£250 Funding to Road Safety Group Denied


Due to lack of funding the committee has decided to disband

The group that has been championing road safety in Brighouse for over 70 years has been forced to disband due to funding problems. The committee was founded in 1944 and for the past seventy three years has served Brighouse and surrounding areas by listening to their concerns with regard to any road safety issues.

The group has provided cycle training for pupils attending schools and the Chairman, Mrs Ann Rutherford was involved with the scheme for many years with the help of Calderdale Council. 

They were a regular feature at the annual Brighouse Charity Gala and each year they have provided a Christmas Drink Drive Campaign in order to reduce the number of road safety injuries and deaths through drink driving over the festive period. 

However, the committee has said it has been forced to wind up because of funding being stopped by Calderdale Council.

 Peter Davies, secretary of committee, said on behalf of the group: “Every effort has been made to try and get the road safety message to the residents of Brighouse.

 “Regrettably Calderdale Council cannot afford the princely sum of £250 in order that the good work of the committee can continue and it has been decided with deep regret that the committee to discontinue its valuable work.

 “For the past year there has been a distinct lack of support from elected representatives and Calderdale Council and it was only by making requests for financial assistance from other people that the committee has been able to continue with its work for the people of Brighouse. 

“The Committee feels that it has been very badly treated by Calderdale Council and financial funding was withdrawn without any notification to the committee which is the height of bad manners. “It would appear that it no longer needs local road safety committees.”



Posted in Communities and Service Support | Leave a comment


The Calderdale Guardian is saddened to announce the death of Ivor Davies on Wednesday 25th January 2017.

Condolences have been sent to his family.


Posted in Adults Health & Social Services, Chief Executives Office, Children & Young Peoples Services, CMBC Global Issues, Communities and Service Support, Economy & Environment | Leave a comment

CMBC the Slow Gradual Reduction of Officer Numbers continues


The very slow but none the less welcome reduction in Senior Officer Numbers continues. Clearly whilst the speed, the pace of this change, requires to be improved such that this reduction reaches Director Level sooner rather than later!

CMBC can no longer afford to waste the huge amounts spent upon excessively paid Directors, the Directors Heads of Departments [Assistants,] Secretaries and other support staff. Savings available in this area range up to £3pa

The Good News

1 Recently CMBC advertised a vacancy for a “none job” a Cllrs Political Assistant a current officer, one of three, must have left the councils employ, perhaps retired or been promoted elsewhere within the council. Should this Political Assistant not be replaced then this would beg the question do we need these 3 Political Assistants? The answer we all know, is NO!

CMBC consider [Freedom of Information Request Response] this job was advertised in the normal way in the public domain, it was not! It was advertised on the Council’s Website not a suitable site to advertise jobs available in CMBC to the public. This job is obviously only available to existing CMBC how are happy and well aware, those who can live with unsuccessful bureaucratic CMBC procedures. Officers who are quite happy to go to work each day wasting can afford their time and ratepayers money! Therefore this internal job, salary Scale 6, is only open to existing CMBC employees, the senior officer responsible for recruitment here is Mr I Hughes.

2 As we are all aware one very senior officer the Director of Children’s Services, B EV Maybury has recently left the employment of CMBC. This Officer we guess would have been in receipt of a top salary! S01 perhaps as the position is not to be filled there will be a most welcome definitive saving here. Including some of this previous director’s assistants, heads of departments’ secretaries/s and other support staff perhaps £2M per annum! Just for the loss of only one director! [CEO + 1 other director = £4M?]


CMBC is currently tackling excessive manning by “nibbling around the edges” the Guardian suggests they now decide to nibble, bite from the top down! Make the biggest savings first by removing not required senior officers thus making the fundamental changes required by CMBC much easier to implement!    

Posted in CMBC Global Issues | Leave a comment

The E & E Directorate’s continuing Basket Case, an update

Based upon a CMBC FOI Response Reference 5904

An acting director has now been appointed, Mr Mark Thompson. We doubt the opportunity to review and to bring up to date the old [failed] management organisation structure will be taken?

The current number Full Time Equivalent Officers [1st April 2015] is 461, giving plenty of scope for savings, an increase of 25 FTE Officers since 1st April 2016! Yes an increase, not a reduction! 

CMBC does not know the number FTE Officers there may be by 1st April 2017. Should they require more Officers they will just recruit them, they throw more money at the problem until they solve it!

To our question: are there any external consultancy projects underway or are any external consultancy project recommendations outstanding? If so may we be given details of these? 

We received the response we are unsure what you mean by external consultancy projects.  Do you mean where this Authority is acting as consultants or projects where consultants are working on the Authority’s behalf? CMBC, the clue here is in the question [the word external. Despite confirming this no answer received]

Are there any Highways and Task Finish Board Recommendations outstanding? If so may I be given the details of these?

The bureaucratic none answer response was, the service is in a period transformation and whilst the detail of each aspect  of that Group has been fed into work programmes and cultural change – rather than being a project in its own right 

The following are however examples of some areas where improvements continue to be made. 

  • Street Naming and numbering have been transferred to planning, along with half a FTE Officer! 
  • Handheld devices are being trailed with Safety Inspectors the intention is they will be rolled out to other mobile workers over the coming months. 
  • Review of the procedure for overhanging vegetation and highways trees is taking place in collaboration with Safer Cleaner Greener. Email alert to members on utility works in their ward has been in place since autumn 2015. 

This Directorate does not have a written strategy document. Can’t the E & E  Scrutiny Panel Members and Chair Cllr James Baker see the need for this! 

As we are all aware this Directorate is responsible for waste collection, the latest CMBC lash up the Waste Collection Contract renewal! A new contract with Suez Resource and Recovery Ltd began on 1st August 2016 the same contractor as previously used (SITA UK Ltd). New routes have been introduced to make efficient use of new vehicles. As we know there have been some initial problems with missed collections due to rerouting and changes to collection days for residents, According to CMBC these are now being resolved.


E & E Scrutiny Panel Members and Chair, Cllr James Baker please get a grip of this Directorate, it is time you did!

Posted in CMBC Global Issues, Economy & Environment | Leave a comment

The Guardian’s Holy Grail – The Guardian’s Manifesto


This Holy Grail is a sequenced, numbered step by step list of tasks needed to get improvements required in CMBC underway, changes suggested by the Guardian to reduce the number of excessive overpaid Directors, and administration officers who support them.

A rationalisation based upon potential efficiency improvements [savings around £15M pa] uncovered in the past 4 years, mainly, but not all from CMBC’s “Back Office” An expensive area out of sight of “CMBC management” or of the councillors

The Guardian’s Manifesto

An easy to understand Work to List especially Cllrs who are too close to CMBC so immersed in its accepted bureaucracy, they cannot see the wood for the trees. [Items below could be changed, influenced for the better by Councillors if they wished to]

Sequence NoTask DescriptionDirectorate InvolvedSaving £ (000)Note

1 Professional CMBC Committee Meeting Minutes

[What prevents CMBC producing professional meeting minutes Nov 2015]

2 Cllrs establish their currently dormant power e.g. Senior Officers Salary Claw Back. Initially use this power to ensure CMBC staff absenteeism rates are reduced from 9% pa to 4%pa, saving about £1m pa

3 Reduce the number of Senior Officers, Directors and their associated staff by 2 or 3 saving at least £2M pa

4 Reduce the number of no value adding Back Office Administration Staff initially saving £2m to £5M pa

Tasks 3 & 4 [Open Governance a non starter Oct 2015]

5 Centralise Purchasing and the placing of External Contracts for consultancy and external social care contractors. Initially saving up to £8M pa

6 Combine Adult Social Care and Children’s Services into on Directorate and appoint a Head of Service for Back Office and Administration Staff. Saving up to £10M pa, see task 4 above

7 Review and update the Rules, Procedures, Responsibilities and Expectations required from Scrutiny Panels   

These tasks will commence the major changes, management improvements required within CMBC. No one could disagree that Professional Meeting minutes, task 1, the simplest and cheapest of the 6 allied to task 7 would immediately kick start the changes we require. Each task, topic is something Cllrs could change or influence for the better, if they were minded to do so!

Cllrs, commence these tasks now, Oct 2016 resulting in up to £15M pa being recovered from not required annual current expenditure, to provide money for additional front line social services from FY 2017/18 onwards. We are happy to discuss this with any Cllr who disagrees with our logic or who cannot see where the savings come from!

From time to time we may add another task, a tactic to our Strategy, our Manifesto or otherwise update our Manifesto. Watch this Space!  

Posted in CMBC Global Issues | Leave a comment

Open Government a non starter?


The Guardian heard a rumour, from a council insider that CMBC may be contemplating a plan based upon a “Leeds City Council idea” to improve governance by loading their information documents all of them no exceptions, to their website, surely this cannot be true! The stated purpose of this we are told is to increase openness whilst reducing resident’s current reliance upon the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). Could the actual objective be to help remove the Freedom of Information Act from the Statute Book!

Should this rumour not be true do not worry, read no further. However if any CMBC Cllr or Officer be considering this idea, peddled by Senior Mandarin/s be assured it will never, ever work. But in Calderdale we may still have cause for concern i.e. the salary costs of our clever senior officers as they think about this and hold meetings and perhaps produce the usual bureaucratic document used to confuse Cllrs.

Why will this silly idea never, ever work?

Assuming all CMBC’s “legally allowable information” of interest to residents is published on the website, a big ask, a huge assumption, then to make the FOI Act irrelevant, redundant in CMBC just consider this:

CMBC’s ICT Department will need to develop, write and maintain software, a search engine the like of which we have never seen before. CMBC’s ICT Department is not up to this. [It would be better to improve the poor, pathetic even, search facilities of the current website] Getting to the “home page” of our local Cllr, their name address data etc requires 4 to 5 steps! However CMBC could always buy at huge expense the rights for a search engine, Google perhaps.

Should CMBC or Leeds CC or any other organisation be swept along with enthusiasm with this hair brained idea, as we say, it will never work also consider this:

By the time an organisation is ready to implement such a scheme its plan and intended software will be well out of date, overtaken by the whole world! Management information requirements today continually change whilst IT development moves faster and faster, far beyond the ability of CMBC to cope, we all know this!   


Senior fat cats achieve very little as CMBC carries on year after year in the same old way employing the same unchanging ineffective excessively expensive management organisation structures [Parkinson’s Law: work expands, is found to fit the time available]

A reduction of just 2 or 3 top Fat Cats and a similar number of their department heads along with their assistants and secretaries would alone save £2M to £3M pa. Perversely leading to further large financial savings, a much smaller, more cost effective efficient CMBC, achieving the huge “Back Office” administration savings available, up to £15M pa. Making Calderdale a council we can then be proud of!

Even if CMBC Fat Cats, the current Council Leadership and their misguided supporters understood the duties, the “deliverables” required from an organisation’s directors, unfortunately it is not in their personal best interest to fulfil these duties, even if they had the ability to make the changes CMBC so desperately needs, which we doubt!          

However should this article discourage any CMBC Fat Cat or Cllr considering such a silly, stupid scheme, writing this was time well spent!   

Posted in CMBC Global Issues | Leave a comment

Proposed CMBC Senior Management Structure Change


There is a proposal to change the Senior Management Structure this is not the result of a desire to improve CMBC. It has been brought about by the decision of Bev Maybury, Director of Children’s Services to leave CMBC. See below, a Chief Officer’s Restructure Report [Green] written by the CEO Merran McRae, 16 August 2016.  

First a précis from a recent response to our FOI Request regarding this report to Cllrs following Bev Maybury’s decision to leave CMBC

1 CMBC cannot say what if any Officer Salary savings will be made here, we quote: the revised roles will be determined by elected members of the Council on 29th Sept 2016 and Employment Committee thereafter.

2 We quote: Council Support Staff are under review. Clearly this pathetic report is worth very little, as once nodded through [approved] by the Employment Committee the officers will be free to make up their own minds as to what they want to do

3 The Guardian’s question: Will there be an arbitrary reduction of staff here [including the front line] to meet a financial target, if not what exactly is this? The CEO’s report paragraph 5.1 stated: reductions will be needed to achieve the Future Workforce Programme [FWP.] CMBC’s response was: This refers to anticipated savings at management and team leader level as agreed in the Council’s February Budget 2016. So having told us this, paragraph 5.1, we now know:

The answer to our question is YES front line social service staff is to be reduced, and not for the first time! 

4 Also, CEO’s report paragraph 5.1, we asked: will there be the opportunity for further management salary savings of £100,000 to £250,000? Very unlikely we feel, as no effort was made to respond to this question. Clearly, CMBC have no idea, thus costs will surely increase!

CEO’s initial statement: The post of Director of Adults Health and Social Care (AHSC) will shortly become vacant. This provides an opportunity to consider the future of this post both in the context of management saving targets in the Council’s budget and in the context of opportunities for service improvement. But, there is no plan here to do this!

This report and our comments follow: Note the absence of any detail, any figures. This report once approved by councillors, will allow officers to do what they like, regardless of expense! Par for the course in CMBC. The only parts of the report worth reading are paragraph 1.1 and paragraph 7.

CEO’s Proposal, due to the imminent departure of Senior Officer Beverly Maybury

1          Introduction

1.1 The purpose of this report is for Governance and Business Committee to consider a proposal to delete the posts of Director of Adults Health and Social Care and Director of Children and Young People’s Service and to replace these with a single post of Director of Adults and Children’s Services.

1.2 Members are also asked to consider the proposal for placing the statutory Director of Adult Services (DASS) role at Head of Service level, replacing an existing Head of Service post with a new designation of Head of Services for Adult Care to take on the statutory function DASS.

Comment: DASS, Director Adult Health Social Services. We presume a new “super” Director will be appointed the remaining Director will be reduced to be a Head of a Service, some hope!

2          Recommendation

2.1 That Council is asked to approve that the posts of Director of Adults Health and Social Care and Director of Children and Young People’s Service be deleted and replaced with a single post of Director of Adults and Children’s Services.

2.2 That Council is asked to approve the statutory Director of Adult Services (DASS) role be placed at Head of Service level, replacing an existing Head of Service post with a new designation of Head of Services for Adult Care to take on the statutory DASS function  

Comment: Different words are used but Paragraphs 2.1 and 2.2 duplicate paragraphs 1.1 and 1.2, bureaucracy [KISS, keep it simple stupid]

2.3 That Employment Committee consider the appropriate remuneration and HR process for the above.

Comment: Three officers are involved, one leaves, two change roles and their remuneration changes! Will a lesser or greater salary total be involved, what will be the difference? Will there be a saving of support staff salary posts, secretary personal assistants etc as a result of three Senior Officers being reduced to two?   

3.1 Comment: See the previous page        


3.2 As Members may be aware, there has been an increase in joint working between the AHSC and CYP Directorates over the last year, including the integration of most commissioning functions under a single Head of Service.

Comment: Longer term these functions should be incorporated into a Centralised Purchasing organisation.

Consideration of an all age disability service and joint planning with the Calderdale NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Comment: Bureaucracy, use plain English!

3.3 It is considered that this work could be accelerated and new joint working explored if the two Directorates were merged under a single leadership team. This would also contribute to financial savings targets.

Comment: Who will take this task forward, the Governance and Business Committee? [Scrutiny Panel]  

3.4 There are risks as well as opportunities associated with this and these are            considered below.

4          Risks and Opportunities

4.1       Risks:  

CYP is now considered to be performing well following turnaround from a long history of inadequacy. Stretching leadership capacity across wider functions may dilute the focus that underpins this performance and result in decline.

Comment: It is a fact, irrespective of who is in charge of the council, to be “sure” successful change in CMBC is the norm Senior Officers are fully engaged. Specific individual targets are set and agreed with them. Their well being will then be dependent upon the changes in their directorates being successful.

Cllrs will need to use their existing powers to set up a Senior Managers Salary Earn Back Scheme based upon personal targets concerning major change schemes, their planning and implementation  

Historical CYP poor performance has led to continued scrutiny from the Department for Education (“DfE”). There is a risk that the DfE may consider a merged Directorate would increase the risk of improvements not being sustained and that this would renew DfE scrutiny. It can be noted that the regular review of progress from DfE has now ceased (March 2016) and in terminating this external intervention the Minister commented on the strong and sustained progress made. 

Comment: CMBC is afraid of inspection, external or otherwise, there being much to hide? This should not be the case, a vicious circle requiring to be demolished?

A number of other Councils that did merge Adults and Children’s functions have subsequently separated them out again, most usually after a poor OfSted or Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) review that revealed lack of focus and/or capacity on key services. Three particular factors seem to be commonly cited in this:

Where service mergers have included too great a reduction in management capacity at all levels, creating system risk and failure.

Comment: Cllrs will need to use their existing powers to set up a Senior Managers Salary Earn Back Scheme based upon personal targets concerning major change schemes, their planning and implementation  

Where there has been a lack of understanding of the Adult’s role in particular and the trend in recent years for this to become more strategically linked to health; the change in culture and working practise necessitated by personalisation and the widespread shift to use of technology.

Comment: Bureaucracy, use plain English!

Where there has been complacency about standards in either Adults or Children’s services or both, and no culture of continuous audit and innovation.

In areas where mergers have been retained, the risks have been mitigated by a clear political and managerial recognition of both the complementary and differing issues within the services

Comment: Cllrs will need to use their existing powers to set up a Senior Managers Salary Earn Back Scheme based upon personal targets concerning major change schemes, their planning and implementation

Some areas have also mitigated risk by placing the DASS or DCS role, or both, at an enhanced Assistant Director/Head of Service level. This has also helped to maintain the identity and senior commitment to all functions.

Comment: This cannot be considered based upon this insufficient evidence, statement  

4.2       Opportunities:

Mergers of any functions bring opportunities for synergies and reduced duplication.

Whilst these can sometimes be achieved by matrix management arrangements without a merger, single leadership often finds opportunities not otherwise identified or possible to implement.

Comment: Cllrs will need to use their existing powers to set up a Senior Managers Salary Earn Back Scheme based upon personal targets concerning major change schemes, their planning and implementation

It is also considered that a full merger of the two Directorates would create further savings potential beyond the deletion of a Director’s post; for example, by bringing together the social care ‘front doors”; accelerating the pace of creation of an all age disability service and bringing together support for safeguarding Boards. Further work would be required to attribute savings to this opportunity, however, £100 – £250k can be considered possible.

Comment: Bureaucratic language, use plain English! [See 3 comments, Para 5.1]

Creating merged functions also brings opportunities to improve service outcomes and service user experience. Examples would be an accelerated all age disability service and improvements to transition arrangements

Comment: What improvements, stipulate these!

4.3       Summary of risks and opportunities

Risks will exist in this arrangement but it is considered that these are justified by the potential opportunities.

Learning the lessons from elsewhere, it is recommended that the risks are mitigated by ensuring a clear line of leadership and accountability at Head of Service level and particularly by placing the DASS role at this level, with overarching oversight by the Director of Adults and Children’s Services.

Comment: Cllrs will need to use their existing powers to set up a Senior Managers Salary Earn Back Scheme based upon personal targets concerning major change schemes, their planning and implementation

5          Financial Implications

5.1 There is currently a budget savings target for 2017/18 of £500,000 for reductions in management staff.

Comment: Any thoughts of CMBC savings by reducing the ratio of management and administration staff from 30% of C & YP officers to say 15% or less?

This is in addition to savings from staff reductions that will be needed to achieve the Future Workforce Programme (FWP) target.

Comment: An arbitrary reduction of staff [including front line] to meet a financial target? [Lack of cash] Dangerous, if so strip out a level of management instead

The deletion of a Director’s post would create a saving of approximately £130,000-£145,000 full year; the final amount being dependant on job evaluation of the remaining affected posts. It is anticipated that there will be the opportunity for further management salary savings of £100,000 at a minimum and possibly [work it out!] up to £250,000

Comment: This is not reality but clever bureaucratic language hiding the likely reality. Include an actual table of figures, current detailed pa salary costs of the existing organisation. Two Directors and the current associated Heads of Departments plus all their Secretaries and PA’s involved.

Side by side with this show the anticipated number of staff and pa salary costs following the departure of Bev Maybury and the implementation of the proposed organisation suggested by this report. Then compare the two, simple!

6          HR implications

6.1 It is anticipated the HR process would lead to the assimilation of the current Director of CYP into the post of Director of Adults and Children’s Services and that the Head of Services for Adult Care (DASS) would be created by the re-designation of an existing AHSC Head of Service role. There would, therefore, be no redundancies or required recruitment process.

Comment: Bureaucratic language, use plain English! “It is anticipated” who makes this decision; clearly this document, no detail, cannot be a proposal?    

The Director and Head of Service post salaries would be subject to Employment Committee consideration via a job evaluation recommendation

Comment: “Job evaluation” who does this, are they fully independent of those being evaluated does the writer “anticipate” the salary total bill remains the same, reduces or increases?   

7          Recommendations

7.1 That Council is asked to approve that the posts of Director of Adults Health and Social Care and Director of Children and Young People’ Services be deleted and replaced with a single post of Director of Adults and Children’s Services.

Comment: We agree

7.2 That Council is asked to approve that the statutory Director of Adult Services (DASS) role be placed at Head of Service level, replacing an existing Head of Service post with a new designation of Head of Services for Adult Care to take on the statutory function DASS.

Comment: This cannot even be debated let alone approved without the exact salary details being known and published

7.3 That Employment Committee consider the appropriate remuneration and HR process for the above.

Comment: What comes first, the chicken or the egg? But no such problem here!

Surely logic states this must be the task to be completed and agreed, well BEFORE tasks 7.1 and 7.2 are debated?

The Guardian’s Conclusion

Cllrs please insist upon and then employ some logical common sense, this sequence, the 3 motions above, is not acceptable management, it may, probably does imply a pre agreed arrangement, a stitch up! Approving this as it stands certainly implies Cllrs are sheep easily herded should the CMBC CEO employ a good dog?

Whilst this document may bamboozle simple [not all] Cllrs it has no such effect, with the Guardian quite the opposite. We see it is a typical document written by council officers to provide a meaningless smoke screen [CMBC smoke and mirrors] intended to cover inadequate CMBC management!

The Guardian will follow this already lost opportunity over time with interest keeping readers updated.


Posted in CMBC Global Issues | Leave a comment

Any sign of a Positive Opposition to the Ruling Clique?


In a word NO! There is no sign of co-operation between the new leaders of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, Cllr Lloyd Scott Benton, Cllr James Baker or any sign of involvement with either of the two Independents, Cllr Colin Raistrick, Cllr Rob Holden. Perhaps residents should look towards Cllr Benton, the leader of the largest minority group, to provide a positive opposition?

The Guardian noticed with interest Cllr Benton’s recent article in the Courier and Brighouse Echo where he challenged the leader of the council to publically answer four questions regarding the current “management” of CMBC. We quote: in an open letter to the Leader of the Council I am hoping that he [Cllr Tim Swift] can address the following.

No great chance of this happening we feel, but any answers would be interesting we are sure! We feel our readers may be interested in the Guardian’s comments concerning this article, Cllr Benton’s questions

Cllr Benton’s Question 1, Introduction   

Local Government is currently undergoing dramatic change as Central Government revaluates the responsibilities of local councils to ensure that they are well placed to deliver economic growth and high quality local services in the future. Against this backdrop, there has never been a more important time to ensure that Calderdale Council has both strong leadership and a clear vision for the future of our borough.

I have yet to see any evidence that the political leadership of the council has the vision, or indeed the will, to provide solutions to the challenges that lie ahead.

Guardian’s comment: A fair evaluation of today’s reality   

Cllr Benton’s Question 1

The council is required to identify savings of £26 million by 2019. This will require a revolution in the way the council works and how services are delivered.

  • What are your plans to achieve these savings and deliver this level of change?
  • Why hasn’t the public seen full details of the savings that you have to make in 2017 and 2018?
  • As you haven’t achieved some of the savings that you have already approved, why should the public have confidence that you can deliver savings in the future?

Guardian’s comment question 1: Good questions we would all like to see answered!

Cllr Benton’s Question 2

  • We need more internal capacity and a stronger focus on supporting business, on growing our local economy and attracting investment in infrastructure. What is your plan to deliver this?

Guardian’s comment question 2: We agree, but nearly everyone is aware, regardless of the political party in power, CMBC has little ability, expertise, experience or even an interest in long term planning

Cllr Benton’s Question 3, Introduction

The workings of the council have changed little in the last five, 10 or 20 years. Many of the systems, structures and policies have not changed for a long time and too many departments are silo-based and don’t have a ‘can-do’ attitude.

Huge cultural change is required to adapt to modern ways of working, to address financial challenges, to improve service levels and to make the council fit for purpose.

The council delivers some services that are less relevant today than in previous years.

Guardian’s comment: Again we agree, but again nearly everyone is aware of these facts, applicable whichever party or coalition in CMBC is in power  

Cllr Benton’s Question 3

  • What are you doing to re-evaluate the level of services the council provides; to concentrate resources where they are most needed and to deliver a lean and efficient council, fit for the 21st century?

Guardian’s comment question 3: This is the most important question asked by Cllr Benton, but it would be a more telling question asked “the other way around,” namely:

It is clear, due to a new world economic reality; CMBC will receive reduced government grants than in the past. What are you doing to deliver a lean and efficient council fit for the 21st century, to evaluate the level of services to concentrate resources where they are most needed?
Cllr Benton does not dare cut to the chase here, reduce the number of senior officers and CMBC’s excessive numbers of administrative staff!  

Cllr Benton’s Question 4

Several years ago, an independent review criticised the council for having no strategic plan for allocating capital spending. You are currently in charge of a capital budget worth £189 million. Your administration states that flooding is a priority and yet less than one per cent of your capital spending has been allocated for flood defences.

Similarly, you have allocated monies to schemes which do not fit your stated priorities. Why has your administration completely failed to prioritise where capital funding is spent? What are you doing to exert leadership over how the council spends its money?

These questions regarding shaping the direction of the council for the future, making CMBC more efficient; growing our local economy, ensuring public money is well spent reflect the basic priorities of a local council. At this opportune time in Local Government, this lack of strategic leadership and a clear plan is holding CMBC back.

Guardian’s comment question 4: Solid criticism we agree with, but unfortunately not even a whiff of a positive suggestion! Cllr Benton must have, show some imagination  

Cllr Benton concludes by saying: I hope to receive a response from the Leader of the Council over the coming months as to how he intends to address these challenges.

Guardian’s comment: no chance, no positive opposition [suggestions] just does not beget any response, positive or otherwise!   


Criticism without detailed positive suggestions how CMBC can be improved will not help create effective financial value for money management. This is certainly true as the ruling clique is happy and comfortable with today’s situation and increasingly confident in their ability to continue, indefinitely, what a frightening thought!

Ignoring little opposition until at least May 2018 the ruling junta will leave senior officers to keep CMBC afloat, when they have had their fill of the largess, [SRA’s] offered by the council they may have their eye upon an MBE and honourable retirement!

We have seen nothing to suggest Cllr Benton will not turn out to be a clone of his previous ineffective master. There is nothing to suggest he even appreciates the need for the resident’s benefits given a positive opposition. Cllr Stephen Baines never did!

Cllr Benton may feel his best option is to develop his political skills ready to take over CMBC when the current junta have had their fill or when he automatically inherits the leadership via the ballet box?  

Finally, the Guardian’s Advice

Cllr Benton dare we mention: your criticisms will be much easier to read if you use the KISS principal [keep it simple sxxxxx] do not complicate this by using, in this case, around 159 words with no paragraphs in sight as this must switch off potential readers.

We all know it is very easy to criticise CMBC, there is a lot to criticise!  May we suggest you take a leaf from the Guardian’s book and propose simple solutions to the issues you uncover. E.g. CMBC implement and use professional committee meeting minutes, a change that will have a positive effect upon performance well above the effort required to implement it!

Cllr Benton, think this idea through, i.e. ask yourself why this will be so? If you cannot see the logic of this and the tactics required here, just contact the Guardian!  

So what is it to be under your new leadership, more of the past tit for tat political knock about waste of time, or an overt positive opposition to the ruling clique?


Posted in CMBC Global Issues | Leave a comment

Meetings more meetings cannot live without them!

Quoting Amit Kalantri: In meetings philosophy might work, on the field [in real life] practicality works.

In a dream the Guardian met head honcho [he who must be obeyed] we found his suite in the Town Hall where a personal assistant ushered us into a waiting room. Here all the CMBC’s committee chairs were already assembled quietly waiting. When we were directed to pre determined seats in the Council Chamber we saw CMBC’s head honcho Mr. R Tuddenham, sat on his throne, gazing down upon us

We noticed the committees chairs sat in pre arranged groups. As the meeting commenced we sat together. Working his way round the Council Chamber head honcho Mr Tuddenham allowed each committee chair 3 minutes to justify their Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA), i.e. their position. He then announced his judgement, there were 3 possible results

  • Thank you please sit down    
  • Sit down, but please improve, do better
  • Go home now, hand your resignation to my PA as you do

We were taking a keen interest in the proceedings, and having realised the committee chairs sat in 6 pre determined groups, we saw the chairs in one group were preordained for the chop! Guess which one

  • 1 Cabinet Committee Chair
  • 2 Committees / Working Parties with “proper” jobs Use of Resources Committee, Audit Committee also Licensing, Planning Working Parties & Others
  • 4 None Essential Committees Many and various
  • 5 Redundant none essential Committees Standards Committee, Halifax Centre Working Party and others
  • 6 Scrutiny Panel Chairs

We thought: We don’t know a chair including Cllr Tim Swift and his crew who, if they cannot remember the past [decisions made] will be not be condemned to repeat their poor decisions.

Our conclusion? Professional meeting minutes will be the salvation of CMBC when just one scrutiny panel chair, seeing the light has the courage; intelligence to adopt and use them.

See: What prevents CMBC producing Professional Meeting Minutes Nov 15.   

Posted in CMBC Global Issues | Leave a comment

Change on the way, just Patience required & Member’s Committees Cont’d

Introduction – Change on the way  

We notice the Tax Payer’s Alliance [TPA] recent announcement concerning Local Government amongst other things, we quote:

Our new Grassroots Campaign Manager, Tom Banks, has been hard at work as to how we can build up our fight on the ground. With over a thousand responses already received, we’ve had some great suggestions of how we can ramp up our involvement in towns and cities across the UK.

The Guardian already knows and is in touch with Tom Banks, we also intend to co-operate with the TPA in their efforts, to ensure these include CMBC.

Photo_1The increasingly effective Guardian’s CMBC front line team currently comprises, two commercially experienced gentlemen neither as yet held back by their advancing years. They set and adjust our strategy as needed. One is also the Web Master and Principal “Legal” Proof Reader, the other our Chief Reporter. A lady completes the team, our Chief Researcher, knowledgeable over a number of years and up to date concerning events [the reality] within CMBC. Therefore just continue to watch this space!

Introduction – CMBC Member’s Committees continued

See CMB Committees, aka keeping Cllrs busy August 2016

This is where we covered Scrutiny Panels, in our opinion the principal management committees [facility] through which Cllrs “could” hold CMBC’s Operating Executive to account if they were allowed to do so. We also said we would cover our thoughts later as to other CMBC committees and working parties, essential or otherwise, so here it is!

The following and our previous scrutiny panel detail may not be a complete list of all CMBC committees and working parties. There are too many to shake a stick at, at least 48! [We think 4 less than in 2011.] Quite clearly there is scope for CMBC cost saving and further rationalisation here! This list is those we feel are important or has caught our eye!  Should any Cllr see their favourite, most important committee is missing, please tell us

CMBC Member’s Committees and Working Parties, our Comments continued    

The majority of CMBC Member’s Committees, including scrutiny committees do not use or maintain meeting minutes suitable for purpose, [a responsibility of the committee chair.] As many of them miss attending all their committee meetings it may be very difficult for them to respond to questions about their committees. Thus it is even more difficult for the outsider to ascertain the effectiveness or otherwise of CMBC committees. We assume this is intentional, as it provides an easy life for the Cllrs involved?

Important Committees covering the whole of CMBC Scrutiny Panels covered previously

1 Governance & Business Committee: Cllr Robert Thornber

We know these points have been made to Cllr Robert Thornber;

  • There are Cllrs who do not respond to questions about issues that come before their committees. Professional meeting minutes would resolve this issue. In the meantime this is an issue for this committee and Cllr Robert Thornber!  
  • It is a fact some Cllrs find it is quite acceptable not to respond to emails or other messages anyway despite having equipment, supplied by CMBC to do so. This is certainly an issue for this committee, unless;     

There is a process for making a complaint concerning a Cllr’s performance, say via the Head of Democratic & Partnership Services, an appropriate statistic i.e. measureable data, to be included in the new Cllrs Annual report [This issue cannot be one for the Standards Committee, see later]  

“Complaints and Local Government Officers” was a recent [5th August] agenda item for G & B so perhaps this issue is now well on the way to being resolved. If this Committee cannot resolve this issue, which committee can?

2 Audit Committee: Cllr Stephen Baines

We hope an external none voting audit professional is included?

3 Use of Resources Committee: Cllr Michael Jon Payne

Council financial procedures: Directorates are required to report to Scrutiny Panel [the Resources Panel] on their overall revenue monitoring position, 3 times per year and to forecast any services controlled variances.

24th August, a 6 page report including a 9 line data table, the rest mainly bureaucratic verbiage from the head of finance was on the agenda. At 31st May the council was under spent by £47,489 ie .0007 of the budget [£661,449,000.] Do I hear what superb financial management! If so, it isn’t, it is the opposite. A loose global budget always [usually] ensures expenses can be fitted to the budget [the figure first thought of!]

As a temporary measure we propose this committee accepts Scrutiny Responsibility for the Human Resources (HR) Department in order commence a speedy reduction of the current, unacceptable Staff Absenteeism Rates. See the Conclusion, CEO’s Back Office Scrutiny Panel    

4 Standards Committee & its Sub Committees: Rev’d Barber

  • Standards Committee Assessment Sub Committee
  • Standards Committee Hearings Panel
  • Standards Committee Review Sub Committee

Meeting only 3 times a year, [last meeting 22nd August] they can hardly be “important,” the presence of its part time top honcho [chair] cannot be guaranteed and following a change to the Localism Act this committee is no longer a CMBC statutory requirement

CMBC should immediately close it down, (**) bank the savings made and transfer any requirements to develop or discuss CMBC standards as they arise, to the Communities Scrutiny Panel, Chair Cllr Graham Hall. The Communities Directorate is currently [but incorrectly] responsible for CMBC Human Relations, (HR) CMBC standards belong here

(**) We believe the Governance & Business Committee, Chair Robert Thornber have already met more than once to “look at the future of the Standards Committee.” Surely the common sense solution here is blindingly obvious! Save at least £750 to £1,000 pa  

When HR is returned to the responsibility of the CEO or preferably given no CEO, when a new Senior Administration Manager responsible for HR answering to a Finance Director is appointed, a new HR Scrutiny Committee should be created   

5 The Health and Wellbeing Board

Should this still exist the Guardian suggests its duties and responsibilities are handed over to a “regenerated” i.e. a 9 member Adult Health Directorate Scrutiny Panel chaired by Cllr Marilyn Greenwood. See the Guardian’s committee quorum (5) proposal, CMB Council Committees aka keeping Cllrs busy August 2016  

Current principal CMBC Working Parties

E & O excepted as the lists which follow are based upon our current knowledge  

Most Important Working Parties

  1. Calderdale Children’s Social Care Improvement Board
  2. Children’s Services Support Team
  3. Corporate Parenting Panel
  4. External Review of Children’s Services Scrutiny Group
  5. Fostering Panel
  6. Academies Working Party
  7. Post 16 Education
  8. Pupil Referral Unit Management Committee
  9. Regulation 33 Visits
  10. Care Homes for Older People Review
  11. Procurement
  12. 12 Adoption Panel

“Less Important”  Working  Parties

In this context: Less does not mean these working parties are not important. From the working party titles’ following it is clear there is [perhaps considerable] scope for rationalisation here, disbandment of some and amalgamation for others   

  1. Area Forum Steering GroupCalderdale Economic Task Force
  2. Calderdale Compact Steering Group
  3. Calderdale Tourism Board
  4. Community Engagement
  5. Community Services
  6. Grants Panel
  7. Constitutional Matters Development Group
  8. Capital Programme
  9. Elland Civic Centre & Library Local Development Project Steering Group
  10. Halifax Centre
  11. Halifax First Delivery or is it Development? Group
  12. Member Development [Cllr training, well overdue a rethink!]
  13. Museum’s Collection Advisory Group
  14. Todmorden Town Centre Regeneration Board
  15. Civic Advisory Group
  16. Employment Committee
  17. Employees Forum
  18. Employees Forum (Education Staff Unions)
  19. Appeals Panel
  20. Licensing Sub Committee
  21. Licensing & Regulatory Committee
  22. Planning Committee

A final comment

We have come across a Waste Treatment Procurement Steering Group. Given recent events in this directorate E&E, then our proposal, should this group still exist is it be immediately disbanded. Any members [Cllrs] still wishing to remain within the CMBC committee fold to be made subject to immediate re training. Watch this space


New Scrutiny Panels required

  • HR Scrutiny Panel. An essential panel to lift staff morale
  • CEO’s Back Office Scrutiny Panel. Another essential panel to commence effective none value adding overhead management

Additional Working Parties required

  • Office Location Development Plan. (Due to the continuing reduction of officer numbers)
  • None Mandatory Services Privatision Planning Group. E.g. Cultural and Sporting Services
  • Volunteers Working Party Group. The talent, experience of volunteers must be encouraged as these could replace ineffective CMBC officers! Volunteers should not be used as low grade, unthinking labour by overpaid senior CMBC officers! E.g. CMBC now has a mandatory duty to create a Local Access Forum, (LAF) an ideal task for local volunteers, this task is most probably still on the to do list. Local volunteers will know Calderdale better than many officers! Thus from start to finish the LAF should be a voluntary operation overseen and administered by one competent E & E Secretary
  • Bureaucracy Reduction & Use of Plain English Working Party


CMBC should create one specific area on their website for all  Committee details including fit for purpose professional meeting minutes and a timetable [schedule] of committee and working Party Meetings covering the next calendar year

This simple action alone could kick start the administrative management improvements required in CMBC! See What prevents CMBC producing professional meeting minutes? November 2015

Posted in CMBC Global Issues | Leave a comment