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After Rogers: social outbursts, but is there a plan?

After Rogers: social outbursts, but is there a plan?

🕔21.Feb 2017

It seems fitting, given the outgoing Chief Executive’s heavy use of social media, that Twitter and Facebook are full of an outpouring of emotions regarding Mark Rogers’ departure.

Much of the commentary online is coming from Labour councillors and some senior staff. Hastily written blogs, tweets and Facebook posts have been published – and in some cases deleted.

Claire Spencer, the Labour councillor for Moseley & Kings Heath, posted a blog indicating that she had submitted three Freedom of Information requests to find out who was behind the decision for Mark Rogers to leave the council. The councillor was clearly angry at her own party’s leadership for the decision and the manner of it, as well as the suggested involvement of other parties including the Government.

The blog, posted on the Medium platform, was read by in full by the Chamberlain Files. But it was removed later yesterday, as Cllr Spencer indicated in a number of responses on Twitter.

Andy Howell, a contributor to this blog and a former deputy leader of the council, has been imploring his colleagues in the local Labour party to be more careful in what they say on social media given potential candidates for the top job and those connected to Government will be watching developments closely. He has made a formal complaint to the Council regarding one of the responses on social media from a Council employee.

Arguably, the conversation online from councillors and employees is to be expected given the rapid developments over weekend, first revealed on Chamberlain Files, whilst there is still no formal announcement internally. The only statement so far issued has been the one given to the media on Sunday afternoon, officially confirming Mr Rogers was moving on.

Chamberlain Files understands that a final agreement has not yet been reached with Mr Rogers, even though Sunday’s announcement included a quote from him. However, it is thought further statements could be made soon.

There has also been no official confirmation about who is in charge of the council administration given Mr Rogers left office with immediate effect. It is thought that Angela Probert, strategic director of change and corporate services, will be acting as CEO.

A number of senior roles remain unfilled on a permanent basis, with Peter Hay leaving the People directorate whilst Jacqui Kennedy and Waheed Nazir remain in acting roles for local services and economy respectively. Jon Warlow is not at his desk, as we highlighted on Saturday.

Other senior officers are known, understandably it might be argued, to be unsettled by developments.

Sources close the the council leadership point out that a number of experienced senior officers remain in their roles at the Council House and that chief executives will come and go from time to time.

The timeline of events remains unclear. Whilst Mr Rogers was informed on Thursday, it is likely Councillor Clancy effectively took the decision a few weeks ago. If so, it begs the question as to what was put in place to prepare for the departure of Mr Rogers, including arrangements to announce his moving on and the appointment of his successor.

Chamberlain Files is not aware of any advance ‘reaching out’ to senior figures in local government. However, some of those who might consider applying for the UK’s biggest job in local government will be looking at current events – including how they are playing out through social media – with some interest, not to say bemusement.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Conservative Group has called for an emergency Council debate this week and for the leader of the council to brief city councillors on the decision.

It is understood that the opposition group leaders were not made aware of decisions around the chief executive before Chamberlain Files revealed at the weekend.

If the leader, John Clancy, refuses to meet this week the Conservatives say they are calling for the budget meeting next Tuesday to be expanded to allow a statement from the Leader and a proper question and answer session to discuss the “chaos the leader has plunged the Council in to.”

Cllr Robert Alden said:

The leader needs to come and answer questions of councillors. Here we are three days after a leak that the Chief Executive is going, staff have not been briefed on what is happening. Councillors have not been told how the Council Leader is tackling this chaos. It is almost as if they don’t know what to do.

It is clear that the Leader having decided to change Chief Executive has no plan or strategy for how to get through the next few weeks let alone the next few years. In December 2015 Cllr Clancy said he would get rid of the improvement panel and that residents could trust him. 14 months later the panel remains, we have lost our Chief Executive, directorates are overspent by £67m, there are huge holes in senior management and the papers are full of stories that other senior staff are going as well.

Rather than leading us out of trouble he has watched the Council plunge further into chaos.

It is not clear whether Cllr Alden’s intervention, as well as comments from Labour councillors and some senior staff, will be viewed as helpful whilst the terms of Mr Rogers’ departure are finalised.

Cllr Alden concluded:

Cllr Clancy has no vision for the City, no strategy to deal with the budgetary and management chaos engulfing the Council and he has no Chief Executive for the Council. Cllr Clancy needs to show leadership and brief the Council on what is happening and answer questions about the appalling way he is managing this situation.

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