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Bonkers Blog July 2014

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9 July - Storm clouds gather II

I feel I should apologise for the somewhat superficial coverage of the next round of council cuts but the fact is that yesterday’s blog had to be done within 15 minutes or not at all. Today things can be a little less hurried.

As well as service cuts and price rises being likely between now and 2018, a lot of people seem set to lose their jobs. Not councillors of course, Teresa O’Neill shelved that idea four years ago although it didn’t stop her listing it among her election promises in 2014.
Four years ago 280 staff posts were set for the chop and a new statement like that below can only mean one thing…
…a similar number will leave over the next year or so; 300 full time equivalents according to the Cabinet Agenda - Page 67. Given that almost every service is now contracted out or shared with nearby authorities the trend is not unexpected, but will the top brass go too?

Eric Pickles once said that he saw no reason for any local authority to have both a full time leader, as in Bexley, and a full time Chief Executive. He didn’t see any reason to pay a CEO over £100k. either; well you won’t be seeing any of that in Bexley obviously. You have to pay plenty to ensure undying loyalty.

The council’s directorates in recent times have been ‘Education & Social Care’, ‘Finance & Resources’, ‘Environment & Wellbeing’ and ‘Customer & Corporate Services’. Director of Public Health is a fairly new addition. With the directors of the first two (Mark Charters and Peter Ellershaw) recently gone or about to soon, rearrangements should be simpler than they might otherwise have been.

Bexley has been in constant trouble with OFSTED so it is not too surprising to see a proposal that Children’s Services should get its own director and an aging population may justify the proposed Adults‘ Services director too. The Director of Finance’s post must survive intact at a time of economic turmoil as will Public Health but the fifth department becomes ‘Regeneration, Consumer and Customer Services’. A sort of leftovers and Jack of all Trades dustbin. The five department heads will be supported by more than 20 Deputy and Assistant Directors.

I have always assumed that most director posts require specialised knowledge, experience and qualifications and it seems a fair bet that for Health, Finance and both Children’s and Adults’ Services it is essential. Maybe the old ‘Environment’ and ‘Corporate Services’ could be looked after by any reasonably competent managers (Peter Ellershaw and Paul Moore) but the new look organisation would by this reckoning only have one directorate I might consider ‘not too specialised’, the old one had two. That would leave Peter Ellershaw and Paul Moore playing Musical Chairs for just one job. On the other hand maybe Bexley doesn’t value knowledge and qualifications and my speculation can be dismissed.

It has been reported that the new Director of Children’s Services has already been chosen, presumably Finance and Adults’ can’t be far behind.


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