Thursday, 20 November 2008

Job evaluation assessment and grading for senior management

At their meeting on 14th November the Mayor of Hartlepool and his cabinet heard a presentation by the Chief Personnel Officer on the contents of reports prepared by external advisors following their review of job evaluation and grading for senior management posts in Hartlepool Council.

These external advisors are being paid a great deal of money by Hartlepool Council, however when I asked to see what was in the report and what the Cabinet decided regarding the implementation of the advisors recommendations I was refused any access to the documents. Information such as this is defined as "exempt information" so only the Mayor and his hand picked Cabinet are allowed to see it. As a Back Bench Councilor I am apparently expressly and legally excluded from having access to it.

When I was first elected as a Councilor I naively assumed I would be entitled to ask questions and challenge decisions on behalf of the people who voted for me. Unfortunately under the culture of secrecy prevailing in local government the majority of the public's elected representatives are increasingly being kept in the dark over anything that is really important. How democracy and accountability is maintained under these circumstances is hard for me to work out. Interestingly the minutes of the meeting record that several of the Senior Officers themselves were present to hear the report!

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