Following the previous article today on the Express & Star website which I blogged about here, Peter Francis has replied to the veiled implication by Mike Bird, that the former Head of Programme Management was in some way responsible for the lack of an audit trail in the handing out of EU cash to community groups. The article which so far has only appeared in printed editions of the paper has been scanned by The YamYam here, and a roundup of articles from various sources appears in this YamYam piece. What would we do without our local news aggregator?
I think it’s quite poor that the Express & Star didn’t see fit to publish both sides of the story online; to a casual observer, that would give the impression of bias. Wrongly so, of course.
In essence, Mr. Francis points out that he only did that job for a short time and raised concerns even then. Perhaps it’s time for the ruling group to stop playing blame tennis and actually start addressing the situation. In an environment where we’re just about to suffer Sunday parking charges, Sneyd School is being closed whatever the electorate may want, and with Bryntisilio set to become a hazy memory, haven’t we suffered enough for the arrogance and childishness at the heart of our authority?
Perhaps our new leader could make a start by following through on his mutterings about openness and try to connect with the people whose services he’s having butchered. Launching a transparent inquiry into just what the hell is going on in the civic centre would be a start… The people of Walsall seem to be paying for the abject incompetence of the people who run the council, whilst the leader plays pass-the-parcel with responsibility. Is it any wonder that voter turnout at local elections is so low?
I’m amused that Councillor Ian Shires found last night’s meeting so peaceful. I bet if he’d stayed very still, and concentrated really, really hard, he would have heard the sounds of daggers being drawn…
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Two Little Birds
Peter Francis claims that within two weeks of being appointed Head of Programme Management at Walsall Council, he “raised concerns about the management of EU funding.” He took up his post on new years day in 2004. By September of that year, he had gone, a victim of harassment, bullying and discrimination.
Five years on and after an investigation by the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service that concluded that there was no evidence of criminal activity, Walsall Council Tax payers are likely to be between £1m to £4m worse off. The new Leader of the Council, Mike Bird, expressed his “delight” at the findings of the Police investigation. It would seem, therefore, that the baseline performance indicator for a Council should be an absence of criminal activity. If that is so, then the proposed repayment of EU funding can only be the result of incompetence within the Council.
Peter Francis is thought to have received a £600,000 payout for wrongful dismissal. Mike Bird, at a meeting of the full Council, said that Peter Francis was responsible for overseeing the management of EU funding for “the majority of the period of time we are talking about” and suggested that the issue goes back to the year 2000. Not content with ruining the health and career of an honest man, the Leader now wants to divert any responsibility away from an inept and cowardly local authority.
Nine months out of nine years is hardly time to squander millions and to hatch a nest egg. If the Leader is committed to an open, transparent and listening administration, he should stop blaming the good guys and keep his beak shut.
Otherwise, he might attract the attention of certain other beaks.
Peter Francis sang and is now a broken, and after costs, not a very rich Canary. Councillor Bird seems like a Magpie attracted to shiny things and maybe, or maybe not, derives his motivation from an opera by Rossini.
Excellent post. With you 100%.
Did you not read the 2nd paragragh?
I did read the second paragraph. I just thought you were being a bit generous, that’s all. It’s nice to have peace restored, but it’ll be interesting to see where the next outbreak of indiscipline will spring from…
Keep blogging, you’re doing an excellent job. I may not agree with all you say, but your presentation and use of new media is a pattern others should emulate.