This post follows on from yesterday's that discussed the fact that individual Trust Boards are being invited to voluntarily agree to variations in the terms of their contracts with the Ministry of Justice/NOMS. According to Joe Kuipers, the Chair of Avon and Somerset Probation Trust, one of the variations concerns the notice period required in order to terminate the contract with the MoJ. I'm not 100% sure, but I assume it's 12 months.
Clearly, so that the omnishambles timetable can be completed before the next General Election, the Ministry of Justice can't afford to give the required period of notice, hence the invitation to each Trust Board to voluntarily accept a reduction in the period of notice required under the terms of their contract. As Joe Kuipers confirms, such a decision must be made by each Board and I assume authority cannot be delegated to the Chair.
I remain utterly astonished that in a mature democracy like ours, during this whole period of turmoil, there has hardly been a peep out of any Trust Board with the notable and honourable exception of Joe Kuipers of ASPT and subsequently, John Steele of Surrey and Sussex PT.
This is an absolutely key decision for each Trust Board to make and I'm clear they have a duty and responsibility as Independent Boards to consider the best interests of their communities and wider public, as well as their loyal employees. It will be an utter disgrace if individually they capitulate to government demands and merely rubber stamp these contract variations.
In a democracy, the public and employees have a right to know what is being asked of each Trust Board, and be offered the opportunity of voicing an opinion. I thought the key reason for Independent Boards was so that community opinion could be reflected. In my view, in order to demonstrate worthiness of holding public office, each Board member ought to reflect long and hard before taking the extraordinary step of agreeing to the MoJ demand that the contract notice period be reduced.
In the extraordinary situation we find ourselves in, I feel it is appropriate to publicly call each Trust Board to account. Should people wish to do this either individually or collectively, I have compiled a list of all Chairs of Boards in England and Wales below. I apologise in advance if any of the information is incorrect, but some Trust websites are absolutely crap.
Avon and Somerset - Joe Kuipers
Bedfordshire - John Ruddick
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough - Kevin Ellis
Cheshire - Leslie Robinson
Cumbria - Chris Armstrong
Derbyshire - Gillian Wilmot
Devon and Cornwall - Alan Wooderson
Dorset - Tim Skelton
Durham Tees Valley - Sebert Cox OBE
Essex - Alan Hubbard
Gloucestershire - Tony FitzSimons
Greater Manchester - Dr Hilary Tucker
Hampshire - Mike Fisher
Hertfordshire - Delbert Sandiford
Humberside - Philip Jackson
Kent - Janardan Sofat
Lancashire - Roy Male CBE
Leicestershire - Jane Wilson
Lincolnshire - Chris Cook
London - Caroline Corby
Merseyside - Elizabeth Barnett
Norfolk and Suffolk - Gill Lewis
Nottinghamshire - Christine Goldstraw
Northamptonshire - Tansi Harper
Northumbria - Lesley Bessant
South Yorkshire - Mervyn Thomas
Staffordshire and West Midlands - Dr Alan Harrison
Surrey and Sussex - John Steele
Thames Valley - Malcolm Fearn
Wales - Sue Fox
Warwickshire - Robin Verso
West Mercia - James Kelly
West Yorkshire - Stan Hardy
Wiltshire - Paul Aviss
York and North Yorkshire - Ken Bellamy