Sunday, 2 March 2014

Thanet Council Chief Executive - Less Work Same Pay

Green Party Councillor and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Thanet South, Ian Driver, has condemned plans to halve the responsibilities of Thanet Council’s Chief Executive, Sue McGonigal, yet allow her to keep her full pay of £109,000 plus a £5,000 car allowance, as a “perverse way to reward failure”.
McGonigal who was previously...
Thanet Council’s Head of Finance, was promoted to the post of Chief Executive in 2009 but continued to retain her treasury responsibilities.
In a report discussed at a meeting of Thanet Council on Thursday 27th February it was agreed to transfer McGonigal’s financial responsibilities to a newly created post of Director of Corporate Services, leaving her to concentrate exclusively on Chief Executive responsibilities.
The changes are thought to have resulted from criticism of her management of a secret deal with TransEuropa Ferries which allowed the struggling company to run up massive debts through a payment deferral agreement with the Council .
In April 2013 TranEuropa Ferries went into liquidation owing the Council £3.4 million.
In December 2013 the Council agreed to write off the debt and cover its loses from reserves and grants.
An investigation of these events, following a whistleblowing complaint from Driver, conducted by the District Auditor criticised McGonigal for failing to inform leading councillors about the secret deal, failing to keep proper records and failing to take external expert advice on the deal (2).
Said Driver “This is the first time I have ever heard of someone having their work responsibilities cut in half but allowed to keep their full pay. It’s a scandal, especially when its borne in mind that its very likely her duties were changed because she had badly managed the TransEuropa Ferries affair. This appears to be a new and perverse version of rewarding someone for failure.
Its shameful that the Council’s ruling Labour Group and Conservative opposition did not insist on cutting her pay in line with her reduced responsibilities. This decision will send out yet another negative message to Thanet taxpayers who are fed up with the never ending stories of incompetence and dodgy dealing emanating from the Council”.
For more information contact Ian Driver
1. See Thanet Council reports 27 February 2014

2. See Report of District Auditor attached to this release


  1. Before TDC do any thing should they not wait for the LGA peers report to be completed and published? Unless of course they are just planning to bin it.
    There's no doubt that the combined roles were too much for one person in a council facing all the problems of Thanet, it may work elsewhere but not here.
    Looks like bad legal advice will lead to another £1.5 millions having to be paid out to animal exporters. The legal dept seems to be central in many of the recent losses.
    I also read that TDC think that the Dreamland 16 acre site with the potential to build over 400 dwellings is worth less than £500,000. I understood that a CPO has to value land on its potential even though planning permission may not have been granted. Looks like more legal woes ahead.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. You have an excellent grasp of the issues. I will be meeting the Peer Reviewers for a 121 meeting and will be explaining my concerns to them and presenting evidence. The animal export issue is difficult. I have a degree of sympathy with the council, but perhaps independent legal advice was required. Dreamland is another matter. I think, like you, that a costly mistake might have been made. the Council has already had to make arrangements to cover the £3.4 million debt. The current budget has very little scope an unexpected call for £2-3 million. We live in interesting times


  2. On the subject of TDC legal officer Harvey Patterson. Simon Moores seems to have spat out his dummy this day and began answering his invisible blog friend "Rick".

    I happen to know that he was challenged to whip out his calculator. Given his penchant for accusing people of conspiracy theory. A subject on which he has previously conferred with TDC oracle Harvey.

    try it for yourself. In October 1996 Michael Howard announced (Cullen Report Dunblane tragedy) that handguns would be banned.

    At that point handgun firearms certs were in issue to 0.1% of the population.

    What was the population of Thanet ? Divide by 1000 to determine the likely figure who own legal handguns ?

    Take a gun range of 90 members. Deduct the number who are target rifle enthusiasts to determine then number in the pistol section.

    Conclude that range has one third of Thanet's proportionate number of handgun owners.

    Calculate the odds for a random intruder to break in property of a householder who owns handguns AND belongs to that range


    Unless there is a cause and effect interaction the odds square for a second such hit.

    to 9 million to one.

    And this relates to the parole board decisions re Anthony Swindells murderer of 6th Thanet range member Ken Speakman 1996. Final hearing and decision this month.

    Whilst a parole board inquiry was under way there was a blogging Thanet Cllr who expounded on his blog that he was expert in matters 6th Thanet Range.

    Yippee you might think. First rate chap for the Parole Board to ask about the range and to inform the pertinent issue of Section 54 Terrorism Act 2000 (which relatesto firearms training not terrorism it being open to accused to show there activity was wholly unconnected with terrorism)

    No sooner had "Yippee" sounded that Harvey had to admit that TDC has no policy for compliance with the statutory reporting duties of the Terrorism Act 2000.

    And Simon decided to email privately to say actually he has no knowledge about the range at all.

    And there he was the Mighty Moores assuring his readership the issues were ancient history with no current implications. Such was his expertise he must have been surprised when ITV carried the news report about police case officer opposition to Mr Swindells getting parole release.

    I am all the more surprised because of late Mighty Moores has also set up shop as the fount of all insider knowledge about deliberations by the PCC and Chief constable.

    In fact to identify handgun owners was as simple as a walk to a chalk quarry range and pick up the range records left strewn about the place as litter. The Parole Board has some examples to consider. Do they want to back the one in 9 million chance of random targetting using Debretts ? Or the short odds on insider knowledge ?

    The Parole Board may choose to ignore submission. But their attention has been drawn to the complexities of rights to silence. And invited to consider that people giving evidence to them may have undischarged Section 54 statutory duties to report. Which would make silence the criminal offence and their hearing a crime scene.

    It has been recommended that they take advice from specialist terrorism QCs like Lord Carlile. Who happily was sent a 200 page report last year to which Harvey and Simon declined to contribute.

    Simon refuses now to answer simple questions. Like would he expect cold case venomous hatemail cases in Thanet to be cross referred to the current blog spat inquiry ?

    I refer to threat letters sent to Cllr Iris Johnson.

    Would Simon expect the cold case paramilitary assault on elderly Thanet tory Margaret Mortlock to be cross referred ? The case is certainly before the Parole Board by the way.

    Or as well as being miffed that police have extended the law's jurisdiction to include him is he also miffed at the standard police practice of cold case cross referencing ?

    He is a funny lad.

  3. Awful as usual. Which councillor approved this It's not Ferry Everitt again is it? And a £5k allowance - that's almost a Rolls Royce. Get her sacked and call in the cops.

  4. For many years, officers have controlled TDC because councillors believed that they could not be prosecuted if they followed the advice which they were given. Officers became more self-important and began issuing specific advice to councillors rather than outlining the options available to them. In this climate it was stupid and irresponsible of the council to delegate powers to officers to make decisions on behalf of the council. The failure of our elected councillors to properly control and direct the officers is at the root of the current difficulties. As for employing a new finance officer to do half of McG's job, I see this as yet another example of the malaise affecting Britain, whereby the fat-cats get paid irrespective of performance, whereas everybody else is expected to do more for less. it will be interesting to see what the ordinary council workers and their unions make of it. They have seen their pay progressively cut over the last five years whilst simultaneously being expected to do more for the pittance they are paid. The lesson of this debacle would appear to be: If you want to get your workload reduced to a manageable level, without giving up any of your remuneration, make a complete hash of those parts of your job you want to give up. Of course, I suspect that different rules will apply to the thin cats in the lower ranks.

  5. The only reason McGonigal got the chief executive job in the first place was because she was very conveniently the only candidate to fit the new combined CEO and CFO post. This in the restructure she worked up with departing CEO Richard Samuel, that just happened to make him qualify for a redundancy pay-off costing £173k when he was due to retire a year later anyway, and so that was never going to be in the tax payers interest.

    It would appear that now the roll is back to being CEO only it should be opened up to an array of stronger candidates, even before you consider the negligence of Transeuropa, EKOLLP, and her disastrous and expensive restructures. These latter items should be the reason for her removal without any pay-off, i.e failure of statutory duty as S151 Officer.

  6. When people on far lower wages are fired for pitiful little mistakes, you have to wonder just how big the blunders need to be before one of the big earners takes a hit. After all, the excuse these people usually give for being paid so much money is the level of responsibility they have. Well, you don't have responsibility for something if you aren't also accountable.

  7. Dear Cllr Driver please amend typo on 17.21 post from roll to role, thanks.