Monday, 10 January 2011

H&F wins "Rotten Borough" Private Eye Award!

As services for children are axed our Council is paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to a civil servant who was judged to have retired on thr grounds of being too ill to work by his last employer - another Council. Unsurprisingly this hasn't gone unnoticed by the folk at Private Eye who felt that this brass necked approach to the public purse was worth a brass award.

Step forward H&F Chief Executive Nick Johnson, controversially returning from retirement within days of being signed off, just in time to pick up a whopping new six figure salary. Unsurprisingly Labour locally are jumping all over this and with some justification.

Especially when to maximise the amount of our money he receives Mr Johnson has decided to set up his own company to receive it, which exempts him from some deductions. Documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday reveal the company has received £700,000 from H&F Homes since Mr Johnson took up his position in February 2008.

In the last financial year alone, Davies Johnson Ltd was paid £260,980 in ‘consultancy charges’. The year before, it banked £269,405.

Here's Private Eye's award citation to Mr Johnson:


Nick Johnson, who retired as chief exec of the London borough of Bexley on grounds of ill health in 2007, aged 54, comforted by a £50,000 pension – to which he was entitled immediately on the understanding that he was too sick to work in local government again. In June 2010 he admitted he had been working full time for Hammersmith & Fulham council and its housing management provider, H&F Homes. He was paid £528,000 from these sources between 2008 and 2010.

I have to say this really undermines the very positive moves this Council has made recently to publish their spending so that it can be subject to public scrutiny. H&F has rightly won plaudits for being one of the first in the UK to do that which can't be anything other than a good thing - and it's worth pointing out that the move isn't without political risk, so it takes guts.

But why, then, completely lose the credit for that by employing a Chief Exec in what seem to be very shady circumstances?

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