Staff Memo – All staff must only read Westminster Council official press releases for nice news

On Tuesday of this week we witnessed a sad juxtaposition as the Evening Standard wrote about the suspension of a Westminster City Council Street Warden, whilst on that same evening the Councils PR spin doctors were attending the Chartered Institute of Public Relations ‘Excellence Awards’ annual back slapping bash. With the team from Westminster collecting a gong for best crisis management.


It certainly looks as if someone has dropped the ball on the long term festering sore that is the treatment of Westminster Council Street Management staff.


In our last post we went into detail regarding one council street warden/shop steward (John Gilroy) who was suspended then sacked, after falsely being accused of theft, which led to him being arrested in front of his family and having his personal property confiscated.


When it came to John Gilroy’s hearing results the Council found that he had no case to answer with regard to any theft, and that he had not committed any crime when he entered City Hall. Nevertheless he was still sacked for using the Councils whistleblowing procedure to allege overtime fraud against two fellow wardens which the Council say brought Westminster City Council into disrepute and therefore caused them to lose trust in him.


As PR strategies go it seemed rather a foot in the mouth tactic for the council as their dirty washing was hung out in public in the Evening Standard, this blog & the West End Extra.


In the crudest way possible Westminster City Council then stamped all over free speech turning its vindictive eye on another Street Warden (James Shanks) who the Council allege had dared to put web links pointing to the three stories, not on the councils website, but on a Unison Facebook page & an internal council notice board.


Seemly oblivious to the fact the leader of the Councils Labour Group (Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg) had also posted links to the exact same Evening Standard article on the Labour Westminster website bungling senior Westminster management still attempted to shut the stable door well after the horse had bolted and the cat was out the bag.


If what happened to John Gilroy wasn’t a clear enough warning to keep council staff cowering in their jobs, to drive the point home Mr Shanks was dragged before management to accuse him of circulating offensive material on the Internet (yes they really mean the links to the Evening Standard, The West End Extra & Nutsville). The Council also threw the familiar lines of “Action which is likely to result in the loss of trust and confidence” and “bring the Council into serious disrepute” at him.


You can probably see where the Council are going with this, a council street warden of over 14 years service looks to be heading for the sack, and for what. Inadvertently highlighting the shortcomings of senior management who have been promoted well above their abilities?


Calling the first Evening Standard article offensive caused another article to be published on the day the Council’s PR team were at their industrys annual bun fight basking in the vainglorious glow of their very own crisis management award. (Oh how sweet this is to write)


Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg has written an open letter to the relatively new Chief Executive of the Council, Charlie Parker. Although none of this started under his leadership, we think this is his first public crisis at Westminster Council he’s had to deal with since he unpacked his bags at City Hall. We expect this to be the first of many cock-ups Mr Parker will be called to deal with.


At present John Gilroy is sacked, but awaiting an appeal hearing. James Shanks has been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.


Both men & one other street warden intend to take their fight to the Industrial Tribunal should a satisfactory outcome not be achieved in the meantime, and we hear even more branches of the media are watching like hawks for this all to be aired at an independent tribunal.


Lets hope the mainstream media don’t run into a certain woman lurking in the corridors of the tribunal building, who we believe maybe a Ms Sally Driver who we are told is a troubleshooter brought in by Westminster Council. Whilst we were attending an Employment Tribunal hearing for a third Westminster Street Warden this little oddity chased Nutsville around the tribunal hearing buildings with her Iphone attempting to take our photo. Guards did try to put a stop to her antics, but lost patience with her when she continued to brazenly pull her camera phone out in front of them in the buildings main foyer.


Tribunal guards seemed keen to call the police on Nutsville’s behalf perhaps so that she could be educated, but then why miss the chance of seeing her outside the building scuttling down the street in public where it is legal to take photos. Though it was tempting to consider heaping the experience John Gilroy had suffered from the council on her, we do wonder if she would mind her phone being wiped like Mr Gilroy experienced.


It certainly seems as though some people working for Westminster City Council think they are better than the people they are supposed to be serving, how quaint.


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