RE Scarborough Council, management of change:
Scarborough is currently undergoing massive structural change in its governance, and must be seen as an ideal opportunity to completely rethink how things are managed and achieved. Having to achieve the same levels of service with fewer people, means working smarter and thinking harder. Back to a blank sheet of paper seems a good idea to me.
What is happening in Scarborough is also happening to councils all over the country; stress-related illness is endemic in over-stretched insecure council officers. None of this is easy for those who have to face up to and deal with the massive changes taking place. The ones who are left in charge of what remains are going to have a very difficult time. We can safely say that Public Sector management is no longer the “feather-bedded sinecure” it was always believed to be (but they do have their pensions and severance pay to soften the blows).
Being an elected Member or Leader will be doubly difficult. Unless they have the life skills and ideally some business experience, and thus are able to formulate policies which are workable, and recruit or maintain council officers who have the qualifications and ability to translate those policies into productive and affordable actions – then our present problems will be compounded rather than resolved. We need people with some knowledge, skills and experience directly related to the issues with which the council has to deal now and within (a minimum of) the next five years. Analysis of these together with analysis of appropriate contractual agreements directly related to the issues they are recruited to address, seems to me to be a way forward. These are several and diverse from Marine Engineering to Tourism and Entertainment Strategy. At the same time they must ensure that the wishes, requirements and reasonable expectations of the taxpayer are enshrined in these policies.
Those who are having to make these decisions require any help and support that we can give them to get it as right as they can. It is in our interests to offer any of our own expertise and knowledge gained throughout our professional careers. It is also in their interests to seek it out and listen to it. Expensive consultants have to be a luxury of the past.