16 September 2011

Does the General Functions Committee function ? (GFC)

Yesterday evening was the GFC.

It was a very disappointing meeting. Papers were late in being produced such that one councillor did not have the correct set and so could not have read them in advance of the meeting.

The restructure of the Internal Audit function was discussed for 10 minutes. It seems that the balance of auditors is being adjusted in favour of more junior staff. There will be 0.6 more staff ( although many less than 3 years ago )  but £15,000 less salary. The new organisational chart for audit is apparently so top secret that it was put into the exempt section of the report. How ridiculous. An FOI request will be submitted for the information ( if you weren't so stupidly secretive you wouldn't get all those FOI requests Barnet Council - sit and think about that question for a while ) or Mr Mustard's mole in the HR department will simply email him a copy. 

Despite the shortcomings that the Audit department consistently pick up and the obvious need for more resource it seems that it will not arrive. The lack of sufficient audit capacity will lead to more underperformance by the council. What a wasted opportunity.

Further disappointment arrived in the next item. The Restructure of the Barnet Education Business Partnership; their website is here

Here is the report on that item.

click to enlarge; back to return

There were two votes against this proposal but the day was easily carried, aided by the votes of Councillor Thomas who thought that schools have the capacity as they have generous budgets so if schools use their heads they will be OK and by Councillor Rams who echoed Councillor Thomas's words ( stop patting each other on the back when you haven't done anything original or useful please )  and said that Schools can do it, it's a better place to organise it ( so why were the council currently doing it ? ). Cllr Hutton votes against as she didn't think that teachers had the time to do this.

So did any councillor ask Sharon Glover, the Operational Manager (East/South) Youth Support Service ( by the way Sharon you spoke too fast - evidently nervous of what would happen to your report although you don't need to be as I haven't seen a report to GFC properly dissected yet ) the following questions:

How does the overall budget for the Children's service look? ( A. it is £187,000 under budget )

Now that this service will no longer take place is there a reduced need for management in the Children's service. Maybe we could manage with only the one Operational Manager ( if you are for East/South there must be one for North/West ) which would make up half of the budget needed for Workplace Training. The management team cost £795,000. Could that be trimmed.

There are 873 posts in the Children's service. Are they all absolutely essential? 
Is there a staff chart we can see please?

Of the 873 posts 125 are managers. Are they all absolutely essential?

There are 96 temps from Hays. Can some of these be removed in order to avoid making these 5 individuals redundant who are on secondment?

As usual the councillors gave the report the most cursory of examinations, asked no difficult questions and let the officer have an easy ride. Very disappointing.

One other thing. A Delegated Powers Report has been slipped onto the council website ( not at the top of the list as one would expect but as the seventh item in the list - who will notice that - apart from bloggers of course ). It is number 1426. It also relates to the Children's Service. It is for the reduction of posts in the High Incidence Support Team. It is exempt. Looks like less to manage in the Children's Service everyday. Time for the management to be restructured?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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