It seems that they don't want to talk to us now

I was feeling refreshed after the Easter break until about 08:00am Monday morning when I received a full briefing on what has been happening this last fortnight!

Feedback from the last TR Consultative Forum which took place just after the Secretary of State received our pre-protocol Judicial Review letter, suggests that the 'bunker mentality' is coming to the fore once again. This condition manifests itself in displays of truculence from usually mild mannered officials to reasonable requests for information which is no doubt symptomatic of them having received orders from above. It also appears to illustrate their complete lack of confidence in the efficacy of their project, exacerbated by the fact that the designers themselves are now in a complete panic about what will happen post 31st May when the disaster that is unravelling before them becomes unrecoverable.

Now we are being told that all questions to the programme team have to be in writing before they will be deemed important enough for consideration. This new condition will not exactly engender spontaneous and intellectually stimulating debate, but then again it is not intended to, is it?

Or is it just us being paranoid? Hardly, for just before Easter we asked to see the Ministers to raise a few pressing issues and while they were not able to meet with us, they did offer the services of senior officials in their absence. Unfortunately, at the time of writing we are having a little bit of difficulty tracking down the people we would like to see and who, with the greatest of respect to their colleagues, are best placed to have some influence with Ministers. Surely it has nothing to do with that letter? I will keep you posted as to progress.

Labour edging closer and closer to the point

The letter from Sadiq Khan to Ursula Brennan is a positive move in terms of seeking a route whereby an incoming government should have the scope to review and if necessary terminate any Probation contracts with private providers.

The article covering the story can be found at:

The letter followed on from a useful meeting between Tania Bassett and Dean Rogers and the opposition front bench team and provides further evidence that we are getting our views across to where it counts.

Our take is that it may not be necessary for an incoming Labour Government to pay out massive sums in compensation to CRC contract holders because the service level agreements already contain a number of break clauses. Hopefully some of the ever decreasing number of prospective bidders will work that one out too and decide that they won't want to touch this shambles with a barge pole.

Keeping a cool head in a crisis

I will not bore you with the oft used Kipling quote but at a time when our members and Napo are both in the biggest struggle in our history it is right that our members expect their elected leaders and those that they employ (that's both in my case) to make clear, calculated decisions based on the evidence before them.

As I have said before, every one of your officers and the staff team at Chivalry Road are acutely aware of the situation you are facing out there and the pressure we are under to do all that we can to try and turn the tide. We do that within a democratic and structured environment that allows every Napo member an opportunity at local, branch and national level to make their views heard and brings the leadership team regularly to account at the National Executive Committee meetings such as the important one that is taking place tomorrow. I expect it to be a tough meeting to reflect the tough time that we are in, but I also know that we will have an honest face-to-face debate about the challenge before us and the steps we need to collectively take to promote and protect your interests.

It's another reason why I am always exhorting our members to get involved in elections and ballots and to take ownership of your trade union. Compared to many other organisations that I have also been privileged to work for, Napo is out there in a very special place of its own, allowing for full and frank exchanges between members and their leaders within an atmosphere of mutual respect,its very much a union which embraces the principles and values that I believe in.

That's why I have been especially grateful for the messages of support that Tom and I have received recently despite the untold difficulties that our members are under. Thanks to all of you.

More to follow after the NEC meeting

Blog type: 
General Secretary's Blog