Prism Cosec

Published: Friday, 09 October 2009

THE minutes of British Waterways board for March 2009 record some interesting information, writes Allan Richards.

'The Board noted that this meeting was the last to be attended by Cornel Howells, the Assistant Board Secretary, who was retiring at the end of the month. Mr. Howells had taken minutes of the Board and managed the Secretariat duties in respect of Joint Ventures and subsidiaries for many years. The Chairman noted that Mr. Howells had joined BW in August 1979 and therefore had served successive Chairmen and boards for just short of 30 years. The Board thanked Mr. Howells for his long and loyal service'.

Perhaps as a leaving shot from Cornell, they go on to remark 'Mr. Howells responded suitably and with his customary dry wit!'

One would have thought that BW would have planned ahead regarding Mr Howells successor but it seems that did not happen, and at the next board meeting in May we find that a Mr Chris Stamp of Prism Cosec was taking the minutes. This was not just a once off as he took the minutes again in June and July.

Prism Cosec

So who or what is Prism Cosec? The Prism Cosec website says it is 'a company secretarial practice and corporate governance consultancy that seeks to promote integrity and effectiveness within the Boardroom'. One is left wondering if BW is simply incompetent in not arranging for Mr Howells internal replacement after 30 years, or it recognises that it has a problem with integrity and effectiveness in the board room.

Certainly, many observers feel that the executive lacks integrity and the board is ineffective. If Prism Cosec have been appointed for those reasons then that is very much to the public good. However it is unlikely that we will ever know.