A special cabinet meeting is taking place at Wolverhampton City Council today to decide whether the new Tory-Lib Dem coalition should follow through with the plans of the previous (and disastrous) Labour administration by spending £66million of taxpayers’ cash on a deal with private consultancy firm, Axon.
If these consultants are hired on the ten-year contract they will be tasked with making the council more efficient, and reportedly over 300 jobs are earmarked for the chop, but with the latest £8million deficit hitting the authority last week surely this council should be looking to make savings in-house rather than relying on the sort of expensive outside consultants they can ill afford?
Spending money to save money is all very well for some, but Wolverhampton city council appear to be facing some pretty dire financial problems, and they owe it to local taxpayers to improve efficiency without dipping into the reserves to splash out this substantial sum of money.
We’re often told that the new administration at the council have inherited an appalling mess from their predecessors, so seems completely crazy that they would forge ahead with plans laid by the old Labour group. If this were a private sector organisation would we really expect to see a takeover where the incoming executives chose to pursue the questionable plans of those who tried and failed before them?
And those who believe there just isn’t fat to cut away should look to today’s Express & Star where we’re faced with yet another council waste story, and though the figures may be small they are still surely indicative of a culture of waste that could be phased out with self-discipline, attention to detail and plain common-sense. After all, this is a council that spent £2.65million on middle management pay last year!
The article opens: “Taxpayers’ cash is to be spent on setting up another race equality group in Wolverhampton despite the last one being axed for “basically doing nothing”, and tells of the third attempt to create a publically funded group to tackle any racial issues in the city (despite the fact that being racist or racially prejudice in any way is illegal, and Wolverhampton already have a police force…).
No-one’s saying why this new group should be any better, but if it’s funded to the tune of £105,000 per year like the last one, local residents should expect some return. The previous Racial Equality Board (REP) failed to respond to Freedom of Information requests and could not explain what it had achieved since 2005, before that the Racial Equality Council was folded with £25,000 of debts.
Wolverhampton should be looking closer to home before gambling millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on expensive consultants who are unlikely to be a silver bullet. People are looking to local authorities to make the most of their pennies and pounds, and this council should take the lead in demonstrating how real cuts can be made without jeopardising frontline services or relying on Axon or anyone else for outside help.