Posts Tagged ‘Pervez’

So Long, It Hasn’t Been Good To Know You


The recent news of the departure Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s controversial chief executive John Van de Laarschot was very welcome and long overdue. It wasn’t a surprise: the council changed hands after the May 2015 elections and new leader Dave Conway was a frequent critic of Van de Laarschot while in opposition.

The departure was a costly one. After several weeks on fully paid gardening leave, he was given a Golden Fuck Off of almost a quarter of a million pounds. And this after a five year tenure that wreaked havoc on the council, ruining successful services and causing staff to leave in unprecedented numbers. This obscenely overpaid and arrogant little man should have been sent packing years ago – there were opportunities, but former leader Mohammed Pervez lacked the balls. Better late than never, I suppose, and good riddance to extremely bad rubbish. A pity it took so long and cost us so much.


Council Spends Even More of Our Money on Consultants


It’s not often I agree with The Sentinel when it comes to their coverage of Stoke City Council: last week’s coverage of the Council’s current sickness levels was an especially lazy piece of journalism. However, today it reports that the Council is to spend £35,000 on consultants to report on the city centre’s parking. Given the scale of the cuts the Council is having to implement, the paper not unreasonably asks is this is an appropriate use of resources. Surely there must be someone in the Council’s parking department who could do the work?

This comes on the heels of the millions wasted on Vanguard whose main remit seems to have been to take successful services and ruin them. I worked in one so I know whereof I speak. To add insult to this injury, the councillors then voted themselves a massive increase in allowances: this when their staff have had a four year pay freeze. They really need to get their priorities straight. They are there to serve us, the people of this city, not to enrich themselves or private companies at our expense. What services will have to be cut to pay for this latest waste of money?

Given the scale of the cuts, the Council must stop the use of consultants; senior management should take a pay cut of at least 20%; the councillors should get no further increases in allowances, and the leader’s pay should also be cut. This will at least demonstrate some leadership and set an example. It is patently unfair to expect city residents to stump up the costs of the cuts through significant increases in rents and other charges and the loss of services, and for the Council to waste money in this way.

Stoke Council Concerned Over Inexperienced Benefit Staff


I understand that the leadership of Stoke-on-Trent City Council (by which I mean the elected ones, not Vanguard’s Representative On Earth) are concerned that the benefits department has so many inexperienced staff. Well, my heart bleeds, I don’t think. This is an entirely self-inflicted wound. People like me who left last year did not do so lightly. Why would so many choose (nay, queue up) to leave what was a good public sector employer during a recession? (It may not officially be a recession any more, but up here it still feels like one). Half the assessment staff (yes half) left because they felt they had no other choice, had been forced into it by a bullying and uncaring management.

The reasons I left were bound up with all this. As a result of the changes to the job – making it largely face-to-face – people like me who preferred to work in the back office were left with a stark choice by management: adapt or fuck off. So a lot of us fucked off, fed up with being badly treated. I didn’t want to leave the council, but the stresses of the changes caused my depression to return and to require a steadily increasing dose of medication to combat it. I made three visits to Occupational Health in my last two years there, and their recommendations were always ignored by management. Adapt or fuck off. Every day, I would wake up and dread going in. I hated it. If I hadn’t left, I would have remained ill and the illness would almost certainly have got worse. Even though the job I went to turned out to be shit, I still managed to kick the medication. This would have been impossible if I had remained at Stoke.

So I would say this to the leaders. While I admit that I don’t envy your having to make savage cuts (who would want to go into public service to do that?) the loss of so many experienced benefit assessors happened on your watch. If you had taken a closer interest in the welfare of your staff and not allowed a bullying management culture to take root, this would probably not have happened.

Council Chief Executive Gets a Pay Rise


So it’s true. At least according to The Sentinel, not known for its unbiased and balanced reporting of matters pertaining to Stoke-on-Trent City Council: Chief Executive John Van de Laarschott is to get an increase of over £5000 per year.

The council were quick to defend the rise, stating it was an contractual increment, the same as many other council staff are entitled to. This is disingenuous. While it’s true many staff do get increments, how many of them would get one of £5000? This was also one of the terms and conditions the council were considering abolishing. Apparently, the Chief has to have a performance review before he gets an increment. So this means Leader Pervez thinks he is doing well. It’s nice that someone does. While I worked there, staff I knew held both the Chief Executive and the council leadership in complete contempt.

The pay freeze for all other council staff is entering its fourth year and council services are being slashed to an unprecedented degree. And yet the council think Van de Laarschott is doing such a good job they give him a massive increment. This is deeply offensive, and in the current climate, completely unjustified. And unjustifiable.

Van de Laarschott should be prevailed upon not to accept this rise. If he threatens to walk, the council leadership should grow some balls and call his bluff. This city can’t afford him. We would all be better off if he left.

You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!

Stop attacking your staff: a reply to the Council Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council


There was a meeting of the local Labour Party this evening, called by the council leader, all about the budget and the way forward. I was going to attend, but was unable to so I sent him an email instead:

I had intended to come to yesterday’s meeting, but I had a prior appointment. I see from your mail that you are interested in members’ views about the budget and the way forward. Well, below are my views, though you will probably find them unpalatable.

I’m aware that the council faces an unprecedented cut in its budget from central government. However, the way those cuts are implemented lies with you. Council staff are hard-working and have made sacrifices in recent years, with a three year pay freeze (equivalent to a pay cut of 14%) and covering for the many staff who have been made redundant. The council should be a good place to work, yet I understand that recent interest in voluntary redundancy has been massively over-subscribed. So, despite the poor state of the jobs market, staff are queuing up to leave! This should suggest to anyone with eyes to see that there is something seriously wrong, yet it is not addressed. And now I understand that you are insisting on attacking the terms and conditions of staff. Your proposal to sack everyone and re-employ them on less favourable contracts is an absolute disgrace. I’m aware that further cuts have to be made, but why the insistence on the attack on staff, even where alternatives have been suggested. It is the sort of stunt I would expect from a Tory council. Party member or not, it is not one I can vote for.

Nick Cohen: Writing from London

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