Tower Hamlets Watch

Why would Tower Hamlets Homes lie about Barbara Brownlee? | February 24, 2011


Recents posts on this blog have revealed my concerns at the involvement of private consultantcy groups within the governance structure of Tower Hamlets Homes, the Arms-Length Management Organisation (ALMO) that now manages the remainder of council homes within this borough.

These concerns highlighted the reports i was receiving from various departments within the ALMO that these consultants were having not only an unwanted influence on the future path of the organisation but also in some cases would amount to what some would call a form of bullying.

The praise I’ve recieved privately from those working within the organisation is enough to tell me that what I’ve highlighted is of real concern to all those employees transferred under the TUPE regulations when the ALMO was first set up.

This has apparently caused widespread consternation at board level, and Barbara Brownlee herself has written an article within a recent edition of “home” the Tower Hamlets Homes internal newsletter trying to rubbish this blog.

A recent FOI request regarding Pinnacles involvement with Tower Hamlets Homes (46 working days late, over twice the 20 working day time frame, and breaking the law) , which also focused on Barbara Brownlee’s selection as Director of Housing in the organisation, revealed some disturbing truth’s about THH’s approach to Barbara Brownlee and Pinnacle psg. Remember I uncovered that Barbaras Brownlee was previously employed by Pinnacle psg as Director of Consulting?, a fact that she so easily forgot to leave out of her resume on THH’s site.

A simple question within a series of questions was asked by the submitter of the FOI Request;

“7. I would like to know how many meetings were had with ‘Barbara Brownlee’ Director of Consultancy at Pinnacle psg, before any engagement in her new role of Director of Housing and Customer Services at Tower Hamlets Homes. (please list dates)”http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/tower_hamlets_homes_consultants

after the submitter patiently waited over 43 working days for the answers to come back, they finally got some responses, and the answer given to number 7. above was;

“No meetings were held between Barbara Brownlee and Tower Hamlets Homes in her capacity as Director of Housing Consulting at Pinnacle before joining Tower Hamlets Homes.”Link to response

The thing is though, that this isn’t exactly the truth, after an electronic consultation (whatever that is?) Barbara Brownlee’s first day in her new office was 1st September 2009.

1.3 Recruitment of the Director of Housing and Customer Service
Board Members were notified of the decision, on the basis of electronic consultation, to appoint Barbara Brownlee to the position of Director of Housing and Customer Service on a permanent basis. Barbara’s first day with Tower Hamlets Homes will be 1 September 2009. I would just like to reiterate my thanks to everyone for their participation in this process.” – Gavin Cansfield, Chief Executive’s report to the Board 8th September 2009

The question asked in the FOI was; if she had been in meetings before this date with Tower Hamlets Homes before being employed by them. In my opinion the answer to this question could have revealed if there had been any reason to doubt whether or not there had maybe been any form of nepotism playing a part in her successfully aquiring this position.

So why is it that on further investigation, that the above reply to the FOI request that; “No meetings were held..” is in fact untrue. If you look at the following document, which is the Minutes of a meeting of the Tower Hamlets Homes Board Held on Tuesday 12 May 2009 from 6.30 – 8.45pm in Toby Club, Vawdrey Close, London E1, a full four and a half months earlier, Barbara Brownlee was in attendance at that meeting actually in her capacity as a Consultant for Pinnacle Consulting, and at that time was employed by Pinnacle as Director of Consulting.

Heres a little cutting & pasting I done earlier…. “and now to the gallery”
Proof Of Barbara Brownlees Attendence

Now I do not actually think that Tower Hamlets Homes would go out of their way to lie about previous meetings with senior members of staff..“ahem, ahem”,.. like those attending that particular meeting;

Gavin Cansfield – Chief Executive (CE)
Jamie Carswell – Director of Strategy & Performance (DSP)
Sayeed Kadir – Director of Asset Management (DAM)
Abraham Nomafo – Director of Housing & Customer Services (DHCS)
Les Warren – Director of Finance & Resources (DFR)
Debbie Okutubo – Governance Manager
Ann Lucas – Interim Decent Homes Manager (for part meeting)

But the facts stand, no matter how Tower Hamlets Homes selectively answer questions and play an economical game with the truth, Barbara Brownlee was attending meetings in her capacity as a Consultant for Pinnacle Consulting before she was employed by Tower Hamlets Homes. Seeing that she was also employed at the time as the Director of Consulting for Pinnacle, then there is no other capacity that she could have attended that meeting in. Therefore she was not a stranger to those senior members already working within the organisation, so why did Tower Hamlets Homes try to avoid the question? Why did Tower Hamlets neglect to mention this fact?, how many other meetings had she had with Tower Hamlets Homes before her employement?, regardless of what capacity. More importantly did she know any of the board members before her engagment in her new role within Tower Hamlets Homes? Did she personally know any senior members that could have potentially raised, in the eyes of outside observers, any conflict issues, or accusations of cronyism? in her engagement, acquisition and ultimately employment at Tower Hamlets Homes?

Why would Tower Hamlets Homes try to hide the fact that yes she had been engaged in previous meetings with senior members, months before her employment at THH?

Just another note on the original FOI and the response was the following question and answer;

6. Please list how many former consultants/employees of ‘Pinnacle’ engaged in consultancy roles by Tower Hamlets Homes are now employed in Full-time positions within the ALMO. (i.e.; are now not employed by ‘Pinnacle’ and are now Tower Hamlets Homes staff)

We can confirm that at least one member of permanent staff was a Pinnacle employee and is now a Tower Hamlets Homes permanent staff member.

What a way to answer a legally required response to an FOI request. No real answer just a stupidly ignorant statement. It doesn’t even confirm whether this one member is “Barbie”…

“If any of this is untrue, or misunderstood by myself then, please feel free to comment on this post putting your side of the story. I will deleted anything that is in error, untrue or otherwise as long as full explanations are given, showing the problem with this post”


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2 Comments »

  1. While working at the Hamlet Homes Council homes as a care worker I have received an injury as a result of a fall. I was cleaning one of the stairwells. The fall was caused by a bike that was chained to the hand rail. Despite numerous reports the owners of the bikes were never notified to remove them. Almost everyday complaints were sent but to no avail. The insurance company has numerous times lied to me and have told me that they have not received a statement from my manager. Fact of the matter is they have not only received the accident report but also pictures of the seen that was made by my manager, statement and other undisputable evidence that showed beyond a shadow of a doubt,the negligent part layed on the Council. To make a long story short Mr. S*** E**** has offered me 2829 pounds to settle the case. I accepted, without an attorney of course. Since the accident that happened on August 10,2009. I still suffer pain and am treated by a psychiatrist I have also lost my job, among other things. Is this how the TowerHamlet Council operates. Not to mention as a result of the injuries I was forced to go back to Poland. I have lost everything in England. Janusz Dobrowolski

    Comment by Janusz Dobrowolski — March 29, 2011 @ 1:07 am

  2. Well, the economy with the truth and evasion is a pattern in the FOI replies is [for me] the sign of a sick and dysfunctional organisation that does not understand the virtues of transparency. I receive the same kind of evasions in my own requests. I notice also in the body of this post that THH ‘apparently’ has someone in charge of governance, ahem, ahem…

    Comment by Hugh Barnard — April 1, 2011 @ 3:38 pm


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