Andrea Hill

Choosing new county chief exec from shortlist of four

Will the mystery candidate from a short-list of four emerge as the new chief executive of Suffolk County Council tomorrow (Wed, Oct 19)? Three of the candidates to be interviewed are publicly known (BBC) but one is not and is from outside the county.

Lucy Robinson, who has been the interim chief executive since the departure of andrea Hill, is the in-house candidate. Her substantive job is director of economy, skills and the environment.

Deborah Cadman is head of the East of England Development Agency which is to be closed early next year. She was previously chief executive of St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

Stephen Baker is chief executive of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils who share a senior management team. He started working in local government in 1982 at Ipswich Borough Council.

The fourth candidate to be interviewed at Ipswich Town football ground tomorrow has not been revealed.

The appointments board’s decision may not be revealed immediately after its meeting at 6.30pm if the chosen person needs to inform his or her current employer first.

Mark Bee the council leader will chair the board along with two other Conservatives and the Lib Dem and Labour leaders, Kathy Pollard and Sandy Martin.

I feel sure they will be determined to reach a consensus decision to avoid the political issues which surrounded the appointment of Andrea Hill and her £218,000 a year salary.

We know the new chief executive will get about £160,000 a year. The whole appointment process has been conducted with careful eye on avoiding extravagance. No head hunters or consultants have been used.

Not only has this saved money but has sent a signal to the county staff that they are trusted to do the work themselves.

They whole process seems to have been designed to demonstrate that the council, under the new leadership of Mark Bee, has changed.

The new chief executive will mark a significant reduction in pay differentials. Andrea Hill was paid 18 times the national minimum wage. The new chief executive will earn 13 times more than someone on the minimum wage.

It does look as if Suffolk County Council has heeded the words of Will Hutton in his report on fair pay in the public sector earlier this year:

… some public sector executive pay has been rising for reasons no less opaque than in the private sector with little attendant rationale. There are anomalies and, before the current pay freeze , signs that in the more autonomous parts of the public sector the arms race effects in CEO private sector pay were being reproduced – albeit less markedly. And of course, at the taxpayer’s expense. The public has the right to know that pay is deserved, fair, under control and designed to drive improving public sector performance – and that there are no rewards for failure.

Questions remain after inquest into death of Suffolk CC officer

The inquest into the death of David White, who was head of Suffolk County Council legal services, gave some insight into this human tragedy and found that he had committed suicide.

As with so many such deaths it is impossible to imagine the agonies which led David White, aged 55 and married with two children to take this course rather than another.

In a note found on the body he exonerated Andrea Hill, the council chief executive, from blame saying: “It is simply because I have been unable to cope with the demands placed on me.”

Statements read out at the inquest did provide new information. Eric Whitfield, former assistant monitoring officer who resigned a few days before Mr White’s death, spoke of the stress his colleague was under working on the council’s 30% budget cuts.

Four days before his death Mr White expressed fears that Mrs Hill was trying to unlawfully appoint staff to senior posts when it should have been done by a full council meeting.

He was “uncomfortable” about raising this with her.

He was also concerned about the libraries consultation which was being conducted on the basis that 15 libraries would remain when it had been decided that only eight would remain open.

If that last point is correct it leaves serious questions to be answered by some remaining senior officers and elected members of the council involved in deciding the future of libraries.

Many of those who would have know this have left. Andrea Hill, was cleared of allegations of bullying, but resigned with a substantial payment. Jeremy Pembroke resigned as leader of the council. Eric Whitfield and Graham Dixon, the director of resource management, who also resigned, leaving before Mr White’s death.

Roger McMaster, the head of the library service, who looked deeply uncomfortable the three times I saw him in consultation meetings, took the option of early retirement with a redundancy package.

Sue Morgan, the scrutiny officer’s statement said: “He [David White] was clearly concerned about what he was being asked to do by the chief executive.

“He was devoted to his work and I can begin to understand that his ethical beliefs and absolute desire to maintain the integrity of the council were being compromised.”


Inquest reports: East Anglian Daily Times, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, LocalGov.co.uk.

Time to take stock before choosing Andrea Hill’s replacement

A line at the start of Patrick Butler’s Cuts Blog in the Guardian nicely sums up what happened in Suffolk yesterday — “Cuts did for Suffolk ‘virtual council’ experiment and someone had to pay the political price.”

It is a political cost. The £218,000 pay-off, plus about £18,000 for her time on gardening leave and the lawyers fees for the investigation into hotel expenses and allegations of bullying, are only the money price.

Andrea Hill will be looking for a new job, and it is time to put behind us her time as chief executive of the county council.

Mark Bee, the new political leader of the council, made it clear on BBC Look East last night that the appointment of a successor would be for the whole council, including the opposition. That is a good start.

The appointment of Andrea Hill was a politically partisan move by the former leader, Jeremy Pembroke. He also forced through the exceptionally high salary.

The real problem with Mrs Hill was that she saw her role as devising and forcing through what Patrick Butler calls a “uniquely conservative vision”. By allowing (even encouraging) her to do this Pembroke was outsourcing political responsibility.

I only came face-to-face with Andrea Hill once. It was in February this year in the schoolroom in Winston, close to Debenham. She had been invited to talk and arrived with the mandatory Power Point presentation.

After that I asked her two questions, one about double taxation which would result from her policy, and the the other on the role of the chief executive. (I wrote “her” in the previous sentence almost automatically, and have decided to leave it in.)

On the job of the chief executive (I had suggested she had moved too far from traditional political neutrality into policy initiation) her answer did not convince me.

I left the meeting saying to a friend, “I would not like to work for her” and the following day decided to revive Wordblog with the intention of shining some light on the council. I have found writing these posts satisfying. I thank Andrea Hill for the motivation she gave me.

A chief executive in local government must be able to work with politicians of any party to deliver its policies. It is not so far removed from the jobs of Whitehall mandarins as Mrs Hill maintained at that talk in Winston.

I go back long enough to remember the time when councils had clerks. Chief executives were introduced to bring in management expertise, but there is scant sign that the running of local government has substantially improved.

On Radio Suffolk today they are trailing a discussion on whether Suffolk needs a chief executive. It is a serious question. Many councils are cutting costs by sharing chief executives.

Mid Suffolk District, where I live, shares a chief executive with Babergh. It is no longer regarded as a full-time job.

I hope that Suffolk will think deeply about its structures (administrative and democratic) before appointing its new “head of paid service” which is the legally required job to be filled.

Politicians do need political support. Maybe that is something which should be considered (for opposition as well as ruling parties).

At the same time the whole political structure of committees and scrutiny at Suffolk County Council needs examining. At present it looks less than wholeheartedly democratic.

It would be better to take time, under an interim head, rather than rush into the appointment of a replacement for Andrea Hill.

Live blog: Andrea Hill to leave Suffolk County Council, confirmed

Roundup at 17.00pm


Confirmation of the departure of Andrea Hill, chief executive of Suffolk County Council came early this afternoon in a statement the council.

The meeting which confirmed the decision finished around 10am, but then it took about three hours for the statement to be agreed. Mrs Hill will receive her £218,000 salary for a year.

On bullying allegations from a whistleblower, the statement says:

Bullying and harassment allegations were robustly investigated by an independent firm of solicitors. Although it remains a concern that such a perception existed, the Committee is satisfied that there was no evidence to support those claims or that she was responsible for the death of David White (former Head of Legal Services).

And on her hotel expenses the committee concludes;

… whilst there were undoubtedly claims which, in the current climate, might not represent best use of public money, the Committee accepted that there was no dishonesty in the claims made.

In a note to editors at the end of the statement the council says, in effect, that tro have pursued the matter further would have cost taxpayers more money:

Suffolk County Council estimated that the external procedure in this case could cost well in excess of £250,000.

Having taken financial, legal and HR advice the Committee came to the view that an agreement was in the interest of both parties.

Given the constraints of the law, these terms were the best that could be achieved.


By not holding the formal disciplinary inquiry, that would be required by law to discipline a chief executive, the council has saved that quarter-of-a-million pounds. However the council has not said how much the external inquiry by socilitors Wragg & Co into the whistleblower’s allegations of bullying has cost.

The story as it unfolded during the day, including full text of the statement, is below


16.30pm

Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs has made some interesting tweets:



16.20pm

Ipswich Spy calling for an inquiry into the applointment of Andrea Hill says: “No matter how much the ruling Tories might want this story to disappear, unless these questions are asked and answered in a public forum the voters will not forgive or forget.”

15.00pm

Terms were “the best that could be achieved”

As so often, the notes at the bottom of a statement are very instructive. In this case they suggest that the Dismissal Appeals Committee were not entirely enthusiastic about the terms that were finally agreed. Here they are:

Notes to Editors:

Mrs Hill’s annual salary is £218,592.

Mrs Hill is subject to a three month contractual notice period.

The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) England Regulations 2001 grant special employment rights to certain officers in local government (the Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer and Chief Financial Officer). Following a preliminary investigation, those rules require the appointment of an independent external assessor and a detailed examination of any allegations or proposed disciplinary action. The county council may only act in line with a recommendation made by an external assessor.

Suffolk County Council estimated that the external procedure in this case could cost well in excess of £250,000.

Having taken financial, legal and HR advice the Committee came to the view that an agreement was in the interest of both parties.

Given the constraints of the law, these terms were the best that could be achieved.

14.30pm

Back from lunch to find the county council statement has been issued. Here it is in full:

The Dismissals and Appeals Committee of Suffolk County Council has today (4 July 2011) concluded its investigation into the ‘whistleblowing’ allegations made against Chief Executive, Andrea Hill.

Bullying and harassment allegations were robustly investigated by an independent firm of solicitors. Although it remains a concern that such a perception existed, the Committee is satisfied that there was no evidence to support those claims or that she was responsible for the death of David White (former Head of Legal Services). The Committee wants to reassure staff that all allegations are treated extremely seriously.

The Committee also received a report into Mrs Hill’s expense claims during her tenure as Chief Executive. It has concluded that whilst there were undoubtedly claims which, in the current climate, might not represent best use of public money, the Committee accepted that there was no dishonesty in the claims made.

Following a lengthy discussion last Friday, and negotiations between representatives of both parties over the weekend, the county council can now confirm that Mrs Hill will be leaving her post with immediate effect.

There has been significant media attention attached to Mrs Hill which has become a distraction and both parties accept that with new political leadership of Suffolk County Council in place, it is better to allow the organisation to move forward with new managerial leadership.

The county council would like to thank Mrs Hill for all she has done over the past three years and wish her well for her future.

The total value of compensation to be paid to Mrs Hill is £218,592. This figure includes her contractual notice period.

13.45pm

Confirmation that Andrea Hill is leaving her post as Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council.

Tweets from James Illman, of the Local Government Chronicle say: “Hill expenses ‘did not rep best use of public money’ but committee accepted there was no dishonesty in the claims made..” and “Suffolk confirm Andrea Hill exit as reported by LGC earlier. Council says there was ‘no evidence’ to substantiate bullying accusations bt..”

And from Patrick Butler of the Guardian, “Suffolk: Council boss Andrea Hill gets £218k pay off. No findings of bullying or expenses abuse. Legal bill for council £250k ”

13.15pm

The Daily Mail reports, the controversial council boss who earned £75,000 a year more than the Prime Minister is believed to have resigned today.


13.05pm

Tweet from Paul Geater, political correspondent of the Archant papers in Ipswich:


12.50pm
Interesting tweet from Private Eye



12.30pm

I have now seen the Local Government Chronicle story, which says:

Sources close to negotiations told LGC a deal had been struck which will see Ms Hill leave the council this month by mutual consent and be handed a pay-off believed to be around a year’s salary.

A council spokesman declined to comment, stating that the meeting was on-going and no official announcement had been drawn up.


The SGC story is behind a pay wall here. Many people working in local government will have access to the subscription service, but I am not sure if Suffolk Libraries subscribe.


12.20pm

Stories about Andrea Hill’s departure are starting to come in thick and fast.

Daily Telegraph quotes Lib Dem leader Kathy Pollard saying:

There will be a feeling of immense relief across the county.

It has been a very unhappy chapter in Suffolk’s history especially for those of us who voted against her appointment in the first place.
She introduced cuts but her position became more and more tenuous as she refused to take as pay cut herself – she was obviously not willing to share the pain with the rest of us.

The poor old Evening Star in Ipswich is still running a story headlined, Still no word on future of chief executive. It says there was still no confirmation about the future of Mrs Hill, despite some reports saying she had left the county.

It is clear that the reports saying she is going have originated in London, from political or civil service sources. Private Eye was the first with a tweet, which was followed quickly by James Illman at the Local Government Chronicle, and Andrew Sinclaire at the BBC. Neither of them are journalists likely to run the story without making their own calls to contacts.


She introduced cuts but her position became more and more tenuous as she refused to take as pay cut herself – she was obviously not willing to share the pain with the rest of us.

The poor old Evening Star in Ipswich, is still headling its story, Still no word on future of chief executive.

Other stories at Public Service,

11.48am

Rotten Boroughs, the Private Eye section on local government, has tweeted:

Re Andrea Hill, the alternative was expensive legal battle — which she claims she wd win. Cllrs persuaded payoff cheaper.

11.25am

Apparently there is still no statement from SCC. The use of the phrase “government source” by the BBC suggests leaks are coming from Whitehall, not Endeavour House, the council’s headquarters.

Ministers at the Communities department have been openly critical of Mrs Hill’s £218,000 salary which put her on a high scale than any Civil Servant other than the Cabinet Secretary.


11.10am

BBC reporting Government source saying Mrs Hill had stood down. The Suffolk CC chief executive is said to accepted a deal to leave.

BBC report links her departure to the inquiry following the death of David White, the acting head of legal services who was found hanged in Butley Woods in early April.

The make no mention of the hotel expenses which was the other strand of the inquiry.
So far there is no news from the Dismissal Appeals Committee which was to have resumed its meeting this morning, presumable to finalise the arrangements for Mrs Hill’s departure.

10.45am


The LGC story is behind a pay wall.

Apparently her departure is by mutual consent and she will receive a year’s pay-off.

If that includes pension contributions, she will reveive well over a quarter of a million pounds.

This item will be updated as information comes in.

Andrea Hill’s future remains uncertain as council committee adjourns

A meeting of Suffolk County Council Dismissals Appeals Committee,  considering the future of Chief Executive Andrea Hill, was adjourned this evening (Thusday, June 30).

 

The committee will meet again on Monday, July 4.  The previous meeting decided that while some issues had been resolved the independent inquiry into allegations about the treatment of staff, should be extended to to cover hotel expenses.
 
Ms Hill has been effectively suspended since she returned from a holiday eight weeks ago.

New date for meeting to consider Andrea Hill’s future

The delayed meeting to consider the future of Suffolk County Council’s chief executive, Andrea Hill, will be held on Thursday.

The meeting was to have been held last Friday but has been rearranged and will be given a report on further investigations which include an examination of expenses claims for hotel stays.

Ms Hill has not been at work since returning from holiday on April 18. She was asked to take extended leave allegations about treatment of staff in the legal department were investigated.

The Dismissal Appeals Committee agenda for the meeting at 2pm on Thursday, from which the press and public will be excluded, is here.

Hotel stays now part of Andrea Hill investigation

It is not surprising that Suffolk County Council is being very careful with the Andrea Hill inquiry following the Shoesmith judgment by the Appeal Court last month.

The judges ruled that the sacking of Sharon Shoesmith from her job as Haringey’s children’s services director, after the death of Baby Peter was  “procedurally unfair” (BBC).

After the meeting of the council’s disciplinary committee yesterday, it was announced that Andrea Hill, the chief executive would remain on  mutually agreed leave at least until June 24.

The committee received a report from solicitors Wragge and Co who were asked to investigate allegations, made by an anonymous whistleblower, about the treatment of staff in the legal department.

After the meeting a statement was issued saying that some matters had been resolved but others required further investigation. It also said that “as a result of FOI requests into expense claims by Andrea Hill the committee has asked the investigation team to review those claims”.

The East Anglian Daily Times says today this relates an FoI request it made which revealed the council had paid for Ms Hill to stay at Milsom’s Kesgrave Hall on two nights before early meetings and a night at the Brudenell in Aldeburgh.

When details were revealed of these stays and another at a hotel in Sandbanks at £205 a night during a conference in Bournemouth, while senior councillors stayed in a much cheaper hotel, they appeared to show ill-judgment. But they did not look like serious disciplinary matters.

The Daily Mail also says the hotel stays are the focus of the expenses investigation.

The Daily Telegraph is alone in saying Ms Hill was, “cleared of accusations about her management style, amid claims of bullying and intimidation”.

Intriguingly, LocalGov.co.uk, the online site of the Municipal Journal, referring to the whistleblowing says:

The letter, seen by The MJ, makes a number of serious allegations against more than one senior member of staff at Suffolk.

Whatever path the council is following, there appears to be wide political backing for it. The EADT quotes opposition leader Kathy Pollard, saying:

Obviously the public want a resolution to this but the council is going to have to go through all the procedures and make sure it dots all the Is and crosses all the Ts. People are going to have to be patient.

But the council has to do this properly otherwise it will cost them an awful lot more money.

I don’t think it [extending the scope of the investigation] has muddied the waters, it’s another line of inquiry that the council is pursuing. It’s right to do that.

Blogger James Hargrave wonders if it now the time to reach a deal by which Ms Hill would leave the council. He writes that while it would cost money it would seem an appropriate way for her to go.

But, as Kathy Pollard’s comment says, as well as ensuring the procedure is absolutely correct, they are anxious to avoid a large pay out.

Any settlement would be expensive and politically extremely unpopular. I can see the headlines pointing out how many school crossing patrols and libraries it would have paid for.

I suspect the council is hoping that Ms Hill will review the whistleblower’s allegations and the matters surrounding her expenses and decide to write a resignation letter before it all becomes much more public.

Statement on Andrea Hill’s future expected today. Updated

Update Friday afternoon: Andrea Hill to remain on leave until at least June while further investigations are carried out. Statement said that some matters had been resolved but others further inquiries. Following an FoI request the committee has also asked the investigation to look at some of Ms Hill’s expenses claims (BBC).

A statement about the future of Andrea Hill is expected later today after a meeting of the county council’s Dismissals Appeals Committee. Ms Hill, the council chief executive, has been on extended leave for a month while and inquiry into allegations about staff relations in the legal department.

A preliminary report from solicitors Wragge and Co who have been conducting an external investigation will be presented to the committee and council leader Mark Bee, who was chosen after the resignation of Jeremy Pembroke.

The subject of the inquiry has been a whistleblowing allegation made after two senior executives resigned and the death by suspected suicide of David White. Mr White had been given additional responsibility as interim monitoring officer (one of the key local government posts) after the sudden resignation of Eric Whitfield, the monitoring officer, and another official, Graham Dixon, the director of resource management at the end of March.

Police have been investigating Mr White’s death before the resumption of an inquest into his death.

According to the county council website the Dismissals Appeals Committee “meets as required to deal with appeals by Council employees under the Council’s disciplinary and grievance procedures”. The press and public will be excluded from today’s meeting as is normal when discussing such matters. However, there has been no suggestion that the meeting will involve an appeal: BBC Radio Suffolk is reporting that a report from the meeting will go to Mark Bee who has announced the end of the New Strategic Direction policy of which Ms Hill was the architect.

The committee has five members, four Conservative and one Liberal Democrat.

The relvant agenda item for the meeting is:

To Consider a Report by the Strategic HR Manager (Reward and Performance)

(The report relating to this Agenda item has been withheld from public circulation and deposit pursuant to Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that the meeting is likely not to be open to the public when this item is considered).

Has BT gained too much influence in local government?

The ditching of Suffolk’s New Strategic Direction last week by the new county council leader, Mark Bee, raises the question of whether BT has gained too much influence in local government.

One BT director, Max Wide, has played a central role in developing the Suffolk plan and another controversial and derided scheme to change the face of a local authority, Barnet’s easyCouncil scheme.

In both cases Wide, Director of Strategic Development at BT Government, was seconded to the councils as Director of Organisational Change.

In the words of Suffolk’s chief executive Andrea Hill when he was appointed last year, his job was to “develop a hard-nosed programme to implement the New Strategic Direction”. According to some sources he played a important part in developing the policy.

Two years earlier he had joined Barnet where the then Chief Executive, Leo Boland, welcomed Wide, saying he would help the council respond to changes. The change policy there gained the easyCouncil name because it was said to be similar to the easyJet business model.

Wide’s role at both Suffolk and Barnet is said to have been “pivotal”. He has also helped up to 60 authorities “deliver change programmes”.

Earlier this year Wide was a member of the panel which chose the Local Government Chronicle’s (LGC) 50 most influential people in local government, including himself at number 28.

The citation said: “Max Wide is best known for his pivotal involvement in two of the country’s most high profile council transformation programmes: so-called easyBarnet and Suffolk’s divestment strategy.”

Andrea Hill was at number five and Nick Walkley, now Barnet’s chief executive, at 18.

Wide’s selection was welcomed by Chris Ainslie, vice president BT Local, Regional and Devolved Government, who wrote on the LGC blog that “Max has spent 20 years at London Boroughs and has worked with 60 authorities to deliver change programmes.”

The similarity of the Barnet and Suffolk schemes was alluded to by Mark Bee last week when he told the East Anglian Daily Times: “The days of the council being a ‘light’ council, being an ‘easy’ council approach which I think underpins the New Strategic Direction, are over.”

BT embarked on a systematic marketing programme in 2002 to win the hearts and minds of the top people not only in local government, but in central government, the police, the NHS, the military and other public sector bodies.

Vital Vision takes such people to events at top American universities. A BT public sector brochure describes the programme as bringing together “a unique mix of senior Government decision-makers, BT research partners and leading academic institutions, including Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford and MIT. The objective is to explore current business thinking and look at how it can best be applied to Government. This process is enhanced by the quality of the participants and the genuinely stimulating, interactive environment they create together.”

A rather different story emerges from a document put together to support the Vital Vision team’s application for a BT internal marketing award (it got a commendation).

This document has the title: “Vital Vision. Creative thinking in the marketing approach and customer proposition.”

It says: “The programme supports BT Government’s long-term activities in building ‘relationships that count’ within the inner circle of senior civil servants – a circle many competitors find difficult to penetrate. The programme provides a platform for BTG’s sales activities with the largest contract opportunities across the UK.”

One of those large contracts was the Suffolk Consumer Services Direct 10-year deal worth £300m (since risen to more than £400m) which was awarded to BT by the County Council in 2004.

The following year Mike More, then the Suffolk Chief Executive (now with Westminster council and joint 19th in the LGC list), took part in the Vital Vision programme when he was targeted for a “mobile office” contract worth £50,000 to BT.

The 44 people taking part that year represented “organisations with a total opportunity value of £1.7bn”.

Andrew Foster, Director of Human Resources at the Department of Health, was being offered a £3m contract by a part of BT that helps organisations “change the way they work through the effective exploitation of technology”.

Norfolk council’s chief executive was being targeted for a £50,000 “mobile workforce” product while the county’s chief constable, Andy Hayman, who moved to the Met police that year, was being pursued for an outsourcing contract.

Business opportunities for BT, taken from a customer relations management database, are listed against each of the the participants.
When the kind of people “who will shape the views of others” are invited on to the Vital Vision programme, they are inducted  by a personal in-depth interview where BT “determine the key issues with which they are grappling….

“We also explore the individual’s personality profile, learning profile and emotional intelligence to help us to determine the best method of delivery.”
The programme provides “a platform for BTG’s sales activities with the largest contract opportunities across the UK”.

The Vital Visionaries are invited to two week-long visits to top US universities where they attend sessions on such topics as “Leadership in the public sector”, “Competing on the edge: strategy and cultural chaos”, and  “Engaging the citizen”.

The first visit is to Boston for MIT and Harvard and starts with a cruise and dinner. The second is to San Francisco where the events are at Stanford and Berkley. Again the programme looks tough but there is light relief with a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train.

After a year on the programme, BT organises reunions to maintain contact.

The BT marketing document says: “Given the Public Sector rules on acceptance of hospitality and the reputation and benefits of the programme, clients pay their own flights and accommodation costs.” Suffolk’s chief constable, Simon Ash, claimed £2,750 expenses for attending the sessions in 2008.

But Andrea Hill was able to say in the staff newsletter in April this year: “So what about the two trips to America with BT, have they compromised my judgement? In 2008 I did go to both Boston and San Francisco, as part of a training programme sponsored by BT. So did 30 other public sector Chief Executives. So too did my predecessor a few years before me ,and so too have 4 other council Chief Executives or Chief Constables from Suffolk. Not a penny of my trip was funded by taxpayers – not the course, or flights, or hotels, or mileage, or meals, or even a cup of coffee.” (Source 4)

She does not actually say who paid her travel expenses but the implication is that BT made an exception from its rule in her case.

Vital Vision has also, according to the marketing document, “spawned ‘Envision’, aimed at one specific client to help them to implement their far reaching change management initiatives”.

That was written in 2005. But the placing of BT executives in change management jobs has continued with the secondment of Max Wide to Barnet and Suffolk councils.

Police making inquiries into death of Suffolk legal officer

An inquest into the death of David White, a senior legal officer at Suffolk County Council who was found dead in Butley Woods last month, has been opened and adjourned “pending police and partnership agency inquiries”, Suffolk Police said today.

This morning the Daily Mail specifically linked Mr White’s death with Andrea Hill’s leave of absence from the council in a headline reading: “£218,000 town hall chief is told to stay at home in ‘staff suicide probe’.’

There is little new in the Daily Mail story which is generally what has already been said in many newspapers and local government publications except for the explicit link and reference to an inquest.

The Mail said Andrea Hill, chief executive of Suffolk County Council, was “told to stay at home on full pay while an inquiry looks into the death of David White, the acting head of the Tory-run authority’s legal department”.

An independent inquiry  has been set up by the council (“partnership agency”) to investigate complaints about the treatment of staff in the legal department made in an anonymous letter after Mr White’s death. No detailed information about the inquiry, who is carrying it out, the terms of reference or how long it will take, has been issued by the council.

Mr White had been given additional responsibility as interim monitoring officer (one of the key local government posts) after the sudden resignation of Eric Whitfield and another official, Graham Dixon, the director of resource management at the end of March.

These resignations were quickly followed by that of Jeremy Pembroke, leader of the council.

A few days later, on April 4, the body of Mr White was found in Butley Woods, near Woodbridge (Evening Star). In an email to staff Ms Hill said the police had confirmed a sudden death without suspicious circumstances, believe to be suicide.

Ms Hill was was expected to return to work last week after a holiday but was asked to remain at home on extended leave.

Suffolk Police today confirmed to Wordblog that an inquest had been opened and adjourned to a date to be fixed, pending inquiries. The spokesman said they did not know when the inquest would be held but a press release would be issued when the date was fixed.

Police inquiries are normal in deaths where suicide is suspected.  The inquest into Mr White’s death would be expected to examine whether personal or work issues contributed to his death.

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