News is drifting in about how Bristol City Council has gone about CONsulting on their planned closure of most of their customer service points or area housing offices as we used to call them before the loonies took over.
Apparently the Council had planned to end the CONsultation on this on November 19 after a mere two ‘public’ meetings (actually invitation only at the Create Centre and Council House, which they weren’t planning to tell the general public about).
But now the story’s leaked to the Evening Cancer they’ve generously extended the CONsultation period … for a whole week!
When the point was raised by staff to managers that customers – or the general public as we call in them in unfashionable circles – might quite like to know what the plans are for their local customer service points, council managers appeared not to have thought of this beyond providing these secretive ‘invitation only’ meetings for carefully selected local tenant groups and organisations.
Indeed, glaring omissions from the list of invitees has raised alarm among frontline staff who believe that the plans are being deliberately rushed through and are not being properly discussed with all the concerned parties.
Now staff are being told that they can provide feedback forms to customers if they ask for them (ie. if they have seen the story in the Evening Cancer) but cannot actively promote them to the public, which seems to be contrary to the point of a proper CONsultation really.
This is some sort of progress though, because – before the leak to the Cancer – staff weren’t allowed to say anything specific about the plans at all, putting them in the odd position of being able to tell customers that a CONsultation was taking place but not what it was about.
The Blogger now learns that it is the overwhelming opinion of most of the frontline staff delivering the service that council management are pushing this CONsultation through as quickly as possible and avoiding telling as many people as possible so they can get on with closing the service as soon as possible.
Meanwhile the council’s homelessness workers are also up in arms.
During the spring The Hub – the council’s homelessness unit in St Paul’s that deals with all homeless applications for Bristol from people without dependents or children – decided that all their homeless “customers” must approach one of the nine Customer Service Points around the city for initial advice and a referral to the Hub – at least if they’re allowed to by the untrained, overworked, stressed-out Customer Service Point workers.
Then in May 2009 the city council shut its Customer Service Point in St Pauls and Easton because, apparently, “customers” won’t mind walking to Cabot Circus instead.
Now the latest idea from the city council is leaked to the Evening Cancer setting out plans to close all but one Customer Service Point accompanied by a vague plan to maybe build two more of these somewhere or other …
So what happens to any single homeless people then? Joined-up local government at its best isn’t it?
Meanwhile over in Hartcliffe a few eyebrows have been raised about the loss of their Customer Service Point in Symes Avenue.
Is this the same Symes Avenue that won the city council an Evening Cancer regeneration award (pdf) two years ago this very month? An award for turning around a boarded-up and shuttered old shopping centre wasn’t it?
So guess who’s the first to close the shutters for good at the new regenerated Symes Avenue? Er … The award-winning regenerators Bristol City Council!
And finally, fear not, because one of the city’s leading politicians has bravely arrived to explain this totally fucking embarrassing u-turning reverse ferret shambles of a cock-up to us.
Step forward the Liberal Democrat’s very own Tory evangelical looney who can’t speak English, “Biggles” Popham. He tells the Cancer, “If we can save money, we should but it’s not the motivating factor. It’s about transformation.”
Eh? It’s all about an abstract noun then? Or more accurately an abstract theoretical business school construct. That’s really gonna help the poor isn’t it?