The outgoing Government Chief Executive has advised his successor to go into the role with his “eyes wide open,” warning that "there are a lot of people who do not want you to succeed."
Charlie Parker's comments came during his quarterly hearing with the Public Accounts Committee - a panel of politicians responsible for reviewing his work, and how effectively public money is looked after.
He announced he would be stepping down in November in the wake of a bitter row over his decision to accept a £50,000-a-year non-executive director role at UK real estate firm New River.
Pictured: Paul Martin will be the interim CEO for 12 months.
It was revealed in late January that Paul Martin, the former Chief Executive of the London Boroughs of Wandsworth and Richmond, would be taking over the role on an interim basis for the next 12 months.
When asked yesterday afternoon whether he was surprised the role had gone to a UK applicant, given that all local Director Generals had stepped in as ‘deputy CEO’ since Mr Parker came into the role, the outgoing CEO declined to comment.
He said he hadn’t been involved in the recruitment and didn’t know anything about the candidates that had come forward.
“All I would say is that being the Chief Executive of an organisation like this is not something that people can just do because you happen to live in a certain place,” he commented. “You need the right skills, and you need to have the right experience and my advice always has been, but I have not been involved in this in any shape or form, is that you should get the right and the best person for such a role.”
Pictured: Deputy Inna Gardiner, the Public Accounts Committee's Chair.
Later on in the hearing, Inna Gardiner, the Committee’s Chair, asked Mr Parker to explain how islanders were “better off after three years of his tenure”.
“I am not sure that’s a matter for me to make a comment about,” Mr Parker stated, before adding: “I am in charge and will be until the end of March for the public service.
“Part of my role when I came here was to improve and to modernise public services that haven’t been, dare I say I, touched in many respects for the last 30 to 40 years. I think, despite what people would say, we have much more info available to islanders, whether that would be about our performance, whether that’s about how we spend our money, whether it’s about bringing expenditure and budget and income together in the Government Plan, which was never done in quite the same way before, whether it’s about complaints as we’ve heard today or whether it’s about external stakeholder engagement that’s taken place, whether it’s about the way in which we supported people during the pandemic .
“All of those facets, I think, are examples of where some of the changes in the last three and a bit years have started to impact on islanders.”
Pictured: "I said it would take five years and I always said judge me in five years, not after three and a half years."
Mr Parker said the Government had also been delivering “some key projects” that he described as “having stayed without being developed for over a decade or longer in some cases”, citing the hospital or Fort Regent as such examples.
“There will all sorts of controversy, but I think the Jersey Care Model will be another area which, I think, will modernise our services,” he went on to say.
“The improvements to mental health, the work that we are doing to try and ensure we avoid duplication on property, on some of the work with utilities, all of this is an example of where I think ultimately islanders will see the benefit of some of the changes that are coming about over the last three and a half years.”
He then added that while his work was “nearly done” it was not complete, and that people should wait before judging him.
“It is a matter for my successor,” he said. “I said it would take five years and I always said judge me in five years, not after three-and-a-half years.”
Pictured: Mr Parker described the CEO role as "fantastic" and "great".
Touching on the subject of succession, Deputy Gardiner asked Mr Parker what advice he would give to Mr Martin.
“It is a fantastic job, in a fantastic place, with great opportunities, make the most of it but come into the job with your eyes wide open,” Mr Parker replied.
“There are a lot of people who do not want you to succeed, there are a lot of people whose whole objective is to ensure that the status quo is maintained.”
He added that it was really important his successor was “not treated in the way that I have been”, noting this would mean “more collaboration”.
“I think if we can create the right partnership for that, that will be great for that person and he will obviously work in a different way, he might argue that I am a challenging character but my view is that they need to continue with the changes because that’s actually what islanders want but go into the role with your eyes wide open and then, if you can, make the most of it because it is a great role, in a great place with great opportunities to make great improvements for islanders,” he concluded.
Pictured: Mr Parker said Scrutiny had become "very adversarial".
Elsewhere in the hearing, Deputy Gardiner had asked Mr Parker his opinion on what the Public Accounts Committee should be focusing on in 2021.
Mr Parker initially declined to reply, saying he didn’t feel it was his place to comment on the work of the Panel but he eventually suggested the Panel should look at how Scrutiny engages with the Government, echoing public criticism issued previously by the Chief Minister and Health Minister.
“I think Scrutiny has become very adversarial,” he said.
“And it would be important for PAC to look at a number of the things we talked about today where you can look at the changes that have come about, around performance, around project and program management and around governance, which I think we’ve made some significant improvements on, which you would, I hope, see the links back to the way in which C&AG reports have been in the past, the work that this committee has done over the last period and to see that actually what we’ve been trying to do in the last three years is take some of the learning and to develop that and to work in collaboration with your support and with the legitimate challenge that you have to see how we can make improvements.”
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