Wednesday, 28 July 2010

More On Joe Duckworth's Departure from Newham Council

As Mike Law mentioned on his blog two weeks ago, there have been a number of rumours circulating about the abrupt departure of Joe Duckworth, Newham council's former chief executive. This version of events, in the current issue of Private Eye, seems the most plausible of the explanations I have heard so far:

Shameless bullshit from Newham council about the sudden enforced departure of its £240,000-plus-a-year chief executive Joe "Vera" Duckworth.

Newham released a platitudinous statement: "Two successful years... enjoyed time... take career in new direction... seek new challenges" etc. All very chummy - except chief execs departing on amicable terms are not usually escorted from the building by security men. Vera had to go because he was too independent for Newham's power-crazed elected Labour mayor Sir Robin Wales, who demands total obedience to his whims. Duckworth, who in his previous job, following stories in the Eye, exposed a dodgy procurement racket on the Isle of Wight, crossed Wales early on by getting rid of one of his closest cronies, deputy chief executive Chris Woods.

Vera's departure is believed to have been brought about because of conflict over the role of Newham's "executive director change programme", Steve Swayne. Swayne does not have a local government background, which no doubt endears him to Mayor Wales. He is a consultant from an outfit called Kingsgate Interim Advisory and Investment Ltd, which was paid £337,450 by Newham for its services in 2009-10. Sister company Kingsgate Square Mile received £71,530.60 in the same year - a grand total of nearly £409,000. Swayne is a director of Kingsgate Interim, which specialises in "turning round" troubled businesses and has in recent years claimed to be able to do the same for public bodies, although Newham is so far the only council to have had the treatment. Despite his reputation as a "company doctor", Swayne was somehow unable to "turn around" his previous company, electronic components firm Eurodis Electron of which he was chief executive. It went bust in 2005.

So who would want the god-awful job of chief executive next? Recruitment will definitely go ahead, despite the suggestion by local government minister Eric Pickles that the post should be abolished. We know that the Mayor tried two years ago to bring in a figure from the private sector before Duckworth's appointment, but the choice of Roger Tucker, of African Arabian Petroleum, was withdrawn before he took the job. So who does that leave?

I hear that some bloke called Tony Hayward, who is hideously expensive and another oil man, is currently available for interview...


Anonymous said...

And I can't believe that Tower Hamlets are fighting each other tooth and nail to have exactly the same.

Mike Law said...

My money is on Milli Camley becoming the next CE.

Mike Law said...

Sorry... typo - it's Milly Camley.

Anonymous said...

Milly Camley wont be the new CE. Wales is far too dependent upon her and the other members of the kick-back team. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see her husband make a sideways move in preparation for a bid to take over as the big smell of the new Olympic Park after the games.

No matter what happens and who gets the job you can be sure that it won't go to someone who has the interests of the people of Newham at heart!

Anonymous said...

I don't see why London, needs 32 local Boroughs. Just imagine 32 local Mayors, 32 Chief executives, 32 heads of finances, 32 heads of education etc... I am sure we can rationalise this to 6 super Borough. The money can be re-deployed into grassroots services.

Anonymous said...

Joe Duckworth got it wrong on the Isle of Wight too, forcing out anyone who disagreed with him and wasting public money doing so. Looks like he's done it again.

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