Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Bloated Face of Local Government

Would a Conservative Councillor from Bournemouth like to explain how his council can justify advertising for an "Executive Director of Transformation" on a salary of ... wait for it ... £101,000?*

And while I am at it, what a ridiculous job title. Conservative councils are supposed to cost you less, and yet this council advertises this job at a time when it has a £2.4 million overspend this year. It strikes me that this council is not being run by councillors at all. It is being run by officers.

Perhaps Bournemouth Conservative councillors might like to take a day trip (at their own expense) to meet Stephen Greenhalgh, the leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. He can teach them a thing or two about cutting costs, doing away with non-jobs and cutting council tax. He doesn't just proclaim he's a Conservative, he acts like one.

*plus relocation allowance, pension etc.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thats why Hammersmith & Fulham Conservatives have failed to build one council or social housing

and have absolutely no chance of being re-elected unlike the Conservatives in Bouremouth

DanielClarke said...

You are absolutely right on this. Far too much money is wasted on council officials who are often crap at what they do. The rise of the "professional councillor" is also a concern. Expenses for councillors have grown to the extent that many councillors consider them to be their main income. This is a dreadful waste of public funds and undermines the idea of independent councillors. Which councillors are going to be courageous and stand up for their constituents if their livelihoods are at risk. Councillors should combine their council duties with jobs in the real world. They should also be sufficiently community spirited to do the job for free.

Anonymous said...

Send the excellent Shadow Local Government team round to teach them how to be Conservative...

Alan Douglas said...

Iain, where do I apply ? I'd do the job for half that, and rapidly transform their well-padded posteriors to targets for darts and kicking practice !

Alan Douglas

Anonymous said...

I agree with Daniel. Councillor allowances at my local district (not County) council cost the taxpayer nearly £500k.
The Council has recently moved one highly paid director to a special project and is recruiting another one at nearly £100k to fill his place

timothy moriarty said...

[Subject] StateDemocracy.org Equips You for the 2008 Elections

Dear Citizen:
Are you ready yet for the November 4th Elections? How about your friends, family, and neighbors?
More Americans are expected to vote this year than ever before in history, so don’t be left out! Be sure to ask everyone you know the following questions:
 Are you registered to vote? If you moved recently, have you updated your voter registration?
 Did you apply for an Absentee Ballot? Do you know your state may not require any reason?
 Can you find your local Polling Place? Do you know it may have changed from last time?
The answers to these questions -- and all your voting needs -- can be found at www.StateDemocracy.org -- the FREE 1-Stop citizen empowerment portal that Delivers Democracy to your Desktop! StateDemocracy is among the Internet’s first (since 2001) and most encompassing civic empowerment tools.
In order to boost voter participation this year, StateDemocracy.org is offering FREE widgets for all 50 states. You can simply download and embed these widgets into your own website so your visitors can register to vote, get an absentee ballot or find their local polling place.
Lobby Congress Via StateDemocracy
StateDemocracy.org also equips you to maintain an active dialog with your state and federal lawmakers once they are elected. And RIGHT NOW is an especially opportune time to contact your U.S. Senators and House Member, as Congress takes up major legislation on such issues as offshore oil drilling, another economic stimulus package and all federal appropriations bills over the next few weeks.
As you lobby your elected officials, remember that lawmakers view your constituent input as reflective of scores of other citizens who felt similarly, but didn’t have (or take) the time to share their opinions.
LobbyDelegates.com Further Empowered Grassroots Voices
Over the past 5 months, you may have visited www.LobbyDelegates.com, along with 26,000 other visitors. This latest public interest portal by the StateDemocracy Foundation remained the only online tool enabling rank-and-file Democrats to lobby all 800+ Super Delegates on which candidate to back for the party’s Presidential nomination.
StateDemocracy Foundation Website Users Unite!
Many of you have used our StateDemocracy.org and LobbyDelegates.com tools in recent times, and have hopefully found your experience uplifting and empowering. I encourage all of you to help spread the news about StateDemocracy.org to enable more of our fellow citizens to Connect! Engage! And Empower!
Sincerely,
Ken Laureys, Executive Director
StateDemocracy Foundation
Ken.Laureys@StateDemocracy.org

P.S. If you are interested in becoming more involved in our StateDemocracy Foundation -- including volunteering as an Advisory Board Member -- please contact me.

DanielClarke said...

Some councils deserve to be roundly criticised for cutting costs in a way that hurts vulnerable people. Hammersmith and Fulham Tories would fall into this category for failing to build social housing. However, if councils are going to tackle the "pigs in the trough" attitude of many councillors and officials they should be applauded. Some councillors in this country are taking around £10,000 a year for probably less than a few hours of work a week.

bj said...

Danielclarke: I wouldn't fancy being in charge of all the schools in my area for no money -- and certainly not in my spare time!

But I think you make a good point, Iain -- I'm absurdly interested in local government, having covered it as a journo in the north of England for a fair time. I witnessed the dying embers of the old committee system during that time, more executive action, and less accountability.

That said, there still is some. Why didn't the members of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel of Bournemouth council ask what this new appointee would be doing?

There's also a great deal of cash blown on outsourcing to providers such as Capita, and recruitment consultants.

On the other hand -- having spoken to lots and lots of council officers, I get their sense of frustration that councillors are often doddery old busybodies who haven't a clue about the real world, and just like sitting on the council to further their own sense of importance. I know lots of councillors who are like that.

The problem is that too often the younger, more dynamic councillors have higher ambitions, or want more money, or get frustrated with the system. So they drop out.

Anonymous said...

That is of course if you assume the cynicism of H&F in selling off schools and not building council houses just to lower council tax is the definition of "acting like a Conservative".

Some of us believe in decent public services and investment, not this saloon bar wisdom about council jobs with titles you're too lazy to try to understand and tax cuts at any cost.

DanielClarke said...

Well bj don't take charge of the schools in your local area then. I'm sure it is not much of a loss to your local schools. Most council cabinet members are clueless about their briefs, but there is a great myth that we need to pay them to keep them interested. Most of them are crap and struggle to get employment if they lose their council seats. The funds spent on their allowances would be better spent on resources for their departments.

Anonymous said...

deregulate local government
deregulate housing and schools
it worked in the City

Anonymous said...

So how much did the Conservative Councillors cut their expenses by in Hammersmith & Fulham

I must have missed that

They increased them way above inflation...Iain didnt you know that

Now thats Conservativism of the Hammersmith kind

Double standards

Cath said...

Do you have a job spec for this Iain? It's not on their website. I suspect its a senior IT job with some real skills and responsibilities involved despite the meaningless title. £100K though, in the current climate?? A quick search of LinkedIn will find hundreds of senior IT bods within 50 miles of Bournemouth and they won't all be looking for £100K.

Lazy HR team, clearly.

Anonymous said...

Under LibDem plans the successful candidate would have to reapply for her/his job (as would all non-frontline public-sector workers on £100k+), and would likely lose it if it was a non-job. The Tories should follow this policy lead.

Blue Eyes said...

Anon@10.23 actually they are doing good things on shared ownership and affordable housing. The previous Labour council wanted to build tower blocks on one of the few parks in the borough!!

Colin said...

"Perhaps Bournemouth Conservative councillors might like to take a day trip (at their own expense) to meet Stephen Greenhalgh, the leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. He can teach them a thing or two about cutting costs, doing away with non-jobs and cutting council tax. He doesn't just proclaim he's a Conservative, he acts like one".

I'd prefer if he'd also just manage to keep the streets clean. The place is like a fucking pigsty.

Ben said...

Thats nothing...our Lib Dem/Tory Council in Southwark are spending £900k on relocation consultants to advise on moving from the current council offices to Tooley Street - one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the country. And that's before they've paid for the land & building.

But don't worry, they are saving money by slashing the meals on wheels and the social care budgets. Well worth it I say, after all it was such a bind having to dash from the City all the way to Camberwell for council sessions...over 15 mins on the bus!

Anonymous said...

'special project' is a euphemism for 'dangerous if left in present job but knows where the bodies are buried'

can also be spelt eu-phemism which has the same meaning but in a specifically european context.

Sir Ralph Perkins said...

Things aren't rosy in H&F Iain - from your country residence in Kent it may do but the reality is very different. Services helping those most in need have been ruthlessly cut - there is no more social housing in one of London's most expensive boroughs. It's not a good example Iain and i recommend you spend a day working with meals-on-wheels and other organisations to find out why... will you take the challenge?

no longer anonymous said...

"That is of course if you assume the cynicism of H&F in selling off schools and not building council houses just to lower council tax is the definition of "acting like a Conservative"."

By cyncicism you mean doing what they promised to the voters and giving them tax cuts?

"Some of us believe in decent public services and investment, not this saloon bar wisdom about council jobs with titles you're too lazy to try to understand and tax cuts at any cost."

Then why give them such ridiculous titles?

inamicus said...

A Lib Dem writes:

Our head of modernisation has overseen massive changes to the way our (LD controlled) council does business - particularly focusing on procurement, IT upgrading, and "transactional costs" in the day to day customer service operations.

The result has been significant upgrading of efficiency and reduction in overall costs - if it costs you £1 each time to process a housing benefit claim and you manage to reduce the unit cost to 50p whilst still doing it faster, you generate massive savings overall given the thousands of times this is done per year.

The net result has been efficiency savings to the taxpayer conservatively (pardon the pun) estimated at £20m + - thus enabling us to honour our commitment to keep council tax rises below the rate of inflation whilst still protecting frontline services.

Rather than making flatulent reactionary comments about "bloated local government", perhaps Iain needs to recognise that with sufficient political will and managerial competence, such posts can generate massive "transformational" savings.

Surely that's good management????

Anonymous said...

inamicus - you found the wrong site mate - this place is for the flatulent and incontinent of mind.

Keeps them off the streets.

Constance Smith said...

Hmmm, I wonder who anonymous at 10.23 is, and if he/she actually lives in H&F, as I do? No chance of being re-elected? The Tory vote is soaring in our borough and there was huge turnout for Boris in May. No council is perfect, but ours seems to be making a far better fist of it than most - and sticking to its pre-election promises.And I know from personal experience that when you complain, or make a comment, to Stephen Greenhalgh, you actually get a reply the same day. When there was a problem with our garden recycling collection he actually admitted he was baffled about why it wasn't working, and asked for suggestions about improving it. Now, how often do politicians do that?

James said...

How about the Conservative County Councillor on Camborne Council in Cornwall who earnt £709 per hour attending council meetings!

He was paid £10,000 for 15 hours of meetings.
Very nice work if you can get it!

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should take some lessons from Birmingham Tory run council, who in 2004 gained the city from Labour

The Tory Leaders 2004 manifesto included a Council Tax Freeze for 2 years, and pledged to get rid of the £100K pa Chief Exective post.

Guess what. Got rid of the £100k post, BUT returned it 6 months later, this time at £120K; and as for the 2 year council tax freeze - over 2% rise each and every year since 2004. Tosser Tory

Anonymous said...

Don’t forget the great Birmingham Conservative led Council who banned a clown blowing his trumpet during their circus performance, because they thought totting on it constituted live music, and demanded the circus pay for a live music licence.

Anonymous said...

Or that brilliant Birmingham Conservative led Council who complained none stop about 24 hour licensing laws, Tory leader stated this would led to chaos on brums street. The law was passed, then Birmingham Conservative led city Council has in the past 3 years approved over 95% of all licence extension requests ( over 3000 ). And the main night life section of Brum, Broad Street, only last week packed with tories drinking in bars and resturants into the early hours..flip flop flip.

Tony Sharp said...

This is a comment I left on ConservativeHome a short while ago:



As people who know me will agree, I fight aggressively for reductions in both bureaucracy and the burden on taxpayers. But before people jump to conclusions and start laying into the Councillors, it might be best to check the facts.

Firstly, this is not a new role. One of Bournemouth's Executive Directors has left and the Council is simply replacing him. To better reflect the nature of the role and its new priorities under the Conservative administration, the job title has been changed. This is not a new role or a wasteful addition.

Among its local priorities the Cabinet in Bournemouth is committed to making savings of millions of pounds. The Officer recruited to this existing role will be responsible for increasing strategic partnerships and the scope of private sector involvement in service provision.

That is what Conservatives want to see more of in local government, so I cannot understand the hostility to making it happen. The work has to be done by someone who will help Bournemouth transform the way it provides services to the public with more value for money.

If this was a new role plucked out of thin air then people may have cause to complain. But in fairness to Bournemouth that is not what it is. This is just a different name for pre-existing and established position that can help the Conservatives' plan to drive necessary efficiency savings.

Beyond New Labour said...

Stephen Greenhalgh?? Ahh that lovely chap that promised the elderly they wouldn't be charged for home care, only to renege on the promise and bring in means testing. Yeah proper tory council H+F!!

dunlaggin said...

T Sharpe 2.18
'Firstly, this is not a new role. One of Bournemouth's Executive Directors has left and the Council is simply replacing him. To better reflect the nature of the role and its new priorities under the Conservative administration, the job title has been changed. This is not a new role or a wasteful addition.'

Out of curiosity what was the old role and job title and how does the new one reflect the new priorities?

Tony Sharp said...

Dunlaggin - IIRC it was the Executive Director role that had Major Projects in its remit. As I understand the role will be less to do with monitoring projects and more to do with strategic work to bring in the private sector to ensure services are delivered competitively at reduced cost.

Anonymous said...

Daniel Clarke clearly has not been a councillor or he would know the collosal hours put in at all times of day. I note he is a Labour PPC -I'm sure his councillor colleagues will be under-impressed with his attitude to the hard work they put in. I might also add that Labour councillors often argued that to give people a chance from all walks of life (rather than retired well of) paying an allowance was a good thing. I actually agree with them. I'm afraid Mr Clarke is trying too hard to be populist without actually have much of a grasp of what he is talking about.

DanielClarke said...

Lol @ anonymous, I'm not being populist, I am just stating that a lot of councillors, particularly Lib Dems, are total crap and are not worth any money at all. This is a statement of fact. I also know of councillors who claim they need increased allowances to cover loss of potential earnings who when they lose their seats are unable to find employment.

Jess The Dog said...

I worked for a year or so in local government, in the past and more recently - now in the private sector. I can't comment on the specifics of this case but it rings true with my general experience.

Although local authorities are apparently cash-strapped - and I acknowledge that front-line services are often under-resourced - my own authority was awash with cash for management nonsense.

Everyone had a nice shiny new desk, with flat screen monitor, new adjustable chair and "health and safety" officer to check it all worked. On taking up my post last year, I sat at my nice new desk and peeled the shrink-wrapping off my brand new penil-holder, put my brand new pens in them and flicked through the glossy council brochures and internal magazines that had been left for me.

I worked a 36 hour week. I reported to a hierarchy of four managers and I was a professional grade officer. In my current post I report to a regional director, a central director and then the company board.

I wasn't over-worked but was quite busy. There was an enormous range of time-wasting activities to indulge in, personal development courses aplenty, also staff away on union time or team building. So much time was spent in "co-ordination" meetings that there was little time to carry out what was being co-ordinated!

My managers could sign off projects of varying sums at the drop of a hat, and what frustrated me was the lack of thought given to procurement and whether a study was needed. For every really good study I have seen (and delivered as a private consultant) there are another five that languish on shelves gathering dust.

The big issue was always reorganisation. This happened all the time and was supposedly more efficient. It didn't look like it to me, more like empire building and consolidation. It all costed in terms of rebranding, etc.

I believe front-line services were under-resourced, but in addition to the over-representation of managers, there was an enormous and wasteful administrative "tail". We had a typing pool, in this day of IT, PCs and printers! I could not print a letter myself, I had to draft it and email it to the typing pool!

Technical and professional staff generally felt over-managed and smothered in unnecessary administration. I had one colleague who had a long and distinguished record(!) of local goverment service dating from the days when you could have a few pints at lunchtime and no-one cared. When he got wind of a new management or admin initiative, it was fun to watch him explode in outrage and to hark back to the "good old days".

Many of the staff were part-time, sometimes on the most bizarre working arrangements. Now that may seem sexist, but I support flexible working for parents in particular. However, I occasionally had the feeling that it was easier to keep someone on than to make a post redundant, and that flexible working was taken to the extent that it actually undermined the organisation.

The bottom line is that there is cash to be saved, and it does not need someone on £100K plus salary to do it.

Anonymous said...

Jess The Dog

is your last post an ironic, or is Caulston having a laugh.

Jess the Dog and the dog whistle post.

You see blogland Tory activists and posters are encouraged to post gardage and pass it as truth.

The most common why of doing this is to start by saying " I used to be a Labour supporter, but "... Total bull, just like Jess the Dogs last post """whistle whistle"""

Anonymous said...

No idea how much is being squandered, but Conservative controlled Cambridgeshire County Council has a 'Director of Sustainable Infrastructure', whose main job appears to be to force congestion charging on Cambridge against fierce local opposition...

Anonymous said...

BluLabour = NuLabour = BluLabour = NuLabour ...

P.S. Boris has appointed a new racemonger, Miss Cindy Butts.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the Chief Executive of Conservative run Kent the highest paid Chief Exec in the country?

Anonymous said...

Jess the Dog. I have recently worked in Central Government as a consultant - all you write sounds awfully familiar...

iain said...

You want outrageous expenses?..feast your eyes on this link for the Northern Ireland Assembly which has done bugger all work (it might be fair to say EVER)

http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/members/expenses/members_expense2007_2008.htm

Raedwald said...

If H&F aren't building social housing, they're doing exactly the right thing.

Stephen Greenhalgh knows very well that the 'tipping point' for social housing is about 15% - the current London target of 35% in new developments is sheer lunacy and a recipe for instant slums.

Tell me, where does anyone imagine the major part of police activity, the criminal justice system, the social and welfare services, the health services and educational expenditure is concentrated? Yep, on social housing developments. Concentrated social housing means a big pain of tax costs.

A major study by the LSE for the present government found, amongst other things, that

- The economic cost to the country of subsidised welfare rents is £6.6bn a year

- We (the taxpayer) own £400bn in capital value of welfare housing, but our return on capital after management and maintenance is barely 1% per annum

- It's a myth that council tenants all want to be owner occupiers; given the choice, 39% would prefer to stay as subsidised tenants

- Barely a third of heads of welfare housing households are in full time work

- One in eight private house moves are work related, but just a very few thousand moves a year amongst 4m welfare tenants are for employment reasons

- Welfare tenants stay put in the same house for a very long time. Over twenty years, they will enjoy the benefit of subsidised rent worth £65,000 at Net Present Value.

- Despite subsidised rents meaning that in theory it's much easier for a welfare tenant to move from benefits to work than for a private tenant, very few do so.

Yes, of course there should be social housing - not estates, but integrated. Social housing should be a short-term safety net, not a DFS recliner, 42" plasma screen and welfare life.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

It strikes me that this council is not being run by councillors at all. It is being run by officers.

Exactly! As is the case with so many councils.

Anonymous said...

Trumpeter, you are absolutely right. I have a some knowledge of what is happening inside the council and it isn't pretty.

The councillors that I know are facing an uphill battle with an overly bureaucratic and wasteful administration. They cannot retain good staff and cannot implement the changes they want to make without a decent manager on the inside.

I suspect that this is their 'last roll of the dice' in an aim to get a someone in there who is going get some changes made, rather than talked about.

Given the problems there, its not a challenge I'd like to have to take on, and from the aegean stables I saw, £100k looks a bit small.

Fergus said...

Anonymous @ 1.36 said:
"Maybe they should take some lessons from Birmingham Tory run council, who in 2004 gained the city from Labour

The Tory Leaders 2004 manifesto included a Council Tax Freeze for 2 years, and pledged to get rid of the £100K pa Chief Exective post.

Guess what. Got rid of the £100k post, BUT returned it 6 months later, this time at £120K; and as for the 2 year council tax freeze - over 2% rise each and every year since 2004. Tosser Tory"

Liar (and I don't use that word lightly). Get rid of the Chief Executive? - wasn't in any manifesto I stood on. There is now no Deputy Chief Executive.

Apart from 2005-6 (the first budget the new administration had responsibility for) when the rise was 2.8%, to sort out underfunding of Social Services by Labour, all rises have been 1.9%. For the hard of understanding, that's LESS than 2%.

And as for the (same?) Anonymous on licensing - do you actually know how difficult it is to turn down an application these days? Clearly not.

Anonymous said...

Just how do Hammersmith & Fulham Conservatives explain the huge pay rise for Tory Council leaders since they took office ?????? while cutting services to the elderly

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Just how do Hammersmith & Fulham Conservatives explain the huge pay rise for Tory Council leaders since they took office ?????? while cutting services to the elderly"

Surely that's just what tories do? Steal from the poor to make themselves richer.