Here is one of Nick Walkley's messages to staff ( stick with me here )
It is a masterpiece of communication, tactful, empathetic and shows his human side; he really does care. He is a highly skilled modest executive worth every penny of the £200,000 that he is paid. He completely understands budgeting, works all hours, is politically neutral, is good at blue sky thinking and is a role model for other council chief executives to aspire to. Every council should have a Nick Walkley.
Later today, the council will publish next week’s Cabinet papers, including the budget proposals for 2012/13 through to 2014/15. Cabinet will debate the proposals next Thursday (3 November) and their decision will be put out for consultation until early January.
The papers propose savings in service costs of £13.6million in the coming financial year with Council Tax frozen for the fourth year running.
92 members of staff have been identified as ‘at risk’ of redundancies for the coming financial year. Last year, the final number of redundancies was around 40% of the ‘at risk’ posts.
Managers will be briefing those individuals who are at risk of losing their job during the day.
This is always a difficult time for the wider organisation. The likelihood is that you all know at least one of the people who have been told their post is at risk. At times like this, we all need to be supportive to staff who, whatever fine words senior managers use, will be feeling “Why me?”. The larger financial challenges of the council and the economy as a whole will seem a long way off at this moment.
As those of you who have attended the budget briefings will be aware this council is dong all it can to minimise redundancies, including holding vacant posts open. I hope we can reduce that 92 number and I hope many individuals can be redeployed. I obviously hope to work with the trade unions during the consultation to see how we can minimise redundancies.
We have tried to identify our budget proposals as early as possible this year, to give individuals six months to plan their future and managers time to plan different models of working before we make any changes to services.
In the meantime, the work of the council goes on. The same Cabinet that will debate budget proposals will be discussing how we provide thousands of new primary school places and changes to council house tenancies.
All of the work that we do is important, and all of the people doing it are important. I hope you will all be supportive of those who will undoubtedly be feeling less valued today.
Now normal service will be resumed. It has occurred to the bloggers that if we keep pointing out how poor the management of Barnet is, then no other council will give any of the management a job and we will be stuck with the ones we don't want ( except that they provide plenty of good material ) so my complimentary paragraph at the top is for other council's to consume and believe even though Mr Mustard doesn't mean a word of it. Like those mis-quoted reviews outside of theatres non-stick will be able to cut and paste my praise into his CV. Imagine.
The decisions will go out for consultation but they aren't likely to change.
Managers will be giving the bad news to 92 people. How many will the Chief Executive bother to go and see and thank personally? Zero is Mr Mustard's guess. Mr Mustard does have experience of being made redundant and he thinks that it would be better to have about 14 days notice of redundancy rather than 6 months of worry.
Doesn't it make you feel better that it's not personal, it's the economy which is at fault, not the fact that Barnet Council have been faffing about with the OneBarnet project for years and have employed an army of consultants, temps, interims & contractors as well as setting off along the discredited road ( in Suffolk at least ) to privatisation.
So managers have yet to plan different ways of working so they don't yet know how many staff they will need but 92 of you are heading towards the scrapheap. Genius.
How many consultants will be going as a result of budget cuts and how many Assistant Directors are going? Probably none at all. Far too important.
So do hug your colleagues who are at risk and help them look for a better job either in the council or elsewhere. There is more to life than Barnet Council.