Andrea Hill of Suffolk Council insults tax payers


Date: 19th March 2011
Source: Express Newspaper

Well, here we have yet another clear example of how well our tax money is being spent inappropriately.  It’s not as Mr Ransford in his statement to the BBC only 2 days ago anything to do with the provision of 700 services that local people want and need, it’s all about pandering to the egos of those like Ms Hill who think they are above the conventions that the mere taxpayer has to obey.  Spending £1,400 of our money to promote herself is this way is completely unacceptable.

Perhaps Mr Ransford (of the Local Government Association) can explain why £14,000 was spent on “leadership coaching” for the likes of Ms Hill if she is already in receipt of a salary of £218,000 because (in his own words) – “many councils have large budgets and need to pay competitive wages if they are to attract and keep people capable of delivering the best services at the lowest cost”.

If Ms Hill is in need of additional leadership coaching then she is surely not eligible for the competitive wages needed to attract and keep people capable of delivering the best services at the lowest cost.  Perhaps Mr Ransford, Ms Hill or the Local Government Association can explain to the local people how the like of Ms Hill is the best person for her particular job given the above discrepancies?

Such discrepancies in the light of recent reports in the Daily Mail about Ms Hill’s involvement with a BT contract granted by the council and Ms Hill’s acceptance of hospitality from BT.  Apparently, several other senior officials involved with this contract have “left their jobs”.

Andrea Hill is further compensated by the tax payer for her arduous and obviously deprived lifestyle by a further £50,000 in pension contributions.  She also declined the advice of Eric Pickles to take a cut in her salary – would that we were all so lucky to be given such a choice; in the real world it’s “take a cut or lose your job”.

Can these senior civil servants be so out of touch that they actually believe that their actions are correct or is it that they have grown so contemptuous of the people they serve that they truly believe that their behaviour will go unnoticed and unchallenged?

It seems that council leader Jeremy Pembroke is fully supportive of Ms Hill and has also been in need of “leadership coaching” and has himself received coaching at the rate of £525 plus VAT per hour and to the tune of £33,000 of tax payers money.

A spokesman for Suffolk council tries to negate the situation because BT paid for the trips and hospitality of the two luxury trips to the US and it did not apparently cost the tax payer anything.  The fact that the contract with BT has cost the tax payer £427 million over 10 years (42% or £127million over budget) should be more than enough compensation for the cost of these US trips.  Michael Gower who was the former head of supplier relationship management at the council quit his job because the contract was not under control and he received no support from Ms Hill or Jeremy Pembroke in attempting to make it so.

In a report published by EADT on 18 February 2011, Suffolk council voted through a “huge raft of controversial cuts” which included the loss of school crossing patrols; cheap travel cards for under 19 year olds; fire services; bus services; meals on wheels; parks; waste and libraries in a bid to save £125million over the next four years.  The BT budget has overrun by £127million so if the council was doing its job properly and not overpaying for such contracts it would not have to take money from local services that people actually want and need.

A search for “BT Vital Vision” is quite revealing – the programme (according to Councillor Richard Stay) is a “leadership programme which helps equip senior decision makers with the tools to work through the unprecedented financial crisis we face in the public sector”.  He also says that “BT helps us work through the challenge of a 30% budget reduction” although clearly this is not going to be achieved through a 45% increase in the budget of Suffolk council.

Obviously Mr Stay feels that the rest of the population is oblivious and unaffected by the “unprecedented financial crisis” even though it is the tax payer who are both funding the BT Vital Vision programme and having to suffer the effects of the cuts imposed by councils to the essential services they “actually want and need” while at the same time are being agressively pursued and criminalised when they dare to question the level of council tax being pushed on them – this is arrogance of the highest order.

So let us get this right – Suffolk is paying £427million for what amounts to “training” for senior executives provided by BT Vital Vision over a ten year period to help these so-called executives to face the financial challenge of how to cut the budget and still deliver key services – do the terms “New World Order” and “Common Purpose” spring to mind?

Councillor Stay tells us that he is privileged to be part of BT’s Vital Vision programme and with “group of senior public sector people” and that he has “little difficulty in explaining the real and demonstrable benefits” that he has “gained from being part of this programme” although he does not suggest what benefit the tax payer might gain from this programme that has cost the Suffolk council tax payers £427million.  Even the Chief Constable of Suffolk Constabulary has spent at least £4,159.98 from the police budget (funded by your tax money).

The plot thickens when it is reported in “Not The Barnet Times” during an interview to The Guardian in February 2010, former council leader Mike Freer attended BT Vital Visions conferences in the US on two occasions at a cost of £5,105.69 – not a great deal of money in the scheme of things but it seems that he made a false statement in claiming these costs.  Perhaps more importantly, Mr Freer made a false statement on his resume claiming to have been awarded a “BT Vital Vision executive MBA, Harvard, Stamford and Berkley US”.

Not The Barnet Times were told by a spokesman for BT that:

“BT’s Vital Vision programme does not offer a recognised qualification in educational terms however it is recognised by the Public sector as a distinguished programme. Berkeley University gives out a completion certificate to prove they have attended the full course.”

The blog makes an excellent point when it points out that while Mr Freer studied accountancy and business law at Stirling University he failed to take his finals and wonders if perhaps this did not contribute to the loss of tax payers money in the Iceland failures?

Councils are taking law abiding tax payers to court and seeking to criminalise them or bankrupt them for non payment of council tax while at the same time the likes of Suffolk council are investing £427million of tax payers money on lavish training and coaching courses held in the United States for senior executives who are (according to Mr Ransford of the Local Government Assocation) being paid their disproportionately high salaries and perks because of the need “to attract and keep people capable of delivering the best services”.

We would suggest that councils be made to account for this sort of expenditure (which has been going on at least for the past ten years) – a freedom of information request should go to each council around the land to find out how much is being spent on the BT VITAL VISION programme.  We’re going to – are you?


One thought on “Andrea Hill of Suffolk Council insults tax payers

  1. Thank you for this information, I have not long found out about Common purpose doing this sort of thing but, maybe down to people like you and Brian Gerrish Common purpose has been exposed. May be they have switched to BT Vital Vision in the UK. Common purpose is spreading out over Europe and the ‘Commonwealth’, David Camoron has recently been pushing CP in India too which is very worrying. UKCollumn would be interested in this; they do a lot of work on CP and this sounds even worse, certainly more expensive. FOI requests sent to my local and County council!.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s