Mooney and the Bristol education loonies

Peter MooneyMeet Peter Mooney.

Along with the majority of people in Bristol, including most of our elected councillors, you probably have no idea who the hell Peter Mooney is. But you deserve to know because Mooney has cost you an awful lot of money.

Mooney first arrived in Bristol in the autumn of 2004 when he was appointed by the city’s – then – brand new £125k a year director of Education, Heather Tomlinson, to the post of Assistant Director, Education Resources & Support Services.

This meant he was responsible for everything to do with the education department’s finances plus other “background” services like human resources, IT, school catering contracts and so on. Crucially he was also the chief accountant for the department.

Mooney’s appointment was unusual for a number of reasons. Firstly he was one of five new assistant directors Tomlinson appointed in very quick succession between September 2004 and autumn 2006. Prior to Tomlinson’s arrival, the education department had got by with just three of these assistants.

As the absolute minimum cost of an assistant director is about £70k, plus ‘on’ costs, these eight assistant directors are costing the city a minimum of £700k a year. If we factor in Tomlinson too, that’s the best part of at least £2.5m spent on senior management alone in the last three years – and that’s excluding any further management consultancy fees, of which there are many.

Even more unusually Mooney was brought in by Tomlinson to do a job somebody was already doing! In the autumn of 2004 a bloke called Steve Robertson, who was one of the three Deputy Directors of the education department when Tomlinson arrived, had the title Assistant Director, Education Resources & Support Services. He was appointed by Tomlinson’s predecessor, John Gaskin, who hurriedly resigned in early 2004 after Nick Gurney, his old boss at Portsmouth, was appointed as Chief Executive in Bristol.

So Tomlinson basically had two people doing exactly the same job and was, of course, paying two excessively large salaries from money earmarked to educate our children.

Education Department insiders however knew Roberston had effectively been sidelined. He eventually left a year or so later in 2005 having “doubled up” for all that time. He was, however, moved sideways to ‘manage projects’ like the Building Schools for the Future Programme, which already had another highly-paid manager!

The Building Schools for the Future programme is the one that has delivered the new schools with the empty classrooms featured on the cover of today’s Cancer.

Then there’s the small matter of Peter Mooney’s remuneration. It seems Mooney was not employed by Bristol City Council and therefore did not have to go through any messy competitive recruitment process to obtain his excessive salary. Instead Tomlinson recruited him as a consultant through Crapita, Britain’s worst firm.

And how much did we pay Mooney? The Blogger learns that it was commonly understood in the education department that £750 a day was paid to Crapita for Mooney’s services!

Yes you did read that correctly. Tomlinson recruited a consultant to do a job we were already spending over £75k a year to get done and paid £750 a day for it. That’s more than you would pay an experienced teacher for a week. That’s equivalent to paying £195,000 a year. That’s more than we pay the grossly overpaid Tomlinson. That’s complete fucking lunacy isn’t it?

Especially if we fast forward to this summer when we discover that the new Redland School building project is almost £6m overspent. And who should have been overseeing the finances of the project? Why Mr £195k a year himself. Peter Mooney!

But alas it’s too late. After two very lucrative years at our expense Mooney was finally phased out last autumn to be replaced by someone called Norman Host with a proper contract – advertised at a salary of just £76k a year. Naturally Host and Mooney had a four month “handing over period” where, once again, we found ourselves paying two people for the one job.

Now it’s rumoured that Host has disappeared – possibly on gardening leave on full pay? – amid rumours that he’s useless. And of course there’s the “investigation” – run by even more consultants! – into the overspend at Redland Green. Although we already know whose fault it is – Peter Mooney’s employed personally by Heather Tomlinson.

There it is then. Millions upon millions blown on salaries and fees for increased numbers of council officer bureaucrats, a £6m overspend on Redland Green School, four rebuilt schools half empty courtesy of the Building Schools for the Future Programme, primary school results for kids in Bristol plummeting and GCSE results – when unspun – at a standstill.

Fiasco does not even begin to describe what is happening in Bristol’s Education Department. How is it allowed to happen? And what are the politicians doing about this? Since Tomlinson’s arrived we’ve had Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems run the education department. None of them seem to have the slightest idea what’s happening or what to do. They just let Tomlinson get on with spending a bloody fortune of our money how she pleases.

Surely Tomlinson must go? She’s wasted fucking millions and achieved nothing.

Education, education, education they said.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit we’ve got.

COMING SOON: The £1 million plus spent every year by Tomlinson on even more management consultants…

This entry was posted in Bristol, Education, Local government, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Mooney and the Bristol education loonies

  1. Crewe blog says:

    Hi Bristol blogger, interesting to follow your city on the main news today. Regarding the new school, I believe the new Sir William Stanier school to be built in Crewe will be along similar lines. The cost seems ridiculous, especially all those highly-paid assistants! Have added your blog to my “other towns and cities” list if that’s ok. Best wishes. Crewe blog.

  2. old misery guts says:

    And in the meantime, schools across Bristol will be making teaching staff redundant (or not replacing the ones that are leaving in droves), in order to set balanced budgets.

    Top article BB – this stuff needs exposing.

  3. Wow! I’m not usually in favour of making people unemployed but in the case of these people perhaps I’ll make an exception.

    Would we notice things going bad if we just sacked the lot and saved millions??

  4. Jozer says:

    “… Tomlinson’s predecessor, John Gaskin, who hurriedly resigned in early 2004 after Nick Gurney, his old boss at Portsmouth, was appointed as Chief Executive in Bristol.”

    What are you getting at?

  5. Bluebaldee says:

    I worked with Gaskin briefly.

    Effective and principled, wasn’t given enough time to sort things out in Bristol.

    He was hamstrung by the hopeless councillors around at the time, poor sod.

  6. thebristolblogger says:

    As I understand it, Gaskin left because he was not prepared to work with Gurney again because he’s totally bloody useless.

    Gurney, remember, was the fourth choice candidate (out of four) for the Chief Exec job according to the panel of independents who interviewed for the job.

    Their advice was ignored by councillors who wanted someone weak. They certainly got it with Gurney.

  7. tiddley-pompompom says:

    As an employee of the education department I can vouch for the accuracy of about 90 per cent of this article (the rest I don’t know enough detail on). Shame the Evening Post and local radio / TV don’t seem to have proper investigation journalists. This stuff needs exposing big and large.

  8. More than my job's worth says:

    Mooney was employed, or “rented” if you will, through Crapita?

    So you could say, Mooney is a rent boy.

    Like tiddley-pompompom (and you too, I’m sure) I too am an employee in of the LA and can vouch for most of what you’ve said in the last few days.

  9. Jozer says:

    Just out of interest, do any of these people actually have a background in education?

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