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Council speak and thinking


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Downloaded Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire joint vision for 2020. This document shows how councils are being encouraged by central governmnet to spend their time merging services across borders and greating new empires. All of this without, they say, affecting their local ratepayers.


I recommend that people read this and take in the thinking behind making these changes all part of the Government's Transformation Programme. Here are some snippets:


At the core of the proposal is the retention of independent organisations able to fully exercise their democratic mandate and responsibilities. This means that each council will be able to set policies and make decisions in the best interest of their residents and communities. It will also mean that they will be able to set standards for local services whether they are statutory or discretionary and decide on the most appropriate delivery mechanisms. 


In other words you won't get your grass cut.


The government proposes to use a proportion of the £15 million available funding in 2014-15 to facilitate district councils, with a 2014-15 budget requirement of £15 million or less, and which currently maintain their own senior management team, including any chief executive, to move to share a senior management team, develop common information technology systems and share other resources and assets with one or more other councils before the end of 2014-15. Any such district council that wishes to make such a move can bid for 2014-15 funding of up to £200,000 per council to help with transitional costs associated with the change. 



The government will bribe the councils to change. The money no doubt disappearing into the pockets of a chosen few.


It is important to recognise the significant role of Ward Councillors and the part they play as advocates for residents and communities; and providing communication, advice and support. In addition to having access to expert advisors there will need to be clear protocols enshrined in the legal agreements to ensure that Ward Councillors have the necessary support to undertake their community leadership role. 
Looks like our councillors will be tied up in knots trying to act for us. In other words leave the officers to run the show.
The creation of a new employment structure outside of the constraints of existing local government terms and conditions provides a unique opportunity to establish a modern, forward thinking and dynamic organisation focused on outcome-based reward and recognition systems. 


The only way to screw more money out of us


Some high level specialist legal advice on the proposition has been sought. Although there are a number of innovative employment models within local government, a model which has no council retained/ employed staff will be ground breaking. 
There do not appear to be any fundamental legal barriers to the development of this proposition. However, further detailed consideration will need to be given to the following issues: 
* Restrictions on local authorities outsourcing statutory decision making functions; 
* Role and employment of Statutory Officers ( Head of Paid Service, Monitoring Officer, s151 Officer); 
* Procurement compliance; and 
* Potential conflicts of interests between commissioners and deliverers 


This one is worrying and supports my view that in 10 to 15 years local authorities as we know them will not exist and will be absorbed in the regional LEPs. There is plenty more in the document to realise that local ratepayers and council workforce don't count.


A 2020 Vision for Joint Working.pdf


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That final quote, is a very real concern, and should be ringing very loud alarm bells.


Outsourcing statutory services, which would include child protection and safeguarding, is an idea that no sane person would endorse.


There may be no "fundamental legal barriers" to this proposal, but there sure as hell are moral ones.


I had lunch with a retired head teacher recently. His opinion was that this idea should not even be up for discussion.

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It's worrying alright I really think central government have lost the plot with these plans it's also eroding away @ democracy as we know it our voices are barely heard now but will count for nothing in times to come I fear? I'm getting to the point where I don't care for there rules & don't want to play there game anymore of give us all your money & in return we will give you nothing but poor services & PFI where private companies get rich off the tax payer & while they feast @ the table of greed the poor the sick the needy those who's daily existence is a struggle are forsaken by the state of we don't care for you the undesirables as there is no room for you in our utopia!!!!

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The creation of a new employment structure outside of the constraints of existing local government terms and conditions provides a unique opportunity to establish a modern, forward thinking and dynamic organisation focused on outcome-based reward and recognition systems. 


It is a fact that local government pension liabilities are a significant cost.  There are also tiresome things like sick pay, maternity leave and union negotiated pay settlements.  This is what they are trying to wriggle out of.


Now,  which is most likely to happen:


Directors and Assistant Directors remain in their current highly paid and pensioned positions and contract out the jobs of the front line staff to lower paid and worse terms and conditions (code phrase is `forward thinking and dynamic)




The senior management role is contracted out and subject to strict performance targets with accountability for decisions and spending, but that new management organisation co-ordinates and manages the council's front line staff who, being on lower pay than the top brass, can remain with decent other terms and conditions.  An example of this would be, say, Barnardo's managing the council's child protection staff.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Four councils in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire are to explore sharing services to save £55m over 10 years.
On Tuesday Cheltenham Borough Council voted to join the plan which the three other councils had already agreed upon.
The scheme involves turning council departments into separate companies to carry out joint council services.
Trade union Unison opposes the plan over concerns about staff conditions, accountability and fears that the plan would not save money.
Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council Steve Jordan said the move could lead to job losses.
He said: "We all need to make savings, so one away or another it will mean less people doing jobs.
"Hopefully that means we can avoid cutting services because that's the other alternative, and we are looking for a more productive way of doing it."
Unison's John Drake described the proposal as "scary" for staff.
He said: "This is quite a complex issue. Our concern is not only around the terms and conditions for our members but also for services that will then be provided by a private company."
The councils involved in the scheme are Cotswold; Forest of Dean; West Oxfordshire District Council and Cheltenham Borough Council.


They have started to put this in motion and go down the road of regionalism as espoused by the EU and aided by our government.


It won't be long before we go down this road and hand everything over to the Marches LEP. Council speak Jordan says it will mean less people doing jobs, but he is willing to sacrifice these local jobs and hand them over to a private company based somewhere else in the UK. I can see Balfour Beatty and other corporate organisations sweeping in here and making a killing.

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If Herefordshire Council want maximum value for money they need to ensure that employees feel a personal responsibility to do a job well.  If employees take a pride in their work, they will be more likely to take initiative to overcome problems (problems like wasting time doing nothing and waiting for instructions when their masters can't get organised). Taking personal responsibility also means that there have to be realistic sanctions applied for poor standards of delivery, at all levels in the hierarchy.


Value for money is never going to happen if Herefordshire Council rely on remote contractors who know nothing about Herefordshire, do not care about Herefordshire, and are only concerned with getting away with the minimum effort for a set price. There will continue to be disorganised planning and implementation, poor communication and huge wastage of resources.

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