During a friendly twitter exchange with Lillian Greenwood MP I discovered that my predecessor at Nottingham City Council’s award-winning energy squad, Ravi Subramanian, is still messing about with spreadsheets. This is excellent news for anyone who wants to know how Tory austerity has affected their Local Authority. It only seems to include ‘upper tier’ authorities, i.e. County and Unitary Councils but it is still a brilliant piece of work!
Here’s an example graph comparing Lincolnshire against Peterborough. It appears to show both Councils have suffered roughly similar cuts in percentage terms even though Peterborough is significantly more deprived.
A recent Freedom of Information request by Independent SKDC Councillor Ashley Baxter has revealed that at least ten jobs have been recruited without the ‘normal’ competitive process of advertising and shortlisting for the roles.
In several cases the new recruits are former colleagues of senior Conservative Councillors at SKDC. Some of the direct recruitments have been for very senior roles.
Cllr Ashley Baxter comments: “This is a disgrace and a scandal. Nepotism and cronyism on this scale was supposed to have been eradicated with the Northcote Trevelyan Report of 1854 and is contrary to every rule of common sense in local government.” Cllr Baxter is keen to point out that his opposition to the recruitments is not related to the nominated individuals, most of who he has never met, but to the principles of transparency, due process, fairness and equality.
Cllr Baxter has made a formal complaint to the council about the number of appointments. He believes that most, if not all, of the appointments might be illegal and in contravention of the Equalities Act 2010 and the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.
At the last Full Meeting of South Kesteven District Council I proposed a motion that Grantham should have a Community Governance Review to enable residents of the town to choose whether they wish to have a town council. My proposal was criticised with a succession of weak arguments along the lines of: ‘we once held a couple of meetings a few years ago but no-one turned up’; ‘we think it might cost a lot’; and ‘you live in the Deepings so what’s it got to do with you?’ (I’m paraphrasing!)
The conclusion of the debate was the passing of wrecking amendment put forward by Coun Ray Wootten (Con) to say the Council would have hold a review only if they were legally obliged to or if SKDC ceased to exist. So, the Tories were able to say they were not against a Town Council in principle but would only vote for it in specific circumstances (and those circumstances would be if they had no other choice).
Coun Ray Wootten (Con) and his wife Coun Linda Wootten (Con) pictured in 2016 with mayor’s hat, chain and ermine but no Town Council to preside over.
I’m pleased to read that this week’s Grantham Journal proves at least one resident supports the idea of replacing the Charter Trustees with a proper town council by publishing the following letter from Ann Wright: Continue reading →
Gravitas Housing Ltd is a company established and wholly owned by South Kesteven District Council.
What is a LACC?
In order to become more agile, flexible and able to generate revenue, many Council’s have chosen to establish Local Authority Controlled Companies (LACCs or sometimes pronounced ‘Lac-Co’).
Some LACCs have been very successful, for example Norfolk Property Services (NPS) which now has a group structure and trades as Norse Commercial Services delivering services to the public in many local authority areas (geographic areas and service areas).
Other Local Authority commercial ventures have been a nightmare, e.g. Solutions SK which was described as a ‘Four-Star shambles‘ when it lost £4.7million pounds in a year. When I say ‘lost’ I mean they couldn’t find it. The highly paid Directors employed for their commercial acumen couldn’t explain where it had gone. There was no question of fraud, only incompetence on a grand scale. I happy to report that the ‘SK’ in ‘Solutions SK’ refers to Stockport not South Kesteven. Presumably they couldn’t even spell Stockport Council when they set up the LACC.
Gravitas slowly takes off
Back in 2015, South Kesteven Councillors decided that the LACC vehicle was a band-wagon worth jumping on to and so a Shareholders Committee was formed. This is an advisory group to keep the company directors on track. Due to the need for political balance, the membership consists of four Tories and one Independent (which is me).
The first meeting was scheduled 4th July 2016 but this was cancelled. Another date was set for 6th September 2016 but this was also cancelled. The Shareholder Committee finally met for the first time on 3rd October 2016 Continue reading →