Thursday, 20 October 2011

Sharing Chief Exec saves taxpayer "pot full" of cash

H&F Town Hall
Derek Myers, chief executive of Kensington & Chelsea, yesterday took up his post as new supremo reigning over not just K&C by H&F as well, with another office in Hammersmith Town Hall. This has been long in coming but has been seen, as with so many other things that our Council do, as a pioneering move that other councils are being urged by central Government to follow.

The move has been attacked by Labour as being a first step towards effective merger of the authorities with real questions about democratic accountability. When, they ask, were the people of either borough asked if they wanted their services delivered by a super authority, and where will this move towards merger end? With a single group of elected councillors? 

Labour Opposition Leader Stephen Cowan said this in June:
"I asked officials why these two boroughs were chosen to be H&F’s partners. It’s because the Conservative “politicians get on well with each other and have a lot in common” came the reply. That’s not the greatest of reasons. I can see the logic of sharing some services with Kensington and Chelsea Council – indeed; the last Labour administration did precisely that but not Westminster – especially given its difficult circumstances".

"So maybe there is some truth in the allegation that the overall objective for this merger is an attempt to gerrymander a more comprehensive political union between the three Conservative run councils and do away with current borough boundaries before the voters have a chance to kick any of them out at the next elections"?
You can see why Labour are particularly fearful of the second issue - K&C is a true blue Tory fiefdom while H&F is a marginal that changes hands. A merger would mean that the authority would be Tory dominated, basically, for ever. But I think that prospect is frankly a million miles away and certainly not in the offing before the next round of local elections which Labour stand a reasonable chance of doing well in.

What might be more worrying are his warnings of stealth taxes and other charges for residents rising to the highest of the three - which would in our case mean forking out more to bring us in line with what people in the other two boroughs pay.

What I find really interesting though about this is that, almost like Belgium which has now survived without a Government for several years without the sky falling in, it demonstrates that actually there are potentially lots of civil servants out there that are surplus to requirements, many of whom are very highly paid indeed. In fact Geoff Alltimes, the Chief Exec of H&F who stood down this week, was one of the highest paid in the UK. Already K&C/H&F, along with Westminster Council who keep their Chief Exec but share some services, have announced savings of approaching £1 million by cutting back on Directors of Services - that is really good stuff. 

Speaking to the Financial Times new Supermo Myers said:
"It's certainly the most radical re-alignment of management functions that local government has ever seen. It's a pretty bold experiment. The model has been proven elsewhere but in a smaller context. We genuinely think it is going to work and it will save a pot full of money."
So credit to our Council for recognising this - if they can make it work without a dilution of services, which have already been cut back substantially, they will rightly win plaudits for being the first to do this.

Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of H&F, recently commented:
“Residents expect us to strain every sinew to deliver better services with fewer resources. One of the ways we can protect the front line is to strip out unnecessary and duplicated management overheads. This report shows how, by sharing the top jobs, it is possible to reduce the bill for senior managers by millions of pounds.”
Keep straining the sinews!

1 comment:

  1. The more cuts of unnecessary upper management civil servants the better!
    It's the people at the bottom that are really providing for the community and should be kept.