Gary Burgess: Goodbye Charlie Parker

Today, Charlie Parker leaves his job – though he stays on the payroll til the end of the month Credit: ITV Channel News

Charlie Parker is a keen Manchester City fan and has two grown-up children.

Why do I mention that?

Well, it’s about all we know of the man himself, nearly four years after his arrival as the chief executive of the Government of Jersey was originally announced.That nugget of personal detail was contained in a press release dated 21 July 2017, where Mr Parker said he was “delighted” to be taking on the top job and the then Chief Minister, one Senator Ian Gorst, hailed his track record of “building strong teams that work effectively together to achieve successful transformation”.

Today, Charlie Parker leaves his job – though he stays on the payroll til the end of the month – marking the end of his controversial tenure. Though we still know little more about the man himself.

Mr Parker’s opening gambit on taking up the job was to tell the entire public sector workforce to get on the “modernisation train”, a bolt jolt to the system that was – at the time – wallowing in a comfort zone of inertia.

An independent report also exposed a culture of bullying and fear in the organisation he was leading. A follow-up report, published this week, found some improvements but also a catalogue of problems, and pointedly said there needed to be a change in attitude “from the top down”.

During the Parker years there have been workplace modernisation programmes, the appointment of former colleagues and acquaintances of Charlie Parker to key roles, and a proliferation in the use of consultants to the tune of tens of millions of pounds a year.

Departments have been rearranged, the government ‘organogram’ looks quite different, but the transformation is very much a work in progress.

When I ask senior officials in government to mark Mr Parker’s work, the recurring theme is a propensity to spend eye-watering amounts of money on consultants without strong evidence to show it is either value for money or making a tangible difference.

For Mr Parker, personally, the wheels started coming off last October when it emerged he’d taken on a £50,000 side-hustle as a non-executive director of a UK firm with a vast property portfolio.

It was falsely claimed, in a statement to the media from the government’s press office, that both the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister had given him permission.

It turned out not only that Mr Parker himself had approved that statement but that it took an inquiry to uncover that fact. Why not just fess up in the first place?

Within weeks he’d been bounced into resigning.

I’ve, of course, asked for an interview with Mr Parker to reflect on his tenure. I got a one word response to my request: “No”.

Many questions are left lingering, not least the size of any pay off he may be walking away with.

For now, a fresh search for a chief executive begins, with an interim CEO plugging the gap in the meantime.

And while we know little more about Charlie Parker, other than which football team he supports, we know the final whistle has blown on the Parker years.