A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Five Jobs Boff

Tory candidate for Mayor of Hackney Andrew Boff has announced he will work unpaid if he beats Labour's Jules Pipe in May, as will his Cabinet.

This might sound admirable until you discover Boff can only afford to do this because he already earns about £53,000 a year as a GLA member. And he intends to carry on doing the GLA job and somehow be Mayor in his spare time!

I don't think he understands what an executive Mayor does. It isn't about going to a few meetings and wearing a chain. The executive Mayors in boroughs like Hackney, Lewisham and Newham run organisations with the best part of 5,000 staff and budgets of £1 billion which have a profound impact on local residents' lives - including "life & limb" stuff like child protection. The casework they get is up to 2,000 letters a year. They are paid more than MPs because they have a lot more executive responsibility.

I've worked as an adviser for Group leaders who tried to run the opposition group on a council in their spare time whilst doing another job (in the days before generous Special Responsibility Allowances). It was impossible for them even to do justice to the job of scrutinising the executive without being full time, let alone to politically lead the council. No local government political administration, or ‘cabinet’, in London (possibly in the UK) is now run solely by part-time and/or unpaid people.

A recent scrutiny committee study I was involved in heard plenty of evidence that there was a direct link between the hands-on decision-making and oversight of officers by Jules as Hackney's Mayor and the council's progression from a national laughing-stock and basket case that failed residents to one which wins national improvement awards.

Andrew Boff is also running to be a ward councillor in Queensbridge Ward, where we unseated him in 2008, and he publishes a local magazine and is in business as an IT consultant.

The idea that he can combine all these roles (it's not even legal to be both a ward councillor and Mayor) and make any meaningful impact on the seven-days-a-week job of being Mayor is an insult to the position he is running for and to the intelligence of Hackney's voters.

Far from being a "saving", Boff's suggestions would have the effect of reducing the ability of democratically elected residents to have proper control and oversight of a £1 billion Council operation, as well as reducing the authority’s ability to explain to taxpayers what it’s doing with that money. The current levels of control and oversight that Mr Boff wants to practically eliminate have seen more than £40 million saved over the past few years without making service cuts – the third highest savings total in the country of any local authority– which is now spent each year on more and better frontline services, including millions extra on youth, and has allowed Labour to keep the Council tax frozen for five years.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Confused said...

"The executive Mayors in boroughs like Hackney, Lewisham and Newham run organisations with the best part of 5,000 staff and budgets of £1 billion"

What exactly does the Hackney Chief Executive Tim Shields do then?

7:23 pm, March 05, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A recent scrutiny committee study I was involved in heard plenty of evidence that there was a direct link between the hands-on decision-making and oversight of officers by Jules as Hackney's Mayor and the council's progression from a national laughing-stock and basket case that failed residents to one which wins national improvement awards."

You can brown nose Pipe all you want, it is still the work done by talented officers and a competent Chief Executive (and despite Pipe's incompetence) that has put us in this position.

6:33 am, March 06, 2010

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

The "talented officers and a competent Chief Executive" would not have come to Hackney if it wasn't for the stable political leadership Jules has brought. When the council was hung it was almost impossible to recruit or retain good officers.

I have personal experience of this because I was involved in the back-channel negotiations to persuade a previous chief exec to apply for the job. They wouldn't have applied if it wasn't for the assurances they got about the stability and sanity of the council's political leadership.

11:08 am, March 06, 2010

 
Blogger kris said...

Play the ball, not the man. The fact is, Jules Pipe has repeatedly dropped the ball. Jules's legacy is the trail of destruction and sheer waste of ITNet, Clissold Leisure Centre, Broadway Market and the complete shower that is Dalston.

Here's the best part, Luke - the state of Hackney Homes housing. Newsflash: just because you are going to demolish a tower-block in a few years does not obviate your obligation in law to provide minimum standards of repair.

I wonder what a FoI of the sums paid out by Hackney in Disrepair damages and costs would reveal?

Even that would only scratch the surface of the misery of inadequate housing on offer by the the London Borough of Happiness.

You should be ashamed. Other London councils have their problems, but Hackney is the utter worst. Ask anyone who rus cases against you.

And remarkably, none of this registers with Hackney Labour or Jules.

Rest assured, while I may be holding my nose and voting for Diane and therefore Gordon - I'll be voting for Boff only and don't care if the Conservates run a barstool in my Ward - they get my vote.

I'm sure you're a great guy and your missus is lovely - but I've had enough.

6:32 pm, March 06, 2010

 
Anonymous Boffy for Mayor said...

Would that previous chief exec you worked so hard to get into Hackney be Penny Thompson?
Remember she lasted only around a year and left umder a cloud with more than £300,000 stuffed in her pockets??

4:11 pm, March 07, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke surely it would be wise to start capitalising on the growing list of Tory donors. I'm shocked at who is supporting the conservatives.

These people are donating hundreds of millions many of which work in investment banking. One lord doesn't even live here. How on earth you can be a lord and not live in the uk is beyond belief. Talk about jobs for the boys and no doubt the tax payer will be paying his private jet costs when ever he decides to use his seat.



What are these people set to gain if the torys win in may. Something needs to be done to curb political donations.

7:44 am, March 08, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous Boffy for Mayor said...

Would that previous chief exec you worked so hard to get into Hackney be Penny Thompson?
Remember she lasted only around a year and left umder a cloud with more than £300,000 stuffed in her pockets??

4:11 PM, March 07, 2010


When some serious mistakes came to light and the shit hit the fan, Pipe did the decent thing ... and sacked Penny rather than resign himself!

You've got to admire his barefaced cheek! He has no scruples, but he has cheek.

8:42 am, March 08, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think you should try living in the slum dwellings you call housing in Hackney for a few months, and then sit there and heap praise on Hackney Labour. Freeze council tax - real terms means more cuts to disabled childrens services, and other services for vulnerable people.
You are a disgrace.

11:50 am, March 08, 2010

 
Anonymous Jobs for the Boys said...

Well well Penny Thompson has fallen on her feet. She has just been made the Chief Exec of the General Social Care Council. Doubt there was much competition for this position in the leper like job of defending social services in this country

7:18 pm, March 09, 2010

 

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