Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 620 - 639)



Dr Ladyman

  620. What about the suggestion that junior grades are somewhat trampled on and not listened to?
  (Mr Storey) I personally would refute that. One of the first issues I found when I came into the Agency and started going around was our CWA operational staff, who are probably at the lowest end of the scale, were on a very minimal salary which I considered was not acceptable. I undertook to do something about that. Of course you have to work within the limitations of the Treasury guidelines for payment of salaries, but since that time we have increased the rate of pay for those people by some 40 per cent. They are now on a very reasonable level, the big issue being that they have been awarded the coastguard shift working payment which was not given to them previously.


  621. Then there was a reason for that, was there not, because they were not trained in the same way?
  (Mr Storey) In the very early days they were maybe not trained in the same way. Today they have a very intrinsic package of training which the new people get when they join.

  622. Yes, but let us be quite clear. They were brought in originally not for that purpose. To say you have given them plus 40 per cent is rather to ignore the basis on which they were originally appointed.
  (Mr Storey) When the CWA was introduced under Focus for Change, they replaced the volunteers and the volunteers did work in the watch room. These were people who were permanent rather than volunteers, which I believe gave a much more stabilising effect to the watch room and they have been a much greater asset to the officers on watch.

  623. How effective is your open door policy?
  (Mr Storey) On the whole fairly. I am sure in any organisation you will find someone who believes it is not right. I received a letter last week from an officer in one of the stations, an operational officer, who wrote to me just after Christmas with a problem. I dealt with the problem and replied to him and I got a very nice e-mail back thanking me for the interest I had taken, etcetera, and supporting me in everything I did. Those I have dealt with at their request have come back, responded and been pleased they have been able to contact me.

  624. So you do not feel that the fact that this is a uniformed service in any way affects your management techniques or the attitude towards your staff.
  (Mr Storey) No, not at all. I think the fact that we have coastguards in uniform, when we have to put them in front of the press, anything like that, t gives the public an impression of someone who is looking after their safety who looks professional and efficient. In this area I have partially expanded the uniforming.

  625. How have you done that? Given them more gold braid?
  (Mr Storey) No, no. I have done it to the surveyors of the Agency in the form that if they appear on television we now have an Agency tie and a conformity white shirt so they look professional when they are talking to the press about safety of ships.

  Chairman: Be very careful or they will look like members of one or two exclusive church sects.

Dr Ladyman

  626. I get the impression listening to you and listening to the unions who gave us evidence earlier—and it is only an impression and I just want you to comment on it—that you have or would like to have a very modern management style, perhaps even a flat structure where there is a lot of communication between grades and a lot of cooperative work. You are struggling to impose this modern style on a hierarchical organisation which has a large stream of people who are part of a uniformed service where the tradition has been "I give orders. You take them", with a trade union in there which is struggling to find a voice and find a way of having its voice heard, in many ways almost harking back to some sort of 1960s management structure, and you are struggling gamely but not yet successfully to pull that into the twenty-first century. Do I have an accurate impression? How long do you think it is going to take for you to get the organisation the way you want it to be?
  (Mr Storey) You have summed it up exceptionally well. That was my aim when I came in. We are probably at least half way there, but there is very much more work to do and it illustrates that middle management is the area where this work needs to be done. We have a flatter structure than we had at the beginning and we are moving in that direction. There is probably another one or two years' work at least to do in this respect.

Mr Bennett

  627. You chose not to come in uniform this morning for us.
  (Mr Storey) I do not have a uniform as Chief Executive of the Agency.

  628. You are not entitled to wear one.
  (Mr Storey) No.

  629. Do you have the tie on?
  (Mr Storey) No, I do not have the tie on.

  Chairman: We shall have to have a Chief Executives' tie. Shall we ask for general suggestions for what should be on it?

Mr Bennett

  630. How do you get on with English Nature?
  (Mr Storey) I have not had any direct dealings myself with English Nature, but I know that my staff have a good working relationship with English Nature.

  631. That is not what English Nature tell us, is it?
  (Mr Storey) No. I read the transcript of English Nature which disappointed me because I read the correspondence between English Nature and my staff. At no time has English Nature actually asked myself or any of my directors for a meeting. That is the first issue. There was a discussion of a meeting between someone lower down in English Nature and one of my staff and there has been an exchange of views when Mr Bines of English Nature did suggest that his people would contact the people he was dealing with in my area about a meeting. We responded to that correspondence and I am very happy to furnish the correspondence indicating that we were quite happy to have such a meeting and that was last year. We have been waiting for the gentleman who has been away on a secondment to come back to deal with it.

  632. Do you not think it would be a good idea for you to speak with the Chief Executive of English Nature and get these problems sorted out?
  (Mr Storey) I only read about it in the last week or so, so yes, very much so.

  633. What about this whole question of this Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Cooperation Convention (OPRC)? Are you sure that the consultation exercise was well handled?
  (Mr Storey) I think the consultation exercise was well handled in the latter stages. In the early stages in 1997-98 before I came into the Agency it was not handled exceptionally well. Some changes were made and there has been a tremendous improvement and the correspondence will illustrate that. Approximately 170 OPRC plans have to be processed. We have dealt with just over 100; 25 are in the final stages and the balance to be completed. It is going pretty well according to plan with all the consultation with the other people taking place.

  634. What problems are still outstanding?
  (Mr Storey) It is purely details on individual plans between what the port wants to do in a particular plan, what the various consulting bodies need to put in. The plan comes into us first. We look at it in the initial stages and then we put it out to the consultation bodies, English Nature, environment, etcetera. They come back with their comments and we process it and if necessary the port which has prepared them is in between. It is normal consultation progressing each port plan.

  635. How many port plans are in place now?
  (Mr Storey) One hundred and three are in place at the present time; 25 are in the final stage and the rest are in the process of going through the system.

  636. Can you just give me those figures? How many ports do you cover in total?
  (Mr Storey) About 175 plans to do altogether; 103 are complete; 25 are in the final stage of being approved and the balance are in the system.

  637. Are the balance in the system the small ports or are they some of the bigger and more difficult ones?
  (Mr Storey) There is a mixture. I would not say they are extremely difficult but we are just clarifying the situation. They may be with one of the consultees or ourselves.

  638. Do you think you have enough staff to deal with this?
  (Mr Storey) Yes, I think we have enough staff to deal with this.

  639. And for the National Contingency Plan as well?
  (Mr Storey) The new National Contingency Plan was launched at the beginning of the year 2000. As part of the testing of that Contingency Plan, we agreed to do a number of exercises. We have actually carried out those exercises. One is to take place in Snowdon/Holyhead area, Exercise Snowdon, in February this year. The Contingency Plan is a live document and every time we learn something we can amend it. The results of the new plan have been proven by the exercises we have done.

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