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Promenade - Megathread


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13 minutes ago, Non-Believer said:

I drove along the prom (pavement) today about 2pm, from Victoria St down to Greensills, first time I've been down there for a while tbh. In that stretch I lost count of the number of hi viz clad workmen sitting dangling their legs on the edge of trenches playing with mobile phones or messing with tape measures. There just doesn't seem to be any motivation or sense of urgency on the job at all. Nothing. No work of any substance being achieved.

Given the political heat you'd think somebody would be cracking the whip?

Mobile's should be banned from the workplace, it's a pet hate of mine with all the young (and not so young) ones zombiefied by them bringing the pace of work to a standstill!

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I've explained this before Derek. From a friend working for a firm who is responsible for lots of services  , not Auldyn etc , while they had a concept plan from day one ie what the finished job would

It's not Harmer's direct fault. Nor any of those we elect. APART from not having the departmental and relevant experience and balls to stand up to and question the reams of bullshitters and chanc

But the problem isn't the horse trams.  It's the corporate culture of the Manx civil service.  Rather than accept the reality of what their main job is, which is maintain existing structures in the mo

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The last few entries about the lack of motivation and activity on the Prom will not be a surprise to anyone who has ever passed a Highways “work site”. The culture of indifference, inefficiency and incompetence is so deeply ingrained in the DOI, and most visibly the Highways Dept., that any professional responsibility for supervision, management and direction has long gone. The workforce consequently don’t give a damn and who can blame them. The Prom is now such a huge and appalling example of this that voter’s patience is finally wearing thin and even Govt. can’t, and more importantly shouldn’t, turn a blind eye any more. MHKs are actually volunteering to get into the kitchen!

If the DOI is quite simply not the most dysfunctional, unfit for purpose outfit ever I shudder to think what is. This culture is of course set by Black, Robinson and the rest of the senior team and what amazes me most is that they have survived so long, for which the Govt. must take responsibility. I have witnessed the Peter Principle many times in business management and Robinson is a classic example who now has no idea how to sort out the problems on the Prom so hides behind his desk concentrating on his excuses. Seldom however have I seen someone who deliberately employs the Principle like Black does, which is why Robinson and the rest survive. It’s tough managing professional, ambitious achievers so Black surrounds himself with incompetence and then tolerates it while he sees his primary role as “managing” the Ministers that come and go (whilst ironically complaining about the time he wastes doing it). Cynics like Black know that in order to survive eventually they need to throw someone to the wolves so don’t be surprised when Robinson goes. Unfortunately it will probably be the easy way out with an unearned golden handshake or a screw up resulting in considerable compensation for unfair dismissal.

This will change nothing however until Black himself goes and the DOI is given a fresh start with the right leadership, especially in Highways. Black’s mess will take some sorting out but nobody likes being part of a second rate laughing stock and the DOI personnel will respond. Importantly if Govt. are brave enough to do this Black should go through the proper and legal procedure of dismissal without compensation for his catalogue of mismanagement. Black has been more than adequately rewarded with a six figure salary and pension for a long tenure of failure that has cost voters dear. It would add insult to injury to send him off with a huge pay-off.

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1 hour ago, Lewis said:

This will change nothing however until Black himself goes and the DOI is given a fresh start with the right leadership, especially in Highways. Black’s mess will take some sorting out but nobody likes being part of a second rate laughing stock and the DOI personnel will respond. Importantly if Govt. are brave enough to do this Black should go through the proper and legal procedure of dismissal without compensation for his catalogue of mismanagement. Black has been more than adequately rewarded with a six figure salary and pension for a long tenure of failure that has cost voters dear. It would add insult to injury to send him off with a huge pay-off.

Black is of course outstandingly useless as his embarrassing appearances before Tynwald Committees have often shown[1] , but not I think the real cause of the problem, and not much would be solved just by him going.  Black was known to be useless when he was appointed, but then as some of us pointed out at the time, that's why he was appointed.  He could be guaranteed to provide no resistance to the whims of his subordinates, no matter how implausible or spendthrift.  It's not just that Black has surrounded himself with incompetents - they were already there and determined to keep things as they wanted.

So the problem really lies both centrally in how people like Black get appointed and lower down in the Departments.  It's not just the DoI that is the problem, but all of Government and the culture where senior civil servants are allowed to do what they like and the role of politicians is seen as being to support them whatever.

 

[1]  This is becoming fairly common in all Departments.  Normally you'd expect such meetings to be marked by a smooth-tongued Sir Humphrey glossing over the idiocies of his stumbling Minister.  We've recently see cases where it's the Minister who ends up having to 'explain' and cover-up for an inadequate 'professional' - Allinson and Barr before the PAC was a good recent example.

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2 hours ago, Roger Mexico said:

Black is of course outstandingly useless as his embarrassing appearances before Tynwald Committees have often shown[1] , but not I think the real cause of the problem, and not much would be solved just by him going.  Black was known to be useless when he was appointed, but then as some of us pointed out at the time, that's why he was appointed.  He could be guaranteed to provide no resistance to the whims of his subordinates, no matter how implausible or spendthrift.  It's not just that Black has surrounded himself with incompetents - they were already there and determined to keep things as they are. 

Some politicians are getting harder though in this climate. Alf Cannan pretty much socked it to the teachers on Manx Radio the other day about us not being able to afford to put up with unreasonable wage demands etc and that some need to look at themselves and how they have acted over this crisis (ie, some have been lazy bastards and we aren’t just going to write cheques for lazy bastards when many people are out of work due to COVID). So maybe the real acid test should be the DOI? The fact is that it seems impossible for anyone to get this department to operate in any way that is coherent, cost effective, or indeed beneficial to most taxpayers in the IOM. It lumbers from one costly badly executed disaster to another without any apparent ability existing for anyone (the CM and Comin included) to reign them in. The prom is a disaster which is holding our whole economy back and actively stopping people returning from home working. There are a handful of people in there who just need to be gone and the main problem largely goes away. Just send the HR grim reaper in there with a chequebook and march them off the premises. In fact put some cones and obstacles out around the car park and make them do a hilarious slalom course around cones, bollards, temporary traffic lights, and badly planned cycle lanes for comedy effect as you march them off the premises. That is the only way anything will change. Baker will change nothing, Callister will change nothing, and anyone with half a brain politically did a runner weeks ago. It now needs someone with real balls to just go in there now and start breaking heads against the wall. Free bus journeys is a joke. They should be giving some of the management in there free boat journeys. 

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You're right. Simply switching Black for a slightly "greyer" version would achieve nothing unless Govt. commit to recruiting more professional Heads of Departments and more importantly an ongoing and rigorous system for their accountability. When Ministers are appointed they must see their primary responsibility is to make improvements for the electorate and not defending the indefensible in the name of "their" team. 

If Govt.,  and in particular the CM, is brave enough to grasp that I can't see a more deserving place to start than the DOI and its contempt for residents epitomised by the national disgrace that is the Prom.  And the starting point there must be Black. The DOI middle management are hardly "hard cases" and I assure you that a professional, committed to making the changes needed, would go through them like a dose of salts. The savings made would dwarf whatever the costs. There would be some casualties but fewer than you think before the rest put past failures on Black and realise it's smarter to get with the programme.   

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16 minutes ago, thesultanofsheight said:

They should be giving some of the management in there free boat journeys. 

Or keel hauled under it!

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46 minutes ago, finlo said:

Or keel hauled under it!

You have to live in hope. Talks of ‘investments’ into ‘infrastructure’ as a way of getting out of this situation genuinely make me shudder. The last thing we should be doing is anymore infrastructure projects until we have sorted out our infrastructure delivery mechanism. 

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Black is not alone, there are endless numbers of his ilk, although not behind such high profile cock ups as Douglas Promenade. Including some of those who are also foisted upon our Local Authorities in the name of their careers.

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14 hours ago, Lewis said:

You're right. Simply switching Black for a slightly "greyer" version would achieve nothing unless Govt. commit to recruiting more professional Heads of Departments and more importantly an ongoing and rigorous system for their accountability. When Ministers are appointed they must see their primary responsibility is to make improvements for the electorate and not defending the indefensible in the name of "their" team. 

If Govt.,  and in particular the CM, is brave enough to grasp that I can't see a more deserving place to start than the DOI and its contempt for residents epitomised by the national disgrace that is the Prom.  And the starting point there must be Black. The DOI middle management are hardly "hard cases" and I assure you that a professional, committed to making the changes needed, would go through them like a dose of salts. The savings made would dwarf whatever the costs. There would be some casualties but fewer than you think before the rest put past failures on Black and realise it's smarter to get with the programme.   

The middle to upper management at Highway services had a few UK consultants hired in to carry out some work last year and they identified straight away where the problems lay,  and set up several briefings with the CEO/Minister/members of the DOI to give them a few ideas to what they could achieve if they were to address a few issues and make some changes within the Department which would have saved a lot of money and added to the better services to the public, during one briefing I believe the CEO got up and walked out of the briefing without an explanation or excuse. The UK consultant was hired in to look at the DOI strategic plans or lack of in this case, in fact DOI management had not a clue as to Highway assets they were responsible for and were not aware of what they actually owned. The plan included getting rid of a few higher management positions, I believe one was the director among others, once this was known the UK consultants were marched off the premise's at Ellerslie and dismissed instantly this was just before the Covid crisis.. 

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19 minutes ago, Beelzebub3 said:

The middle to upper management at Highway services had a few UK consultants hired in to carry out some work last year and they identified straight away where the problems lay,  and set up several briefings with the CEO/Minister/members of the DOI to give them a few ideas to what they could achieve if they were to address a few issues and make some changes within the Department which would have saved a lot of money and added to the better services to the public, during one briefing I believe the CEO got up and walked out of the briefing without an explanation or excuse. 

I’m not surprised to hear that. But in a way it tells you exactly the sort of people you’re dealing with. They want to stop fannying about and just send the HR grim reaper in with a chequebook. It can’t possibly have any negative outcome. Even having senior posts empty would be better than having dangerous cretins still in role blowing tens of millions of pounds on general incompetence. Listening to Alf on the radio I was hoping that he will be taking the same fight to other departments of government as the teachers seem to have seriously pissed him off. 

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1 hour ago, thesultanofsheight said:

I’m not surprised to hear that. But in a way it tells you exactly the sort of people you’re dealing with. They want to stop fannying about and just send the HR grim reaper in with a chequebook. It can’t possibly have any negative outcome. Even having senior posts empty would be better than having dangerous cretins still in role blowing tens of millions of pounds on general incompetence. Listening to Alf on the radio I was hoping that he will be taking the same fight to other departments of government as the teachers seem to have seriously pissed him off. 

The guy they brought in was into HR and knew he would have an uphill struggle but when he turned the screws on management they had him and his colleagues of the Island like a shot, the problem still exists within the DOI and will never be solved without outside interferance, he was brought in to do a job and when the real problems were identified they soon turned, I believe Mr Harmer was involved and was encouraged by what was proposed, unfortunatley his officers had their way. I know this because the UK consultant told me that he would get nowhere while the heads of this crew were in charge.

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And how many other Govt Depts might this be equally applicable to...?

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MHKs suddenly find themselves as Ministers for departments like the DOI and are usually just not prepared for it. They can't or won't challenge management and so quickly ally themselves with characters like Black who run rings around them. They quickly go native and finish up defending the problem they are unable to resolve. The only thing they must do is accept that change is needed and find professionals to do the job they are just not equipped to do. Consultants are often used for advise but without the will to implement they are a waste of time and money. A small, competent implementation team reporting directly to the CM with absolute hire and fire responsibilities will have no problem sorting this lot out. They are not hard cases and certainly not talented. The only ability they have is for self preservation by closing ranks against inexperienced and fearful politicians. If politicians fear that losing people like Black and Robinson could make the problem worse then a quick walk down the Prom will make them realise "just how exactly" !        

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25 minutes ago, Lewis said:

A small, competent implementation team reporting directly to the CM with absolute hire and fire responsibilities will have no problem sorting this lot out. They are not hard cases and certainly not talented.     

I’ve said that a few times over the years and it’s easily do-able. Its just directly empowering the juggernaut that goes though the structure with a pre agreed ‘fuck off fund’ to bankroll the exits. I do hope Alf Cannan takes his current stance on the teachers a lot further across several problem areas of government. Now is the time to do it as the public has put up with a lot in the last few months and we shouldn’t be bankrolling public sector incompetence or laziness as to do so is completely unfair to people who have had their lives literally wrecked by the last 4 months. He certainly gets it from what he said on MR the other day. It would be great to see him and COMIN do it. 

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