It simply beggars belief that Paul Carter should round on the local press and suggest that they are responsible for the falling staff morale at KCC. We will find out in June, if not before, how much Katherine Kerswell was paid leave quietly. What is clear now, and has been for some time, is that her recruitment and departure revealed serious shortcomings at the very top of KCC. Poor staff morale at the Council is more likely to be a result of working for rubbish bosses than simply reading about them.
It's also pretty rich for Paul Carter to criticise the press for not playing a "straight bat" after the stream of misleading and mealy-mouthed press releases that accompanied the confused and confusing departure of the Council's MD.
Paul Carter's request for sponsorship from his staff was quite simply breath-takingly crass.
Kent County Council leader Paul Carter has described 2011 as a "demanding and tough" year for the authority. In a New Year message posted on the Kent County Council website, the Tory council leader said challenges included growing economic and political uncertainty and fears over job security – including his own.
But he said the council had made a lot of progress over the year, including saving £95 million and preparing a budget for 2012 with another £97 million of savings. The cuts include the loss of hundreds of jobs as staffing levels were slashed by 10%. Mr Carter said:
"We are now starting to see a more joined up, leaner organisation emerge and I am very confident that this new approach will support good quality front line service delivery for our residents."
There has also been progress in the authority's children's services department, which was slammed by Ofsted last year. Officials concluded there were "no priority areas for action" at the last inspection. Mr Carter said there were also improvements in school results and the number of apprenticeships in Kent has also risen by over 70%.
He said his New Year resolution was to improve relationships with the local press after a spate of "biased" stories, including reports about the departure of managing director Katherine Kerswell and Mr Carter's month-long trip to South Africa. Staff were furious after they were asked to sponsor the charity trip in the wake of reports of a six-figure redundancy settlement for Ms Kerswell. She was 18 months into a four-year contract. Mr Carter said:
"I know there has been several high-profile issues related to the organisation in the past few weeks; however, I am very concerned that on many occasions the good stories we have to tell are simply falling on deaf ears. My frustration is that, despite the reality, this constant sniping at KCC impacts on morale for our hard-working staff, and if we are not careful the consequence will inevitably be a knock-on effect to frontline service delivery. I would love to see more stories played with a straight bat in 2012, giving credit where credit's due and letting the public actually decide for themselves."
thisiskent 5th Jan 2012
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