BCC Staff Conference report
The much heralded Staff Conference at Birmingham Hippodrome on November 30th was well attended.
An anonymous source who was there reports their personal view of the event.
"The event was billed to run 09:15 to 12:30 but didn’t start till 10;15 and the talks wrapped up by 11:30. Only one of the pre-submitted questions was asked, but we were told that the others would be answered by email. I emailed in a question but am still waiting for an answer.
John Clancy (the leader of the council) said that he wants a fundamental change of direction for the council. In particular he said that he does not believe that the job of the council is to deliver public services (which may be a reference to becoming a commissioning council). He said that we need to get past Austerity and that if anyone uses the phrase Economic Growth in his presence he wants to hear the work ‘Inclusive’ at the start of it. He also said that he sees BCC as primarily a political organisation, it’s not a business. He does not what to see the council shrink into being irrelevant.
Clancy highlighted that we are a very young city overall with 20% of our people under the age of 15. We are also growing, a net of 10,000 extra people every year . We are also an economically important city, in the US we would be the 10th biggest city economy, Manchester would be 43rd. His top priority is children’s safeguarding and his second is housing. In the next 12 years we need to build 90,000 homes to address the current shortfall and the projected growth in need.
Then there was a poet, Casey Bailey, reading one of his poems. If you want to hear the poem he’s on YouTube reading it here: https://youtu.be/SJir7cccyPY
Mark Rogers (Chief Exec of BCC) took over and started out with saying that to know where you’re going you need to know where you’ve been (which immediately reminded me of the Talking Heads sign ‘Road to Nowhere’, hope that’s not prophetic). He wants BCC to be an ‘enabling’ council by 2020 (which I felt sounds a lot like Big Society. His major focus is on creating a central corporate approach to supporting service delivery, reducing bureaucracy, strengthening accountability and developing leadership and management through management training. He also seemed to be talking about possibly delayering management and moving to Demand Management and Lean Systems Thinking (TPS).
As they were winding up, after the vetted question, someone shouted from the back “What about Capita?” John Clancy responded that he didn’t see why the council should pay for Rolls Royce IT for itself when there are other priorities in the city, that he wants to cap IT expenditure and will be tough on project spend. "
From what this writer has seen , the whole project seems a bit unclear. The fact remains that BCC is hugely in debt by an estimated £100 million,in part due to not closing elder day care centres they had planned to close. There appears to be a distancing of what the Council should do -provide services - from what it seems to want to do-get other people to run them and just be a "political" Council.
We are expecting a new budget to be sent out for consultation in W/C 5th December.
Meanwhile Unison was distributing anti Austerity leaflets to the crowd outside the Hippodrome to raise awareness of our Anti-Austerity message.