Monday, 20 September 2010

Mr Travers moves to calm councillors' audit committee jitters

It's funny, isn't it? One of the planks of Future Shape/easyCouncil/One Barnet is to build a new relationship with residents. Increasingly I am thinking of this as the "arms-length relationship". Minimal services, delivered by a private or arms-length firm, with people paying to top up if they can afford it or want "extras" (as yet undefined).

More and more remote access, less face to face contact. Ideally, actually, in the minds of the current administration they'd rather we all just f***ed off; then they could spend no money on no services, and say it was a job well done. Although some of them would be floundering about looking for an outlet for their talents, and they would miss the allowances...

Deputy Chief Executive Andrew Travers has written to all the councillors to calm their concerns about a letter Roger Tichborne has sent them. Roger is simply pointing out that the Grant Thornton audit of Future Shape so far shows there are several "opportunities for improvement" (gaping holes) in the (scant) progress made.

We know that some Tory councillors are worried about Future Shape, not just Labour and Lib Dem. In the Cabinet, when I saw them discuss Future Shape (as far as they do actually discuss anything on these stage-managed occasions), I sensed that one or two needed reassurance that the return would be worth the outlay - Richard Cornelius was one.

Well, they must surely be really wondering now. Mark Shooter called Future Shape a "Stalinist bureaucratic initiative" when he challenged Lynne Hillan for leadership of the Conservative group - and we know he ran her a close second!

I have just watched the "Panorama" programme investigating whether the 9,000 or so public sector employees who earn more than the Prime Minister (£142,500) deserve their pay. The reputations of a few of those people are on the line here in Barnet if Future Shape goes down. No wonder they are moving to calm fears.

My question is why don't the likes of Travers talk to the people? We are the ones that really need to be persuaded of the merits of the project we are paying for. I forgot, we must be kept at arm's length.

P.S. Roger has unearthed all sorts of details about Andrew Travers' pay and career path, too knotty for me to untangle at this late hour, but rewarding reading, I'm sure.

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