Disgruntled county council staff have given vent to their anger over a reported six-figure payoff being handed to the authority’s managing director in an extraordinary series of comments criticising the way it has been handled. And they have also taken aim at the county council leader over his decision to be away from his desk throughout January to take part in a vintage car rally in South Africa.
The comments – leaked to the KM Group – were posted by staff on the council’s own intranet under an initiative known as ‘Talk To The Top’, where senior managers respond to questions from employees. Dozens took the chance to express their dismay at events surrounding the abrupt departure of managing director Katherine Kerswell.
County councillors voted to scrap the post of managing director yesterday amid a furious political row. Conservative leader Paul Carter was accused of acting like a dictator by the opposition parties. But recent events triggered a hostile response from many staff, although a number were subsequently deleted by senior managers.
Comments posted by staff included:
- “Surely if an employee chooses to leave then they should forfeit any golden handshake? Any other member of staff who left for their own reasons would not be entitled to this.”
- “Why did KCC elect to be less than transparent over Katherine Kerswell leaving? Several weeks ago, KCC claimed it was rumours and lies… and here we are today with Paul Carter declaring she is going!”
- “Why on earth would KCC lie to its own staff about Katherine Kerswell leaving? Two weeks ago, we were told rumours in the paper about her leaving were false only to find out they were true. Staff are losing their jobs right now – the money could have saved several jobs! How can we be expected to work through tough times when we are being… clowned around by our own employers? Staff should be more important and told the truth at all times.”
- “Isn’t it about time staff were treated with some dignity and respect and not treated to the media fodder that usually gets spun our way?”
- “I’m sure many employees would like to work for 16 months then decide to pursue new interests and be given a giant helping hand to do this with nearly half a million pounds. It is time KCC employees stood up and had their concerns listened to.”
- “For most of us living on the breadline, six-figure send-offs is soul destroying – more so because it is the little people who, to coin a Star Trek phrase, ‘make it so’.”
There was also open criticism of KCC leader Paul Carter over his request to staff for sponsorship to support his charity vintage car rally in January, which will see him away from County Hall and in South Africa for most of the month:
- “Sorry Paul, charity begins at home – perhaps instead of going on a jolly you can go on a conflict resolution course instead.”
- “It just beggars belief that so much money can be chucked around like confetti and those of us struggling to make ends meet are then asked to waste what little we have on jollies!”
- “Massively insensitive – I am totally lost for words. I feel sick.”
Responding on the forum, Mr Carter said:
“I can understand and sympathise that feelings are running high regarding job losses. However, the email was aimed to try and help four very good charities in the hope we can raise substantial sums from the generosity of staff, friends and business colleagues. In the first few hours we have already raised over £100 for these good causes, let’s keep the momentum going.”
kentonline 16th Dec 2011