The front page of today’s Birmingham Post might suggest that it’s déjà-vu at Business Link West Midlands, as Alison White, a chief executive who has been in place just a year walks away prompting AWM intervention.
Of course, the huge irony is that these are the very people who are supposed to be doling out advice to businesses, and yet we only have to jump back to August 2008 in the WMTPA blog to recall a very similar type of panic.
Back then thirty staff were put on gardening leave, plans to drop another 150 were announced, and Alison White’s predecessor, David Draycott, had made a sharp exit not dissimilar to the one she’s just made, according to the local newspaper.
At the time Ms. White said: “we have strong aspirations to become the best publicly funded business support organisation in the country”. We can only assume by from this week’s revelations that Business Link West Midlands has failed miserably, and with funding of around £40million-per-year, this is an organisation that costs the public big money when it falters.
It almost goes without saying that Advantage West Midlands are the primary funders of this information and advice service, and consequently they’ve sent in 3 senior troubleshooters to the head offices in Quinton (and let’s not forget what backlash even the move to these offices prompted…). To many people this will just look like more costly intervention, as AWM tries to breathe life into this failing public body.
Whatever is happening at Business Link West Midlands is clearly rather hazy, but it’s pretty clear that this is an organisation with sizeable problems that is being artificially kept afloat by our local unaccountable regional quango.