50 ways the council could save money

Swindon Advertiser: Eric Pickles Eric Pickles

Communities secretary Eric Pickles produced a guide listing 50 money-saving ideas for councils in the wake of more funding cuts. Political reporter David Wiles asked Swindon Council to respond to each of his suggestions and found many have been taken on board.

COUNCIL leader Rod Bluh says Swindon Council has already implemented many of the suggested savings and is going further to redesign services to meet increased demand.

“Swindon has been making such changes to cut costs and reduce waste since 2003.

“There are only a few ideas from this document that we have not carried out or are actively considering, such as using open source computer software,” he said.

“We have made savings, both large and small, amounting to over £270 in the last five years and we are looking to achieve more, although the scope is obviously much reduced.

“However, simply asking for savings totally ignores the demand-led pressures the council is facing, which are the consequence of an increasing and ageing population and a rise in the number vulnerable children, for which the council is receiving no additional support. It is because we face more challenges, which include finding a further £15m savings each and every year, that we have started the Big Conversation to explore with residents what changes we need to make to local government in the future to continue to balance the books.

“In particular, we need to debate what outcomes we need, and who should deliver them – whether that is charities, not for profit companies, the private sector or the state.”

But Labour group leader,Coun Jim Grant said: “It is patently clear that this Conservative administration doesn’t deliver good enough value to the Swindon council taxpayer. With regards to senior management, yes they did cut this by £1.2m last year but they also made £14m worth of cuts elsewhere. Labour would be looking to go further with regards to cuts to senior management.

“The Conservatives have also done nothing to cut back on the consultants budget and are spending nearly £2m of our money each year on this and they voted down Labour’s motion more than a year ago to cut back on mileage allowances paid to council staff.”

1. Share back office services within departments We entered into a 15-year strategic partnership with Capita in 2006 to provide the majority of our back office services, which has delivered significant savings (at least £18m over the life of the contract). Several of our services are now delivered from shared service centres operated by Capita both locally and further afield.

2. Community Budgets – Bring staff and money together The council is actively involved in the discussions on community budgets, and looks forward to working with Government on the future plans for extending this initiative. We have pioneered work that has directly informed the development of the community budgets approach including the Life project, which has been commended by the Prime Minister, along with health integration and Local Area Agreements which led to our One Swindon partnership.

3. Use transparency to cut waste We publish all information in line with government guidelines.

4. Tackle duplicate payments The Council has engaged with a number of different firms over the years to recover any duplicate payments found on its financial systems and no significant sums were identified. Where any small duplicate entries were found, the sums were recovered from the supplier.

5. Clamp down on corporate charge cards We have reduced the number of corporate cards and there are strict controls and criteria in place for using them.

6. Special spending controls for approving how spending is signed off There is close monitoring of all spending through online systems and there is a robust procurement process in place with appropriate limits set for approval, including Cabinet member sign off and scrutiny at the necessary levels.

7. Tackle fraud In addition to investigating and prosecuting Benefit Fraud (see below) the Council has proactively investigated and removed many falsely claimed Council Tax discounts. Data matching exercises using credit reference agency and Electoral Registration data in the last 4 years has identified nearly £0.5m additional Council Tax revenue. Full reviews of all discounts and exemptions are undertaken regularly.

8. Claw back money from benefit cheats We work hard to make sure that people do not take advantage of the benefit system and take appropriate action when necessary. In the last two years, over £300,000 worth of Benefit Overpayments has been uncovered by the Benefits Fraud Team and our rate of recovering Overpayments is increasing. A number of joint prosecutions with the Department of Work and Pensions have been undertaken by the Crown Prosecution Service.

9. Get more for less by improving procurement During the last few years the Council has benefited from significant procurement savings, especially in relation to the cost of social care and insurance. The 2013-14 Draft Budget proposals include £0.75m of procurement savings.

10. Buy together Significant savings have been achieved in this area in recent years; e.g. Stationery spend has been reduced by consolidation & reduction of items permissible for purchase; the Capita contract has enabled better control and buying in IT. Both SCS and Seqol buy services from the Council (HR, IT, Payroll etc).

11. Stop the scope for procurement fraud We have robust contract standing orders in place for all spend and a gateway process in place for any spend over £0.5m with sign off by the Monitoring & Section 151 officers and Head of Commercial Services (responsible for Procurement).

12. Utilise £16 billion of reserves creatively We maintain the minimum level of reserves as advised by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), which currently stand at £6m.

13. Improve council tax collection rates Swindon Borough Council is in the top quartile for council tax collection performance for all unitary authorities. In 2011/12 we collected 97.8 per cent of Council Tax within the financial year and we go on to collect nearly 99 per cent of Council Tax that falls due. Our arrears collection has continued to improve.

14. Encourage direct debit and e-billing for council tax We already provide and encourage these services. Over 60 per cent of all Council Tax payers pay by Direct Debit and last year we issued electronic bills to 2,200 customers. We also send text reminders to customers prior to sending paper reminders.

15. Close council cash offices We have done this. It a has increased the number of direct debit users.

16. Better land and property management We have an elected member-led asset management group which constantly reviews our assets, and we have track record of effectively disposing of surplus assets to fund essential infrastructure projects such as schools and the Central Library.

17. Hot desking, estate rationalisation and sub-letting Our New Ways of Working initiative over the last three years has enabled us to accommodate the majority of our staff on the Civic Campus in a modern office environment that is based on flexible working and hot desking. This has enabled us to move out of Premier House (£1m a year saving) and Sanford House.

18. Open a ‘pop up shop’ in spare office space Where we have available space in the town centre we have done this, for example by allowing the Canal Trust and the Computing Museum to have empty shop space.

19. Close subsidised council canteens We do not subsidise council canteen food.

20. Cancel away days in posh hotels and glitzy ceremonies We always use our own assets such as Steam or community centres for away days or staff conferences. We do not pay to attend ‘glitzy’ ceremonies as a matter of course, but are on occasion invited. It is however right that staff that are being recognised for exceptional work are supported to attend events to an appropriate level.

21. Open a coffee shop in the library We have done this at the newly-built Central Library, and have also put a library in the Arts Centre. In other older buildings the cost of conversion means that the benefits are far from clear.

22. Cut senior pay The council has reduced senior management costs by £1.2m in the last year. Senior managers have not had a pay increase and have not taken up their contractual right to performance related pay since 2008, equating to a 10 – 15 per cent pay cut. The Chief Executive took a voluntary reduction in salary of 7 per cent in September 2010 and a further 3 per cent in April 2012.

23. Share senior staff We were at the forefront of shared appointments working as long ago as 2006 with joint appointments for adult social care with the PCT.

24. Scrap the chief executive post entirely It is the administration’s position that the role of Chief Executive remains crucial in terms of leading transformation and responding to the huge challenges that Swindon Borough Council, like all local authorities, face.

25. Introduce a recruitment freeze We have a recruitment freeze in place and only critical jobs, agreed as such by Corporate Board, are being filled.

26. Freeze councillor allowances and end councillor pensions We have frozen allowances for the last three years. In relation to pensions, we have always complied with the law and will continue to do so.

27. Cut spending on consultants and agency staff We have a single supplier arrangement for agency staff and our use of consultants is heavily scrutinised. They are only used where a clear value for money case had been made.

28. End expensive ‘leadership’ courses We have minimal spend on leadership development, although believe that some spend is justifiable on the basis that strong and effective leadership is critical in driving the change we require. All organisational/professional development is only approved if directly links to the council’s transformation agenda.

29. Cut spending on head hunters and expensive adverts All job adverts go on-line and only very exceptionally to we advertise in other publications. Our central costs on recruitment advertising have reduced by more than 95 per cent in the last 8 years.

30. Review and reduce staff absenteeism Sick absence figures are reducing - 2010/11 10.24 days per fte (full time equivalent); 2011/12 8.52 days per fte; 2012/13 projected end of year figures 7.8 days per fte 31. Scrap trade union posts We are in the process of reducing our central funding for whole time Unison posts from 1.5 fte pa to 0.5 fte pa (£14,500) 32. Charge for collecting trade union subscriptions We do this.

33. Stop spending money on commercial lobbyists We don’t spend money on commercial lobbyists.

34. Translation We only translate documents on request.

35. Reduce the number of publications and media monitoring We have reduced spend on all publications by restricting spend to professional relevant journals only, one per department. We do not do pay for media monitoring and never have done.

36. Earn more from private advertising For the last three years we have been using our assets such as roundabouts, lampposts and the sides of recycling lorries to earn income from private advertising and have and £150k annual target in relation to this.

37. Cease funding ‘sock puppets and ‘fake charities’ We don’t do this.

38. Scrap the town hall Pravda We have never published a ‘town hall Pravda’. We have published a residents’ magazine, Swindon News, as we feel it is important to communicate directly with local people. It has not been published since June 2012 and it is currently on hold pending a decision about where best to focus our limited resources for next year.

39. Stop providing free food and drink for meetings Internal meetings between council staff are not supplied with any food or drinks. Meetings involving external guests may be supplied with hot drinks and biscuits, and may, if lengthy and stretch over the lunchtime period, be supplied with light buffet food. If a meeting or event takes place at an external location (Steam museum or a council-owned community facility) and is over the course of an entire day, then a light buffet lunch may be provided.

40. Reduce first class travel We do not use first class travel.

41. Cut mileage payments We do not currently pay at the HRMC approved rate, but will review this.

42. Video conference We consistently use telephone conferencing, and we have the facility to use video conferencing when appropriate to do so.

43. Help the voluntary sector save you money We do this.

44. Cut printing costs We have cuts costs by disabling colour printing from council printers and reducing the number of printers.

45. End of lifestyle and equality questionnaires We only do this when absolutely necessary. Sometimes it is essential to have information about service users in order to target services to them more effectively.

46. Sell services We do this. For example, we created the arms length company Swindon Commercial Services, and were instrumental in creating the social enterprise SEQOL which provides a whole range of care and support services.

47. Hire out the town hall We hire out the Civic Offices and the former Town Hall.

48. Lease works of art not on display We are not aware of any meaningful opportunities that exist to lease works of art for a fee.

49. Save money on computer software We actively explore all software options, and have a strategic partnership with Capita for all IT services which has already driven out significant savings.

50. And finally… ask your staff for more sensible savings ideas: We consistently engage and involve staff in all aspects of how the organisation works and invite all contributions for news ways of working that drive out efficiencies and add value for local people.

Comments (25)

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11:32am Thu 27 Dec 12

Empty Car Park says...

Is it April 1st already?

Pull their heads out into the sunshine and sack the entire cabinet.

That'll save £millions
Is it April 1st already? Pull their heads out into the sunshine and sack the entire cabinet. That'll save £millions Empty Car Park

12:13pm Thu 27 Dec 12

umpcah says...

"We have made savings, both large and small, amounting to over £270 in the last five years and we are looking to achieve more, although the scope is obviously much reduced." The Council must aim to save even more in the next five years. I`m sure that it can be done !
"We have made savings, both large and small, amounting to over £270 in the last five years and we are looking to achieve more, although the scope is obviously much reduced." The Council must aim to save even more in the next five years. I`m sure that it can be done ! umpcah

12:31pm Thu 27 Dec 12

faatmaan says...

paying triple time for overtime on bank holidays ?
paying triple time for overtime on bank holidays ? faatmaan

7:23pm Thu 27 Dec 12

Meldrews Dad says...

I 2Could B has a point about the cabinet being elected to run the town.
Sadly they don't - the town is run by "senior" officers who maintain their socialist repuplic ideas and then have them rubber stamped by a bunch of wimps who do what they are told or face professional standards inquiries.

Sack the senior officers and make it a sackable offence to over rule an elected councillors plan and impose their own.

We don't need a grossly overpaid chief executive and we don't need two thirds of the middle management.

Apart from collecting rubbish what do we need employees for? Come to think of it most of them fit that category.
I 2Could B has a point about the cabinet being elected to run the town. Sadly they don't - the town is run by "senior" officers who maintain their socialist repuplic ideas and then have them rubber stamped by a bunch of wimps who do what they are told or face professional standards inquiries. Sack the senior officers and make it a sackable offence to over rule an elected councillors plan and impose their own. We don't need a grossly overpaid chief executive and we don't need two thirds of the middle management. Apart from collecting rubbish what do we need employees for? Come to think of it most of them fit that category. Meldrews Dad

11:22pm Thu 27 Dec 12

twasadawf says...

50 thing's they should have alway's been doing, not the manual worker's fault but their managers managers managers
50 thing's they should have alway's been doing, not the manual worker's fault but their managers managers managers twasadawf

8:33am Fri 28 Dec 12

Blackmalkin says...

I'd like to see them balance the budget without the planning fee income and increased council tax from the continued overdevelopment of Swindon. One day every square inch within the council boundaries will be built on.
I'd like to see them balance the budget without the planning fee income and increased council tax from the continued overdevelopment of Swindon. One day every square inch within the council boundaries will be built on. Blackmalkin

9:14am Fri 28 Dec 12

house on the hill says...

I think if you look back neither party has done a good job, but then if you have a bunch of people who have no qualifications to do a job what do you expect. And for those who go on about democracy, that a joke, ok we get to vote once in a while but once elected they can do whatever they like and we cant do a dan thing about it until we get the chance to vote again. Thats not any democracy I was taught at school, that a farce.

The big problem with the council and pretty much all the public sector, is that they have never had to run a value for money cost effective business and have no idea how to do so. there has always been money to go round and with a guaranteed income and a captive customer base there was never any need to be efficient and we had no where else to go for our services.

There are too many staff who have just been there too long and have no idea how to change and make it run efficiently. they dont help when they keep recycling the same staff instead of bringing in those with new ideas who have experience and knowledge of how to save money and deliver a better service.

I am not sure that Capita do save the counciil money, after all they are only one option and they are a profit driven organisation so the savings will benefit them rather than us thats for sure. They have already been thrown out by London for the congestion charge as they didnt admisiter it very well and other councils have moved them out too. how do we know we are getting the best deal if we are only dealing with one company? We should be free to negoitiate our own deals.

Asking staff is clearly not the way forward to save money, for a start they are never going to suggest job cuts to the bloated workforce which are no needed. I think we all know that if a proper private sector manager/leader was brought in free from politics and not scared to move staff out who dont do a good job, we could save money and give a better service.

But it wil never happen, too many politicians with thier own agendas and too many incompetant managers who really have no idea how to change and improve things. there are staff wh do work hard before some jump on their high horses, but most have no idea of what thier private sector equivalents do or are capable of or the different attitudes they have to customers.

Too many have just been there too long and we need massive change all the way down
I think if you look back neither party has done a good job, but then if you have a bunch of people who have no qualifications to do a job what do you expect. And for those who go on about democracy, that a joke, ok we get to vote once in a while but once elected they can do whatever they like and we cant do a dan thing about it until we get the chance to vote again. Thats not any democracy I was taught at school, that a farce. The big problem with the council and pretty much all the public sector, is that they have never had to run a value for money cost effective business and have no idea how to do so. there has always been money to go round and with a guaranteed income and a captive customer base there was never any need to be efficient and we had no where else to go for our services. There are too many staff who have just been there too long and have no idea how to change and make it run efficiently. they dont help when they keep recycling the same staff instead of bringing in those with new ideas who have experience and knowledge of how to save money and deliver a better service. I am not sure that Capita do save the counciil money, after all they are only one option and they are a profit driven organisation so the savings will benefit them rather than us thats for sure. They have already been thrown out by London for the congestion charge as they didnt admisiter it very well and other councils have moved them out too. how do we know we are getting the best deal if we are only dealing with one company? We should be free to negoitiate our own deals. Asking staff is clearly not the way forward to save money, for a start they are never going to suggest job cuts to the bloated workforce which are no needed. I think we all know that if a proper private sector manager/leader was brought in free from politics and not scared to move staff out who dont do a good job, we could save money and give a better service. But it wil never happen, too many politicians with thier own agendas and too many incompetant managers who really have no idea how to change and improve things. there are staff wh do work hard before some jump on their high horses, but most have no idea of what thier private sector equivalents do or are capable of or the different attitudes they have to customers. Too many have just been there too long and we need massive change all the way down house on the hill

7:17pm Fri 28 Dec 12

MrAngry says...

Meldrews Dad wrote:
I 2Could B has a point about the cabinet being elected to run the town.
Sadly they don't - the town is run by "senior" officers who maintain their socialist repuplic ideas and then have them rubber stamped by a bunch of wimps who do what they are told or face professional standards inquiries.

Sack the senior officers and make it a sackable offence to over rule an elected councillors plan and impose their own.

We don't need a grossly overpaid chief executive and we don't need two thirds of the middle management.

Apart from collecting rubbish what do we need employees for? Come to think of it most of them fit that category.
In my experience the council is not run by senior officers. The council is run by a small number of councillors who make up the cabinet. Most senior officers are too scared of Rod Bluh and his cabinet to question anything that they do.

Individual councillors don't and shouldn't have much influence on policy. Councillors are elected to represent one ward (not Swindon). Elected councillors have power collectively (ie. if 51% of them agree on something), but these days most decisions are made by the cabinet and are then approved by the scrunity committee.

Both the cabinet and scrunity committee are made up of elected councillors (not officers).
[quote][p][bold]Meldrews Dad[/bold] wrote: I 2Could B has a point about the cabinet being elected to run the town. Sadly they don't - the town is run by "senior" officers who maintain their socialist repuplic ideas and then have them rubber stamped by a bunch of wimps who do what they are told or face professional standards inquiries. Sack the senior officers and make it a sackable offence to over rule an elected councillors plan and impose their own. We don't need a grossly overpaid chief executive and we don't need two thirds of the middle management. Apart from collecting rubbish what do we need employees for? Come to think of it most of them fit that category.[/p][/quote]In my experience the council is not run by senior officers. The council is run by a small number of councillors who make up the cabinet. Most senior officers are too scared of Rod Bluh and his cabinet to question anything that they do. Individual councillors don't and shouldn't have much influence on policy. Councillors are elected to represent one ward (not Swindon). Elected councillors have power collectively (ie. if 51% of them agree on something), but these days most decisions are made by the cabinet and are then approved by the scrunity committee. Both the cabinet and scrunity committee are made up of elected councillors (not officers). MrAngry

7:23pm Fri 28 Dec 12

MrAngry says...

Further to my previous comment, senior officers and consultants offer professional advice to cabinet.

However, if cabinet don't like the professional advice they will put pressure on officers to change their professional opinion. Most senior officers are 'yes men' and are too ambitious to dare offer a professional opinion that does not fit the political agenda.
Further to my previous comment, senior officers and consultants offer professional advice to cabinet. However, if cabinet don't like the professional advice they will put pressure on officers to change their professional opinion. Most senior officers are 'yes men' and are too ambitious to dare offer a professional opinion that does not fit the political agenda. MrAngry

8:35pm Fri 28 Dec 12

Empty Car Park says...

Wasting OUR money on mess ups such as Whalebridge junction, Whichelstowe infrastructure, dodgy deals with Ricki, etc are NOT a good example of democracy.

If public opinion had not been ignored these would have been far greater savings
Wasting OUR money on mess ups such as Whalebridge junction, Whichelstowe infrastructure, dodgy deals with Ricki, etc are NOT a good example of democracy. If public opinion had not been ignored these would have been far greater savings Empty Car Park

9:29pm Fri 28 Dec 12

The Real Librarian says...

Re 24.
Why not scrap the post?
We already have Rod B. We don't need a paid officer to duplicate his function.

Jim Grant is an Idiot if he thinks we think Labour would do better.
Re 24. Why not scrap the post? We already have Rod B. We don't need a paid officer to duplicate his function. Jim Grant is an Idiot if he thinks we think Labour would do better. The Real Librarian

8:27am Sat 29 Dec 12

Wiltshireman says...

Quote - 13. Improve council tax collection rates Swindon Borough Council is in the top quartile for council tax collection performance for all unitary authorities. In 2011/12 we collected 97.8 per cent of Council Tax within the financial year and we go on to collect nearly 99 per cent of Council Tax that falls due. Our arrears collection has continued to improve. - Unquote

Yes, by the use of lying, cheating, bullying mouthy Bailiffs who use illegal methods to frighten young and old. Capita own two Bailiff companies so there is a conflict of interest there
Quote - 13. Improve council tax collection rates Swindon Borough Council is in the top quartile for council tax collection performance for all unitary authorities. In 2011/12 we collected 97.8 per cent of Council Tax within the financial year and we go on to collect nearly 99 per cent of Council Tax that falls due. Our arrears collection has continued to improve. - Unquote Yes, by the use of lying, cheating, bullying mouthy Bailiffs who use illegal methods to frighten young and old. Capita own two Bailiff companies so there is a conflict of interest there Wiltshireman

9:11am Sat 29 Dec 12

house on the hill says...

Wiltshireman, there are a number of processes to go through and months of procedures that cannot be ignored before bailiffs are instructed. most of the time individuals have had more than enough time to respond to the council to set up payment plans. Yes there are a few rimes when the system fails, but more often than not it is the apathy of the individual that leads to bailifs being put in.
On the other side of the coin if you were owed money and the person refused to pay how far would you go to get it back???? Sadly far too many live their lives by double standards and expect others to live to a higher standard than they themselves do.
As for Capita, I agree, there are far too many conflicts of interest with other companies they own, Bailiffs, IT, etc not forgetting the hundreds of jobs they have shifted out of Swindon to their call and processing centres. Our taxes go to help the economies of coventry and shepton mallet amongst others as well as to line the pockets of shareholders who really dont care whether Swindon survives or not as long as they make a profit at it.
We need to get rid of all the partners and consultants as well as all the hangers on and make council staff do the jobs they are paid for and if they are unable to do so they they should be got rid of the same way a private sector company would. Its about time SBC was run for the benefit of the people of Swindon rather than for the councillors and staff!
Wiltshireman, there are a number of processes to go through and months of procedures that cannot be ignored before bailiffs are instructed. most of the time individuals have had more than enough time to respond to the council to set up payment plans. Yes there are a few rimes when the system fails, but more often than not it is the apathy of the individual that leads to bailifs being put in. On the other side of the coin if you were owed money and the person refused to pay how far would you go to get it back???? Sadly far too many live their lives by double standards and expect others to live to a higher standard than they themselves do. As for Capita, I agree, there are far too many conflicts of interest with other companies they own, Bailiffs, IT, etc not forgetting the hundreds of jobs they have shifted out of Swindon to their call and processing centres. Our taxes go to help the economies of coventry and shepton mallet amongst others as well as to line the pockets of shareholders who really dont care whether Swindon survives or not as long as they make a profit at it. We need to get rid of all the partners and consultants as well as all the hangers on and make council staff do the jobs they are paid for and if they are unable to do so they they should be got rid of the same way a private sector company would. Its about time SBC was run for the benefit of the people of Swindon rather than for the councillors and staff! house on the hill

10:31am Sat 29 Dec 12

Grimwald says...

Another missed opportunity for the labour party!!
why oh why didn't they ask the question - how does a debt not present when they were in power have to be serviced by £8m of interest charges a year? You can an awful lot of services with £8m every year!!
or does Mr Pickles not know about that one?
Another missed opportunity for the labour party!! why oh why didn't they ask the question - how does a debt not present when they were in power have to be serviced by £8m of interest charges a year? You can an awful lot of services with £8m every year!! or does Mr Pickles not know about that one? Grimwald

2:46pm Sat 29 Dec 12

TinkeyWinkey says...

Council staff do the jobs they are paid for!!!!!


I went into their offices on Christmas Eve only to be told that all Council Staff were on a Staff Day!!!! Think the Main Reception area is manned by Capita.

Where's the point in wasting money to open an office if none of the SBC staff are at work??
Council staff do the jobs they are paid for!!!!! I went into their offices on Christmas Eve only to be told that all Council Staff were on a Staff Day!!!! Think the Main Reception area is manned by Capita. Where's the point in wasting money to open an office if none of the SBC staff are at work?? TinkeyWinkey

5:22pm Sat 29 Dec 12

house on the hill says...

And what is a staff day anyway? Most of them already get 30 days annual leave not including bank holidays, so thats 38 days a year, plus "flexi days" whatever thay are. I know of some staff who are at their desks less than 4 days a week with all the leave they take. And they wonder why they cant provide the service, they are never there to provide it in the first place! Really no idea how to run a business, they seem to have forgotten their first responsibility is to the tax payer not hemselves!
And what is a staff day anyway? Most of them already get 30 days annual leave not including bank holidays, so thats 38 days a year, plus "flexi days" whatever thay are. I know of some staff who are at their desks less than 4 days a week with all the leave they take. And they wonder why they cant provide the service, they are never there to provide it in the first place! Really no idea how to run a business, they seem to have forgotten their first responsibility is to the tax payer not hemselves! house on the hill

10:01pm Sat 29 Dec 12

OldTown90 says...

MrAngry wrote:
Further to my previous comment, senior officers and consultants offer professional advice to cabinet.

However, if cabinet don't like the professional advice they will put pressure on officers to change their professional opinion. Most senior officers are 'yes men' and are too ambitious to dare offer a professional opinion that does not fit the political agenda.
Look no further than Cllr Bawden's "Children die outside schools..." remarks at the November 2011 Planning Committee and the Highways officers liver bellied , cap doffing subservience as the personification of the above comment.

Wonder how may pieces of silver (or in modern parlance how much in pay awards) this cost the Swindon taxpayer

Wonder if the officers - they know who they are would care to comment???
[quote][p][bold]MrAngry[/bold] wrote: Further to my previous comment, senior officers and consultants offer professional advice to cabinet. However, if cabinet don't like the professional advice they will put pressure on officers to change their professional opinion. Most senior officers are 'yes men' and are too ambitious to dare offer a professional opinion that does not fit the political agenda.[/p][/quote]Look no further than Cllr Bawden's "Children die outside schools..." remarks at the November 2011 Planning Committee and the Highways officers liver bellied , cap doffing subservience as the personification of the above comment. Wonder how may pieces of silver (or in modern parlance how much in pay awards) this cost the Swindon taxpayer Wonder if the officers - they know who they are would care to comment??? OldTown90

4:44pm Sun 30 Dec 12

itsamess3 says...

I 2 Could B says...
5:48pm Sat 29 Dec 12

@itsamess3: you think 14 years is a decent period of time to serve behind bars for a convicted criminal who has been handed a 'Life' sentence? Do you even realise what a person has to do in order to receive a 'Life' sentence these days?
Typical response from our potential councillor--you know--inability to actually read what was said. That coupled to some very good sentences by our local judges which you obviously and conveniently missed in the Adver where a life sentence was given. Another case attracted a 14 yrs sentence and numerous appeals against severity of sentences failed.
As stated--we need councillors who will present correct facts-not their personal beliefs as they are elected to represent the views of their electors rather than what suits them--then we may get a functional council.
I 2 Could B says... 5:48pm Sat 29 Dec 12 @itsamess3: you think 14 years is a decent period of time to serve behind bars for a convicted criminal who has been handed a 'Life' sentence? Do you even realise what a person has to do in order to receive a 'Life' sentence these days? Typical response from our potential councillor--you know--inability to actually read what was said. That coupled to some very good sentences by our local judges which you obviously and conveniently missed in the Adver where a life sentence was given. Another case attracted a 14 yrs sentence and numerous appeals against severity of sentences failed. As stated--we need councillors who will present correct facts-not their personal beliefs as they are elected to represent the views of their electors rather than what suits them--then we may get a functional council. itsamess3

4:47pm Sun 30 Dec 12

Oliver_Donachie says...

Yes.
Yes. Oliver_Donachie

6:29pm Sun 30 Dec 12

I 2 Could B says...

Oliver_Donachie wrote:
Yes.
hesajoke3 says
numerous appeals against severity of sentences failed.

Ah, yes, the classic spin.

Defence teams often appeal sentences, even when they're clearly lenient, mainly as they have absolutely nothing to lose in doing so. If the criminal in question is on legal aid, which many are, all the better - we are forced to pay for it.

A bunch of three judges agreeing that a lenient sentence is acceptable doesn't, in any way whatsoever, mean that the sentence appealed against was 'severe'. In fact, had those sentences even been remotely less than lenient, they would have been reduced.
[quote][p][bold]Oliver_Donachie[/bold] wrote: Yes.[/p][/quote][quote][b]hesajoke3 says[/b][p] numerous appeals against severity of sentences failed. [/quote] Ah, yes, the classic spin. [p] Defence teams often appeal sentences, even when they're clearly lenient, mainly as they have absolutely nothing to lose in doing so. If the criminal in question is on legal aid, which many are, all the better - we are forced to pay for it. [p] A bunch of three judges agreeing that a lenient sentence is acceptable doesn't, in any way whatsoever, mean that the sentence appealed against was 'severe'. In fact, had those sentences even been remotely less than lenient, they would have been reduced. I 2 Could B

7:06pm Sun 30 Dec 12

itsamess3 says...

I 2 Could B wrote:
Oliver_Donachie wrote:
Yes.
hesajoke3 says
numerous appeals against severity of sentences failed.

Ah, yes, the classic spin.

Defence teams often appeal sentences, even when they're clearly lenient, mainly as they have absolutely nothing to lose in doing so. If the criminal in question is on legal aid, which many are, all the better - we are forced to pay for it.

A bunch of three judges agreeing that a lenient sentence is acceptable doesn't, in any way whatsoever, mean that the sentence appealed against was 'severe'. In fact, had those sentences even been remotely less than lenient, they would have been reduced.
Seems as always--you confuse yourself.
[quote][p][bold]I 2 Could B[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oliver_Donachie[/bold] wrote: Yes.[/p][/quote][quote][b]hesajoke3 says[/b][p] numerous appeals against severity of sentences failed. [/quote] Ah, yes, the classic spin. [p] Defence teams often appeal sentences, even when they're clearly lenient, mainly as they have absolutely nothing to lose in doing so. If the criminal in question is on legal aid, which many are, all the better - we are forced to pay for it. [p] A bunch of three judges agreeing that a lenient sentence is acceptable doesn't, in any way whatsoever, mean that the sentence appealed against was 'severe'. In fact, had those sentences even been remotely less than lenient, they would have been reduced.[/p][/quote]Seems as always--you confuse yourself. itsamess3

8:15pm Sun 30 Dec 12

Oliver_Donachie says...

Interesting, I was responding to the question "are you sure".

Carry on. *popcorn*
Interesting, I was responding to the question "are you sure". Carry on. *popcorn* Oliver_Donachie

12:46pm Mon 31 Dec 12

MrAngry says...

13. Improve council tax collections rates.

The 3 councillors who were ordered to appear in court for failing to pay council tax on time after warning letters went unanswered should be named and shamed.
13. Improve council tax collections rates. The 3 councillors who were ordered to appear in court for failing to pay council tax on time after warning letters went unanswered should be named and shamed. MrAngry

3:35pm Mon 31 Dec 12

house on the hill says...

completely agree Mr A, What sort of example is that and how can they moan about collection rates when they dont pay themsleves? Not just named and shamed but got rid of thats disgraceful. But then politicians dont care about the people they serve. You only have to look at the USA where the Republican Upper House would rather let the economy collapse that do a deal with the Democrats for their own gain.

SBC is being run by uncaring politicians and inept managers and just looking at Eric Pickles scares the hell out of anyone! Blind leading the blind at every level. Dont expect things to improve as they wont. Coucillors will be too busy trying to do each other down than actually do whats best for the town and Managers so deeply in a rut they have no chance of ever getting out.
completely agree Mr A, What sort of example is that and how can they moan about collection rates when they dont pay themsleves? Not just named and shamed but got rid of thats disgraceful. But then politicians dont care about the people they serve. You only have to look at the USA where the Republican Upper House would rather let the economy collapse that do a deal with the Democrats for their own gain. SBC is being run by uncaring politicians and inept managers and just looking at Eric Pickles scares the hell out of anyone! Blind leading the blind at every level. Dont expect things to improve as they wont. Coucillors will be too busy trying to do each other down than actually do whats best for the town and Managers so deeply in a rut they have no chance of ever getting out. house on the hill

12:47pm Tue 1 Jan 13

Fartim Poster says...

Councillors will be too busy trying to do each other down than actually do whats best for the town


Sadly this is not just the resolve of councillors.
It would appear that even partners (that failed to "make the grade") of certain councillors are prepared to do all they can to prevent honest, transparent, local democracy
[quote] Councillors will be too busy trying to do each other down than actually do whats best for the town [/quote] Sadly this is not just the resolve of councillors. It would appear that even partners (that failed to "make the grade") of certain councillors are prepared to do all they can to prevent honest, transparent, local democracy Fartim Poster

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