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Politics in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

  • About David Burbage

    David Burbage MBE was Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council from 2007-2016. This blog : Promoted by Geoff Hill on behalf of David Burbage and all other Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative candidates, all of 2 Castle End Farm, Ruscombe, Berkshire RG10 9XQ
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How the Government improves your lives through the Council

Posted by davidburbage on March 9, 2007

Tediously, the Government has rafts of bureaucrats to inspect and give ticks-in-boxes to local authorities. As a result, those who work in those authorities are dead keen to tick the boxes. Locally the plan was to ‘Deliver Excellence’ (ie top marks from the Government). Unfortunately, far from being excellent we only got to be ‘adequate’. 

 You’ll notice we’re already two levels ‘removed’ from services to residents – this isn’t Members asking officers to do something for residents, it’s one lot of civil servants asking another lot of civil servants to do things differently in doing things for residents. Sometimes the requests are to do things differently for Government itself, so for example if residents want their planning authority to consider all applications in public, like Parish Councils do, and the local authority agrees – the Government will come down on that authority like a ton of bricks.

Last night we had a meeting to try to sort out how the Council intends to recover from being merely ‘adequate’. Unfortunately, we discovered that where Members want to do something that the Government doesn’t, “threats and risks” occur. (You’ll notice how we’re now in a debate removed from providing good services to residents)

What matters to me is providing quality services to residents at low cost. Pleasing a Government department always must come second.

And in fact, there’s the key. Delivering quality services is liable to get you a good report from Government because the output is unarguable.

How does this make any difference? A specific – roads expenditure was criticised because it had fallen from £1.5 million to £750,000. Improvement is ‘unlikely’ according to the Inspectors.

Do we have comparable information to prove/disprove this statement or judge whether the increase back up to £1 million will make any difference? Nope.

Members were told, though, that “£1 million is more than £750,000”. So that’s OK then!

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