Selecting a Starting Place

Introduction

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?     

Conclusion

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!      

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Councillor Education

PhythagorusThe Guardian no longer accepts the excuse popular of many Cllrs, I do not understand Accounts. Unfortunately, a lack of ability in the fine art of accounting [logical thinking and mathematics] prevents a Cllr taking part in facilitating the changes required by CMBC.

Once elected to the Council unless previously involved with local government bureaucracy, what education is on offer to help Cllrs with their new life outside the normal world they may have previously inhabited?

We discussed this topic in October 2014 see: A case for Training Councillors. We are not aware of any progress made since then but with our increased knowledge of the reality that is CMBC we are now in a better position to consider this. In 2014 following a FOI request the training available was a Member (Councillor) Development Programme

  • Planning for Ward Councillors – Key issues concerning Planning Applications
  • Corporate Parenting – Councillors are Corporate Parents for Children in the care of CMBC
  • Introduction to Licensing – For Licensing & Regulatory Committee Members
  • Dealing with the Press – To give an understanding of the positive news value of activities of the Council [no training needed concerning negative news!]
  • Introduction to Local Government Finance [no mandatory attendance here!]
  • Making the Speech in the Council Chamber [reality is better learnt by observation in the council chamber]  

This schedule designed by Senior Officers helps retain continuity it does not help councillors to facilitate their management role within the council. Senior Officers those in charge of CMBC have no interest in allowing Cllrs to be involved in council management as this could threaten the status quo, their overpaid comfortable positions!

All councillors should take a full part in managing the council therefore in addition to “knowledge of the council’s operations” what are the main attributes, potential training needs Cllrs need to help them do this:

1 Confidence to insist upon the use of Plain English

Albert Einstein stated those who use bureaucracy do not understand the topic in question, he was right! Fortunately written bureaucracy is relatively easy to overcome. A bureaucratic, difficult to read and to understand document received by a councillor/s should be simply returned to its originator, “Please rewrite in plain English”

A bureaucratic speech or statement made in the council chamber should be halted with a simple repost; this is difficult to understand, please use plain English! Councillors are easily duped by this Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome, if necessary hand this issue over to the CEO!

2 Logical thinking: an ability and competence in basic mathematics, the creation and use of simple formulae, the understanding of averages and percentages. There is always a problem here with CMBC’s principal set of figures, the Annual Council Accounts. This huge bureaucratic document, normally 80 plus pages, is always prepared and presented to prevent Cllrs and any other normal person understanding it!

Example: CMBC’s 2014/15 Draft Accounts – Freedom of Information Request

Our Question:

Concerning the 2015/16 CMBC Annual Accounts Draft – see page 17, can you please provide the following information?

  • A detailed line by line value analysis by department of the expenditure items making up the £900k not distributed costs
  • An explanation and the detail of the £8.895M Impairment of Assets.

It is normal practice for those keeping accounts to create “waste baskets” aka black holes in which to dump the bits and pieces not warranting their own named slot. In CMBC bits and pieces can build up to be very large totals, these two total £9,795,000!

These dumps are useful locations to hide embarrassing expenditures and other mistakes made during the year, hence our FOI question clearly asking to be given specific answers, that is a detailed line by line analysis of each total

The CMBC officer who picked up this FOI request [Ian Hughes Head of Democratic and Partnership Services] ignored our questions and resorting to bureaucracy responded as follows, we quote:

Answer Q1 None distributed costs are technical pension accounting entries for past service. They reflect the increase in pension scheme liabilities for service rendered in the past rather than in the current year. These charges are stripped out elsewhere in the accounts and therefore are not met by council taxpayers.

Comment: Why CMBC receiving a charge, for past years or not, then strips these from the accounts escapes the Guardian’s understanding. (At some time CMBC [ratepayers] will meet these charges) But revealing the Officers in receipt of retrospective pension increases and their individual amounts we guess could be embarrassing

Answer Q2 During 2015/16, over £250m of the Council’s assets (land and buildings) were revalued. Where the value of an asset goes down, it is written down against any gains (upward revaluations) previously recognised. Where there are insufficient gains, any excess is written off to the income and expenditure account. The £8.895m relates to a number of such assets, principally cultural and related service assets. As above, although these charges have to be accounted for, they do not have to be paid for and are therefore stripped out before determining the amount chargeable to council taxpayers

Comment regarding: “Any excess is written off to the income and expenditure account” [the purpose here is to hide this from view, CMBC does not wish all and sundry to be aware depreciation is not managed as it should be

“The £8.895m relates to a number of cultural and related service assets. Although these charges have to be accounted, they do not have to be paid [who can supply this info?] they are therefore stripped out before determining the amount chargeable to council taxpayers” [Bureaucratic nonsense, a plain English explanation is required. What expensive, ineffective, convoluted no value adding accountancy does this hide?]

Being CMBC Smoke and Mirrors these responses are not an answer, unless the proper place for a Ratepayer is a blacked out room without a torch. Senior Officers and the Council Cabinet playing the CMBC political game no doubt find this amusing, it is not!

Come on Mr Ian Hughes, despite the fact CMBC has no decent commercial accounting system you must be better than this? Arise, answer the questions we asked!

Note: there is a definite need to change the presentation of CMBC’s local government annual accounts to a format which for the first time allows Cllrs and the Electors to see the detail of when, where and how the money is actually spent! Which Cllr who knows this will pick up this challenge?

3 What should Motivate Cllrs

The need to show electors they are providing value for money, i.e. all are fully involved in council business for the first time in years accepting the fact professional management is needed to change the status quo! Creating a council model where the Cabinet is happy to review new ideas for resolving major long standing problems is the norm, a Cabinet which welcomes a positive opposition!  Watch this space

The Cllrs challenge is to: overcome the previous ineffective and unsuccessful old guard, those members happy to waste £15M and more each year. Nothing to do with politics, everything to do with implementing modern commercial practice in CMBC

Conclusion

Cllrs be aware sorting out CMBC is not difficult it is not as it has been made out to be by your past ineffective and unsuccessful political leaders. The power lies in your hands, just get a grip and seize it!

The Councillors and Scrutiny Panel Chair Responsible

  • The Mayor: Cllr Howard Blagborough
  • Party Leaders Cllrs: James Baker, Scott Benton and Tim Swift
  • Governance & Business Committee Chair: Cllr Robert Thornber
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Council Meeting Wednesday 20th July – Matters Arising

The Guardian has been informed at the full Council Meeting, 20th July, after 5 years of effort; we very nearly succeeded in getting an “honourable” mention not by any councillor, but by the great unfortunately ineffective Cabinet Leader Cllr Tim Swift  

Free thinking Cllr Colin Raistrick made a short speech encouraging the three main parties to put their leadership credentials on the line and begin a new spirit of cooperation. The repost from Cllr Tim Swift intending to retain his tight mafia like grip on power, the status quo was – he thought Cllr Raistrick had changed into me, he must think Cllr Raistrick is no longer his own man just my clone!

Why does Cllr Tim Swift refer to the Guardian’s Chief Reporter and not the Calderdale Guardian? He must think this will avoid releasing the genie from the bottle, the reality that is CMBC, a bureaucratic costly and ineffective council, for years under his leadership, lacking modern professional management!

Politics is a nasty unproductive business but accusing a Cllr of being a clone of someone else is a clear sign of defeat! Cllr Swift knows he cannot refute the case as it has been developed over the past few years and then put forward by the Guardian. In Calderdale cooperation is the way forward confrontational politics the status quo, has failed.

Cllr Swift, not just a Councillor but also the Council Leader, we know is happy to continue playing this ineffective political game indefinitely, with no opposition to speak of he is good at it, the best by a mile! Unfortunately in the opinion of the Guardian and others it is time he removed his head from the sand bucket. Even if he may be financially dependent upon CMBC, he should accept a simple fact, cooperation and professional commercial management not confrontation and bureaucracy is now the way forward

Where is the Opposition to Cllr Swift’s costly ineffective Ruling Elite?    

An impossible question to answer at the moment, except for occasional ineffective sound bites, political sniping, the Guardian cannot detect any opposition positive or otherwise  

In the immediate past Conservative and Liberal Democrat Cllrs have kept quiet hiding behind the excuse, “we can do nothing, we are not in power.” They are also happy to play the great CMBC political game whilst Senior Officers remain in charge of CMBC keeping all Members in line to preserve their ineffective bureaucracy, the status quo.

Given two new leaders Cllrs Scott Benton, Con. and James Baker, Lib/Dem. there was, perhaps still is, a hope some positive effective opposition might develop

It is now clear the hope these two young lions might cooperate, might even remove the ineffective Ruling Elite was to say the least naive as it seems the great CMBC political game takes precedence over any thought of service to the Calderdale Community

The question remains, will there be a positive overt [public] opposition to CMBC’s ineffective Cabinet, the Ruling Elite and if so what are the potential possibilities

  • A Conservative Members Group looking for efficient professional management
  • A Liberal Democrat Members Group looking for more consensual management
  • Two CMBC Independent Members looking for some common sense
  • A possibility of at least one noticeable even effective Scrutiny Panel
  • The Calderdale Guardian continuing to reveal the reality that is CMBC

There is so much scope for improvement within CMBC that not to have a positive opposition is a near criminal act. CMBC has a complete lack of any Commercial Management associated with modern commercial rules, everywhere you look you find bureaucracy standing in the way of progress! 

If you do not believe this, study the table we have prepared and answer this question [a Guardian “GCE O, perhaps A Level” examination question for CMBC councillors]  

Introduction: The Children and Young Peoples Directorate has employees scattered between at least 15 locations. Question: How would you bring efficient and effective management to this organisation? The Challenge: 131 managers and administration officers to manage 297 workers is not acceptable, reduce this ratio by 50%, to 65

Change is difficult none more so than here as any change will be opposed by those actually in charge of CMBC, overpaid Senior Officers. Obviously C & YP and Adult Health should be the last directorates subject to major change, the implementation of Professional Management therefore we suggest Economy & Environment go first!   

Unfortunately, C & Y People is the only Directorate where the Guardian currently has the information needed to show how a directorate’s FTE Officers are actually spread across the Borough, namely: The C & Y People’s 17 departmental organisation charts, 428 FTE [Errors & Omissions on these charts excepted]

Also see our previous article: A need of Professional Management – Cut Bureaucracy and its excessive costs  

CMBC – THE UPPER, MID & LOWER VALLEY MANAGEMENT CONCEPT – STAFF LOCATION – CHILDREN & YOUNG PEOPLES DIRECTORATE

002

C & Y People’s Directorate: Scrutiny Panel Chair & Cabinet Member Responsible  

  • Scrutiny Panel Chair: Cllr Geraldine Carter and Members
  • Cabinet Member: Cllr Megan Swift  

Finally an interesting point [rules are rules]

The Guardian has been told the special responsibility allowance cut off point for payments to group leaders and deputy leaders is the group must include at least 10% of CMBC Members. The Lib/Dems now have 5 members, as there are 51 members in total the Lib/Dems 9.80% now falls below the SRA cut off point.

If this is correct savings should now be made in member’s special responsibility allowances [SRA] and a saving should also be made of one Political Assistant Officer.

However if the Guardian’s recommendations concerning political assistants are adopted and eligibility to their services is extended to the two Independent Members the Guardian would be happy to retain the existing 3 political assistants

See, The CMBC Political Assistant, 22 July 2016

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A Need for Professional Management – Cut Bureaucracy and its Excessive Costs

Introduction

The Guardian has spent time thinking through comments made following a recent article where we mentioned the CMBC upper, mid and lower valley management concept. Follow up – Annual Accounts Advantages given less Bureaucracy.

The Guardian proposes professional management is introduced to CMBC so as to reduce the excessive number of admin and senior management officers employed by the council. We do not accept any reduction to front line staff, those who provide CMBC’s mandatory services especially children’s social services, quite the opposite

This upper, mid, lower management methodology distributes officers throughout Calderdale. E.g. C & Y People’s Directorate require 31% of their officers to manage the officers who deliver the service, these being spread over at least 15 locations. (See **)

An annual salary cost of £6,955,000 reduced by half, 131 officers to 65 would save about £3.5M pa, money which could be spent upon improving, extending children’s services! An uncomfortable fact for a Cllr or CMBC Mandarin! [Expert bureaucrat]

(**) The comments made following our article mentioning the CMBC upper, mid and lower valley management structure concerned this methodology as applied to C & Y Peoples Services. We now summarise our thoughts based upon these comments

The reality of change, based upon C & Y Peoples Services

Change is always difficult none more so than here, as any change will be opposed by those actually in charge of CMBC, overpaid Senior Officers. [Recent successful operational changes resulted from OFSTED and CMBC Scrutiny Panel pressure]    

1 Before Pods all social workers had individual case loads, each social worker had a manager, but generally did most of their own administration. This reduced time available for actual casework. [We agree]

2 Post Pods, the social workers have shared case loads this improves continuity of contact for the young person. If their named social worker is away there is at least someone familiar with this child’s circumstances. [A change for the better, the writer discovered this when a volunteer in CMBC’s Young Offenders Team (YOT) but in 7 years he could not persuade CMBC this should be so!] The research shows this is to the enormous benefit of the young person. [We agree, obvious common sense]

3 By specifying a [POD] administrator, this allows the point of contact to be always available, and reduces the time spent by the social worker on admin. [Note: a named social worker per child enables the Social Worker to better organise their diary, the majority of their administration!] again to the young person’s benefit. [We agree]  

4 The whole set-up is referred to as Systemic practice, [aka a standard procedure] was pioneered by Cambridge Council. (The only council to my knowledge that jumped two grades, from unsatisfactory to good, in one inspection.) The Pod manager is always a senior social worker [We agree, this is essential] and this structure allows newly qualified social workers to be placed in Pods to encourage and supervise their work. Again a great benefit in terms of child safety and staff morale. [Again we agree]

5 There were senior social workers before, but you [the Guardian] are now counting them as managers. [We disagree, a senior social worker job title we count as a social worker whilst a manager job title must be / is a manager?]

There was a social worker collective before, but you [the Guardian] are calling the reorganisation a different department. This is plainly wrong. [Again we disagree: a reorganisation dividing a department between different physical locations does by its very nature create more departments, perhaps identical, but each requiring to be managed, in CMBC by another manager. See the directorates POD organisation charts. The question should be, how are these different locations managed]

6 As to the other issue about lower, upper valley etc, I must say these two issues are completely separate, although you [the Guardian] are mixing them up. [We agree they are separate issues, but the lower, upper valley etc set up in CMBC does create new departments each requiring to be managed, in CMBC by another manager. The question should be, how are these different locations managed]

In a department such as highways, waste collection or any other department looking after fixed assets where demand is constant then you [the Guardian] have a point. Parks, street cleaning etc also Libraries, museums, facilities management do not need regional departments. [We agree: how many regional departments here are just not required! Departments creating no value adding managers, i.e. financial waste?]

7 But, the clue to CYP organisation is in your [the Guardian’s] article when referring to schools. Demand for social workers is, to some extent unpredictable, [we agree] and continuity of personnel in relationships is important [We agree, essential in the writer’s experience] this is best done regionally. [This is debatable, see the following]  

  • Is it better the social worker visits the child and parents in their own environment or the police cell should the child be there, rather than asking the child or the family to attend a council office?
  • If there is a case for social workers to be spread over numerous locations, at least 15 which we doubt. The question should be, how are these different locations managed]

8 The road doesn’t care who fills the pothole or if it’s the same person who fills it the next time, the vulnerable child does care who fills their void. A school needs confidence in the social worker not constant change, a hospital likewise regionality, is about relationships. Where relationships don’t matter don’t have it, where they do it’s a must. [We agree]

Conclusion

The Guardian proposes professional management is introduced to CMBC but the C & Y People’s Directorate is probably amongst the last areas we propose would be involved. However it is clear, to the Guardian at least, current bureaucracy must be replaced by professional management and political adversarial tactics be replaced by cooperation.

To facilitate dismantling the council’s inefficient upper, mid, lower management structure [methodology] will require the council to have an activity costing process. CMBC may also require to review its communications (ICT) ability to ensure its managers, if they get out and about, can remain in touch with their front line colleagues

Currently the biggest issue [problem] is: The councillors!

  • Far too many cannot see the necessity of fundamental changeAre there any Cllrs capable of both leading and implementing such change
  • Are there too many council leaders happy with the status quo
  • Are too many councillors financially dependent upon CMBC

To overcome this issue the services of an external consultant will be required  

The second major issue to resolve is to change the attitude of senior managers that is, persuade them to accept their responsibilities, thus enabling councillors to measure their individual performance. Cllrs unaided can arrange this, themselves!

Changing a senior officers’ attitude to accept individual responsibility will not be difficult. 2017 Pay Policy Statement, amend paragraph 6.2 to include the use of earn back. Also amend Annex A – Earn Back Statement, for the 18 senior officers to read: The element of base salary which is held back dependent upon performance. Then implement this by setting 18 individual targets concerning staff absentee rates!

Finally:

When applicable the Guardian has decided to publish the names of Cllrs we think should be involved with the subject/s in question. Many Cllrs simply ignore the uncomfortable facts the Guardian reveals, facts illustrating the Reality of CMBC! In this case a potential excessive management cost of £3.5M pa in just one Directorate

C & Y People’s Directorate: Scrutiny Panel Chair & Cabinet Member Responsible  

  • Scrutiny Panel Chair: Cllr Geraldine Carter and Members
  • Cabinet Member: Cllr Megan Swift  

When considering wasteful bureaucracy we need a management team based upon Cllrs working in cooperation [not unproductive political point scoring, a complete waste of time] and no confrontation as proposed during the recent full council meeting 20th July  

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Follow Up – Annual Accounts Advantages given less Bureaucracy

See CMBC Annual Accounts Advantages given less Bureaucracy July 2016

Amongst the responses received following this article was one from a well respected Cllr “who took us to task” concerning comments we made about the Children and Young Peoples Directorate, we quote: factual inaccuracies undermine your case going on to say: The 11 Pods you refer to are not separate departments. They are simply a way of organising social workers into teams which give considerable benefits to both young people and the social workers themselves. So you could say they are just one department. We could say this in fact we endorse this as we know POD members do great work but, the issue here concerns the definition of what is a department.

The Guardian defines a department is a group of employees who work under the direction of a manager in CMBC normally the responsibility of a manager with an administrator and perhaps a secretary. C & Y Peoples PODS [regional departments] are separate departments, each one requiring a manager and administrator!

The Guardian’s current thoughts on this topic

CMBC is a small to midsized service organisation tasked to provide mandatory local government services, example social services. Despite CMBS’s small operational area West to East, Todmorden to just beyond Brighouse 18 miles (50 minutes), South to North, Ainley Top to Queensbury 8 miles (25 minutes) the council scatters its operational management and service delivery throughout the entire area.

This concept of separate service delivery teams for the upper, mid and lower valley is clearly applicable for CMBC controlled education, in this case staff based in each school. But this organisation [concept / model] is far from applicable or essential to the delivery of care to Vulnerable Children, Adult Health Social Care and Public Health in general.        

The no value adding bureaucracy [additional management, administration salary costs alone] needed to keep this failing model afloat is outrageous this is before increased office costs are even considered, rentals, leases, office cleaning, maintenance, security!  

The 17 organisation charts of the Children and Young Peoples Directorate make fascinating reading heaven for CMBC Senior Officers but in reality a complete Council Tax Payers nightmare, 428 FTE employees scattered between 15 locations. What if any common sense does this organisation structure contain? Who can bring efficient and effective management to an organisation set up like this? No one!   

No standardisation of departmental organisation charts; all are different why, to create more labyrinthine complexity, facilitating confusion! Being multi coloured they are nice to look at, but expensive to print remember, bull**** baffles brains!

In this directorate how can we separate management salary costs from the salary costs of the officers who provide the essential front line service, those who actually meet with and help vulnerable children and their parents successfully overcome their problems?

Using the information we have, i.e. officer’s job titles, we consider a job title including manager, POD practice manager, or support etc will be involved with management and administration not direct service delivery. This information is on these charts, available in plain sight for those who have the motivation to analysis, assemble it

From the Children and Young Peoples Directorate’s Organisation Charts we can see there are 297 frontline officers directly involved with service delivery and 131 [yes 131] management and administration officers. Management and Administration Officers make up 31% of the whole number.

Conclusion

We have previously stated: what if any common sense does this directorate’s organisation structure contain. [A directorate using the well established CMBC inefficient and expensive practice the Upper, Mid and Lower Valley Concept] None at all! Setting up efficient and effective management given this organisation model is not possible!

It is a simple fact requiring 31% of your total team to administer your operation is unusual to say the least. The Guardian can only see there may be a justification for this ratio if CMBC were responsible for the building of a nuclear power station!

Cllrs what is the justification for this ratio other than retaining the practice of the Upper and Lower Valley Management Concept? If this is the reason, please tell us the specific advantages for Calderdale Residents resulting from this concept!

In April 2016 the directorate had 579 FTE officers, a salary cost of £22.487M pa, an average cost of £38,855 each. 30% of these [that is 193] are managers, administration and support staff, costing £6.955M pa. A cost of £6.955M to administer and manage this directorate is not sensible or affordable!

Cllrs continuing the Guardian’s theme, you have all had plenty of time to consider this:

  • Any comment on CMBC’s [your] annual waste, £15M? A figure not including the salary cost of excessive management in CMBC’s [your] Operational Directorates.
  • Why to date, have you all avoided answering this question?
  • Are you too nervous or too financially dependent upon CMBC to ascertain why CMBC is organised as it is? Why not review / critique CMBC from top to bottom?
  • Are you not capable of the intellectual work CMBC requires from you?
  • Are you just too happy playing the great but ineffective political game, Look, I am a CMBC Councillor?
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The CMBC Political Assistant

Introduction

One of our regular readers recently asked the Guardian: What are Political Assistants and what do they cost ratepayers? This question implied they are a waste of time and therefore the costs involved should be added to our £15m pa annual CMBC waste bill.

We thought this topic may be worthy of investigation via a Freedom of Information Request, hence this article

What are Political Assistants [From the Job Profile these are Mr Hughes’ Assistants]

1 CMBC has three “political assistant” officers, pay scale 6, in a salary range of £28,579 to £30,568, thus a maximum salary cost of £91,704 pa. These officers do not work in a pool as one is assigned to each of the 3 political parties Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats. These officers are managed by Mr Ian Hughes, the Head of Democratic and Partnership Services  

2 The Independent Cllr, Colin Raistrick does not qualify to have any political assistance. However there are now 2 Independents, Cllr Raistrick having recently been joined by Cllr Rob Holden a [possibly reluctant] defector from the Conservatives. The Guardian does not know if 2 Independents qualify for CMBC political officer support, we shall see!

Conclusion

Having examined the FOI response and a 5 page bureaucratic job description, written to impress the gullible, the Guardian feels these positions should be retained as they should, could be useful, but only under the following conditions

  • The total salary cost of this service does not exceed £92,000 pa
  • This service is available to all Cllrs including Independent Members  
  • The list of tasks, political assistants are allowed to do for Council Member/s are specified in detail within their Job Profile [Description] and agreed by the CEO
  • Tasks formally requested by Cllrs are confidential between the Officer and the Council Member/s concerned. Political Assistants are not allowed or expected to divulge details of this work without permission of the Council Member/s involved.
  • The performance of each political assistant is annually determined by the Council’s Political Leaders and is then discussed with the Head of Democratic and Partnership Services   

This Role is a good, but we guess, ineffective idea ruined by bureaucracy. Keep It Simple Stupid [KISS] Strip out [senior officer’s] bureaucracy [involvement] it will then work to help Cllrs do their job, the Management of CMBC, issues such as:   

  • I do not understand figures or financial accounts
  • There is nothing I can do to change CMBC’s status quo
  • I do not have sufficient time to get involved with CMBC’s top heavy inefficient managerial processes [those we are aware of, waste £15M per year]

APPENDIX Extracts from the 5 page [yes 5 pages] Bureaucratic Job Profile  

  • Role Purpose: Provide research, information, advice and administrative support to the conservative/Labour/Liberal Democratic Group of the council [But the Profile doesn’t match this statement. E.g. the tasks, the political assistants are allowed to do for Council Member/s is not covered, let alone specified. No thought at all has been given to the unique aspects of this role. Quite pathetic]  

Responsible to: Democratic Services Manager [aka the Head of Democratic and Partnership Services. CMBC has at least two descriptions / names for every entity a bureaucratic nonsense, a lack of attention to detail creating complexity and confusion!]

Smarter Working Profile: [meaningless sound bite] the work style for this role is defined as:

Mobile Workers typically work from a hot desk in an office and may need ICT access. They tend to move about during the day to attend meetings with colleagues, customers and attend workshops etc. Mobile workers are based with their teams in zoned areas to ensure effective team working and co-ordination [A standard catch all written by Human Resources personnel with little idea as to what this job and many others entails, these statements make writing near meaningless job descriptions easy]

Circumstances: [in this circumstance, a meaningless heading]

The post holder is responsible to the Group Leader for the work that is carried out for the Group, but will work largely on their own initiative and/or as directed by the Group Leader/Secretariat. Complex problems, sensitive issues and confidential matters are referred to the Group Leader for direction and guidance. [We guess personal initiative is not allowed. This group leader/secretariat is not mentioned in the FOI response. Perhaps conveniently omitted leading to our maximum salary cost estimate, £91,704 being understated or is this a small example of CMBC’s HR department’s lack of attention to detail?]  

This role will involve working outside normal office hours as required       

Principle duties and responsibilities:

  • A catch all, (12) tasks. As these apply to the 3 political assistants and perhaps other CMBC job titles, this will create a huge amount of duplicated effort, financial expense, bureaucracy running wild, gone mad! Two examples:
  • (3) Advice [Advise] the group on local implications of national political parties
  • (10) Liaise with Political Representatives and officers at national, regional and local level and with Members of Parliament, Regional Assembly, Government Departments etc. Complete bureaucratic nonsense!

The principle duties and responsibilities applying to Political Assistants appear to be:  

(5) Draw to the Group Leader’ attention issues of a sensitive nature being considered by officers/ Members of the council and/or raised by members of the public [be the eyes and ears of the Head of Democratic and Partnership Services]   

(7) Develop a good knowledge of the functions, operations and programmes of the Council and its directorates so that information can be readily attained [i.e. Develop the ability to assemble CMBC data. With a lack of integrated ICT Systems this is essential throughout CMBC and is one major reason for CMBC overstaffing]   

(11) Monitor and progress items/requests for information raised by officers/at [and] committees [what about Cllrs, see the purpose of this role!]

(12) Provide advice and support to Group Members [the Head of Democratic and Partnership Services] [what about Cllrs] in their representational roles on outside bodies including the drafting and issuing of press statements and preparing replies to routine correspondence [for the Head of Democratic and Partnership Services?]

Following the principle duties and responsibilities is an untitled catch all, half an A4 page, more bureaucracy, Health and Safety etc plus the ultimate catch all, despite 5 pages, we quote: this is not a complete statement of all duties and responsibilities of this post! Unusually this is also not the end of this Job Profile [Description] either!

A near 3 page Person Specification Table follows covering 9 Personal Key Strength statements such as:

  • Manages conflict [see our Conclusion, the final bullet point]
  • Speaks clearly and fluentlyWrites clearly, succinctly and correctly [no mention of plain English]
  • Concludes with 12 qualifications and experience attributes and surprisingly, even for CMBC, 3 attributes that are not required]

Summation:

The Political Assistant’s Job Profile Document is unfit for purpose. The document should be rewritten by a professional manager as directed by Council Political Leaders and Independent Members. A maximum of 2.5 A4 pages, to be finally approved by Council Political Leaders and the CEO   

With the current Job Profile the performance of the three Job Holders cannot be measured. Within CMBC when it comes to Management Organisation and Administration this is currently a normal acceptable state of affairs.

CMBC quite intentionally has no Activity Costing System thus they have no idea of the cost and / or waste within their internal or external services, their activities. This applies to the majority of their 51 Cllrs [watch this space] and the majority of their employees.

Only since 2010 has there been a continual growing need for professional commercial management and administration in local government. CMBC Political Leaders have yet to scratch the surface here yet alone see [accept] the approaching storm!

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CMBC Annual Accounts Advantages given less Bureaucracy

See the Previous Article CMBC annual Accounts Bureaucracy 15th July

Extract 2015/16 Annual CMBC Accounts, page 17 E & O E, “Expenditure by “Operational Service within each Directorate”

This table is an attempt to display data that should be of interest to most Cllrs that is, where was CMBC’s 2015/16 principal expenditure £455.57M, actually spent? Unfortunately there is no detail here and any detail there may be is hidden in plain sight by the intentionally overwhelming bureaucratic content of CMBC’s annual accounts

001

Comment 1

CMBC’s intentionally confusing bureaucracy, more than one description for the same thing; an example here Corporate and Democratic Core aka Democratic Services. This makes it difficult to be certain like is compared with like. CMBC senior officers and senior Cllrs happy with the status quo are well aware professionalism and bureaucracy are mutually exclusive as they facilitate an unacceptable lack of attention to detail!

Comment 2

A total of at least £43M expenditure on the local economy and environment. Whilst CMBC will be able to account for this expenditure can it be shown it has been spent wisely lifting this previously misfiring directorate to anything approaching an acceptable performance level? Watch this space

Comment 3

Based upon the a brief examination of this directorate see CMBC Management Bureaucracy – One Example, 16th April 2016

  • This improving directorate but with still a long way to go has three main areas, Commissioning & Partnerships, Learning Services and Safeguarding & Family Support involving at least 17 departments and 11 PODS [aka departments] to deliver their services. This directorate unfortunately uses the established CMBC inefficient and expensive practice of Upper, Mid and Lower Valley Management!        
  • This is certainly not a management model guaranteed to provide a cost effective, affordable, efficient service. We calculate 30% of its officers are employed to administer and manage the whole, based upon the directorate’s job titles, those including manager, administrator, secretary
  • In April 2016 the directorate had 579 FTE officers, a salary cost of £22.487M pa, an average cost of £38,855 each. 30% of these [that is 193] are managers, administration and support staff, costing £6.955M pa. A cost of £6.955M to partly administer and manage this directorate is not sensible or affordable! [Note; there are many other officers in CMBC who also consider they help administer this directorate whilst many in the directorate will not agree!]

Comment 4

  • Very few organisations have the brass neck to have a collection point for small items of expenditure totalling £900.000! Yes £900k a small sum not worth analysis or bothering about?
  • The Guardian wonders what expenditure items have been hidden here?

Comment 5 Impairment [bureaucratic term for depreciation we guess] of Assets

    • A half qualified accountant we think, should our guess be correct, not expect to see depreciation of assets to be a part of the statement of expenditure!
  • The Guardian cannot be certain if this is a near £9M negative adjustment to previous inadequate asset depreciation provision/s, or just another expensive CMBC muddle simply hidden here, in plain sight!   

Comment 6  

  • This expenditure, £456M, is not the problem – the problem is; CMBC within their 84 page document do not include any line by line detail as to how this large amount was actually spent! Is this data readily available within CMBC, line by line by expenditure item / name within each CMBC department, we guess not!
  • This would require CMBC to successfully implement and employ professional accounting procedures using modern software Intuit, or Sage    

Conclusion

1 Of the £456M expenditure summarised on page 17 how much found its way to the front line and was actually used to provide CMBC’s mandatory operational social services? This will be intentionally hard if not impossible to ascertain. A terrible state of affairs facing any thinking fair minded Councillor. Watch this space!

2 Cllrs Tim Swift, Barry Collins or Rob Thornber, can you please provide the Guardian with the following. [We guess you must have asked this question yourself?]  

  • A detailed line by line value analysis by department of the expenditure items making up the £900k not distributed costs see preceding see comment 4
  • An explanation of the £8.895M Impairment of Assets see comment 5

3 Is there a thinking councillor or recently retired Cllr, not afraid of figures preferably with access to a CMBC political assistant a Cllr not afraid to put their head above the parapet who can assist the Guardian refine our thinking as to the specific values making up our CMBC’s £15M pa no value adding management administration waste?

A long shot we know, but this cannot be a political football any longer. This annual waste is only a matter requiring the application of common sense; surely it can be in no one’s interest this Status Quo continues indefinitely! Should this status quo be in some one’s interest can the Guardian be told who this interest belongs to and why?  

4 Cllrs: in today’s global economy you cannot hide behind statements the Guardian has received such as

  • I do not understand figures or financial accounts
  • I cannot challenge my political leaders [or senior officers]
  • There is nothing I can do to change CMBC’s status quo
  • I do not have sufficient time to get involved with CMBC’s top heavy inefficient managerial processes [those that  waste £15M per year]

Should any of these excuses apply to you please find someone to take your place!

Finally a comment from a discerning Guardian reader following our previous article, CMBC Management Bureaucracy – One Example 16th April 2016

How true! Resources are used by Senior Officers to draw up reports/policies/statements that could be a fraction of the size they are and more importantly be more accurate. More resources are used on Councillors who cannot “translate” for the benefit of the electorate what CMBC’s reports/policies/statements are actually saying.

Councillors either do not have the ability or the will to change things, or they receive sufficient allowances to keep them quiet. Lack of integrity continues to abound within CMBC. The CG appears to be alone in fighting for what needs to change

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CMBC Annual Accounts, Bureaucracy

Introduction

It can be a pain to understand the annual accounts of any organisation. None more so than CMBC whilst the data is no doubt all there, much of the detail in this 84 page document is hidden in plain sight, by an intentionally overwhelming bureaucratic content

A brief Summation

  • Pages 1 to 15:  The Narrative [an Introduction] includes an unacceptable political statement involving the Rt. Hon. George Osborne and James Bond. Cllr Tim Swift, is this acceptable to you, if so why?    
  • Pages 16 to 19: Principal Financial Statements contain if not the most important perhaps the most interesting data from a Cllrs point of view. [Our next article]
  • Pages 20 to 64: A mixture of data and accounting verbiage [not plain English] our estimate,16 pages of data to 31 pages of verbiage, 35% to 65%
  • Pages 65 to 77: CMBC’s Accounting Policies, 100% accounting verbiage
  • Page 78: A statement of responsibilities for the document
  • Pages 79 to 84: Glossary of Terms, 100% accounting verbiage
  • 65 pages required to explain 20 pages of figures! If this data was professionally presented, i.e. made more suitable for the normal person then associated with adjacent plain English explanations 84 pages could become 35!

Are there advantages in having a less bureaucratic annual report, yes!  

  • Given a financial performance monitoring process, based upon commercial budgeting, easy to use accounting software, Intuit or Sage the performance of CMBC would be improved, fewer officers and less cost required!
  • The actual line by line financial responsibilities should be monitored each month with final approved accounts available in 3 months not 9 months, far too long!
  • More Cllrs would attempt to read the report, as they should do! [See the Guardian’s next article]
  • More Cllrs may then wish to get involved with the financial management of CMBC starting with a better understand of the council’s accounts  

Conclusion

The discerning Guardian reader, we have quite a number, will detect a common thread running through the majority of our articles, this included. This thread is: Whenever and wherever we look in CMBC there is scope for a reduction of bureaucracy which would lead to increased efficiency, more effective management at less cost.

Given a political assistant [See the Guardian’s next article] we would have little difficulty in adding to and expanding the detail of CMBC’s ongoing list of waste, currently standing at £15M pa.

Incidentally this figure [£15M] has yet to be challenged by CMBC Cllrs of any political persuasion! Why is this we wonder?     

Do we hear a Cllrs cry of anguish: We cannot change how things are done in Local Government? If so, Cllrs wake up! 1974 procedures are no longer suitable today!   

Finally, we quote a recent comment fitting CMBC like a glove: there are “executives” who do not expect to be held responsible for their organisation’s lack of efficiency despite being given “telephone number salaries!” [One of the two most likely successors to Mr Cameron,] if the penny has not yet dropped everywhere it is on its way!  

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Consensual Governance and CMBC!

Introduction

Calderdale’s Electorate for a number of years has ensured no overall party has held a majority in the council chamber resulting in an adversarial process which after the recent council elections is set to continue up to the next elections in May 2018.

Thinking residents are painfully aware this adversarial process based upon the Cabinet System has proved to be ineffective, as rather than providing efficient governance for Calderdale, Council Leaders find political point scoring is much more important!

After the recent elections two of the three long standing ineffective CMBC party political leaders stood down one determined by the electorate the other “retired.” This leads us to hope a more consensual process may now develop, one based upon changes proposed by the National Government’s Localism Act

The objective of the Localism Act is to “encourage” Local Government to embrace transparency whilst offering a choice to their electorate as to how they should be governed e.g. move away from an executive form of governance, a leader as at CMBC, or an elected mayor to a more consensual committee system

CMBC, progress with the Government’s Localism Act  

QUESTION 1: Has CMBC drawn up a code of behaviour to replace the previous Standards Board Regime? E.g. it will become a criminal offence for Cllrs to deliberately withhold or misrepresent a financial interest.   

  • Answer, we quote: CMBC adopted a new code of conduct on 27th Sept 2012 which have been updated with amendments up to 27th Nov 2013.
  • Supplementary Answer: The criminal offence on failure to disclose pecuniary interests is dealt with in the Localism Act 2011 and not in the Code of Conduct as it could not do so
  • Comment: We do not understand, as it could not do so. Why?

QUESTION 2: Has CMBC determined to bring decision making closer to those affected by creating area committees?

  • Answer: No it has not!
  • Comment: A blunt discourteous response. The CMBC Officer who answered this was probably annoyed to be asked such a daft question, allow affected electors to be involved in CMBC decision making, don’t be stupid!

QUESTION 3: How does CMBC check that their overview and scrutiny committees play a crucial role in examining the work of local public bodies so they provide a good service to residents?

  • Answer: Each scrutiny panel has a work plan …..> has the ability to invite representatives from public bodies to provide evidence.   
  • Comment: Similar to Westminster Select Committees but a power we think CMBC rarely if ever use

QUESTION 4: Has CMBC decided to offer a choice to their electorate to decide how their council should be governed?

  • Answer: No it has not. I am unable to issue a comment under the FOI Act if one is not already held on record.
  • Comment: Clearly the all powerful CMBC Governing Cabinet have no intent to consider this option in the Localism Act. Power has gone to their heads they ignore Consensual Governance we presume, as they think it will go away.

QUESTION 5: Have CMBC councillors published a statement of their policies on pay including the salaries of all senior officers?

  • Answer: Yes. A recommendation of the Governance and Business Committee [following its approval by the cabinet] went before the full council on 17th Feb 2016 [for full council approval, nodding through]
  • Comment: This partial answer contained the basic salaries of the top 18 senior officers but no “grand” total. CMBC pension and N I salary contributions were not included thus the figures were understated e.g. the basic salary shown for the CEO was £137,000, with pension and N I salary contributions the total salary package is £167,000 an understatement of 22%.  

QUESTION 6: Does the Cabinet have any comments concerning the Localism Act as it specifically affects CMBC electors?

  • Answer A: This Act passes significant new rights direct to communities and individuals, making it easier for them to get things done and achieve their ambitions for the place where they live. But many electors find their good ideas are overlooked as they have little opportunity to tackle problems in the way they want. Voluntary and Community Groups often find their potential contribution is neglected as they carry out effective work in public services and [as] they are not encouraged to get more involved.
  • Comment A: This answer written by a senior officer is well worth reading more than once!  We actually know this is applicable in CMBC having been told so by Guardian readers who volunteer their talent, time and effort to CMBC [they do the work but they are not encouraged to get involved]
    • Answer B: Taxpayers should be able to access information about how public money is spent on their behalf
    • Comment B: We agree but this information will have to be 100% complete [true] and presented using Plain English
  • Answer C: Transparency is a powerful preventative against waste and duplication as when councillors and senior officers know their spending decisions will be subject to public scrutiny, they will be motivated to make every penny of public money work as hard as it possibly can
  • Comment 1: We agree! These comments could have been written by the Guardian! To hold Cllrs and Senior officers to account each quarter for detailed spending, value for money obtained they will personally have to accept responsibility for detailed line by line budgets
  • Comment 2: CMBC will need a new modern process i.e. financial performance monitoring. Standard commercial easy to use accounting software, Intuit or Sage. Data entered here automatically entered [interfaced] to CMBC’s accounting system, increasing security, e.g. reducing spread sheet usage and the number of officers with authority to place purchase orders, currently 503, yes 503!  
  • Concluding Answer: I am unable to issue a comment under the FOI Act if one is not already held on record. But the officer did comment. Well done!

Conclusion

The response to question 6 is encouraging, well done CMBC! However responses to questions 1 – 5 are not encouraging. The long standing ineffective ruling Cabinet is steering well away from considering the consensual governance aspects of the Localism Act hence their officer’s statement we quote: I am unable to issue a comment under the FOI Act if one is not already held on record. This implies Electors can have little hope of consensual governance as intended by the Localism Act.

But, will the two new young lions [Cllrs Benton & Baker] co-operate and show real leadership? All we ask is they get together as and when needed to ensure the council considers consensual governance. Surely politics cannot prevent implementation of professional management in CMBC to save up to £15M CMBC waste per year? Do we have two new effective leaders or not, who knows! Watch this space!    .

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Economy and Environment Directorate Update

Introduction

This is hardly an update we have seen no news of any progress made since our previous article Economy and Environment Directorate April 2016.

The situation February – March, 3 – 4 months ago

    • June 2015 the department director Ian Gray left CMBC without warning due it was said to “Highway Issues”
    • Geoff Willerton one of his deputies, head of planning & highways also suddenly left and retired apparently due to “lack of action involving the Highways Budget,” losing CMBC £100,000!
  • The CEO had set up a 16 member senior officer’s task force [committee, a talking shop] to investigate this directorate. The Highways Task and Finish Development Board, HTAFB.
  • The E & E department, December 2015 was awash with 24 external consultants running 30 projects at an expected cost to Calderdale Tax Payers of £705,433.

When pressed to answer what is the objective, the scope, the anticipated “deliverables” of the HTAFB committee the CEO responded we quote: I would stress this is an operational board involving many day to day adjustments.

Which Cllrs should be aware of the current situation in the E & E directorate?

  • E & E Scrutiny Panel Chair: Cllr J Baker
  • Cabinet Member for Regeneration & Economic Development: Cllr B Collins
  • Cabinet Member for Planning & Housing Development: Cllr D Sutherland
  • Governance & Business Committee Chair: Cllr R Thornber

What may be the current improved situation in this Directorate?

We do not know but there are some potential improvement possible based upon the “minutes” of the final meeting of the HTAFB committee, 69% of the officers involved, 11 of 16, attended.

Potential progress based upon the final HTAFB meeting minutes

    • A “Financial Target Data Paper was agreed to be taken over by this directorate based upon old financial data April to June 2015
    • It was agree E & E should look at RTO’s [Road Traffic Orders] and Parking Charges and balance this with the impact of people parking in residential areas as CMBC needs to ensure folk can afford to park outside their own homes
    • Query 1 concerning office accommodation move to Multchure House is this autumn 2015 or 2016, there was no firm plan
    • Query 2 can Email alerts to elected members [councillors] re road works be provided?
  • An information announcement: street naming and numbering, highways are at the end of a very complicated process 
  • A survey analysis was agreed the format to present this information to be “what you said we did (or are doing) approach” to be used
  • Not knowing the answer the HTAFB committee asked itself a question about future arrangements, should the board continue? [The board did not continue]

The Guardian’s questions concerning the E & E Directorate’s progress  

1 Have any changes been made to the management structure or has a new director been appointed with the management structure remaining as before?

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?

3 As there can now be no need to keep this information confidential, what were the costs incurred by the Halifax Car Parking Problem, broken down between

  • Estimated value of charges waived during the period when none were collected
  • Cost of resolving, verifying the legality of the issue and then resolving it
  • Cost of the charges refunded
  • Cost of verifying and refunding these parking charges
  • The job title of the officer responsible for this issue

4 What adjustments, proposals of the HTAFB committee have been adopted?

5 What adjustments, proposals of the HTAFB committee have still to be adopted?

6 What external consultant’s proposals have been adopted?

7 What external consultant’s proposals have still to be adopted?

8 What external consultant’s reports are still awaited, and the dates these are expected

9 What is the current strategy of this Directorate and the tactics [tasks] required to achieve this Directorate’s strategic objective?

Conclusion

At least three of the four Cllrs mentioned above should be able to answer these questions. So watch this space?

Having written this article it has occurred to the Guardian this type of work, questioning progress; we expect from Scrutiny Panels, is this correct?

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