Apologies, whilst this is not difficult to read or understand, alas it has a lot of words. It is recommended reading especially for Cllr James Baker and his Scrutiny Panel Members as the Guardian sets out the background for the thinking we propose they develop!
We commence, Cllrs you all know, will have your opinion, as where to start, start what you might ask, implement professional management in CMBC! You will appreciate this starting place, a directorate, ideally should be the biggest and best basket case CMBC has to offer. Based upon a recent Freedom of information [FOI] request to CMBC one directorate above all others stands out
Question 1 Have any changes been made to the management structure of this directorate or has a new director been appointed with the management structure remaining as before?
Response 1 An interim management structure is currently in place which is different to that which was in place before.
Comment: This does not answer our question! [The answer must be a secret] This really doesn’t matter much, at best it illustrates a lack of attention to detail, at worst it illustrates the arrogance, even the ignorance of CMBC
Question 2 Has any reduction in FTE officer numbers been made since June 2015, are any further FTE officer number reductions planned to be made up to March 2017?
Response 2 Two FTE officers have left since June 2015 due to redundancy.
Comment: We presume these will be the two non performing senior officers previously in charge of this directorate.
We do not hold any information as yet on any planned reductions up to March 2017. A number of savings are being implemented in 2016/17 which will lead to reductions in staffing numbers.
Comment: There is little long term planning in CMBC. However there can be little doubt the CMBC employees at risk will know senior managers are safe but will not know if they will escape forth coming cuts. No wonder staff morale in CMBC is low!
However, the availability of capital investment for a number of projects (including flood recovery and flood prevention investment), and the need for technical staff to deliver those projects, is a counter balancing factor.
Comment: Bureaucratic flummery [a filler little to do with our question] an illustration of CMBC’s lack of forward planning and its obsession for secrecy, no figures available!
Question As there can now be no need to keep this information confidential, what were the costs incurred with the Halifax Car Parking Problem, broken down between
Question 3 a) value of charges waived during the period when none were collected
Response 3 a) £555k an estimated figure based on the approximate [understated?] loss of Pay & Display Income during the period of non-enforcement/suspension of charges.
Question 3 b) Cost of resolving, verifying the legality of the issue and then resolving it:
Response 3 b) Information not held. Officers do not allocate the time spent on individual projects this includes the correction of the RTO’s [Road Traffic Orders] and related work.
Comment: CMBC have no activity costing system thus they have little or no idea as to the actual direct cost of providing their services, let alone the cost of resolving unexpected issues such as this! Our intelligent guess, estimate of staff costs, for legal work, advice of legal consultants, time taken to calculate and refund charges made, to set in place, and manage the introduction the new RTO’s is £500k
Question 3 c) Cost of the charges refunded
Response 3 c) £12,487.25
Question 3 d) Cost of verifying and refunding these parking charges
Response 3 d) as per answer 3b, Officers do not record the time spent on individual projects. We received a total of 25,425 refund claims.
- 12,652 P&D tickets were accepted and refunds made.
- 12,773 P&D ticket claims were rejected.
- Each claim took approximately 3 minutes to assess and respond to.
Comment: We calculate 33 weeks, then allowing for a 25% rest allowance, tea breaks etc say 42 weeks, then add the “standard CMBC administration and management support required” 30% say 55 weeks, at an average total salary cost of say £35,000 per officer, the total salary cost of this exercise we estimate will have been around £38,500
Cost summary Question 3
3a) CMBC estimate loss of Pay & Display Income £555,000
3b) Guardian estimate, intelligent guess for setting up to RTOs etc £500,000
3c) CMBC cost of charges refunded £12,487
3d) Guardian estimate cost of resolving P&D ticket claims £38,500
Likely Grand Total cost of the CMBC Great Halifax Car Parking Muddle £1.1M
Question 3 e) The job title of the officer/s responsible for this issue
Response 3 e) Head of Democratic & Partnership Services and Head of Planning & Highways
Comment: Senior Officers Ian Hughes and Ian Gray. Mr Gray used his finely tuned Darwinian abilities and long ago moved on to be Interim Director of Service Delivery with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. Yes Service Delivery!
To the best of our knowledge not even an apology has been offered by these senior CMBC officers or by Council Leader Cllr Tim Swift or his Cabinet for this £1.1M loss
We have been talking about the Economy & Environment Directorate.
Readers will recall when the news of this administrative disaster, a debacle, broke and after the ineffective E and E Director and his principal assistant departed, April 2016 CMBC’s CEO woke up to create a Task and Finish Highways Development Board. [Bureaucratic speak, a real mouthful] meaning, unlike other tasks, this task will be finished! See our article at the time, Economy and Environment Directorate
This Board we are told has completed its work. But quoting Cllr Scott Benton, Brighouse Echo “Inside the Council” June/July 2016 Highways Service is unfit for purpose. So who will be aware of the current situation, perhaps the E and E Scrutiny Panel Chair, Cllr James Baker? However we now continue to review our FOI request
Question 4 What adjustments, proposals of the Highways Task & Finish Group (HTAFB) have been adopted?
Question 5 What adjustments, proposals of the HTAFB have still to be adopted?
Response 4 & 5
- The appointment of a new Head of Service and creation of four Corporate Leads has largely replaced the standalone items within the Task & Finish Group. The task and finish group served to highlight that a number of specific issues and historic challenges were preventing the service from moving ahead. The approach of that group – 12 months ago – did not fully take into consideration the merits of different leadership and different investment strategies (i.e. recent investment in LED technology to reduce service failure versus employing more resources to fix defects).
- The recent ‘Pothole Blitz’ was an example of the new approach which the Task & Finish Group never considered. This sought to reshape service delivery response to tackle potholes during the spring rather than wait until summer to fix them
- 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 one ½ FTE
- Handheld devices are being trailed with Safety Inspectors and with the intention that 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
Comment A: CMBC admits the CEO’s Group [HTAFB] failed to achieve its objectives, this issue in E & E remains “largely” [CMBC’s word] unresolved
Comment A1: How clever, a “Pot Hole Blitz” i.e. list all the pot holes Calderdale has and then go off and fill them in, ticking them off the list until no more remain, a brilliant idea
Comment A2, 1 – 4: Bureaucratic flimflam gives the impression we have a plan [a minor one, nothing mind blowing] this will succeed; we know what we are doing! No reality here
Question 6 What external consultant’s proposals have been adopted?
Answer 6 Not applicable no external consultants were appointed. The Board was an internal group with no external parties.
Comment 6: We dispute this response to be a clear, intentional misreading of our question! Tying this question together with our previous question/s concerning CEO’s Group HTAFB [Highways Task and Finish Board] reveals CMBC to be what it is, an untruthful self serving bureaucracy!
Question 7 What external consultant’s proposals have still to be adopted [are still outstanding?]
Response 7 See question 6
Comment 7: As at August 2015 the height of the panic, external consultants were crawling all over the Economy and Environment Directorate [we know this following a previous FOI request.] External consultants may still be present today or their recommendations may still be awaiting implementation!
Question 8 What external consultant’s reports are still awaited, and the dates these are expected
Response 8 See question 6
Comment 8: See previous
Question 9 What is the current strategy of this Directorate and the tactics [tasks] required to achieve this Directorate’s strategic objective?
Response 9 Directorate strategy and objectives are delivered through the management structures and embedded where required in personal objectives with relevant Officers
Comment 8: An absolutely pathetic non answer to the question asked, confirms CMBC’s untruthful self serving bureaucracy. Reality is the E & E Directorate appears be short on leadership it is near rudderless, so what is its strategy, does it have one?
Should this not be a fair comment no doubt Cllr James Baker E & E Scrutiny Panel Chair will correct this, so the Guardian can bring its readers up to date?
There may have been a new director recently appointed, perhaps Mark Thompson a CMBC insider, previously Head of Housing Environment Renewal. Mr Thompson was appointed temporary director a year ago to 30th June 2016 at a salary of £119.000.
If so he may prove acceptable should he adopt new ways of working i.e. commercial management practices. If not CMBC must open a door for him allowing him to walk into the real world preferably taking with him any team of like minded acolytes he may have!
Responsible Cllrs: Cabinet, Barry Collins & Daniel Sutherland, Scrutiny, James Baker
So what next for this Directorate, this basket case it surely cannot be the Economy and Environment Directorate is responsible for waste collection? Watch this space!