Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Election business planning

OUR bloated system of local government needs a cost savings overhaul, according to the man who helmed the organisation that represents the collective weight of councillors.

John Matthews, the president of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association who is shortly stepping down, said that a business plan for cutting costs across the councils will be ready for Christmas.

So a total of 26 councils are to try and think very, very hard about savings some costs.

Let’s see, what about reducing 26 human resources departments to a workable number like 11. Or how about reducing the number of council headquarters to a workable number like 11...perhaps a radical approach to reducing the number of leisure departments to a workable number like 11...

Oh, hold on a moment! That’s been tried before. A few months ago the Environment Minister, Edwin Poots tried that and he and the council representatives couldn’t agree to agree on anything.

Now, it appears that there has been a belated realisation that the whole thing costs way too much.

It is an indictment of the councils and the Executive that something so blindingly obvious could not have been agreed.

In the face of forthcoming cuts the Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, warned of the need for a ‘reality check’. It seems reality has been too far from too many minds.

Whether this ‘business plan’ represents a step forward remains to be seen. Whether it will produce another piece of paper to sit on a shelf while the haggling continues appears much more likely. After all, what councillor will step forward for election on a ‘we’re cutting jobs, and maybe even local services’ election campaign?

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