Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Local Government Around The World - Part 1

Maywood, California: The Independent reports that this small bluecollar town has outsourced all of its services to other councils and private contractors. Everything: policing, bin collection, school crossing. Everyone got the sack and new teams came in from various parts. The City Treasurer said "You have single-handedly destroyed this city" before getting the tin-tack but a month later the view has changed. The gangs have moved on, the parks and leisure centre are still open and doing well. The insurers of the old police service had refused to pay out on public liability claims because of the amount of compensation claims relating to police misconduct. Quite some change.

Clearing out the Civic Offices would be extreme and unneccessary but there is always scope for Councils to concentrate on what they do best and leave other activities to those who can do things better. We already have plenty of other companies and organisations running services for us in Sutton, from bin collection to another council running our communication department. We need to do more of this, market-testing the contracts on a regular basis.

However, should the Council be teaching children how not to take drugs at the Sutton Life Centre? Should the Council have a paternalistic view on Youth Services rather than allowing organisations with great track records across London the freedom to offer something more relevant to young people? Should the Council be paying people to tell us how to 'live on one planet'. The Council has a key role as a facilitator but it doesn't need to remain after making the introductions, becoming an obstacle for people to cross to get things done. Councils like Sutton need to know when to simplify and when to let go entirely. There's plenty of scope here before we do a Maywood.

1 comment:

David B, CB said...

Given that Lib Dem Council leader Sean Brennan has just taken a freebie trip to India as part of David Cameron's delegation, I wonder if the Lib Dems are, in fact, taking your at your word, Paul, and are about to farm out council jobs to the subcontinent?

I'd like to know one single reason why Councillor Brennan's outing has benefited the residents of Sutton.

He claims it is all part of being a frontrunner and paradigm of the 'Big Society'. I think not. That is stretching credulity.

Cllr Brennan said: "Our involvement is an opportunity to reinforce the Government’s growing recognition that Sutton is a leading borough in London."

What on earth has this got to do with running the council? Why try and justify the wastefulness of this freebie to India? How many unnecessary air miles has Cllr Brennan boosted his carbon footprint by? Very green indeed.

I simply want my council services run properly and efficiently - a trip to India will not help that.