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How is such incompetence allowed to happen? I feel sorry for the junior and middle ranking staff who will suffer as a result.

Senior BC staff seem to have no grasp of financial basics. As an example, why is the BC charging $2,100 for a market research report that is 65 pages long? See http://ihe.britishcouncil.org/ihe-exchange/full-report-parts-1-2-and-3. No-one in their right mind would buy a report at that value.

Tighter economic times are going to see senior BC staff finally called to account I think.


If you are spending someone else's money, Greg, I don't think the price matters that much - and they are targeting publicly funded institutions. You might also wonder why they have the gall to sell a product that a) provides assistance to Britain's competitors in the international education market and b) has been paid for anyway by the British taxpayer. They get away with it because they have always got away with it, because the Establishment won't hear of criticism and as an article of faith supports everything the organisation does, however incompetent, inept or inappropriate.



"Tighter economic times are going to see senior BC staff finally called to account I think."

No, but would it were so. Tighter economic times will result in what has always happened, happening - the top-heavy senior management level will find exciting and challenging ways to get fewer and fewer junior staff to do the stuff that approximates to actual work in the BC. (This consists of an awful lot of filling in forms. It achieves nothing, but there's a hell of a lot of it. Then there's designing new forms for other poor sods in different BC departments to fill in... )

When the BC moved the less glamorous parts of its headquarters to Manchester in 1992, and I first worked for them, they employed 700+ people in a shiny new building on Medlock Street. At the time they trumpeted job creation in the benighted North - but with senior staff knowing full well before the move that then impending ODA cuts would make that level of employment unsustainable. Within five years they were down to 120 staff in grot offices in Bridgewater House. By that time I'd left, but I used to joke that the BC was then operating from "a lock-up above a garage in Cheetham Hill". That joke now sounds like it's coming close to reality.


Dear David

I read with some amusement your piece above, the problem with the Council & other civil service depts was that from the late 90s they increasingly hired senior staff with little or no management training, intelligence or foresight in how to run a public funded body. They now have chieftains such as CEO, CFO whose only requisite seems to be to hire expensive consultants whose job in such nefarious activities as Business transformation programmes was to get by whilst outsourcing the lower bands of staff to the pursuit of organisational excellence. The CFO is now claiming that due to the collapse in the financial markets his plans for the future of the organisation has come unravelled. I'm sorry, but in 2010 the financial crash was there for all to see; Jeff Randall & Ambrose Pritchard Evans in the Telegraph had been forecasting financial doom & gloom from well before Oct 09. The core problem for the Council was the inability of anybody at the top to put into play on the rent market flyers for the downsizing of both Manchester & London & seeking viable tenants in such an event. The last & most tangible fault of the organisation is to allow the CFOs in Margaret Mayne & Bidesh Sarkar to dominate the future strategy of the Council. Finance should never be the main driver for the business plan at the behest of operational needs, CRM etc. Carry On Up the Khyber here we come - who is playing the Kharsi & Bundit Din, I leave to other enlightened correspondents.

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