Monday, 14 January 2019

'Shaking Up' Glasgow

My 2019 New Year resolution is to redouble my efforts at 'shaking up' the City Council over its discredited, unfit for purpose WPBR pay scheme - and the right of Glasgow citizens to freedom of information (FoI).

Here's the background to my campaign which is based on the fact that the Council makes bold public statements about becoming a 'world leader' for openness and transparency.

Yet when push comes to shove Glasgow refuses to explain how Scotland's largest council managed to get itself into such a terrible, costly and unparalleled mess over equal pay.

First of all, by introducing and then defending its indefensible WPBR pay scheme for 12 long years - secondly, by running up thousands of equal pay claims which will cost the public purse hundreds of millions of pounds to settle.

If you ask me, this is a hugely important issue for the reputation of Scotland's largest council and, indeed, Scottish local government - one which deserves maximum 'openness and transparency', you might say.

But readers can decide for themselves in the days ahead - so watch this space. 


Equal Pay and 'Shaking Up' Glasgow (23/1018)

Here's an interesting post from the blog site archive which features an initiative from Glasgow City Council leader, Susan Aitken, aimed at 'shaking up' Glasgow.

Now I absolutely agree with Susan Aitken about the need for more openness and transparency in decision making - and I'm sure many other people do as well, from all political persuasions and none.

But what puzzles me is why Susan Aitken would agree to bring in a 'Transparency Tsar' from outside the Council, yet not decide to do the same thing over a much more important issue such as equal pay.

I have to say I find this very strange because the senior officials/advisers who played a huge role in getting Glasgow into this terrible mess and advised the last Labour council - are, by and large, the same group of senior officials who are still advising Glasgow's SNP-led council in 2018.

So if Susan Aitken and Glasgow City Council want to find a solution to this long-running equal pay dispute, why don't they shake things up a bit and bring in some 'new blood' which doesn't have so much baggage and such a terrible track record from the past?  


Shaking Up Glasgow (24/11/17)

Glasgow City Council has called in the Improvement Service to help make the council a more 'open and transparent' when it comes to making important decisions. 

Now that's a good thing if you ask me, although I have my doubts about the ability of the Improvement Service to turn things around because if you ask me this 'quango' does not have much of a track record in Scottish local government over the years.

I've written about COSLA and the Improvement Service many times on the blog site during the long fight for equal pay and I'm re-publishing some of these posts from the blog site archive.

So, whether the Improvement Service helps to improve anything remains to be seen - all I can say is that Glasgow City Council remains as secretive and uncooperative as ever when it comes to explaining how the interests of traditional male jobs were 'looked after' under its WPBR pay scheme.

Which is why my FOI campaign in Glasgow is beginning to crank up into top gear.

Shake-up set to make Glasgow City Council 'more open'

By Stewart Paterson @PatersonHT - The Evening Times

Susan Aitken

A SHAKE-UP of how Glasgow City Council comes to decisions, to make it as open and transparent as possible, is being planned.

The man charged with reviewing past decision of Labour run administrations, by new council leader Susan Aitken, has set out the remit of his Review of Governance.

The council said it wants to be “world class” in openness and transparency allowing the public, community groups and the media to be engaged in how the decision making process works.

Colin Mair, chief executive of the Improvement Service, has been appointed to lead the review and he will recommend changes for how councillors and officials go about their business.

The Evening Times revealed last month how Mr Mair would delve into previous decisions to uncover any practices that are considered out of step with the transparency aims of the new council administration.

His role has been dubbed a “transparency tsar” to remove any cloak of secrecy over decisions of the council that affect citizens.

Labour said it had no problems with its decisions being put under scrutiny.

He has now produced the proposed remit of his review which is to go before councillors this week for approval.

Mr Mair will also review the “whistleblowing” arrangements for council staff and the public to raise concerns.

In his report to councillors he said: “Given the financial challenges of the next five years, the administration is fully committed to engaging openly with communities of place and communities of interest in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the city.”

“It wants the council’s decisions to be fully explained and for sufficient information to be available for citizens to challenge, or campaign against them, if they wish to do so.”

Mr Mair’s remit will be to “review past governance and decision making” and to learn lessons for the future.

He will advise on what structures the council should adopt to ensure it is open, transparent and geared up for community participation in the decision making process and open to scrutiny.

Mr Mair will also make recommendations to councillors and council officials on their role and relationship and responsibilities.

He said he will examine the council’s communication methods with the public and the media and how open it is.

It is proposed that an all party group of councillors will oversee the review and a final report by Mr Mair will be submitted to the full council for approval.

He will hold face to face meetings with community groups, voluntary organisations, businesses and the media to gather suggestions and recommendations.

He said there will be a social media platform set up to allow the public to raise their individual concerns and to make their own suggestions for how the council can improve.