This article in concerned only with performance management …

Comment posted Council Leader, Councillors, CEO, Senior Officers: working relationships by newsroom.

This article in concerned only with performance management – an objective responsibility which has not previously been a notable feature in the operations of Argyll and Bute Council.

This laxity may itself have produced slack observation of responsibilities in the corporate management team.

Officers must be given the opportunity to show what they can do under a regime that demands integrity, competence and propriety, monitors performance and insists upon due process.

Should any then prove incapable of responding to these standards, that would be a point where, in any capable and well managed business, the question of their remaining in their posts would arise.

The past is the past. An enlightened regime which everyone hopes will seed a very different culture for public sector conduct in Argyll and Bute – at an individual and collective level, should have no care for retribution but every care for the calibre and correctness of performance now.

newsroom also commented

  • There is no formal council as yet. Although it seems clear what the administration will almost certainly be, nothing is formal until the full election process is complete.

    There is a council meeting on 22nd May where rival motions are likely to be advanced proposing specific pairings of Leader and Deputy Leader. The group with the greatest number of supporting councillors votes its choice through.

Recent comments by newsroom

  • SNP shuts down local branch Twitter proving witch hunt against Carmichael
    Did you read the piece we wrote the night the Carmichael lie was revealed?
    It was utterly excoriating.
    But what is going on now in the SNP’s vicious gangland-style hunting of Carmichael is primitive, sectarian and fully fascist.
    No civilised person could support it’ and no civilised society could tolerate it.
  • The Carmichael lie: another grubby pot condemns the leaking kettle
    We have no idea.Has the MSP given the year of his graduation? If so,the Glasgow University records for that year would put this matter to bed.
    If people have been unable to establish whether Mr MacKenzie graduated from Glasgow University, we are sure that he would respond to any direct questions on the matter.
    For us, life’s too short. There have always been inadequates and crooks who, for whatever reason, claim qualifications they haven’t got.
    We take people as we find them, on evidence of performance and capability, regardless of qualification or rank.
    However, this doesn’t really work when it comes to surgeons. Or does it?
    Does anyone remember the story – accurate – of a milkman from Leeds who spent his spare time reading about anatomy and general surgery in the local library, applied for job as a surgeon, got it, carried out operations with no apparent bad outcomes – memory says one was the a finger amputation and one an appendectomy – and got caught out, not through any surgical error but some paperwork glitch a keen eyed administrator eventually noticed.
  • SNP shuts down local branch Twitter proving witch hunt against Carmichael
    A witch hunt is described as an investigation carried out ostensibly to uncover subversive activities but actually used to harass and undermine those with differing views.
    QED.
    If you look at what is being planned by these mob-handed tweeters, they are wholly focused on hounding a man out of everything he can be hounded out of – and this is bringing the merciless harrying of the man’s family – who have done nothing.
    Alex Salmond’s lies were of far greater substance, far more dishonest, far more profoundly serious and would have been far more expensive for Scotland long into the future if over 55% of the voters in September 2014 had not recognised the dodgy indy prospectus for what it unquestionably was. You would probably have called it ‘mince’ – if it had been a pro-union document.
    The vindictiveness with which Carmichael is being harried has got nothing to to with any care for the truth. From comments here, is it clear that Mr Salmond’s direct lies can actually be believed to be fictions concocted by pro-unionists – even though he admitted the biggest of them to Andrew Neil on national television? You Tube carries a much visited permanent record of that event.
    The vindictiveness against Carmichael in today’s one party Scotland is driven by a genuinely worrying form of sectarian ethnic cleansing.
    He is the last Liberal Democrat in Scotland. That is not permissable. We must have none.
    David Mundell is the last Conservative in Scotland. We must have none of those either. And Il Magnifico himself has already set off in panting pursuit of Mundell, blunt instrument in hand.
    Something will be concocted to ramp up a mob against Ian Murray in Edinburgh South.
    These last remnants of pluralism standing against what is ever more noisily the jackboot tramp of the SNP brigades, are an endangered species.
    And if normal human beings buy into this culture, we will every one of us reap the whirlwind the SNP is sowing.
  • Supposing CalMac lost the Clyde and Hebridean ferries contract…
    Argyll Ferries is a subsidiary company of Caledonian Macbrayne Ltd, whose parent company is David MacBrayne Limited.
    The brand name’Caledonian MacBrayne’ is owned by CMAL. Apologies for using the shortened version.
    However, we will find out if CalMac is also a registered brand owned by CMAL and will add the answer to that when we get it.
    UPDATED 29 May: Caledonian MacBrayne and CalMac are trading names of CalMac Ferries Ltd (CFL). Caledonian MacBrayne , CalMac and the lion rampant device are registered trademarks of Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL)and are used under licence by CalMac Ferries Ltd.
  • The Carmichael lie: another grubby pot condemns the leaking kettle
    Good question.
    The issue at the time was addressing what one could call a persistent local persecution of some ferrymen – and the council’s failure to offer robust protection to their employees.
    The conduct of the abusers was such as to fall clearly within the council’s own criterion of vexatious complainant. They had a written protocol for dealing with such complainants yet had never employed it in relation to these behaviours designed to harrass and damage their employees. On some occasions these behaviours were very much in the extreme, like pack animals ganging up on an individual.
    Several Easdale ferrymen treated in this way developed stress symptoms and had periods where they were unable to work.
    We were anxious to keep readers’ attention focused on what was an issue of serious importance.
    We felt that were we to identify this particular participant, whose behaviours were worryingly threatening, that could have become the main issue; and the less high profile issues of the undefended ferrymen could have got buried.
    The harrassment and abuse that went on, delivered by a specific group – much of which we published – was utterly unprincipled and calculated to be as personally damaging as possible. That was the heart of the matter and that was what we wanted to keep in focus.
    That was the judgment behind the anonymity used at that time.
    That need no longer exists; and the deliberate predation of Carmichael is unpleasant, self-serving and hypocritical.

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32 Responses to This article in concerned only with performance management …

  1. We have now the opportunity to rectify years of bad management and rot in Argyll.

    To ensure that control of the area is handed back to the people through the councillors we have elected, there has to be a clean sweep of the obviously faulty management that has been poisoning our council and costing us millions of pounds in their recklessness and stupidity.

    There is no alternative, Sally Bin Loudon must go.

    A new CEO is necessary, one who is not a power-crazed control freak, but one who is dedicated to the actual requirements of the post.

    Honeymonster Hendry is long in need of being exorcised from his position. Time to hit the golf course.

    The whole Education Department is in a mess (and Social Care), so Carol Walker (don’t know her married name) needs to get the boot as well. Its in need of a total overhaul with new innovative ideas brought in.

    But lets keep Snedders…

    No I am not drunk! I see wee demotion for him. I would actually be willing to keep him on his salary but demote him to being a social carer, wiping bums and cleaning up all sorts of human waste. Open his eyes to the real world.

    I think its perfect for him.

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  2. We, and the birds in the trees, know it has been officer led. The alliance of independent councilors allowed them to ride roughshod over their code of conduct.

    Now is the time to reel them in and make them accountable not just for spygate but for the deliberate exclusion of the many from dialogue/engagement/consultation.

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    • But led by Walsh, who chose Loudon because he reckoned he could rely on her to do what he wanted, even when he didnt know what it was that he wanted!

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  3. Crazy and Larry right on the money.We owe them nothing great place for the new group to put down markers.Starting with giving the girls from the communications office their jobs back.If they want them.

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    • As soon as the new Coalition for Progress is formally constituted something on the following lines should be promulgated to all employees of A&BC, starting with the CEO and Directors.
      You are employed to serve the population of Argyll and Bute, to look after their interests, to promote the well-being of this area as a place in which to live and work and to welcome visitors who contribute much to our economy.
      The population of Argyll and Bute deserve no less than that everyone shall give of their best to achieve this.
      Every employee has a valuable contribution to make but it must be clearly understood that there is no place for anyone who holds the view that,”It’s not my problem.”
      There are many challenges ahead but working together and earning the respect and support of our population we can put Argyll and Bute where it deserves to be, a great place for us all to live and work in, and a wonderful place to visit.

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  4. Well it didn’t take you lot long – the adminsitration has not even been formally formed yet you want senior officials sacked.

    So, is this what we can expect from the SNP-led ‘Coalition for Progrees’? A pogrom? A night of the long knives? A vindictive lynch-mob howling for sackings?

    You should be ashamed of yourselves.

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    • Simon – no kangaroo courts or lynch mobs, we’re not living in the wild west, and the days of ‘half hangit Erchie’ at Gallows Farland, Inveraray, are long gone. That doesn’t mean to say that you can be naughty.

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    • Simon, c’mon be fair. This is not all of a sudden, I’ve been pleading for them to be sacked for over a year.

      I am nothing if not consistent.

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  5. Simon – do you have the nerve to defend the actions of officers over the last few years – keeping elected Councillors and Conveners out of the loop,giving wrong legal rulings in order to stop actions which the elected Councillors wanted to take, faiking to get correct contractual terms for major projects. And more.
    Do you actually think that these sort of things can be accepted as proper behaviour and within the contract of employment of highly paid Civil Servants?

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  6. So what’s the alternative? Are we willing to accept the standard excuse “Ve vere only obeying ordahs”?

    Don’t think so, having seen this lot in action too many times now to know, having seen them publically lecture councillors even on the Alliance of Nitwits.

    Things have to change – or is it alright with everyone that we keep on these officers and continue to allow them to waste what’s in the Council’s bank account?

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  7. This is nothing more than petty, vindictive, nastiness from an on-line lynch mob.

    You want the alternative Crazy??? Well I am surprised I thought you said you used to work for a Council. Well no matter here’s the alternative – if there is one shred of evidence of wrongdoing (and I do mean evidence not the “we hear”, “we understand” or anyother kind of completely unsubstantiated rubbish accusationsof the type offerred all too often on here) – then the Council can instigate its proper disciplinary procedures.

    But you certainly don’t decide on the result you want before you do that. You don’t trample on peoples’ rights and you don’t act in a mean spirited, twisted and bitter way. Because if you do it will come back to bite you on your bum.

    Hopefully McCuish has more sense than the you lot combined!

    I’ll say it again – you should be ashamed of yourselves to join in this type of witch-hunt. Thoroughly ashamed.

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    • Indeed Simon, why allow truth to get in the way of a good story that you can attach the word ‘gate’ at the end of. All good clean fun, until the lawyers get involved.

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    • Simon said: “here’s the alternative – if there is one shred of evidence of wrongdoing (and I do mean evidence not the “we hear”, “we understand” or anyother kind of completely unsubstantiated rubbish accusationsof the type offerred all too often on here) – then the Council can instigate its proper disciplinary procedures.

      But you certainly don’t decide on the result you want before you do that. You don’t trample on peoples’ rights and you don’t act in a mean spirited, twisted and bitter way. Because if you do it will come back to bite you on your bum.”

      And I wholly applaud him. This is absolutely right. I just wish he’d seen the merit in this upright, decent behaviour when the injustices were being visited upon others. These officials ignored it, and the election was it coming back to bite them on the bum. We have better people as councillors now and I trust they’ll go exactly by the book when it comes to dealing with employees. How nice that this will now apply to ALL employees.

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  8. I don’t think this should be a discussion about disciplinary action, it should be a discussion about performance management.

    Elected members have a role/resposibility for assessing the performance of the chief executive and it would be a failing on their part if they didn’t do that. I have posted on this in a different thread but it is probably better placed in this thread so I have copied it below.

    However in essence I agree with Simon – we shouldn’t engage in a witch hunt without a proper process being followed. What we should do is ask the administration to get that process in place sooner rather than later as it would appear, on the surface, that there are questions that need to be asked and answered.

    My Other Post

    If the new coalition is to be successful then something needs to be done about what are clearly very strained relationships between elected members and the corporate management team. Whether or not people agree that this Council has been failing under the current Chief Executive’s control is up for debate (I think most people on here know where I stand on the debate) however what can’t be denied is that member/officer relations are not what they should be.

    Depending on the nature of the CE’s contract the new administration will, fundamentally, have two options available to them. If she is on a fixed term contract which requires renewal at a set date then they would be able to replace her at that point if they felt she was not capable of performing her role competently. They may, of course, conclude that she is capable and agree on a contract extension.

    If she is on a permanent contract with no break point then the administration needs to assess whether her performance has been satisfactory and deal with this accordingly. In this scenario she would be treated the same way as any other employee and performance issues would be addressed via a proper performance management process (which could, and I stress could, result in dismissal if, after following a proper process, the performance doesn’t improve).

    Dealing with performance issues at director level is slightly different as the administration have no direct control over the appointment and removal of directors. They have (or should have) performance issues managed in the same way as any other employee however the problem here is that they report directly to the CE and if there are question marks over her competence then you could argue that she is not capable of managing the performance issues of those who report directly to her.

    What the new Administration need to consider is whether or not their opposition to issues such as the schools closures was because they were opposed to the policy, opposed to the lack of competence shown by Council officers during the consultation process and in the consultation papers, or a combination of the two. If they were opposed to the lack of competence to a material extent (and any other areas of competence amongst the senior staff) then they can’t be seen to duck their responsibility to challenge the CE and CMT and ensure they are accountable for their failings. Just because it happened under the previous administration’s watch does not mean the issue should be overlooked.

    Roddy McCuish says ‘The people of Argyll have given us a clear mandate for change in the way the work of this council is conducted.’ It is encouraging to hear those words and there is much talk of ‘change’ in the air’
    Recognition of the desire for change makes it crystal clear that change is required and part of that process has to be to identify what has gone wrong, or stood still for too long, and take corrective action. If that means removal of the CMT or close performance management of them then I urge the Administration to be strong and take the necessary steps.

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    • This article in concerned only with performance management – an objective responsibility which has not previously been a notable feature in the operations of Argyll and Bute Council.

      This laxity may itself have produced slack observation of responsibilities in the corporate management team.

      Officers must be given the opportunity to show what they can do under a regime that demands integrity, competence and propriety, monitors performance and insists upon due process.

      Should any then prove incapable of responding to these standards, that would be a point where, in any capable and well managed business, the question of their remaining in their posts would arise.

      The past is the past. An enlightened regime which everyone hopes will seed a very different culture for public sector conduct in Argyll and Bute – at an individual and collective level, should have no care for retribution but every care for the calibre and correctness of performance now.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. “You don’t trample on peoples’ rights and you don’t act in a mean spirited, twisted and bitter way. Because if you do it will come back to bite you on your bum.” – said a parent supporting rural schools.

    Simon, welcome to the revolution.

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  10. Well said Scruff. Its called Karma Simon, what goes around comes around and we are doing nothing to them that they haven’t ALREADY done to us.

    Un-evidenced claims? Isn’t that what Snedders based 2 rounds of school closures on?

    However, I am in full agreement. This should be done by the book. Assess performance, identify the areas where performance needs to be improved (God that is a long list for some) and if standards fail to rise – you are the weakest link goodbye!

    I never said march in there and P45 them on the spot. A full and proper investigation must be done first into activities to date. Depending on how bad the evidence is that comes back and I am sure there will be some, then appropriate action against the officers concerned must be taken.

    We should not lower ourselves to their often illegal and sub-standard actions.

    Yes, I am a former council employee, going back as far as the Strathclyde days and the behaviour I have seen with my own eyes from Officers has been disgusting and extremely unprofessional and would not be permitted by most other councils to happen. But then in most other Councils, Officers have some respect for the Councillors they serve.

    There are more than just the Officers working at the council though Simon and we know from speaking to people behind the scenes that working for these Officers is a nightmare for many good, decent and hard-working staff.

    These Officers need to change their tune or go. Simples.

    Have a nice day :) I know I will

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  11. Crazy make your mind up – it’s either “However, I am in full agreement. This should be done by the book”

    Or it’s your previous comment

    “There is no alternative, Sally Bin Loudon must go. A new CEO is necessary, one who is not a power-crazed control freak, but one who is dedicated to the actual requirements of the post. Honeymonster Hendry is long in need of being exorcised from his position. Time to hit the golf course.
    The whole Education Department is in a mess (and Social Care), so Carol Walker (don’t know her married name) needs to get the boot as well”.

    Crazy, you really can’t have it both ways…

    And by the way it’s certainly not Karma. Rather it is mean-small-minded-vindictive revenge on officers you perceive to have the audacity to carry out the political wishes of the previous adminstration.

    I shall have a nice day thank you – and a clear conscience. ;)

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    • So what are you saying Simon? That it is a case of only following orders? Is that what has been going on all this time? If so, then who’s exactly? You are hinting at the former administration. Is that a case of you “understand” or “hear” that it was them? Or are you willing to come right out and say it? According to you Newsie is always doing it, are you going to be a hypocrite with your own comments?

      And karma? Let’s not forget, I would not be on here having a rant without Cleland Sneddon having rattled my cage. If he’d done a good, fair job and followed the law, I would have nothing to complain about and there would probably not be a Luss Primary School anymore.

      My first comment was made partly in jest, I thought that would be obvious. My second was to clarify my true position on this.

      Investigate practices so far.

      Find evidence (which I am sure there will be – including interviewing the 2 Media staff that got suspended – does anyone actually know what the joke was? I’d love to know).

      Then sack Loudon if it is appropriate.

      Walker – there are clear issues in Education. Her staff hate her. She has 2 levels of completely unnecessary management that are seemingly ineffective because reports are coming into ARSN of massive management issues in the Secondary Schools of Argyll.

      But again, proceedure applies. Investigate, find evidence and then a wee look at her contract and see what we can do.

      I think you are being a wee bitty optimistic that all these officers who have displayed arrogance and incompetence on such huge levels can have complete personality transplants.

      That would be as realistic as you and I going to the pub together.

      My conscience is always clear. I’m a good girl.

      Most of the time ;)

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  12. I really hope that Duncan MacIntyre is called to explain his misleading campaign literature. He should NOT have been allowed to get away with giving misleading and false voting advice on his pamphlet. And, as he only scraped in by eleven votes, it makes you wonder if that misleading advice didn’t account for him getting re-elected.

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  13. This is an excellent article and I agree with the ‘newsroom’ it is primarily about performance not an opportunity for old scores to be settled.
    This may be a new administration but many of the councillors are not new and come with experience.
    Yes we need to change the root and branch running of Kilmory and maybe some people will need to go if they cannot understand exactly what their role is…as the article plainly sets out.
    In the past Officers have had too much power, the balance needs to be redressed. Aslo in the past the Council has not only been seen by other councils as inept but they have also become a laughing stock.
    It is time for Argyll & Bute Council to become a competent and open administration. No more lock outs and secret deals.
    I have every faith in this new administration.

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  14. Please allow this new coalition and its leader Roddy Mccuish the time they need to put their team together before we try to pre-empt any actions on their part. It is positive just to see a new approach to running our council. The new Committee chair persons and local area representation have a lot to deliver and if they prove to be as honest and efficient as most of us hope, then will be the time for the Dinosaurs and miscreants of the past to consider their positions.

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      • There is no formal council as yet. Although it seems clear what the administration will almost certainly be, nothing is formal until the full election process is complete.

        There is a council meeting on 22nd May where rival motions are likely to be advanced proposing specific pairings of Leader and Deputy Leader. The group with the greatest number of supporting councillors votes its choice through.

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  15. Interest post by Simon,

    The person is in fight or flight mode. Obviously personally threatened by the recent democratic changes. The use of the ” you don’t” and “you don’t” indicates a person very much being pushed into a very uncomfortable position, with real concern over the future.

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    • Long time no comment Ourman. Hope you are well, hows Norway?

      You’ll also notice as yet there has been no reply to my questions.

      Now even though Simon may be in Tiree “hanging ten”, I also know for a fact there is internet out there as my cousin is never off Facebook.

      Perhaps Simon is about to vanish again. Shame, I was enjoying the debate.

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