Dangerous enthusiasm of new boulton boss

September 18, 1998

In her enthusiasm to clean up Matthew Boulton College of Further and Higher Education, new principal Christine Braddock is in danger of contravening the institution's rules of governance. Last week Whistleblowers revealed how former principal Tony Colton left the Birmingham college facing mass redundancies and a multi-million pound deficit after securing for himself an enhanced pension by skirting articles of governance.

Shortly after arriving in April, Ms Braddock and two governors decided to give new powers to an inner sanctum of governors called the recovery committee. It would have "increased terms of reference to allow it to take decisions on behalf of the corporation without reference to the wider membership in matters concerning the college's recovery strategy and action plan".

This may contravene articles of governance, which state that no committee shall be allowed to take decisions regarding "the solvency of the institution", any matters regarding the "mission of the institution" or any matters involving the "approval of the annual estimates of income and expenditure".

The recovery plan seems to be in full swing. It is understood that 18 people have been chosen for compulsory redundancy. In June, the employment policy and industrial relations committee of the college amended its redundancy policy to make payments at "statutory levels rather than actual pay". For most staff this means a lower redundancy payment.

Furthermore, they have been made to sign a gagging clause. The clause says:

"I undertake that Iwill not, whether directly or indicectly, make, publish or otherwise communicate any disparaging or derogatory statements, whether in writing or otherwise, concerning the college, including its officers or employees." Had the person who drafted this read the Nolan committee recommendation which said that where confidentiality clauses were "absolutely necessary", management "should expressly remind staff that legitimate concerns about malpractice may be raised with the appropriate authority"?

Ms Braddock declined to comment.

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