Arise, Sir Mark!

A reminder from the blog archive that the system for awarding public honours in Glasgow remains as absurd as ever although the GCC's previous chief executive (George Black) is the only senior official to receive a CBE - rather than a lowly OBE or MBE. 


Arise, Sir Mark! (January 01, 2022)

I'm beginning to think I'll never be offered a public honour for my services to Scotland's long fight for equal pay.

Seems like half the senior management at Glasgow City Council have received a gong of some sort or other and these highly paid council officials were part of the problem, of course!

Yet me - I don't even get considered for a lowly MBE or OBE never mind a knighthood.

Not that I really want one though because I agree with what William McIlvanney once said in declining the offer of an OBE: 

"It's something that I tried on in my mind, and I found it didn't fit," he explained. "The sleeves were too long, and it just wasn't part of me.”

“It felt like trying to put a top hat on a man in a boiler suit.”

Well said, sir, very well said.


Arise, Sir Mark! (30/06/18)

I have been battling with Glasgow City Council since January 2018 to get an answer to an FOI Request in which I asked for details about the cost of introducing the WPBR pay scheme.

Initially the Council said it did not have any of this information which struck me as rather odd because the whole business of Equal Pay and the WPBR is (and was) the biggest single employment-related event in the history of Glasgow City Council.

So you would think that the Council's senior and very highly paid officials would have scribbled the odd note for posterity, just in case future generations decided to ask:

"Where did all the money go and what was it spent on?"

But to get round the problem of what I call the 'Manuel Defence' or 'I know nothing defence' I wrote to the Council suggesting that some of its former senior officials be contacted to see if they could help get to the bottom of things. 

Here's the letter I sent to Carole Forrest at the time in an effort to persuade the Council to go that 'extra mile' in tracking down this important information.

Sadly the Council rejected my helpful suggestion and so I registered an appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner and what do you know?

All of a sudden the Council found some more information which had been 'overlooked' first time around and I am now in the happy position of being able to share this news via my blog site.

I will do this in the next day or so but in the meantime I have discovered that as well as Lynn Brown receiving an OBE 'for services to local government and charity', so too did Elma Murray (for services to local government, education and the economy), while George Black trumped them both with his CBE 'for services to local government'.

So George is a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire while his two women colleagues are mere Officers of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire which strikes me a teeny, weeny bit sexist. 

I suspect my own nomination for a Knighthood or CBE 'for services in the long fight for equal pay in Scotland's councils' must have got lost in the post.

31 January 2018

Carole Forrest
Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council
Glasgow City Council

Dear Carole

FOISA Review Request - Your Ref: RQST6467009

I refer to your letter dated 9 January 2018 regarding the monies paid by Glasgow City Council (GCC) to Hays HR Consulting to design an develop the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR).

I am minded to appeal Glasgow's decision to the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC), but before doing so I would be grateful if you could clarify what effort, if any, the City Council has made to retrieve this information from the following potential sources.

1) Lynn Brown - GCC's former Director of Finance 

Glasgow's former Director of Finance left the City Council's employment a relatively short time ago, in September 2016 if I remember correctly, and I imagine she must be easy to contact at this point in time. I met Lynn Brown during my dealings with GCC as a member of SLARC (Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee) and I was impressed with her forensic knowledge of Glasgows finances. 

I understand that Lynn was Glasgow's Director of Finance from 2003 until 2016 and given the unique circumstances surrounding the commissioning of the WPBR from Hays HR Consulting, I suspect Lynn could help to identify the costs involved. 

I also understand than Lynn was awarded an OBE for services to local government in the New Year Honours list for 2016, so I suspect she would be more than happy to assist the City Council in this matter.

2) Elma Murray - GCC's former Head of Organisational Change

Glasgow's former 'Head of Organisational Change and Depute Director of Finance' was in post, I believe, during the relevant period up until 2009 and I have seen Elma's name on a variety of important documents relating to the WPBR including reports on the Employee Development Commitment (EDC) Steering Group, for example.

I understand that Elma is now the chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council and while I don't know Elma personally, I would imagine that she would also be willing to help GCC get to the bottom of my FOI request.

3) Ian Drummond - GCC's former Executive Director of Corporate Services

Ian Drummond is Glasgow's former Executive Director of Corporate Services and I am sure Ian must have played a pivotal part in awarding the WPBR contract to Hays HR Consulting. 

As you know, Ian Drummond was the subject of a previous FOI Review Request from me which went all the way to the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) who upheld my subsequent appeal. The City Council contacted Ian Drummond directly about my initial FOISA Request, even though he had retired from the council's employment in 2010.

Which means there is a useful precedent for contacting former senior officials on matters of public interest and importance.

4) George Black - GCC's former Chief Executive 

As Glasgow's former Chief Executive and Director of Finance I would say that George Black's knowledge of the City Council is second to none, so he would seem an obvious person to contact, especially as George only left the council's employment at the end of 2014.

In summary, I would be grateful to know what steps the City Council has taken to contact these various individuals in an effort to respond to my original FOISA Request and if the answer is 'none', whether the City Council is prepared to do so now in order to avoid a potentially unnecessary appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

I look forward to your reply and would be grateful if you could respond to me by email at:

Kind regards

Mark Irvine

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