Why the secrecy over MP’s arrest?
WE have to admit that “Damian Green MP arrested” was not a headline many of us ever expected to see. But as he has become something of an unwitting champion of our freedom to information, we do wonder if the self-styled Conservative defender of civil liberties David Davis feels a slight twinge of jealousy that the spotlight has been switched to his colleague.
SO, did Kent Police know the Metropolitan Police were to raid Damian Green’s home in Charing and his constituency office in Bethersden? You would have thought there might have been a call between the two but if there was, no one is letting on. Our call to Kent Police to ask is referred to the Met. And the Met’s response? “We never comment on operational matters.” Why the secrecy?
WHOEVER becomes the county council’s next director of children’s services will be under no illusions about the scale of the job they are taking on. Above an image of a seasonally snow-covered roof and chimney, the advert for the post by recruitment consultancy Veredus boldly states: “No one influences children more - (well, almost no one).” Sadly, the advert fails to say whether there is a lease agreement available for a sleigh and reindeer for the successful candidate. Or indeed a red and white costume, large sack and white beard.
SO, how much has Kent County Council paid to Butlers, the company that advised it to invest money in Icelandic banks? The amount was disclosed to councillors last week by Nick Vickers, KCC’s head of financial services, who said Butlers received a fixed annual fee of £26,000 with an allowance for inflation, which meant by his calculations that the company received an additional £840 this year. Meanwhile, the much-anticipated report KCC commissioned to investigate the circumstances surrounding its decision to invest in Iceland has not yet seen the light of day. We hear its publication is imminent. Just in time to get buried in the Christmas holidays? Surely not. We wouldn’t be so cynical.
THE idea of a national town hall bank floated by KCC chief executive Peter Gilroy seems, on the surface, a reasonable proposition. As the Icelandic cash crisis has amply demonstrated, councils deal with huge sums of our money so pooling it does make sense. Off The Record is always struck, however, by how ideas spring from adverse or unusual circumstances. Give their clout, why haven’t councils previously thought this might be worth exploring? As long as councils thought that they could get a good deal from banks on their own, joining forces did not occur to them.
PRESS release overkill corner. A Labour party press release about the Turner Centre art gallery for Margate features quotes from not just one party spokesman but quotes from five councillors. We hear it might have been six but Gordon Brown was not available.