BabsGate4; Babs slides out the rear door of City Hall and off down the back alley.
After many weeks of rumour regarding the whereabouts of Westminster City Council’s chief operating officer Barbara ‘Babs’ Moorhouse, we’re certain she has slung her hook.
We started getting tweets & emails about three weeks ago telling us that Babs had not been seen around the corridors of Westminster Council. People wanted to know if Babs had really left Westminster Council.
In April 2013 the council’s chief executive Mike More announced he was to retire, leaving city hall at the end of 2013. We were also told that there was no way Babs was going to get his job of chief executive when it was vacated by Mr More.
When officers at Westminster City Council were asked about Babs’ whereabouts some didn’t know whilst the ones that did know were running interference; She was on gardening leave, extended leave, just being let go, her contract was not to be renewed, and our favourite explanation “Oh my god, we can’t pay her off again, Nutsville would have a field day”.
When Babs failed to show at Tuesdays Audit & Scrutiny Committee meeting, Cllr Tim Mitchell said that at the next meeting “Barbara or her equivalent” should be there.
For years now the officers have run the council at Westminster keeping most of the councillors in the dark. Secrecy must be at an all time high when the Council’s chief operating officer’s disappearance is being concealed from elected councillors.
Tim Mitchell only had to ask us where Babs was at the busiest times of the financial year.
She has been appointed as a non-executive chair of The Office for Public Management (OPM). Babs must be far too busy to attend to the finances of Westminster City Council when she is chairing meetings for the OPM, as reported in May 2013 (view here).
For years the public face of Westminster Council has been in denial regarding the appalling state of its accounts, with now four years of accounts uncertified because of a growing set of very serious objections lodged with the District Auditor.
The District Auditor has found Westminster Council still not answering questions regarding all sorts of goings on under the stewardship of Babs. As Westminster Council failed to answer serious questions by the June 10th deadline, the District Auditor intends to come up with some provisional views regarding the objections to Westminster’s sham accounts next week.
With Mike More’s departure and now Babs, could Nutsville have been right all along? Surely not as that would make the gushing defence of Babs work by Cllr Ian Rowley seem rather misguided.
As at March’s 2012 Audit & Performance Committee Cllr Rowley, when learning that things were far from shipshape in the finance department said “When it circulates in public it’s a deliberate attempt to intimidate. I think we as politicians from all sides, both Labour and Conservatives have to support staff and the appropriate circumstances…I hope that can be minuted as well.”
Lets remind ourselves of that meeting when Babs brushes everything under the carpet, seemingly put out that she had to turn up at all to explain these mischievous allegations.
The Audit & Performance Committee swallowed the act hook line and sinker, well how could a mere blogger see the bleeding obvious better than someone on over £200,000 per year, who increasingly surrounded herself with expensive tax-avoiding one man band consultant limited companies who now sit at many of the desks in the finance department.
Check out our previous blogs about Babsgate if you want to get the tiniest of clues why two of Westminster Councils most senior officers have/are leaving the sinking ship. Or is it all just a coincidence, no we doubt that.
Mike More came to Westminster Council from Suffolk Council in 2008, the same place as Westminster’s former leader Colin Barrow. It was parking that done for Barrow after a very interesting phone call from 10 Downing Street which gave Barrow no choice. But Barrow has always denied he had to go and said it was something he’d always been planing to do. Funny though that just days before his departure he was still booking dinner functions as leader of the council for dates after he had resigned.
Toppling Barrow was just the start, as Mike More followed, announcing his departure to spend more time with his wife and family. Now Barbara Moorhouse seems to slide as quietly as possible out the back door of City Hall.
If you care to look at the time-line for these departures you will trace all this back to 2008 when Westminster Council dared to bring in a charge for motorcycle parking on the streets.
What goes around comes around.
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