More heat than light generated last month when councillors were finally allowed to publicly discuss the absurd £100K PAYOUT handed to Reverend Rees’s failed Chief Executive, Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski in September 2017. The Reverend alleged at the time that Big Wedge resigned for “FAMILY REASONS” without notice and so she would not normally be entitled to any money whatsoever.
Councillors bombarded the Reverend with questions after council auditors, BDO, published a partial, if DAMNING, report on the affair. However, the questions were batted away by an embattled Mayor with TWO HALF-TRUTH EXCUSES: that there were no formal processes to follow for senior officer departures and that his legal advice said the pay-off was “contractural”.
NEITHER EXCUSE HOLDS WATER. The process for senior officer departures appears in the annual Pay Policy Statement and plenty of pay-offs have been approved by the HR Committee of councillors in the past. Under questioning the Reverend REFUSED to explain why this did not happen in this case beyond claiming that there was “NO PROCESS” to follow.
Meanwhile, the legal advice the Reverend relied on, labelled as “SURPRISING” by the auditors, remains shrouded in mystery. Despite demands by councillors, the Reverend WOULDN’T EXPLAIN why he didn’t get this advice through his legal department. He also POINT-BLANK REFUSED to release the request for this advice, the actual advice or, even, which of two firms of lawyers named in the BDO report provided the hookie information. The Reverend insisted that this was “THE LAW“.
A claim that is NOT TRUE. While the law allows legal advice provided to local authorities to remain confidential if they choose, it does not prevent them publishing it if they want to. Why is the Reverend SCARED SHITLESS of publishing anything to do with the advice he received or the circumstances surrounding it?
The only nugget of information the Reverend released during his pointless session with councillors were the names of the two chief officers advising him on this generous payout – “JACQUIE AND NICKY“.
Step forward Jacquie “You’re Fired!”
McGeachie – a former Tesco HR, now a local authority interim manager trading as
Jacquie McGeachie HR Consulting Ltd, charging £1,000 a day – and Nicky
“Chocolate” Beardmore, a local authority management failure from
Shropshire APPOINTED BY THE REVEREND as interim Head of Paid Service on
£1,200 a day in the autumn of 2017.
The involvement of McGeachie is especially intriguing as she was a COLLEAGUE of Big Wedge’s – then trading as Elka Solutions Ltd – in Barnet in 2014 and Big Wedge personally brought Jacquie McGeachie HR Consulting Ltd to Bristol when she became Chief Exec in early 2017. It then looks as if McGeachie RETURNED A HIGH-ROLLING FAVOUR by signing over a six-figure sum of public money to Big Wedge as she departed.
After a FRUITLESS COUPLE OF HOURS querying the pay-off, councillors agreed that the three-quarters of the auditor’s report not published could be debated in public at the Audit and HR committees and again at Full Council.
We think this is pointless. Isn’t it time Inspector Knacker looked into how Big Wedge ended up with £100k of public money in her personal bank account?