Council priorities: free foreign travel for the rich, nothing for the poor

As Stockwwod Pete reports that Barbara Janke has been flown out – at our expense – to hang around in Copenhagen for no reason being ignored by high-level diplomats, news comes in from the frontline (where services won’t be cut remember) …

“A single parent of three with a seriously debilitating long-term condition recently had a case conference with Bristol social services, the health service, teachers and the like.

“Often the kind of solutions people need are very simple and cheap and this conference quickly concluded that the woman might need help getting her kids to school in the morning. What’s easier to deliver than that?

“”But we haven’t got any money,” piped up the representative from Bristol social services …”

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40 Responses to Council priorities: free foreign travel for the rich, nothing for the poor

  1. Steve Norman says:

    So Barbie doll has jetted of to copenhagen now thats what I call a rat leaving the sinking ship obviously the climate is getting to hot in Bristol for our esteemed leader

  2. Does anyone know exactly what her role could be in an international treaty negotiation?

    Come on Rogers and Hopkins do tell

  3. dreamingspire says:

    Kerry McCarthy has gone one better and pointed to Stockwood Pete who then directs us on to an aero blog where it reads “Leader Janke and some acolytes”. So how many of them have gone? And what has it cost? And from where are they flying?

  4. Archie says:

    Didn’t know Barbara Janke was a high level diplomat, Copenhagen is not cheap and I can not seem to work out her purpose for this visit. Perhaps it is a smoke screen so that she can go here:

  5. Todays evening post front page, another £12m of cuts

  6. Not Bristolian says:

    I’ve never read such a load of drivel in all my life.

    From the articles on this website, it is clear that you have absolutely no concept of the politics, both local and national, that are involved in running this city.

    I’m all for freedom of speech…but it’s a shame when that involves mis-informing locals via your own ‘unique’ spin on matters that you clearly don’t understand.

  7. thebristolblogger says:

    What is it I need to “understand” that I don’t then fuckwit?

  8. Mark Wright says:

    What are these cuts then Paul? Or have you started believing everything you read in the Post again?

    From what I can see, Ian Onions has for some reason decided to treat the efficiency savings coming from service transformations as cuts. A very strange thing to do indeed.

    That wont stop the Labour Party portraying the savings as cuts though. Do you apply the same logic to your own Govt savings?

    And you still havent responded to those questions about Labour aiming to privatise 80% of Home Care.

  9. Mark what about the £2m in care budget cuts listed on this blog?
    What about partial closures of area offices?
    Are you saying the £12m figure in the BEP is wrong?
    If so are you complaining?

  10. woodsy says:


    When people start throwing around terms like ‘service transformations’ it’s usually to disguise actions that are generally covered by a much smaller word – cuts.

  11. markmwright says:


    1. As previously explained the measures listed are to limit the growth in health care spending to £4m instead of £6m. It’s an interesting use of logic to describe reducing the growth of spending as a “cut”. If we applied the same logic to Labour Govt spending, you have already “cut” billions. Is that the line you’re now taking? If so, we’ll be happy to put that in thousands of leaflets in Bristol West.

    2. Reducing the hours at CSPs reflects the decreasing face-to-face contact ratio. Labour would rather we kept spending the same money even though demand is dropping.

    3. Yes.

    4. We are.

    Now, as usual I have answered all of your questions, and as usual you continue to evade mine. Do you support your party’s own aim of 80% privatised Home Care in Bristol, and why do you keep pretending is was the Lib Dems who did this?

  12. woodsy :

    Your scepticism of “service transformations” is misplaced. It means cutting back-office costs in order to free the cash for front-line services.

    For example if £500k is saved by computerising a manual records system, and that cash is used to provide more front-line service, would you call that a “cut”? That is what the Evening Post and Paul Smith have done.

  13. thebristolblogger says:

    There’s little evidence that these “service transformations” achieve the savings you claim:

    In services the case is at best unproven

  14. woodsy says:


    Thanks for your explanation of the meaning of ‘service transformation’. For over 4 decades I’ve heard management types come out with such meaningless terms. Perhaps the likes of me would not be so sceptical if the council used plain English for communication instead of management gobbledygook.

  15. thebristolblogger says:


    Can you point us to a business case where replacing a paper filing system with a computerised one will deliver these extraordinary savings?

    Generally filing systems are pretty marginal in terms of wastage.

    If I phone someone up and they can’t take a decision because that’s their boss’s boss’s job, then I’ll sit about waiting regardless of how the information is recorded, stored and retrieved.

    Efficiency is a product of people not machines. If you invested your money in people to let them take decisions, your organisation would be vastly more efficient for me.

    People can work around second-rate filing systems, they can’t work around powerlessness and slow and distant management.

  16. dreamingspire says:

    BB, I have recently been dealing with an insurance company where all documents are now digitised – the service has become much quicker with no foul-ups. The key of course is that the people who answer the phone have been trained properly, and given responsibility. When they have to refer something upwards for decision, again all the documents are available and the decision is taken efficiently. Behind all that is that the organisation has been redesigned – that is the real meaning of business transformation. At national level, today’s story about downgrading the new “we are frightened if you come near children” vetting system is typical – any organisation that admits “unintended consequences” of the magnitude seen with that govt fiasco is not fit for purpose – doing it properly starts at the top with good design and propagates down. And the database then becomes the good servant.
    Russian proverb: To live your life is not as simple as to cross a field.

  17. thebristolblogger says:

    The key of course is that the people who answer the phone have been trained properly, and given responsibility

    Quite. You try getting a summons canceled for non-payment of Council Tax – when you have a receipt for your payment – over the phone or face-to-face.

    Nobody can do it. They’ll even deny it’s possible. It matters little if the filing is digitised or not if the people you’re dealing with cannot do what you need and will not refer you to someone who can.

    Benefits are similar too.

  18. harryT says:

    BB. I don’t think you get it. If lowly council officials were trained to do their own jobs without having to go through long lines of command then:

    1. why would we need so many high level officials on 6 figure salaries to make decisions and

    2. why would we need so many consultants to come up with new plans for improvement which involve more levels of management and more high level officials.

    You must think the council is here to serve the people or something.

  19. BB,

    Efficiency is also a product of structures/processes (e.g. “rules” & “the way it’s always been done”) and tools (e.g. software). Most council services have evolved organically over years or even decades from their beginnings. This is fairly natural and isnt always a problem. However, often the nature of a service delivered can change dramatically over the years, such that – in the words of the Irish proverb – “I wouldnt start from here”. The organically-grown process is not fit for purpose for the service as desired today.

    Service Transformation is stepping back and saying “How would we do this if we started from scratch?” Sometimes the new model gives a much better result for the same money (improving satisfaction); sometimes the same result much quicker (allowing the redeployment of people); sometimes the same result for much cheaper (allowing the diversion of cash).

    That link you posted was actually much more balanced than you suggest, e.g.: “It’s not that there aren’t savings to be made – of course there are. Done properly, they would boost public-sector capacity beyond the wildest imaginings of the five expert advisers to the Treasury who wrote the report.” It does though give a fair account of some of the pitfalls of transformation programs. I hope we dont fall into those pitfalls, and this is why we have a highly paid Director team and Chief Exec – to ensure we dont. Of course, if they dont succeed, it’s only right that us politicians get to carry the can (given that we’ll take the credit if it all works!)

    As you note further down, empowering front-line staff to make decisions can make massive differences. In the old days this might not have been possible because they couldnt be expected to know all that was required. In the modern day, the internet and a decent bit of software can give them all the information they could need to make the decision on the spot.

  20. in the meantime all managers have been asked how would they make 20% cuts in their services

  21. Well Paul, first Labour managed the economy so badly that we had the deepest and longest recession in living memory. Then Labour put your party’s electoral interests before the nation’s interests by kicking all the difficult decision on how the deficit will be dealt with to after the election…

    So this means, although we know that big cuts in the “Formula Grant” are coming no matter who wins the election, we have absolutely no idea how big they will be. And yet, it is a legal requirement for us to plan finances 3 years ahead! Nice of your Govt to tell us it wants our next 3-years’ finance plans without telling us how much money we’ll have, dont you think?

    So, the Council has to plan for every eventuality. Seems “prudent” to me. I’m sure you’ll have the nerve to carp from the sidelines despite this being largely Labour’s mess, but I’m reminded of this exchange in the Irish Parliament on dealing with their deficit:

  22. yes we all know the Lib Dems favour Savage Cuts.

    Interesting you think that the global recession was caused by the Labour Party

  23. Truth Seeker says:

    So, pretty conclusively: no, bristolwestpaul wont be answering any questions about Labour’s 80% privatisation plans for Home Care

  24. Charlie Bolton says:

    Did the Labour put the years of growth down to the global economy, or did they, by chance, claim some of the credit themselves?

  25. bob jones says:

    bristol west paul: your lot caused the recession and you still now insist on spending mony on foreigners and assbandits instead of our old folk ! you opened the gates of Britain to hoardes of foreigners and now don’t want war with Iran. your lot have blood on your hands ! you have led the country to ruin.

  26. Bob Jones we clearly haven’t spent enough on your education

  27. Truth seeker my view is that there is now too much private sector involvement in the provision of health and social care. I am not a member of the council or Labour Group and therefore do not feel bound by any council business plan projections.

    I campaigned against privatisation of home care which was the lib dem policy – at 100%

  28. Paul, you are a truly shameless individual. Do you have no affinity for the truth at all?

    At no point was there ever a plan to privatise 100% of Home Care, and you know that full well.

    In 2007, when the service was 52% private provided, the Lib Dems planned to increase that to 80%, following the path agreed all-party (yes, that’s right) after the Parrot/Haddock reports following the near collapse of the service under Labour in 2005.

    Labour and Tories ditched Parrot/Haddock the moment they saw an electoral opportunity, and then Labour quietly grew private sector involvement to 80% over the next two years.

    Not content with trying to cover up what your own party has done, you then seek to invent and promote things that others have never done. Shameless.

  29. Bob Jones says:

    Oh Lordy ! Matey boy Bristol West Paul thinks I am a bit of a thicko. Well perhaps he could tell me why he and his Labour Party half wit friends decided to drag this country into an illegal war with a load a foreign Taliban and terror merchants ? Whilst he at it perhaps he could explain why our taxes go up on a daily basis while the country goes to the dogs and why there a loads of asylum seekers in Britain. I hope he loses to ass bandit williams !

  30. Bob at least your spelling has improved

  31. Mark Wright you were planning to move council staff into the private sector against their will, (as you are in housing at present).

    The Lib Dem approach to council management is to hammer low paid staff while creating more jobs at the top level some within the structure some floating around it.

    Privatising care staff and closing local service points as the more obvious examples. The more you rant the clearer it is that you are rattled. If you don’t want to take responsibility for your actions why are you in the cabinet.

  32. The story changes with every post!

    I’m perfectly happy to take responsibility for my actions, but I have no intention at all of taking responsibility for the stuff that you make up.

  33. Chinadoll says:

    I did’nt know my local housing office was defunct until recently, when I tried to telephone them, I found the number had been changed but nobody bothered to let the locals know this. Finally after many transfers from one number to another I actually managed to talk to someone, he sounded quite young and left me on hold while he discussed the problem with a supervisor who obviously could’nt be bothered to come to the phone themselves, I got a garbled second hand reply from him and decided to sort the problem out myself!!
    So much for cuts which do not of course affect the very people we vote in to take care of our city.

  34. “Cllr Mark Wright // December 15, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    The story changes with every post!

    I’m perfectly happy to take responsibility for my actions, but I have no intention at all of taking responsibility for the stuff that you make up.”


  35. Amelium Celer says:

    Well that’s Cllr Wright put firmly in his place then isn’t it.

    Any chance we could see a real life debate between you guys? Watching a government party candidate use internet acronyms when stuck for a reply would be priceless.

  36. You will probably have to wait until the general election lib dems run away from real debates

  37. Gary Hopkins says:

    Well Mr Smith.
    I seem to remember Nat West advertising its credit card as your “flexible friend”
    That advert actually looks ,despite the recent bailouts, look rather straightforward compared to your ,anything to get a vote,pitch.
    I listened to an amusing radio 4 piece this morning where they explained that the “jumping the shark ” moment related to the time when TV series went way beyond credibility ,and the time when trhey should have been put to sleep, and that after that time they were the living dead.
    Your shark moment was a long time ago Paul.

  38. Gary

    I’ve read that twice and have no idea what you are talking about. I suggest you have a merry Christmas and we resume debate in the new year

  39. thebristolblogger says:

    Gary’s been on the juice again!

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