(Updated below) Argyll and Bute Council is advertising for a Communications Officer. But who would apply to work there in the current circumstances?
Its present Communications Manager is suspended during an investigation into her admitted – nay, vaunted – internet-based covert surveillance and manipulative activities in respect of critics of the council.
Two more senior officers were recently suspended because the investigation of their manager’s adventures led to monitoring of their own communications, including their internal in-house online chatting. Some of this was evidently jokily disrespectful of some of the most senior executives.
In the hothouse of disarray that is Kilmory, this produced not reprimands and cautions but suspensions.
One of the two, Dinah Mackay, promptly resigned – and, given the timescales it is probably her job the council is seeking to fill.
There are now fairly sound rumours that the target of the second suspension, Janet West, has also resigned. We have asked for confirmation of this.
This leaves two critical situations:
- Who’s manning the pumps in the press office at Kilmory? It has now lost its three most senior and experienced officers. What’s left?
- Will anyone who’s any use apply for the job? Would their reputation stand the damage of association?
The council’s entire media operation is tainted and distrusted following the suspended manager, Jo Smith’s publication of her covert actions to fellow public sector ‘professionals’.
It remains unclear whether she was a lone renegade or whether, as the manager, she had involved other staff in what may have been an extensive operation There are many critics of this council.
The problem the council face is that once the lid has been lifted on this sort of culture, denials – which may well be on occasion be accurate – are not safe currency.
Then the recent suspensions showed a working situation where ongoing staff communications, internal as well as external, are under scrutiny.
In the sort of paranoia running wild at the Stalinist Kilmorograd, which member of staff can be sure that an innocent email may not be misinterpreted as an act of suspendable subversion?
This produces a working atmosphere of fear and suspicion and reports from inside Kilmory indicate that it’s pretty poisonous.
To paraphrase Lloyd Grossman, who would work in a house like this?
Update: Argyll and Bute yesterday confirmed to The Herald that Dinah Mackay and Janet West have both resigned.