City Council budget balls: go figure

The ruling Labour group has unveiled what it calls a prudent budget for hard times … but Council leader Helen Holland says there will be no cuts in frontline services

Bristol Evening Post, 9 December 2009

That makes things pretty clear then.

So what’s this on the Unite union’s Bristol Caretaking blog, that supports the boys who are responsible for looking after over 7,700 council tenants’ and leaseholders’ homes?

Bristol City Council management have submitted there final HR proposals for Caretaking Services… You can find them here (Click on caretaking halfway down the page).

What does this proposal mean:

Nearly All caretakers face a cut in pay and benefits.

These cuts range from approx 2.54% – 33.52% (£7,433). See appendix D of the report.

In fact these figures will be larger as the value of current benefits to residential staff is disputed. Management state the average difference between the figures they use and the real value is approx £800pa. This will be an immediate loss to affected workers that will not be recognised or protected.

No pay rise for three years.

This means roughly 50% of staff will not have had a pay rise for 6 years!!!

No residential caretakers in 2 areas, but in the other 11 areas there would be between 2 and 4.

The final decision will NOT be made by councillors, but by the head of paid service. (Is this the cabinet bottling out?)

Demoralised and unmotivated staff.

More chiefs and less Indians .

Caretakers and their families becoming further in debt and forced into bankruptcy.

Perhaps Helen could explain the subtle difference between her deliberate targeting and shafting of her lowest paid staff, the withdrawal of many of the services they provide and what she would consider to be an actual cut to a frontline services?

The women’s a bare faced liar. Let me repeat that again for the benefit of her lawyers. Helen Holland is a liar.

Worse, while this so-called Labour leader is pissing on the poor by cutting their wages and impoverishing them during a recession, she’s personally arranging a £400k slush fund so her new executive officer friends on six-figure salaries can have a conference and travel-abroad budget under the guise of ‘international marketing’ for the city.

After all, the executives who will benefit from Helen’s largesse, dumpy frump Bum Disease Ormondroyd and her sidekick – that copper from Sheffield who doesn’t know where Easton is – really deserve a £400k pot of money to play marketing with don’t they?

They’ve worked in Bristol for all of six months now, trousered the best part of £200k of our council tax between them and have managed to produce a new staff chart, dishing out new job titles and more money to the same old has-beens who have neither the intellectual capacity nor the training to do their jobs whatever they’re called. What productivity.

Helen, you’re fucking clueless. This is the biggest economic crisis of most our lives and your response is to cut the wages of the low-paid while aimlessly wittering on about marketing and inventing pointless job titles for pointless executives. Get a fucking grip or do us all a favour and resign now and take all your absurd sponging executives with you please.

Meanwhile, today’s Cancer carries a report from Lord Sainsbury’s Centre for Cities think-tank claiming the city could lose 20,000 jobs over the next three years depending on the severity of the recession.

The wonks also say, “The City Council’s response to the recession has been hesitant” and they require a “better understanding” of local economic conditions.

This of course has been refuted by the city council’s fantasist-in-chief, PR girl Carole Caplan.

Despite being demonstrably unable to accurately count the number of pavements on a small bridge, he blusters, “Whilst some of the data and information in this report is helpful and welcome, the claim that the city council has made a ‘hesitant’ response to the recession is totally unjustified and inaccurate – and not backed up by any kind of legitimate research.”

Unlike, presumably, the legitimate research that’s gone into the council’s brilliant recession-beating grand plan to spend £400k on hotels, flights and fine living for senior council executives to market the city abroad?

Caplan also conveniently forgets the comments (pdf) of his own finance chief, Carew Reynell, who openly admitted in December that he hasn’t bothered to do any work to “mitigate the impact of the recession.”

Calling the council’s attitude a “hesitant response” is generous. Those of us without the benefit of an expensive education and a well-paid job in a thinktank would just call it totally fucking useless.

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17 Responses to City Council budget balls: go figure

  1. Well where do we begin on this BB.??

    One hears that copper from Sheffield is going to stand in for Tomlinson .What will that bring to our beleagured schools gestapo searches as the infants arrive??

    BB I would hope you might be looking deeper into this complete shambles -why do you think Commandant Holland is allow these cuts in the Housing dept?
    It isnt just to save money and add to the dole queue.
    Come on all you intellectuials out there get your thinking caps on-please.

    Tenants and leaseholders are not kicking off and starting these Tenant Management Organisations [TMO] for the shear fun of it ,From what I have read its hard work and on a voluntary basis to boot. They are protecting the last vestages of what will be left when the crowd down at the farm put the remaing stock out to either RSL /PFI or ALMO.
    Defend council housing are going down down the wrong avenue if they think the people on TMO’s are being stupid.

    NEWS: Arrives that the City of Bristol Federation may even be looking into a TLST -Tenant lead stock transfer. Have a look at Plymouth clever buggers!

    Enough said Ithink you have a cracking story here BB excellent. The site Superb

  2. Archie says:

    Bravo BB!! Bravo!! I have been reading your blog for over a year now and its refreshing for someone to tell it as it is.

    May Elections are coming around soon and I think it is time the people of Bristol made a statement. Any ideas Blogger? Anything you suggest to do now will be in the Cancer by March/April time.

  3. Bristol Dave says:

    Bang on.

    Where the fuck did this fascination of “marketing the city” come from, anyway? Why does a city need to be marketed, and how on earth do they expect Jandroid (who in every video I’ve seen of her speaking seems like she can barely string a sentence together) to be able to achieve anything useful with the £400k slush fund?

    I know where the idea for “marketing” came from though, it’s how MEPs have been justifying tax payer-funded jollies for years. I think they need to think of a new use for the money before EVERYBODY rumbles them.

  4. thebristolblogger says:

    The obssession with marketing is the result of employing a self-important class of senior executives on six-figure salaries who think they’re cutting edge business people, despite the fact the copper from Sheffield and Bum Disease have never generated a penny of profit between them in their lives.

    However they’re far too important and “involved at the strategy level” to concern themselves with the mundanity of running a local authority. That would involve things like being concerned with boring old caretakers, maintaining housing stock, running schools properly, looking after our social workers, making sure the streets are clean etc, etc.

    These people are far too important for all that. They need to be in the glamorous and cutting edge business environment of conference centres, endless meetings and seminars waving their big budget around like a surrogate dick, talking strategy and hanging out with people as important as themselves – millionaire businessmen, regional development wonks, MPs, civil servants etc.

    As for this copper. First the city council employ him on £140k and then announce he’s going to do marketing.

    Why the hell employ a copper to do marketing? Wouldn’t you normally pay a marketing expert to do that?

    And now we find he’s going to run the education department. Is there no end to his skills? Where did he learn all this? In the police force kicking the shit out people?

    Why do these people not need to be qualified for the jobs they’re doing? Would you employ a copper to run your marketing department? Or teach your kids? Without either the proper qualfications or experience beyond being a keen Thatcherite with an MBA (now the world’s most out-of-date qualification).

    We’re being had.

  5. jaanaki says:

    BP – interesting. So DCH are barking up the wrong tree opposing TMOs?

    Charlie Bolton had a post on TMOs in November with comments from a DCH supporter.

    charlie-boltons-southville-blog. blogspot. com/2008/11/tmos. html

    Alphabet soup or what? Do bureaucrats just get paid to make things more complicated? On second thoughts, don’t answer that.

    As to the rag, couldn’t help noticing, coming past the Black Lubianka today, a distinct whiff of shit …

  6. BristolPatriot says:

    Jaanaki – Your powers of perceptiion are very much with you today I see.

    Im careful not to spoil the nasty surprise but if you were to dig deep enough im sure you will find why some Tenants are going the TMO route!
    I really dont wish to be cryptic here many of those who are supporting DCH here in the city are not directly involved in at a level as to realise what is happening here in Bristol – I cvan say with my hand on heart I see two choices coming in the direction of Tenants.
    a; Go the TMO route and when B; occurs take direct action to become an independent RSL.


    b; Stay with the council now and wait for the ALMO or PFI that is heading in,which of course leaves no option whatsoever.

    I could offer many more reasons but I will leave you with a small question. Why was a Housing Management Board [ HMB] started.
    I can assure you it wasnt so that Tenantrs could be involved at top level . Tenants already had that with the CityWide Forum and Area Housing Committees [ AHC’s ]
    .Now check out what Tenants have – I will save you that they have nothing.

  7. Charlie Bolton says:

    Bristol Patriot

    As I remember it, the Housing management board was set up by John Kiely – as part of a replacement to all the old structures (ahc.s etc).

    It seems unlikely that he and his successor Judith Price have some conspiracy to take any such action – if only because the LibDems and Labour Party hate each others guts.

    The reason the officers consistently gave for the new structure ie the HMB, replacing AHC’s with forums etc was due to a lack of widespread involvement of tenants – which these were intended to address. Are you saying there is a whole other agenda here?

    If so, can you explain what it is and why staying with the council necessarily means ‘ALMO or PFI’? (I ask out of ignorance, rather than point-scoring)

  8. BristolPatriot says:

    Charlie Bolton

    Im tired,It isnt your good self,I am tired working at this Conservative;Labour;Liberal Democrat what is the difference – when it comes down to the politics of Council Tenants??

    I remember well John Kiely bringing in The HMB.Then Labour took over the administration.
    Please allow me to explain Tenants were happy with AHC’s & Citywide forum,Tenants had a positive input into Environmental Improvement Budgets [EIB’s] and into the North and South Investment pots. When AHC’s were scrapped and Service User Groups implemented vertually all of those budgets are now decided upon by officers! Tenants no longer make direct decisions on their own homes.
    The Members of the HMB are selected not voted to the HMB by Tenants,Where is the democracy in that?

    In reply to your question; YES.

    As to your further query please ask yourself a few questions;

    Why are DCH only pressing for the fourth option?
    Why have 3 former AHC groups decided to go for the TMO option if everything is shown to be so rosie within Tenant Involvement?
    Why start the HMB with 5 Tenants [selected] when there were at least 22 Tenants [elected] on the CityWide forum ?
    Why if the HMB was started to increase involvement are they not decision making?
    Why will the current administration not fund the City of Bristol Federation if they are so keen on increasing involvement?

    In all fairness to John Kiely and Judith Price the policies implemented were not theirs but that of officers.

    Confucious says;
    “Go in the right direction and golden handshakes await overpaid officers”.

  9. thebristolblogger says:

    Charlie, surely after this long as a councillor you realise “officers decide; politicians rubber stamp”?

    Whoever we vote for Jan Ormondroyd gets in.

  10. Charlie Bolton says:

    Hi Bristol Patriot

    I am fully aware of the unhappiness the tenants feel resulting from the changes to the changes introduced – I have attended a number of meetings in Bedminster of the old area housing committee. I also know tenants are unhappy about their loss of control of the environmental improvement budget, the lack of elected reps on the forums and lack of elections to the HMB.

    I can also give my experience in Bedminster of a split between those wanting tmo’s and those not wanting them. Those wanting a tmo are pissed off with the removal of their influence (as described above) – with some justification. Those against were split between the socialists – seeing it as a move towards losing council housing, and those not wanting to do the work a tmo will entail.

    I didn’t view any as ‘privatisers’.

    But I still don’t get the link – how these changes necessarily mean there is a council, presumeably officer-led conspiracy to introduce ‘ALMO or PFI’ – what is the benefit to officers?

    I don’t really believe in conspiracies – I don’t normally think people are clever enough to run one, so would appreciate some background/evidence/justification. Or have I missed the point here?

  11. BristolPatriot says:

    Mr. Bolton , Charlie.

    Whats the benefit to officers – When Ashfield Council went almo The chief executive’s pay went up more than 50%!
    Sections:46 and 56 are particularly interesting.
    In 56 it mentions the HMB but also mentions the City-Wide forum.Interesting the Head N & HS had visited the Audit Commsion and told them that BCC had a new HMB and the AHC’s and City-Wide which earnt BCC 2 stars. before the full Audit Commision report was given he had removed the CityWide and all AHC’s.why?

  12. BristolPatriot says:

    Mr. Bolton , Charlie.

  13. Gary Hopkins says:

    Do not forget here that the officers have been for a number of years working with a government that has tilted the playing field against councils continuing to own and run their own stock.
    Some officers fully accept the model that Cllrs. decide the policy and that after they have advised them they implement what they are told is council policy.
    Some regard Cllrs. as a temporary nusiance and seek to prevent them moving away from the “accepted orthodoxy”This type regard themselves as “the professionals” and all others including the public as meddling.
    I have worked with both but what is undoubtedly true is that if there is a lack of clarity ,skill or determination from the executive Cllr. or cabinet the officers will return to the orthodox default which tends to follow national government.

  14. BristolPatriot says:

    Then I presuppose that with the current executive “the professionals” are having a field day?

  15. Gary Hopkins says:

    You may think that…….

  16. Dona Qixota says:

    Gary Hopkins wrote:

    “Some [officers] regard Cllrs. as a temporary nusiance and seek to prevent them moving away from the “accepted orthodoxy”. This type regard themselves as “the professionals” and all others including the public as meddling.

    … if there is a lack of clarity, skill or determination from the executive Cllr. or cabinet the officers will return to the orthodox default which tends to follow national government.”

    Thanks Gary, good to have the inside gen. It very much backs up things that John Gyford writes in his “Local Politics in Britain” 2nd ed. 1984, a useful book for local busybodies, if in need of an update by now. For example:

    “Departments based on professional expertise have been the traditional structures within which officers have been employed. The administrators in local government have existed in order to service the professionals, rather than to interpret them as in central government….If then local government is a stronghold of professionalism, it is nevertheless true that it is under some attack at the present time. The critiques of professionalism … are three in number. They relate to the alleged failures of the professions concerned to relate satisfactorily to the local authority as a corporate body, to the councillors as politicians, and to their clients as citizens.

    …the profession may not only be an officer’s reference group in terms of standards and values: it may also be an important reference group in terms of career prospects. The likelihood of promotion to the most senior posts in local government can be enhanced by a good reputation in the professional world … The danger exists of an officer seeing a local problem as an admirable opportunity to display his own particular technical virtuosity and thereby make a name for himself in the profession …” etc etc

    You’d almost get the idea that some officers see local government as their very own highway to well-paid, high status, cushy pads for their elite, wouldn’t you? Let’s hope they’re in for a salutary awakening in the coming months and years.

  17. BristolPatriot says:

    Here Here Dona Qixota

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