Plymouth principal faces vote of no confidence from UCU members

UCU members at City College Plymouth are being asked if they have any confidence in principal Garry Phillips and the board of governors to continue to run the college.

The union is also requesting individual meetings with all college governors after the chair of governors dismissed the union’s concerns following a damning government report into Phillips’ leadership failings at his previous college.

The report, by the Further Education Commissioner, cited a failure of governance and leadership at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College (EHWLC) previously run Phillips. Under Phillips’ leadership, the college went from a £5.7m surplus in 2015/16 to an £8m deficit in in 2016/17.

Despite this, Phillips received a 31% pay rise in 2016/17 making him the fifth highest paid principal in the country. The college is now in administered status. Phillips is now under pressure from UCU members at his former college to repay £100,000 of bonuses and to apologise for the mess he left there.

Following the release of the report, UCU wrote to the chair of governors at CCP demanding to know who had approved the appointment of Phillips, and also that of financial consultant Martin Smith who had worked with Phillips in London. The letter asked if the governors were satisfied that the selection processes for Phillips and Smith were robust called for a halt to restructure plans it feared could repeat some of the costly failures made in London.

The chair of governors replied without consulting the rest of the board and said she was confident with the recruitment process and Phillips’ ability to lead the college.

UCU regional official Philippa Davey said: “We are absolutely stunned by the college’s response to our letter. It is totally inadequate and insulting to staff. Clearly the other governors have not been consulted and we have written to them to ask if they are happy with the Further Education Commissioner’s findings and the response from the chair of governors.

“We are also polling our members to ask if they have any confidence in Garry Phillips and the governors continuing to lead the college.”

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