Flat broke Solihull MBC closes public toilets and hires more bureaucrats

October 18, 2007 3:16 PM

According to local reports Ken Meeson, the leader of Solihull Council, is warning of substantial council tax hikes next year in a bid to claw back enough money to straddle the deficit opened by a cut in their government grant. This follows this year’s inflation busting 5% rise in council tax.

Meeson bemoans the council’s fiscal situation – it receives the lowest grant of all the 36 metropolitan councils in England – and cites the closure of public toilets and the reduction in funding for the Solihull Music Service as necessary sacrifices with the council facing at least £5million of further reductions over the next three years as central Government demand 3% efficiency savings from local authorities. Needless to say residents are very critical of these moves.

In addition, Solihull Council have made “savings on services” which we can only hope is not a euphemism for essential frontline service cutbacks, as well as making some voluntary redundancies. Meeson asks, ‘I wonder what more we can do’ and yet a quick look at the Solihull Council website jobs page reveals that the council are still doling out hefty salaries for bureaucratic positions:

Safeguarding Consultant 
£24,708 - £30,843

The primary focus of this role is to work with key individuals to ensure SMBC Corporate policies and procedures promote the welfare of vulnerable individuals and staff are aware of their responsibilities to do so and enabled to do so.

Are Solihull Council staff not already aware of procedure? How have they coped before this post was invented?

It goes on to include choice snippets such as:

Develop and commission training to ensure relevant individuals are enabled to utilise Corporate polices in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable individuals.

• Raise awareness across SMBC employees of the responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable individuals including review of corporate induction programme.

• Attend and effectively contribute to a range of internal and/or external meetings and project groups as required.

• Produce progress reports at an agreed frequency and present to various forums.

Surely if a real problem arises with regard to staff treatment of vulnerable individuals we have the provision of the police who are a more effective and direct port-of-call than the Solihull ‘Safeguarding Consultant’ whose remit just seems to require that he dreams up/develops many more time-consuming rules, regulations and procedures.

It isn’t possible for Solihull Council to plead poverty whilst advertising posts like these. Instead of cutting back on public toilets and other vital amenities Solihull needs to reassess and ensure that its savings are truly efficient, and accrued by shedding unnecessary bureaucracy like that exemplified by this role, rather than making the sort of headline grabbing cuts designed to alarm the public and justify the next tax-hike.

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