Going Native

Henry_M_Stanley_-I often hesitate to pick on another politician based upon a single article in a newspaper, but the Daily Telegraph of 20th November reported on an interview given by Lord Porter of Spalding wherein he stated that whilst he is not happy with the six figure salaries enjoyed by council chief executives there is little that can be done…because that is the way the world is! Gary Porter is Baron Porter of Spalding CBE, a British Conservative politician, local government leader and member of the House of Lords.
He is also a South Holland District Councillor and most importantly Chairman of the Local Government Association. He was created Baron Porter of Spalding, of Spalding in the County of Lincolnshire on 15th October 2015.
In the article he draws the comparison with top footballers with whom he is also “not happy” about their being paid a lot of money. But as a person in a leadership position he does have choices. He can choose not to support a football team if he thinks they are over promising and under delivering. A top footballer is expected to thrill millions across the globe and has a limited performing lifetime. And for many people the purpose of top footballers is to be the recipient of gratuitous abuse whether it is appropriate or otherwise. A top footballer is always at risk of career terminating injury. I have yet to see a Council Executive whose brain was overworked in the performance of their duties.
The real test of a Council Executive’s pay is whether the recipient provides added value. I have known a few Council Executives directly and I have yet to discern added value. For the most part they are administrators who do not provide leadership but manage to convince senior elected officials that they have to pay the most to get the best. But we do not always need the best. I would like a Rolls or a Bentley but I happily settle for a VW.
When Babergh was enjoying its executive leadership challenges I suggested that we could emulate the Roman Empire and split the job between the three (at most) next senior executives. They would have to work together towards common goals. They would not need a fourth person to coordinate their actions and give them direction as if they were teenagers. They would however need political direction.
Equally I suggested that they should advertise the post at £80,000 instead of  £100,000+ and see what they got. They might have got ambitious candidates with acceptable capabilities, qualifications, experience and vision. Instead the senior councillors (i.e. the political leadership) outsourced their problems to an Executive Search Consultant and the rest is history. There was no challenge and consequently I feel that they ended up overpaying.
And what of Lord Porter? Where is his challenge and leadership? What happened to the man I once met and admired? Has he succumbed to the Sir Humphreys of the Local Government Association?
The evidence is clear enough. One does not need to be in the Third World in order to go native!

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