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Monday, February 19, 2007

Getting It On, Getting It Off

We all know just how much progress has been made with the problems of Hackney's slum estates since we handed the problem over to Hackney Homes. ALMOs (arms length management organisations) are one of Tony's great innovations and one that Maggie would have loved to have introduced if we hadn't thought of it first.

With Hackney education safe in the hands of The Learning Trust (known to friends as "Tender Loving Care"), it was no surprise that other areas of the Council's services should be clamouring to let go of their responsibilities and "encourage customers to "empower themselves".

This is the way lawyers used to earn their salaries...
Lawyers getting it on
Take TLC's legal chief Tom Brooke, for instance, who in a recent interview with "The Lawyer" explained his crucial hands-on role in Hackney's education services as follows: "The legal team's objective is a simple one: to let the Trust get on with it. We're not tied into the same cycle of scrutiny and so on that the councils are; we have a 'can do' ethos."

Justifying his ALMO approach to life, which some of his staff have mistaken for "skiving off", he explained: "Even a relatively small legal issue can obstruct and distract... a minor employment issue or a photocopier contract. We see our role as trying to make sure the team delivering education services have the support they need to do their jobs, without being held back by legal issues."

Of course the easiest was to manage at arms length is to be physically at arms length or, preferably, a few miles away. Regular readers will know that I practise this approach all the time, sitting at home posting on my blog instead of wasting time and adding to traffic congestion by going into my employer's office. Mind you, I'm a bit of a family man and I like to be with my lovely wife Linda and my prime-minister-to-be son Augustus as much as possible.

Tom, on the other hand, likes to P.A.R.T.Y! As "The Lawyer" reported, "It is safe to say that few legal chiefs hold their team's Christmas party at renowned London clubbing night DTPM, but Tom Brooke is one of them. Still, the head of law at Hackney Learning Trust is used to doing things a little differently."

It's true that constituents customers would have difficulty finding and pestering you at DTPM. Especially if you have the sort of figure that blends in well with the other clubbers. On the other hand, "arms length" isn't the first phrase I would associate with DTPM (motto: "Expect beautiful people"). But then what would I know?
...and this is the way they earn the wonga in Hackney today
Lawyers getting it off

Mind you, Tom Brooke can always claim to be taking a lead from more senior members of the legal profession in taking a break from the office to pursue relaxing hobbies. Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith and Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Ken MacDonald have both shown how a relaxing hobby can help one deal with the stresses and strains of daily political life. Unfortunately this is not an option available to the lower ranks, as tragically demonstrated a week ago by the death of Matthew Courtney, whose employers Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are one of the companies who participate in The Hackney Schools' Mentoring Programme.

It has been pointed out to me that "The Learning Trust" has now escaped its TLC acronym and "Tender Loving Care" epithet by renaming itself "Hackney Learning Trust". Given the average age of senior management, I feel a case of Chinese herbal HLT ("Hormone Leplacement Therapy") coming on.

8 comments:

Ingrid Polansky said...

Am I missing something here, or is Hackney Council really spending my Council Tax employing senior managers whose boast is that they don't interfere with people by doing their jobs? And who spend their time in nightclubs instead? Just run that past me again, please. I must either be stupid or in the wrong job.

Luke Akehurst said...

This has to be the dullest post you have ever written - a study of the social life of a local authority lawyer so obscure even I have never heard of him despite being a councillor in the same borough. You aren't by any chance a local authority lawyer yourself?
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Luke Akehurst said...

It keeps the peasants happy, writing about them. Don't you worry - I don't give a sod about the oi polloi in the Borough like local heads of law departments.

I'm only interested in Labour NEC elections, Tony's replacement, Australian politics and the other important things that a local councillor is elected to focus their time on.

Tom said...

"This has to be the dullest post you have ever written - a study of the social life of a local authority lawyer so obscure even I have never heard of him despite being a councillor in the same borough."

. . . and I've never heard of Luke Akehurst (or his spoofster)!

Tim Broke-Taylor said...

This has to be the dullest blog I've ever read - a study of the social life of a local authority councillor so obscure even I have never heard of him despite being a lawyer in the same borough. You aren't by any chance a local authority lawyer councillor?

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Luke/Anon/Tim/Genghis/Osama/Pol/John Major said...

These have to be the dullest comments I have ever read - identical comments on the social life of a local authority lawyer so obscure even I have never heard of him despite being a councillor in the same borough.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Anonymous said...

Zzzzzzzzzz

John Fitzpatrick QC said...

I'm free.