Thursday, September 09, 2010

Share and share alike?

Most innovations promoted by politicians turn out to be a mistake - and the same may be true of the (deliberately?) headline grabbing plans of Camden and Islington Council's to share a Chief Executive and senior management team. (http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/press/2010/september/camden-and-islington-councils-announce-intention-to-share-chief-executive.en;jsessionid=03313EAC7CEC0C20F16E9D4DEF900DE7).

It's tempting to think that local government could get by with a lot fewer of those earning over fifty (never mind a hundred) grand (surely 50k is more than enough for a decent life?)

Given that understandable feeling, and the added temptation of supporting "innovation" by Labour Councils in the teeth of deliberate butchery of public services by the ConDems, there must be a risk that some trade unionists will welcome moves such as those announced by Camden and Islington.

I will wait to hear from colleagues in Camden and Islington UNISON before settling on a point of view - but my instincts are to suspect such an obvious gimmick.

How will such peripatetic senior managers manage and support their staff? To whom will they be accountable? How will they deal with the exercise of delegated powers where there are conflicts of interest between two boroughs? To which organisation's staffing procedures will they be subject? Will they be employed by one borough or the other (or some new entity)?

These questions may amount to (small "c"!) conservative carping but - even if they do - they are still good questions. Those of us who have watched senior local government officers escaping from accountability to elected Members over the past quarter century are bound to worry about such not-yet-even-half-baked proposals.

I will however share the view I expressed today to another Chief Executive. There are numerous local authorities who could merge management teams in a way which would improve services whilst reducing expenditure.

I'll tell you how...

Every Council which has an ALMO could bring the ALMO back in house - saving not just the salary of their ALMO Chief Executive but also the costs of the pointless and ineffective structures of ALMO governance.

The unprincipled bribery by which the previous Government sought to cajole Councils into establishing ALMOs will not be funded by the ConDems. There is no longer any point to the existence of ALMOs (even had there ever been). It is silly to pretend otherwise.

Before any Council with an ALMO threatens another job they should abolish their ALMO in order to achieve the painless cuts of eliminating the purposeless duplication to which this futile - if not harmful - "innovation" gave rise.

No one really wanted ALMOs and no one will mourn their passing.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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