Thursday, 5 February 2009

Hendon residents' forum: counting the hours

I am off to the Hendon residents' forum tonight to pose some questions about the Future Shape programme. Richard Grice, Future Shape programme director, has already provided some written answers to these. I haven't got time now to tell you what I think of them, but maybe after the meeting.

I had been slightly nervous about this, my first such meeting, but looking at the agenda I can see that I will be among friends.

My questions and Grice's answers:

Qs: When and how does the council intend to inform Barnet residents about the Future Shape programme; will it seek their opinions on the proposals; how will it respond if Barnet residents reject the proposals?

As: The Future Shape of the Council programme is a direct response to concerns raised by residents about access to and the cost of services. These concerns are reflected in the Annual resident survey and other consultation and engagement initiatives, such as In the period to June 2009, a number of groups will explore ways in which improvements and savings will be made. Many of these will consult in a targeted way with Barnet residents. For example we have a group looking at the way we assess people with complex needs in the Borough and we will be talking to a group of families about their experiences and how these can be improved.

Officers will report back to the Council in the summer detailing proposals about where savings and improvements can be made. Should the Council decide after that to change what services are provided or who supplies them, this will be done on a business case by business case basis, taking full account of the likely impact on residents and staff, and the risks involved. This is in line with the way that previous decisions of this type have been made.

Q and petition: The Council’s Future Shape programme is likely to have profound effects on the way council services are delivered in future. So far, however, the information available to residents about the programme has been too little and what has been available has been difficult to understand. The Plain English Campaign described the Future Shape report passed at the Cabinet meeting on 3 December 2008 thus: “From a plain English point of view, it is an awful document”. We are petitioning the Council to make a clear, plain English version of the Future Shape programme available to the public so that residents can judge for themselves what they think of it.

A: Articles have been included on the future shape of the Council programme in recent editions of Barnet First, delivered to all residents, and it is planned to make more use of Barnet Online in the future. Officers will make available a short summary of the background to and progress of the programme on Barnet Online.

Meantime, have fun with this. I can't wait to, nudge, nudge! Wordles as well! But later...


Citizen Barnet said...

Comments on own blog.....I'll write more on Monday. I'm off to France for weekend! Had a fairly torrid time at the residents' forum, but it was somewhat useful, I think. So cliquey, though! But I did meet Rog T, well, nodded at him.

Rog T said...

Had to shoot off as I play 5 a side on a Thursday at 8.30pm. I bumped into Councillor Richard Weider on the way out in the car park. Gave him an all too brief lecture on the failings of future shape. He is going to be on the receiving end of a rather sharp poke for his attempt to intimidate you.