Who is in power in Hull?

December 01, 2011 2:31 PM

Remember this?



 

I wrote about Unison's countdown to power after the local elections this year. They clearly feel they are in charge, but is this true, or is it merely spin over substance?

In May, Andy Stankard became the Principal Cabinet Support Officer in Hull City Council. According to his Linkedin profile, this job is to give ' Policy Support and Research to The Leader of the Council and Cabinet.' Prior to the elections, he was the Principal Support Officer to the Labour Group. But this is not Mr Stankard's only role inside the council.

He was the Chair of the Unison Branch, and since September, Unison's communications officer. So we have a situation where someone who is advising the leader of the council on policy matters is at the same time promoting his union's message. Perhaps this relationship is a little too cosy, especially as his union is in negotiations with the executive on new terms and conditions for his members. Is his advice impartial, or is he merely making sure Unison gets its way?

Before the elections, the current leader, Cllr Stephen Brady had this to say in response to a letter from the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union:
I want to make you aware of the great work the Hull Labour Group has been doing with the local government trade unions, specifically with UNISON Hull City Branch.

The Principal Support Officer to the Labour Group in Hull, Andy Stankard, also happens to be the Chair and Labour Link Officer for the UNISON Branch and we have worked together for a number of years now to bring the party and the unions much closer together. So much so in fact that for the last two years there has been a ‘concordat’ agreed between UNISON specifically and the group.

It will not surprise you to know what Mr Stankard was doing last Wednesday.  On BBC Radio Humberside on Sunday 27 November he said the following in response to a text message from a Unison member to the show:
I am organising, or helping to organise pickets in the local government section.

What I don't know, but am trying to find out, is whether Mr Stankard is given facilities time to organise these pickets. This is time we pay for out of our taxes to enable him to organise strike action. It could be he does this in his spare time, although I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't.

[caption id="attachment_42358" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Unison's taxpayer funded office in Hull"][/caption]

Not only do taxpayers in Hull pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to the unions through the back door, Unison clearly has a place at the top table with the council leadership thanks to their concordat. When it comes to negotiations with the unions on terms and conditions, Mr Stankard appears to have his feet in both camps.

Despite the leader's assurances before May that he had agreement with the unions on changes to terms and conditions, six months later negotiations are still taking place. We are constantly being told those negotiations are drawing to a close, but no-one is telling us when an announcement is coming. Cllr Brady has tough words for the unions in the council chamber, but these words appear to be a hollow gesture.

As I highlighted in October, there are many hidden perks inside Hull City Council. These perks are pushing up our council tax bills, and are affecting front-line services. The city's firework display on 5 November was cancelled this year as the council could not justify the expense. Fair enough, but after six months of negotiations, will Unison accept that paying staff 65p per mile as casual car users is also an expense that cannot be justified? Will it agree to a reduction, so the council pays 45p per mile - the HMRC recommended rate? Will it accept that the council cannot afford generous annual leave entitlements to staff earning above £42,066?

These things do need changing, but I suspect that as long as Unison is in power in Hull, they won't.

 

 Remember this?



 

I wrote about Unison's countdown to power after the local elections this year. They clearly feel they are in charge, but is this true, or is it merely spin over substance?

In May, Andy Stankard became the Principal Cabinet Support Officer in Hull City Council. According to his Linkedin profile, this job is to give ' Policy Support and Research to The Leader of the Council and Cabinet.' Prior to the elections, he was the Principal Support Officer to the Labour Group. But this is not Mr Stankard's only role inside the council.

He was the Chair of the Unison Branch, and since September, Unison's communications officer. So we have a situation where someone who is advising the leader of the council on policy matters is at the same time promoting his union's message. Perhaps this relationship is a little too cosy, especially as his union is in negotiations with the executive on new terms and conditions for his members. Is his advice impartial, or is he merely making sure Unison gets its way?

Before the elections, the current leader, Cllr Stephen Brady had this to say in response to a letter from the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union:
I want to make you aware of the great work the Hull Labour Group has been doing with the local government trade unions, specifically with UNISON Hull City Branch.

The Principal Support Officer to the Labour Group in Hull, Andy Stankard, also happens to be the Chair and Labour Link Officer for the UNISON Branch and we have worked together for a number of years now to bring the party and the unions much closer together. So much so in fact that for the last two years there has been a ‘concordat’ agreed between UNISON specifically and the group.

It will not surprise you to know what Mr Stankard was doing last Wednesday.  On BBC Radio Humberside on Sunday 27 November he said the following in response to a text message from a Unison member to the show:
I am organising, or helping to organise pickets in the local government section.

What I don't know, but am trying to find out, is whether Mr Stankard is given facilities time to organise these pickets. This is time we pay for out of our taxes to enable him to organise strike action. It could be he does this in his spare time, although I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't.

[caption id="attachment_42358" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Unison's taxpayer funded office in Hull"][/caption]

Not only do taxpayers in Hull pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to the unions through the back door, Unison clearly has a place at the top table with the council leadership thanks to their concordat. When it comes to negotiations with the unions on terms and conditions, Mr Stankard appears to have his feet in both camps.

Despite the leader's assurances before May that he had agreement with the unions on changes to terms and conditions, six months later negotiations are still taking place. We are constantly being told those negotiations are drawing to a close, but no-one is telling us when an announcement is coming. Cllr Brady has tough words for the unions in the council chamber, but these words appear to be a hollow gesture.

As I highlighted in October, there are many hidden perks inside Hull City Council. These perks are pushing up our council tax bills, and are affecting front-line services. The city's firework display on 5 November was cancelled this year as the council could not justify the expense. Fair enough, but after six months of negotiations, will Unison accept that paying staff 65p per mile as casual car users is also an expense that cannot be justified? Will it agree to a reduction, so the council pays 45p per mile - the HMRC recommended rate? Will it accept that the council cannot afford generous annual leave entitlements to staff earning above £42,066?

These things do need changing, but I suspect that as long as Unison is in power in Hull, they won't.

 

 

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