Monday, 7 September 2009

GovNet Communications - Something To Hide?

First, a little background to this post, started by a posting on FT dot com with the title 'Are MPs value for money', which prompted curiousity, on my part, in respect of certain other MPs.

Having accessed the latest Registration of Member's Financial Interests, purely as a 'trial'I picked Rt. Hon. Hilary Armstrong - memory having been 'jogged' by her involvement with SITA - and noticed she received between £5,000 & £10,000 from something called GovNet Communications. 
It will be noted that another MP, Eleanor Laing, is listed on the Advisory Board, who also admits to receiving upto £5,000 from the same organisation.

Now, this is where it starts to get extremely interesting!

The last Director's Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2007, filed with Companies House, signed by Joanne Walsh and dated 31st October 2008, state that GovNet Communications has been 'dormant' for the previous two years, not having traded.

This begs the question that if the 'company' has not traded, and therefore been 'dormant' for two years, how did it pay Hilary Armstrong and Eleanor Laing and for what work? Yet the website of GovNet Communications 'boasts' of '10 years track record'! How, in 2009, can it have a '10 year track record' if it has not traded for the past three years? It shows 'images' of 'Awards' being presented to Pauline Prescott; of Keith Vaz speaking; of having six magazines 'covering the public sector' - all this from a company which has been 'dormant'?

It is quite possible that the organisation who pays her is not the registered company. The organisation "GovNet" might be an unincorporated body, which as a separate exercise, registered "GovNet Communications" to 'protect the name' - if so, why? If you look closely, nowhere on the website does it actually say "GovNet Communications Limited", which it would have to do by law if the organisation behind the website is in fact limited - at least I can't find any information.



Purely as a matter of courtesy, prior to submitting a Freedom of Information request to GovNet Communications, I have e-mailed both Hilary Armstrong and Eleanor Laing asking for their comments on this post.

Needless to say, I await their comments with the utmost interest!


Afterthought & Postscript: If Ms Armstrong & Laing care to 'spread the word', I shall now 'plough through' every MP's declared 'Financial Interests' - this having 'wetted my appetite'!







41 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

Excellent work.

I Googled "Govnet Communications Limited" and came up with this, which clearly suggests that they are a limited company (which is not dormant and not just registered to 'protect the name'):

Govnet Communications Limited is a private limited company registered in the UK No. 04970168. Govnet specialises in event management and magazine publishing for the public sector.

So either they are (and in breach of Companies Act because it ain't mentioned on their website) or they aren't, in which case they are lying.

Witterings From Witney said...

Mark,

Having just checked with Companies House, as you will see GovNet Communications Limited:

http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/ac0cf3a1bf9f9dacd989917325dc21d8/compdetails

is also a 'dormant' company!

Witterings From Witney said...

Added point:

Either by stating that the remuneration has not been provided by GovNet Communications Limited the two MPs have 'misled' the HoC and have not told the truth on a 'legal' submission, or if they did; the HoC have commited an offence by not providing the entire information on what is, again, a legal document.

Apart from the obvious fact that this appears to be yet another self-serving Quango from Hell, there is definitely questions to be asked in respect of what is the truth!

Anonymous said...

have you looked for "Partnership Media Group Limited" ? they trade as Govnet Communications

Anonymous said...

To say its a QUANGO would imply it has some sort of Government weight; this is a private sector, commercial, money making company with a turnover in excess of £10m P/A. A QUANGO is a government department which does not report to a Central Government department or Minister - this gives them far too much gravitas.

Anonymous said...

Stumbled accoss this late...Govnet is Partnership Media Group. 5 out of 6 print titles have recently ceased publishing.

Anonymous said...

Get a life everyone there is no Govnet Communications Ltd. Govnet Communications is a trading style of Partnership Media Group Ltd. The ex-ministers have done nothing wrong.
Could anon explain why they say they are 'extremely devious' - probably not.
Its just a public sector focused media company, no harm in that surely.

Witterings From Witney said...

Anonymous - Methinks it is you that needs to get a life, or go check for yourself. This is definitely 'fishy' and yes, it stinks too!

Anonymous said...

GovNet is a toilet of an organisation. They employed an overweight, homosexual bully called Richard Holloway who enjoyed picking on other members of staff in order to feel good - due to his own low self worth.

Eventually the two egos collided and Joanne Walsh fell out with him, and he was dismissed.

They went to court in January this year and GovNet was ordered to pay compensaton of 250,000 pounds...which Mr Holloway is legally bound to keep confidential, which of course he has not honoured.

More to come..

Anonymous said...

I suggest you do some more digging.
GovNet needs to be brought down, they are a nasty organisation who don't deserve to be in business. Whilst their are many organisations like GovNet out there, they have to be the worst.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Anonymous: By heavens, you have been reading 'back'! May just take up your suggestion, when I have time.....

Anonymous said...

Hi, I used to work at Govnet and they are a good company. I was well looked after when I was there. Regards Paul Sherwood

WitteringsfromWitney said...

A aka PS: you too have been reading back a tad.....!

Pleased you enjoyed your career amongst the movers and shakers.....

Anonymous said...

As a serving borough councillor I am bombarded by e mails from Partnership Media Group / Gov Net inviting me to all sorts of conferences & events (at considerable cost).

In these financially difficult times for local authorities I wonder how much public money is being pi**ed away sending Councillors and Council Officers to these local government jollies?

I feel some FOI requests coming on.........

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Anon: Thank you for that and yes an FOI will now be submitted to my County and District Councils,

You may like the update:

http://witteringwitney.blogspot.com/2011/09/govnet-communications.html

Anonymous said...

i used to work there and had to call public sector decision makers to attend the paying conferences - they are very expensive and we were taught to give them the hard sell. In a lot of cases these people booked tickets (sometimes several) and forgot to attend, there must be thousands lost each year due to this

Anonymous said...

I used to work for gov net and the whole process was deceitful from the outset. We were told to say we were working closely/alongside the secretary of state for x on project x, tackling issues related to the conference. We then tried to get the private companies related to the issue to part with obscene amounts of money to sponsor the event, and in some cases they didn't even know who we were because we didnt tell them.........
What kind of business operates under these conditions??? A shady one.

And don't get me started on Joanne Walsh.....

Anonymous said...

If anyone has any more feedback on working there please post more info.

Anonymous said...

Nasty,vile,bully,small minded,short ass person who care only for herself, will use you abuse you and then spit you out. Remember what goes around comes around!!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Apparently people have been let go as well, hopefully their crumbling as everyone realised they aren't 'working closely' with parliament at all...

Anonymous said...

This all makes for interesting reading. I've just been accepted for a job at Govnet starting end of Feb at the Blackburn office. I was wondering are these issues based out the Manchester office?
Regards

J finch (govnet sales) said...

Hi mate, I work in the Blackburn office. Don't listen to these lot, govnet is a class place to work. It's hard, and they are correct in saying we cold call companies, but it's a sales role. For those companies that understand what we do its a great opportunity to profile themselves and make use of the publicity. For those that don't we apologise and don't call back. Simple.

Anonymous said...

I have also been accepted for the Sales role in the Blackburn office! I have to admit all this is making very intresting reading, also making me feel a,little apprehensive?
Is it worth going into employment with an organisation where feedback does not appear to be very nice??

Anonymous said...

We get called regularly as a small company selling into the public sector.

They misrepresent themselves to get through to decision makers. They lie.

They've been asked by several people to remove our details from their databases with no effect.

Please stop wasting our and your time.

Anonymous said...

Extremely devious company. Called my organisation a number of times now claiming to be working alongside various government departments.

After doing research ive realised that these departments are only being represented at these events. Not actually working with Govnet.

Id avoid at all costs I receive constant emails and calls despite being asked to be removed from their systems. Each call appears to be from a different person every time, claiming to be working as a project manager on a confidential matter.

Ironic that they claim to be a government communications body when in recent years the government have made plans to crack down on nuisance callers which Govnet and their "project managers" almost certainly are.

Anonymous said...

malicious, bullying organisation to work for.

I advise all to never to accept a job from this organisation. Unless you wish to loose your sanity, be treated like a child and told that you should devote the whole of your person to a greedy body.

In regards to the events they are a success for the organisaations that attend and want to get something out of it. please dont give the callers a hard time because you really dont know how they are treated in the office, they are doing their job just like you are doing yours and if you wish to pay for marketing that can be arranged. In all honesty the organisation is a complete disgrace - they hire students because they know they can bully them and either sack them or they manage you out so that you have to leave(many have strong grounds for constructive dismissal.

Anonymous said...

I read this blog a few months ago having started at the company last year and wanted I actually wanted to defend it... however I have left the company recently as they (when I say 'they' I mean the pit-bull CEO) is completely out of order.

I am dumbfounded that a company can threaten you with all her wealth and tell you to basically leave, tell you you're pond weed/poisonous, swear at you in the open office, tell you you can't take you ENTITLED lunch hour.... Obviously all the crap she gave us about her wealth was a threat to say she has the money and power if you wanted to take her behaviour further..

The company is living in the past, they/she needs to be told she can't get away with this sort of behaviour. Yes it is a sales environment, yes is a telesales job, but you do not have to behave/speak to your colleagues like that... It's ILLEGAL... and I can't believe there is nothing to protect us against people like her. Oh and Joanne; "... you'll all be in dead end jobs by next year..." Don't you think a TELESALES job is DEADEND?! See how many people walk in and out your door EVERY WEEK to move on to better things...

The management (bar one lovely guy) are all SALES PEOPLE... ever heard of the term... you don't need to be a good salesman to be a good manager? They could all seriously be brought down a peg or two.

As for the comments above, they are all totally right, we lie to get to the right people, yes it is a great/expensive platform to market your service/product, but it isn't an honest sell.

I really hope GovNet and the CEO get what she deserves... For someone that dealt with 'employment law' she is the most unprofessional, two faced, bully I have ever met.

Myself and my colleagues would love to take this further... Where to start.....



Anonymous said...

Hi there. I've worked here for about 6 months now. I am genuinely sorry for all the people I have called and lied too. You have no idea how much pressure we are put under, and we are made to believe it is for your own good. If you don't wish to be called by us just say and we usually fire an email round the office asking our colleagues not to call you. The problem is there is no data base with all previous calls made, so we do our own research and make 50 calls a day to different companies, so if you offer a lot in the sector we'll think we have found a good lead often only to find you have been called and then we switch to apology mode. I do not agree with how they treat the staff. The management openly take the 'mick' out of previous staff, its an 'if-you-face-fits' organisation. I agree with the comments above, so many grounds for constructive dismissal. The job is advertised and portrayed at interview completely differently to the actual job. They feed you with alcohol and sweets in the first few weeks to sweeten you up or something they can use against you when you are not hitting their standards.

I agree with the comments above, if it wasn't just a telesales job I might be inclined to take it further. People that work their have children and lively hoods that could be destroyed. How they get away with is is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks guys for all your honest opinions. I was almost making a call for a phone interview today.....Glad I didn't :)

Anonymous said...

Worked here for 3 months this year... in the end I had to leave on moral grounds... I could not stand their old school way of selling, the complete mis-management, lack of proper training and the fact that everything I was told at interview was completely untrue.

My personal experiance with Jo Walsh was fairly plesant and to be frank I have known worse bosses to work for. I think her main issue is the lack of comprehension she has of "good and proffessional" telesales.

The problem here is 3-fold:
1 the management are all internally bred and as experianced/honest/professional sales people tend not to stick with GovNet for long this is the 1st real sales environment job any of them have had.
2 The recruitment/interveiw/training process is a farce and needs a complete overhaul. They need to be honest and open at interview, recruit hardworking & experianced people and read some books on sales and come up with an actual training programme with some level of structure.
3 The management need to set business objectives and align them with the directors. These objectives need to be followed through with structure support and ongoing training for employees (i'm still in wonderment as to what they do in their daily hour long meetings - definitely not management training)

I actually had the opportunity to visit all three offices and one of the events. I was also lucky in that I had the more decent manager of the lot.

The product is actually pretty decent as long as the events have a good turnout and whilst there are some disgruntled people complaining about getting calls, there are a number of companies who book GovNet events more then a few times a year - presumably these companies do get an ROI.

The event I attended had a good turnout, delegates were conversational and enthusiastic about what they had learnt and the sponsorship clients were satisfied with the business done on the day.

My personal opinion is that the company (already making good money) could actually be even more successful if it was managed properly, had a structured sales force and tried honesty and integrity instead of decietful and underhand selling tactics.

That said, in its current form I couldn't stand another moment working there and actually left half way through the day on a Monday with no other job to go to. My only regret was n ot being more open and frank with them before I left so if any current employees come across this please feel free to pass on to Jo Walsh/Ed (sales director).

Anonymous said...

I left Govnet recently and felt as though it was worth to put my two cents in on the company too.

Now from the outset I was lied to about the role available. Ironically I was told in my interview that openness and honesty was the main ethos on which Govnet prided itself. Well, the only time in my time there when I didn't felt like I'd been lied too was when I first started and everybody introduced themselves.

So the training began which is basically a week of sitting around the office being told the formula on which to sell. Now, according to the good folk at Govnet if you follow this formula then you will be successful. Wrong!
During my time there did i not once actually see anybody gain success from the formula at all. Most of the time it seemed like pot luck that people managed to make a sale. Or that the people who had been sold too were unlucky enough have not come across Govnet before so accepted the idea of going to one of their shows.

Now I can see the positives in the product that Govnet sell. It's the technique in which they sell the product I don't agree with.
Firstly you're told to say you are working with a Government department and that you've been working on a project that a company may find interesting. After doing through a rather pointless need find you then present the company with the opportunity of attending a conference for vasts amount of money. At this point companies would usually back out sighting the extortionate rate being charged. Fairplay to them. It is expensive.

Now, as also mentioned in a previous post the majority of the sales managers at Govnet have never actually been in a proper sales position before. Now I say proper sales because I class proper sales as being open and honest to companies straight from the off. Not claiming that you're working on a secret project.
Anyway, the management can't really be classed as management as they don't really do any management. They just fling themselves around smiling and giving confident boosting speeches in a desperate bid to get some cash on board. Seriously, one of the managers there gives such cringey confidence boosting speeches they could quite easily land themselves a role in a sports film where they have to give a morale boosting inspirational half time talk. But anyway im waffling. The management are just very poor, and pretty untrustworthy aswell. The manager of my time was very shady, quite small minded and in essence abit of a bully.

Which brings me on to the loveable Head of HR. Now, I understand that the main role of an in house HR is to protect the company. Not the employees. However, I also understand that they need to be the type of person an employee can go to if they have a grievance or need some advice. Well, nope. Not this HR Rep. Personally I feel that if this HR Rep spent more time actually researching the role of a HR Rep on the internet rather then spending a good proportion of the day skipping around the office and Jo Walsh like a pixy to dust they could very well be an effective HR rep.

I could rant on for a while about my experience at Govnet. But im actually boring myself to death just thinking about the offices atmosphere. So I shall end this little essay here.

Anyway, if you're looking for the kind of role that will remove any sense of well being from you. Then Govnet is the role for you!

Anonymous said...

http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/contact.html

They are not trading legally.

Anonymous said...

Beware of the manager that shall only be known on here as LM

Anonymous said...

....similar then in business and personal - there are certain parallels. people are starting to avoid her because of the bitchy at best caustic at worse (sad for sure) comments she makes, about random people some of whom are supposed to be her "friends", What she says is beyond belief and no one takes them seriously so she ought to really just shut up and keep her unwanted and nasty views and so called pieces of advice to herself.

Anonymous said...

I had the misfortune to work at GovNet also. There is no doubt that Jo Walsh has severe mental issues and is a deeply unhappy individual who gains her pleasure by making others miserable. Avoid her at all costs.

Anonymous said...

I would like to add to the above about the dubious practices that GovNet employ regarding staff. The treatment my partner received at the hands of Jo and her underling 'HR manager' could have been taken up at an ET for constructive dismissal had he not been so demoralised by them and too hacked off to fight them. Jo regards employment law as not applicable to her organisation. They have no policies in place regarding disciplinary action and no development plans to encourage or motivate employees. They threaten and bully staff and refuse breaks, aside from lunch hour. I also believe that plying staff with alcohol on duty to be dubious and in breach of health and safety standards, although I'm sure staff gratefully receive it to take the edge off. I urge anybody working in this company to join a relevant union and read up on employment law and your rights and ACAS guidelines. If you feel you gave a case, then take them to law under Employment Tribunal, if you manage to get two years continuous employment out of them that is. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see so many disgruntled ex employees. Maybe one of them signed up our company to an event without our consent. It's nearly a year that we are trying to make them see the evidence but it looks like they still want to go to court. It's a real shame as to be honest all the salespersons we talked to, many as apparently they change often, have always been very nice and the events have been organised very well. We are anyway very pleased to go to court and win but I just wonder if there are other companies out here that received the same service or it's just us being very unlucky.

Anonymous said...

I took a job there a couple of years ago and left after a couple of months. It was the worst experience of my life and I can't seem to recall why I endured the horrible, bullying work culture of that office.

What upsets me most is how prevalent the negativity seems to be. I wouldn't be surprised if they're still openly humiliating people into securing sales to this very day. I can't tell you how many times colleagues and myself were reduced to tears in the loo by some of the things that were said on the shop floor.

I'm sure if one were to dig a little deeper a common thread of vulnerability would be apparent. So many of the people I worked with were in precarious places in life and were desperate for a pay packet with or without commission. It is truly sad that so many people have been hurt by that awful woman and the vile work culture she demands.