Sunday, 7 October 2018

Coming Soon.....

Why Glasgow's CEO has to go (2)!


Glasgow - Advice and Accountability ((25/09/18)

Here's the first instalment in what is likely to become a series of posts explaining why I believe it is perfectly fair for Annemarie O'Donnell, Glasgow City Council's chief executive, to be be asked to resign her post.

First and foremost is the question of accountability and the fact that very senior, highly paid officials ought to be held responsible for their professional advice - because that's why they are paid such big salaries in the first place.

Now the fact of the matter is that Annemarie has been defending the Council's WPBR pay arrangements for many years and as chief executive she was directly responsible for the Council's legal strategy in the build up to the Court of Session hearing in 2017 - which resulted in three senior judges deciding unanimously that the WPBR was (and is) 'unfit for purpose'.

The political leadership of the Council, at the time, could have challenged and tried to overturn the chief executive's strategy, but they would in all likelihood have faced the threat of 'surcharge' for going against the strong legal advice of their own senior officials.

So the Labour leadership played safe and backed the chief executive's position since the threat of surcharge meant they could potentially be held personally and financially responsible, if the things went badly wrong and blew up in the Council's face.

Yet that's exactly what happened anyway - the City Council 'bet the house' on winning at the Court of Session but lost in a devastating, landmark judgment which condemned Glasgow's WPBR pay scheme as 'unfit for purpose'.

By this time (August 2017) the City Council was under new political leadership in the shape of a newly elected  SNP administration who were visibly keen on a negotiated settlement.

However, instead of facing reality and admitting that she had got things terribly wrong, the chief executive's advice was to fight on and seek 'leave to appeal' the Court of Session's decision - to the UK Supreme Court in London.

I presume the political leaders of the Council were again warned about the possible risks of surcharge, if they 'ignored' their own legal advice and tried to enter into settlement talks while another appeal was pending in the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court.

Predictably, in December 2017 Glasgow lost its 'leave to appeal' case in another unanimous judgement at the Court of Session before elected Councillors finally exerted their authority, on a cross party basis, and squashed the attempts of senior officials to continue with their plan of a further direct appeal to the UK Supreme Court. 

Against this background I think it is reasonable to criticise the chief executive's advice and judgment because she has been backing the wrong horse for years and even now defends the role of senior officials who oversaw the introduction of the WPBR in 2007 by claiming that they acted in 'good faith'.  

For the life of me, I can't see how someone who comes from a legal background and who is paid such a high salary (more than the First Minister and Prime Minister) can't see that the WPBR's notorious 37 hour rule blatantly discriminates against the City Council's largely female workforce. 

Which is why I believe that the chief executive has zero credibility with Glasgow's 12,000+ equal pay claimants -  because the lowest paid workers within the Council were badly let down by the very people who were supposed to be looking out for and protecting their interests.

So while Annemarie has enjoyed a long and lucrative local government career, she will probably be best remembered for defending so stoutly, and for so long, Glasgow City Council's indefensible pay arrangements.

More to follow - next up is Annemarie's role in the great Cordia debacle.


Glasgow - Rewarding Failure (16/04/18)

Since the WPBR was introduced in 2007 the small group of senior officials in Glasgow City Council have paid themselves a small fortune - around £27 million by my calculation, i.e. 12 x £2,250,368 = £27,004,416.

No wonder Scotland's public spending watchdog, the Accounts Commission, last year described the handling of equal pay as a 'decade long failure of local and central government'.

Glasgow's wage bill for senior officials salaries in 2017 came to £2,250,368 - the same year in which the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, condemned the WPBR pay arrangements in Scotland's largest council as 'unfit for purpose'. 

The figures are taken from Glasgow's Annual Accounts for 2016/17 and include basic salary, election duty fees and the employer's pension contributions.

Annemarie O'Donnell - Chief Executive
£167,853 plus Election Duty Fees of £46,663 = £214,515 + £38,345 =£252,860

Carole Forrest - Director of Corporate Services and Solicitor to the Council
£122,853 plus Election Duty Fees of £4,000 = £116,524 + £21,717 = £138,241

Lynn Brown - Executive Director of Financial Services (from 1 April to 30 September)
£72,893 plus Election Duty Fees of £2,000 = £74,893 + £134,147 = £209,040

Richard Brown - Executive Director of Development and Regeneration 
£135,372 + £26,127 = £161,499

Maureen McKenna - Executive Director of Education Services
£135,372 + £26,127 = £161,499

Brian Devlin - Executive Director of Land and Environmental Services (1 April to 31 December 2016)
£143,182 (includes 12 weeks pay in lieu of notice and unused annual leave) + £20,600 = £163,782

Susanne Millar - Chief Social Work Officer
£100,603 + £19,416 = £120,019

Anne Connolly - Strategic Adviser to the Chief Executive
£82,348 + £15,893 = £98,241

Chris Starrs - Executive Communications Manager (from 1 April to 28 January 2017)
£57,674 plus Election Duty Fees of £2,150 = £59,824 + £11,131 =£70,955

Morag Johnston - Action Executive Director of Financial Services (from 3 October 2016)  
£56,412 (Full Year Equivalent £122,562) + £21,825 = £78,237

George Gillespie - Acting Director of Land and Environmental Services (from 1 January 2017)
£25,959 (Full Year Equivalent £122,562) + £20,298 = £46,257

Glasgow's ALEOs

City Building - £137,477 (Graham Paterson) + £26,533 = £164,010

Glasgow Life -£135,209 (Bridget McConnell) + £23,256 = £158,465

Cordia - £105,091 (Andy Clark) + £20,426 = £125,517

City Parking - £71,980 (William Taggart) + £13,892 = £85,872

City Property - £102,521 (Pauline Barclay) + £19,787 = £122,308

Jobs and Business - £80,398 (Calum Graham) + £13,168 = £93,566


Glasgow - Rewarding Failure (11/04/18)

A little reminder from the blog site archive of the remuneration package Glasgow City Council paid its chief executive, Annemarie O'Donnell, in 2017 - the year in which the Court of Session, Scotland highest civil court, judged Glasgow's WPBR pay scheme to be 'unfit for purpose'.

Later today I'll be sharing a post on Glasgow ALEOs including Cordia which are being dismantled as 'arm's length' companies and returned to direct council control - a very good thing if you ask me!  

But Annemarie O'Donnell who is now overseeing the dismantling of these discredited organisations is the same Annmarie O'Donnell who played a key role in their creation in the first place - back in 2007/08.

So it will be interesting to see what, if anything, Annemarie has to say about this latest 'about-turn' in council policy! 


Glasgow - Rewarding Failure (23/03/18)

I plan to publish the salaries paid to all of Glasgow City Council's senior officials on the blog site over the next few days, but to kick things off here is the remuneration package for the Council's Chief Executive, Annemarie O'Donnell, for the year to 31 March 2017.

Basic Salary - £167,853

Election Duty Fees - £46,662

Employer's Pension Contribution - £38,345  

Total Remuneration - £252,860

Now 2017 was the year in which the scandal of equal pay in Glasgow City Council finally came under the spotlight as the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, handed down its damning and unanimous judgement - that the pay arrangements of Scotland's largest council are 'unfit for purpose'.

To add insult to injury, Glasgow City Council now claims to have no proper records to clarify how its controversial WPBR pay scheme was put in place back in 2005/06/07  and senior officials are either unwilling or unable to explain:

  • the WPBR's Terms of Reference
  • the WPBR's procurement arrangements
  • the cost of the WPBR to the public purse 
I don't know about anyone else, but this seems to me like a classic case of 'rewarding failure' with an eye-watering salary package which dwarfs that of the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

It really is a disgrace when Glasgow City Council is in such a scandalous mess over equal pay.


Glasgow - Equal Pay Update (09/01/18)

Here's an interesting article from 'Holyrood Magazine' which was published back in 2014 just as Annemarie O'Donnell's was appointed as the new and first woman chief executive of Glasgow City Council.

The upshot is that Annemarie has been in a variety of senior positions within the council for a very long time - through the Christmas 2005 'capped' settlement offers, the introduction of the WPBR in 2007 and the establishment of Glasgow's ALEOs - before succeeding Ian Drummond as executive director of corporate services and then George Black as CEO.

What puzzles me though is why there has been such a long and hard fight for equal pay in Glasgow when the City Council has such powerful women in its senior ranks?

Regular readers will know that Carole Forrest succeeded Annemarie as executive director of corporate services (which deals with Freedom of Information requests) and that Glasgow now has a woman Lord Provost (Eva Bolander) and a woman council leader (Susan Aitken).

The political changes at the top of the City Council are relatively recent, of course, but isn't it remarkable that the battle over equal pay has been so fierce in Glasgow - even with women officials in the most senior positions.

New chief executive for Glasgow City Council

Written by Kate Shannon on 12 November 2014 in News

Annemarie O’Donnell has been appointed

Glasgow City Council has appointed a new chief executive to replace George Black, who retires next month.

Annemarie O’Donnell, who has been the council’s executive director of corporate services since 2011, was chosen for the role last week.

Black announced his retirement in August and will leave the council on 11 December.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “The quality of candidates was exceptionally high but Annemarie brings a wealth of experience, passion and vision to the role and was the unanimous choice of the interview panel.

"There has never been a more exciting time to work in Glasgow, with the city in the spotlight like never before following the best ever Commonwealth Games and the signing of Scotland’s first city deal. I am in no doubt that Annemarie is the best possible choice to lead our dedicated and talented staff through the next chapter in our city’s long and proud history.

“I also want to take this opportunity to thank George Black for his exceptional work on behalf of the city and wish him every happiness and success in the future.”

I believe we have the energy, the ideas and, crucially, the best people to meet those challenges

O’Donnell, 49, is a qualified solicitor and a member of the Law Society of Scotland. She has two adult children and her husband is a lawyer specialising in criminal law.

After joining Glasgow District Council from a legal practice in the east end of Glasgow in 1991, she worked as a solicitor and then senior solicitor in a team focusing on construction, housing and planning.

Following local government reorganisation in 1996, she was promoted to chief solicitor, leading the council’s work on commercial contracts, procurement, planning and environmental law.

In 2003, O’Donnell was appointed assistant head of legal and administrative services, a new post that saw her take responsibility for the running of elections for the first time – along with committee services, registrars, litigation, licensing and corporate law.

Following a two year secondment as deputy director of social work services, she returned to corporate services in 2007, serving as assistant director and head of external governance as the council established its ALEOs.

She said: “I am delighted and humbled to have been appointed. This is a really exciting time for Glasgow. There is no doubt the next few years will be challenging for everyone in local government. But I believe we have the energy, the ideas and, crucially, the best people to meet those challenges.”

Read Holyrood’s full interview with George Black here.