPO/PA Meeting

That's independence for you.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Big Hitters

Bad luck Max - it could have been you.

And sorry to disappoint my old friend Alistair.

But the competition could not have been fiercer.
This is certainly Britain's most challenging Public Relations job. It needed a truly inspired individual to meet my exacting specifications.

And I am happy to say that I have found him on our very own doorstep (well just up the road in Alhampton) So step forward Simon Clifford, my new master of spin. Simon is to the world of wireless what Colonel Sanders was to the humble chicken. Sir Terry Wogan in his soon to be published book "Radio Greats" describes Simon as a "towering perpendicular pillar of excellence with the authentic Midas touch". He has already transformed BBC Somerset Sound into a world class station. Thus I am positively delighted that Simon is now able to bring his immense industry experience to this County Council's assistance. Simon's mission is without boundaries. He intends to launch our own multi-media channel to provide the high quality alternative to existing biased outlets. His great plans for new programmes include "Me and Mine" - a daily show broadcast live from the Chief Executive's office. (I may surprise some of you with my adventurous playlist) Simon will mastermind all our public utterances. He is a radio genius and well worth the £72,000 a year we will pay him. Remember the name.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

West is Best

My good friend Rick Stein found us a table (he never lets a pal down even at the height of the season). Mark and I sat in the corner marvelling at the menu and contemplating the future. He's done well. The fast footwork of his team has proved its worth. Cornwall's new Unitary Authority will hit the ground running in April and, who knows, the famous Jones clan name may well go up in lights. Mark and I have roots in the far South West. Some of my ancestors started as tin miners before they followed their fortunes to Kirkby where I was born. But Cornwall has positively boomed in recent days. The council is vibrant. The new authority will have real zip and go. You can hear about Mark's aspirations on their little film or pop along and have a chat with me. My door is always open. I can even greet you in Cornish!