In a catastrophic 12-page report, the interim chief executive of Surrey County Council slates the leadership, organisation and strategy of the borough. You can read the full report here but these paragraphs really stand out:
“The difficult position in which the County Council finds itself is fundamentally a failure of
leadership, culture and governance in its widest sense. That failure is a shared
responsibility of both Members and Officers.”
“The organisation is widely viewed as lacking vision, direction and strategy and instead
operates by a series of often disconnected short-term tactics. Nowhere is this more
evident than in the making of the budget. This gives the very strong feeling of being driven
by events rather than a sense of the County Council being in control of its own destiny.”
The above speaks volumes. The lack of coherence and strategy have led to some unbelievable decisions, be it their focus on propaganda or the £10,000 booze-up earlier this year for council leaders and senior officers. All this comes from an authority that has plummeted from an audit commission rating of 4 stars to 1. In addition, the soaring council tax rates have become an admission that they lack the political focus to lower local rates.
If there were any doubts my analysis was out of step, Para 17 slams the council with the following:
“Finally, in terms of leadership style, (and this is entirely consistent with the earlier points)
the organisation is very internally focussed, obsessed with itself, with its own processes
and bureaucracy. The corollary is that there is less focus on outcomes, residents,
communities and working in partnership.”
I could go on and on extrapolating on the interim chief executive’s findings. In all, it appears the council cabinet marginalises its backbenchers – meaning the few with portfolios become the defacto decision making body - and lacks the focus to deliver for residents in the borough. Hopefully, with this report in wide circulation, things will change in Surrey. We live in hope.