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Under pressure

Brian Taylor | 13:47 UK time, Monday, 23 November 2009

Isn't that an intriguing development, those eight west of Scotland councils being urged to consider sharing resources and back-office provision?

Stand by for more, much more, of the same as the impact of inevitable cuts in public spending is felt.

This type of initiative has been under consideration for some time, most notably when the former Labour minister Tom McCabe was quietly pressing for such changes.

The impetus has increased with the advent of a new Scottish Government and increased pressure upon cash.

Should we go further and attempt local council reorganisation: boundary changes, perhaps?

Longer term, that might well save more money. Do we really need 32 directors of this and that, with attendant staff? Could we, for example, get by with fewer police forces?

Snag is that in the short to medium term such top-down change can tend to create problems, rather than solve them. It can create unhappy, rebellious, workforces.

'Magnificent goals'

It can generate a defensive attitude.

Can we, then, generate savings without, in the first instance, going down the road of overall structural change?

Can the existing public sector be conjoined to produce new, cheaper ways of doing things?

To repeat, the extent of the challenge is big - and about to get much, much bigger.

Just read that remarkable Audit Scotland report, warning of cuts in spending of 7-13% in real terms.

PS: What a result at Tannadice on Sunday!

What a football team! What magnificent goals! Craig, just say no to Hampden: you know it makes sense.

Comments

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  • 1. At 2:24pm on 23 Nov 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    The SNP's planned LIT would have centralised local taxation, council utilities have been centralised, the SNP now have greatly-increased say in local services through the "[SNPspeak] magnificently historically fabulous [/SNPspeak]" concordat....so now expecting the SNP to start pushing for even more centralisation on the grounds of 'economies of scale'.

    And the nationalists on here will of course wail about the forecast spending cuts, all the while conveniently forgetting the MANY tens of billions pumped into saving RBS and HBOS.

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  • 2. At 2:24pm on 23 Nov 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Brian
    I hope all the local authorities are looking at what Aberdeen is having to do to repair it's finances, because that is what each of them will have to do and more. 13% reductions is practically 1 in every 7 staff would have to go. Not something you want to be doing in a recession.

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  • 3. At 2:29pm on 23 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    PS: What a result at Tannadice on Sunday!

    What a football team! What magnificent goals! Craig, just say no to Hampden: you know it makes sense.


    I would back that comment 100% :-)

    Back to politics.
    I'm a bit wary about the sharing of expenses by the local authorities. Not so much because it does make financial sense but for the worries often professed by northighlander. What will, inevitably, happen is the those council headquarter jobs will be centralised to the biggest local authority. Therefore the salaries will be lost in the local areas and so will the spending power of those salaries be lost. What is the answer, apart from independence? I suspect that there will have to be massive local job losses and even more families will enter the dole dependent society with little hope of there being a light near the end of the tunnel. I suspect that people will move from the deprived areas, as we have always done and the small local areas will struggle to exist for a while.
    To add a political point to this depressing scenario you have to look who was in charge of the UK government and who oversaw the regulation of those, so called, bankrupt banks; the one and only Gordon 'No more boom and bust' Brown. I hope the voters remember who got us into this mess at the next general election.

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  • 4. At 3:05pm on 23 Nov 2009, InfrequentAllele2 wrote:

    1. Reluctant-Expat

    I'd keep quiet about the billions pumped into saving the banks if I were you.

    Had HBOS and RBS been properly regulated in the first place, then we wouldn't have needed to pump billions into saving them in the first place and we wouldn't currently be facing such savage cuts in public spending. Have you forgotten who was responsible for the regulatory regime? Let me remind you, it was Gordon Brown and the Westminster government.

    Spain's economy is even less healthy than the UK's since it was based upon the building boom which went bust, but not a single Spanish bank got into difficulties, and as a result Spain is not faced with such drastic cuts to public services as the UK. Why? Because the Spanish banks were regulated properly.

    Supporters of independence (that's not the same as SNP members or even SNP voters, please try and remember that) have every right to criticise British regulatory practices.

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  • 5. At 3:16pm on 23 Nov 2009, Robabody wrote:

    Auld song from me folks......before anyone puts one "back office" into another I suggest that the Scottish Government (Local and National) engaged with John Seddon of Messers Vanguard and see what HUGE savings can be made without the need for "mergers" and "economy of scale" etc.

    Have a read at http://www.systemsthinking.co.uk/1.asp

    I've no connection with this company other than I have witnessed what they have been able to do in my former organisation... saved a packet, increased cutomer and staff satisfaction.

    PS JS has very strong views about Audit committee's, measurements etc., so it makes interesting reading

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  • 6. At 3:18pm on 23 Nov 2009, skint wrote:

    Brian
    "What a football team! What magnificent goals! Craig, just say no to Hampden: you know it makes sense."

    Just look at what Craig has managed to do with a team of journeymen footballers, just think what he can do for the national team!

    I see gedguys point regarding job losses etc but OTH centralised purchasing would help, economies of scale etc, too many LA's do their own thing, put in hardware and software systems that aren't used to their potential,arent compatible with existing systems within the same authority never mind a neighbouring one, without extensive re-engineering.

    DLO's - in our area we regularly see roads being fixed on a Sunday - why is that? Surely there can be savings on overtime if these items are scheduled during the week? Have yet to see the local boys out fixing anything on a weekday!

    The private sector has been hard hit, we do have unhappy, rebellious work forces and the public sector cannot be immune from the pain. I am sure that we can all highlight areas of inefficiency in our own Local Authority, however, I am equally sure that there are significant savings to be made in several areas without incurring significant job losses, but that would mean cooperation from all concerned, staff, unions, employers and politicians - naw thats just too radical!

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  • 7. At 3:35pm on 23 Nov 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    4. More of that selective nationalist memory?

    "We are pledging a light-touch regulation suitable to a Scottish financial sector with its outstanding reputation for probity, as opposed to one like that in the UK, which absorbs huge amounts of management time in 'gold-plated' regulation."

    Alex Salmond, SNP Conference 2007.

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  • 8. At 3:44pm on 23 Nov 2009, Sheneval wrote:

    Brian,

    Lots of commonsense suggestions here - I would welcome Joint Administration but with a return to true local councils to deal with locl issues - the current Councils are far too big and remote with many Local Councillors being forced into deals resented by local people.

    Unfortunately, this will result in job losses, but the situation has got out of control and people like myself, who are charged an arm & a leg in local taxation, are sick fed up to the teeth with politicians who pretend to believe the situation is fair, where the rich are protected with the tax being capped and many pay nothing towards the tax at all, despite earning far more than most pensioners.

    The SNP's proposals whilst not perfect, (it should all be part of national income tax), will continue to earn votes but they should have struck a deal with the Lib Dems over this issue and fine tuned the actual charges later when they got a majority. Better half a loaf than no bread at all.


    Sorry but I think you will lose Craig - he needs to move up a level.

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  • 9. At 3:54pm on 23 Nov 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #1 Reluctant-Expat

    "The SNP's planned LIT would have centralised local taxation"
    Arguably only because of the Scotland Act, which allows the Scottish Government to set only one national rate in variance to the UK basic rate.

    "so now expecting the SNP to start pushing for even more centralisation on the grounds of 'economies of scale'"
    But there I rather agree with you - it's a function of the top down nature of UK polity, with functions being "devolved" from the centre rather than being "delegated" by the hoi polloi to whomsoever they choose.

    OTOH, your beloved Tories have hardly been decentralisers in practice and NuLab are even worse.

    Introducing the Swiss concept of the Commune, with its power to choose to which Canton it belongs and giving the citizenry the right to approve or reject what functions should be carried out by which levels of government would work and work well, but which party would introduce it? The old Liberal Party might have, but the current unLib unDems are nearly as centralising as NuLab.

    Increasing the powers of the community councils might just be a start, but if any such economies of scale are to made they should be approved from the bottom up not the top down.

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  • 10. At 4:20pm on 23 Nov 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #7 Reluctant-Expat

    "light-touch regulation"
    That does not equal light-headed.

    "huge amounts of management time in 'gold-plated' regulation"
    i.e. not three separate management-heavy organisations spending most of their time trying to pass the buck to each other.

    Do you seriously suggest any state has a worse regulatory system than the one Duff Gordon put in place for the UK?

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  • 11. At 4:30pm on 23 Nov 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    9. Still no answer around as to why Salmond persisted in chasing the power to implement a 3% increase in both standard and higher income tax rates...

    ...when he already had the power to hike up the standard rate, which would have raised 80-90% of the revenue.

    Was he really interested in replacing council tax or was he just after another fight with Westminster?

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  • 12. At 4:35pm on 23 Nov 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    Brian

    what you say is a good political sound-bite, it sounds good and delivers the rhetoric for the tabloids. However change has to be made for the right reasons.

    In the Highlands we have a huge council that covers an area approximately 40% of the Scottish land mass. It doesn't make very local government. Councillors have to travel 150 miles to make decisions on areas that can be 150 miles further in the other direction.

    We don't get good government from this and it certainly is not local. I can see having a centralised payroll for example would be okay, maybe some other similar functions, but local government must be local.

    the problem with the centralisation argument is that it will be taken too far. Local people are best placed to decide local priorities. It beggars belief that politicians would try to sell us the idea that bigger is more efficient!

    Bigger organisations are notoriously more inefficient. Sometimes small is best. If we reduce local authorities again, it would cost more money to re-org with no guarantee of any savings.

    If we go for larger authorities why not just have one, as Holyrood already controls all revenue raising powers so why not just go one step further?

    What is needed is new thinking not rehashing the ideology of the past. Empowerment of decision making is the way to have less management in local government. But we also need to visit the some of the sacred cows, for example education, what is the provision of 3,4 year old education adding to the current output? My eldest has just left school, he was in the first group to get this, results are no better. However this costs loads of money.

    Universal free personal care, needs looked at again, so does the growth of admin in the NHS and everywhere else. What we need is new and better ways of delivering the services, look at good examples like Ayrshire where all public services integrate in areas like Dalmellington, delivering better services at lower cost.

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  • 13. At 4:41pm on 23 Nov 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #7 RE
    So what's with complaining that politicians don't keep their promises. Gordon did and that's why he had to bail out the banks. Don't forget that Barclays had to be bailed out but preferred to ask the Arabs who had lots of monet because they had lots of oil. I wonder what happened to our oil money?

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  • 14. At 5:02pm on 23 Nov 2009, Bandages_For_Konjic wrote:

    "Should we go further and attempt local council reorganisation: boundary changes, perhaps?

    Just to put this question into its proper context; the Concordat with COSLA, as agreed in November 2007 states, quite specifically that -

    "The Scottish Government will not undertake structural reform of local government during the term of this Parliament."

    So, it would be slightly more accurate if Brian's question went - "Should whoever forms the next Scottish Government in 2011 go further and attempt local council reorganisation: boundary changes, perhaps?

    Anything else might be accused of being, I don't know, scaremongering. And we wouldn't want that, would we?

    Interested parties might wish to remind themselves of the contents of the Concordat, which can be found here

    #1: Reluctant-Expat, in particular, might want to have a squint - so he can explain how a move to Single Outcome Agreements; a reduction in ring-fenced specific grants; a reduction in monitoring and reporting not directly linked to ring-fenced funding and; the retention, by local authorities, of local efficiency savings somehow adds up (In his fevered imagination, at least) to a "greatly-increased say in local services"

    Back later, I hope. I will await R-E's response with interest.

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  • 15. At 5:07pm on 23 Nov 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    13. "I wonder what happened to our oil money?"

    How many times?

    Holyrood spent it. Ask the SNP.

    It has been pointed out again and again and again that oil revenues are returned in the block grant.

    Do the SNP ask "What happened to our oil money?" No, because they now realise that oil revenues are returned in the block grant, which is precisely what they had been told on countless occasions.

    How many times do these nationalists need to be told?!

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  • 16. At 5:11pm on 23 Nov 2009, kenstor wrote:

    do away with the councils. this is a small country with a small population. getting rid of councils will save a fortune. it will also get rid of the parochial petty mindedness that abounds in place like angus (where i live) where people have some bigoted attitude towards dundee.

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  • 17. At 5:27pm on 23 Nov 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #15 RE
    So the English aren't subsidizing us then, if it's our own money we're spending?

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  • 18. At 5:27pm on 23 Nov 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #11 Reluctant-Expat
    "Was he really interested in replacing council tax or was he just after another fight with Westminster?"

    If you have evidence that the SNP wanted their LIT proposals to fail, I suggest you provide it. So far as I am aware, the only squabbles with Westmidden were re council tax rebates plus HMRC's admission that more than a decade after the Scotland Act, their systems were unready to collect the taxes provided for within it.

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  • 19. At 5:32pm on 23 Nov 2009, Tom wrote:

    15 is a clown if he thinks Scotland got it's oil money !!!

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  • 20. At 5:37pm on 23 Nov 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #15 Reluctant-Expat
    "How many times do these nationalists need to be told?!"

    Just guessing, but probably fewer than self-confessed Westmidden apparatchiks need to be asked for indepently audited and nationally detailed WGAs.

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  • 21. At 5:39pm on 23 Nov 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    18. Why didn't Salmond implement a 3% increase in the standard rate as an interim measure?

    This would, at the very least, have reduced council tax bills down to a fraction, if not cancelled some of them out completely.

    If he really wanted to remove the Council Tax system, why didn't he do that?

    You do realise that picking fights with UK/English bodies is an integral part of the SNP independence campaign, don't you? Surely, you see that? I dare you to deny it. Please deny it.

    (You're also completely wrong about HMRC.)

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  • 22. At 5:42pm on 23 Nov 2009, Bruce wrote:

    First of all don't you mean what a result in perth on sunday.
    Interesting blog as usual, lots of questions from Brian with no answers really. Either way I think what we need to remember is that when Councils let staff go it is normally the lower paid ones who actually spend their money in local shops, rather than senior management who don't live in the areas they work in. You then have to figure in that the other losers will be the elderly and the young, the unemployed who really need the services that tend to be cut, by that I mean the non-statuatory services. There are going to be job loses, I might even be one of them, things are going to get worse before they get better. There are lots of people we can blame but they are going to be fine with their pensions and pay offs. I just hope that people remember when the next election comes around the MP's who had their fingers in the biscuit tin, they let the bankers gamble with our money, they are using our money to try and fix the problem, they will take our jobs to ease the borrowing or they hope they will and they will expect your vote because in the past we have been sheep to the slaughter and let them away with it. I for one will be keeping this in mind next year at election time, and while I know who I will be voting for I will also be asking some questions if any of the candidates actually show face where I live, they probably won't though.

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  • 23. At 5:53pm on 23 Nov 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    20. Brownedov, you deny the legitimacy of the SNP's accounting figures!

    When the WGA's give the same stats, you are just going to deny them too.

    It's all part of that secret global conspiracy that exists solely to smother Scottish nationalism, remember? The conspiracy that is led by London and involves the EU, OPEC, the oil markets, the banks, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank?

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  • 24. At 5:58pm on 23 Nov 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #11 - "Still no answer around as to why Salmond persisted in chasing the power to implement a 3% increase in both standard and higher income tax rates...

    ...when he already had the power to hike up the standard rate, which would have raised 80-90% of the revenue.

    Was he really interested in replacing council tax or was he just after another fight with Westminster?"

    So you can't see the difference between replacing an existing tax and imposing an entirely new one. Are you really that blind or are you just talking your usual nonsense?

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  • 25. At 6:01pm on 23 Nov 2009, albamac wrote:

    1. Reluctant-Expat

    REspeak:

    "And the nationalists on here will of course wail about the forecast spending cuts, all the while conveniently forgetting the MANY tens of billions pumped into saving RBS and HBOS."

    BardofAvonspeak:

    "it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

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  • 26. At 6:09pm on 23 Nov 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    23. Reluctant-Expat

    This might help.

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  • 27. At 6:25pm on 23 Nov 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #23 RE
    When the WGA's give the same stats, you are just going to deny them too. (my emphasis)
    I'll be dead by then but, just for starters, they won't agree. Any accountant can tell you that. Just remember you heard it here first.

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  • 28. At 6:38pm on 23 Nov 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Brian
    I don't know how many services local autorities must supply by statute but it might open up the discussion of areas for savings if legislation was passed specifically allowing services to be supplied directly, in cooperation and / or conjunction with another or by contract. Then local authorities could embark on doing their own reorganisation from the bottom up, rather than have Parliament yet again prescribing how we blow our noses. (Always carry paper hankies with you. Sneeze into a fresh hankie each time. Dispose of the hankie. Wash your hands for 17 seconds.)

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  • 29. At 6:53pm on 23 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    This is the type of forward thinking and potential jobs that the Scottish government should back. Scottish invention promises power revolution.

    NGenTec, in which the University of Edinburgh has taken a 17.5 per cent stake, had the potential to be one of the most successful spin-out companies the university has had.

    Maybe, if we had control of our own taxes then we would have the ability to subsidise start up businesses like this.

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  • 30. At 6:53pm on 23 Nov 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Message to all voters in Scotland Keep it in the family

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  • 31. At 6:56pm on 23 Nov 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #21 Reluctant-Expat

    "Why didn't Salmond implement a 3% increase in the standard rate as an interim measure?"
    That's what was tried in the budget voted down at Holyrood by the serried ranks of the 3 unionist Tweedles.

    "If he really wanted to remove the Council Tax system, why didn't he do that?"
    And cut what, precisely? AND/OR And raise the money how, precisely?

    "You do realise that picking fights with UK/English bodies is an integral part of the SNP independence campaign, don't you?"
    I assume you mean Westmidden by UK/English bodies. If not, please clarify. Given that, and given the known dissembling coming from Westmidden, particularly in the last dozen or so years...

    I regard it as the civic duty of every citizen in every nation of the UK to question the veracity and the motive for releasing every piece of information emanating from the cabal who seek power over the rest of us rather than to serve the people. Some organisations are better placed to do that, of course, and the SNP is one, but clearly they too have an agenda.

    "You're also completely wrong about HMRC"
    The Thunderer didn't seem to think so in its SNP's local income tax is illegal, says Revenue going on to claim: "Mr Hartnett's letter effectively means that a 3p-in-the-pound local income tax would not be collected through PAYE". The alleged illegality, BTW, was that A "local income tax" could not be the same as the "Scottish Variable Rate" long before the bill to bring the budget into effect was even discussed at Holyrood. How like Carroll's dear old red queen.

    #23 Reluctant-Expat

    "Brownedov, you deny the legitimacy of the SNP's accounting figures!"
    Do change the record, R-E. You've been arguing for more than a year that the GERS are accounts when they are in fact estimated statistics based substantially on "analysis of official UK and Scottish Government finance statistics".

    "When the WGA's give the same stats, you are just going to deny them too."
    Quite probably, because they will be audited not by an independent professional body but by an individual nominated by Duff Gordon in the HoC and carried by acclaim. If Cameron reaches the top of the greasy pole, I would distrust his motives for anyone he appoints, too as I would if in Scotland the public auditor was appointed by the FM.

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  • 32. At 6:57pm on 23 Nov 2009, Skip_NC wrote:

    #21 Reluctant_Expat,

    You seem to be rather confused. Just so you are absolutely clear, Alex Salmond had no power to implement Local Income Tax. It would have required a majority vote in the Scottish Parliament to implement it by way of the limited tax-varying powers contained in the Scotland Act. The SNP do not have enough seats to do this on their own but they did try to gain support for this (the Greens and Lib Dems would have been enough) but the Lib Dems could not agree with the SNP proposals. Rather than waste an inordinate amount of time and energy on something that was going nowhere, the SNP government wisely decided to concentrate its energies on matters that could achieve consensus within the SP.

    Incidentally, my understanding is that the Lib Dems wanted LIT to cover savings income as well as earned income. This would have contravened the Scotland Act and the SNP were correct not to agree.

    Brian,

    As for the police forces, I believe there are eight in Scotland. How many do you propose Scotland should have and how would a reduction improve effectiveness? That could easily take up a blog all by itself. Why don't you give it a go?

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  • 33. At 7:02pm on 23 Nov 2009, Bandages_For_Konjic wrote:

    #1: Reluctant-Expat -

    One quick point to note - I know this pains you but there is a difference between the SNP (Who are a political party) and the Scottish Government (Who are a Government). If you have trouble remembering this in future, perhaps this will help - the SNP doesn't pay civil servants their wages.

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  • 34. At 7:03pm on 23 Nov 2009, enneffess wrote:

    If you are going to have centralisation then you need the contigencies in place to replace the local services that have been displaced. It is not that easy a task and certainly cannot be done in anything less than two or three years as a minimum. Consider every service that the council provides, what ones are to be centralised and how that service is going to be available to a local community.

    What can be centralised is high level management and certain IT and accountancy functions, something that several companies have done in recent years. It is also less damaging politically.

    Interesting to point out that London has roughly the same number of boroughs as we have councils.

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  • 35. At 7:04pm on 23 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Online Ed Here

    Seems I may have been a bit hasty in the previous blog when I suggested Labour may have been close enough for a hung parliament.

    Click Here

    It's even worse for them than they feared.

    Con 39%
    Lab 22%
    Lib 21%

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  • 36. At 7:06pm on 23 Nov 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #28 handclapping
    "it might open up the discussion of areas for savings if legislation was passed specifically allowing services to be supplied directly, in cooperation and / or conjunction with another or by contract. Then local authorities could embark on doing their own reorganisation from the bottom up, rather than have Parliament yet again prescribing how we blow our noses."

    Excellent suggestion. Better still if the powers were given to the community councils along with the ability to determine which they provided themselves, delegated to their council or collaberated on with neighbouring community councils. Small can be cost-effective as well as beautiful.

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  • 37. At 7:10pm on 23 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    It seems that some people have been referred to the CPS in England MPs and peers expenses cases referred to prosecutors.
    I can think of a word to describe them but I would hate to be hounded by the media. In the article it talks of a 10 year sentence. I'll be surprised if any of them spend more than a day in HMP. I hope to see more referrals to the CPS.

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  • 38. At 7:10pm on 23 Nov 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    To the No guys PB Angus Reid poll has Labour down to 22pc

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  • 39. At 7:14pm on 23 Nov 2009, Bandages_For_Konjic wrote:

    Further to my #14 -

    It's important, I think, to bear in mind that the person doing the "urging" (as stated in the headline of the BBC article Brian links to) is Sir John Arbuthnott; the man who was commissioned by eight West of Scotland Councils [emphasis my own] to look into, on their behalf, ways in which they might be able to share their services more efficiently.

    Nowhere in the article is their any mention of the Scottish Government's involvement or intervention - something that makes R-E's assertion that the Scottish Government are "pushing for even more centralisation on the grounds of 'economies of scale." look even more childish and ridiculous than his usual nonsense.

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  • 40. At 7:17pm on 23 Nov 2009, Bandages_For_Konjic wrote:

    #28: handclapping -

    "I don't know how many services local authorities must supply by statute but it might open up the discussion of areas for savings if legislation was passed specifically allowing services to be supplied directly, in cooperation and / or conjunction with another or by contract."

    Funnily enough; that's pretty much what the Concordat does. See my #14 for the full text, if you're interested.

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  • 41. At 7:20pm on 23 Nov 2009, kaybraes wrote:

    Another dead in the water idea. It will be opposed vociferously by the unions, there will be shrieks of outrage at possible job losses, and nothing will happen. There may be an amalgamation of services, but all this will produce is a few redundent roadmen or bin men. The highest part of the wage bill will remain,the chief execs. their deputies plus their deputies plus the outreach , environmental, focus group jobs and sundry other unnecessary jobs that cost the punters so much and deliver so little. Elected councillor numbers should, now that the salary plus expences has turned service into career , be drastically reduced to cut costs, but this again will never happen, like the Parliament, they will fight to maintain their positions to the bitter end.

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  • 42. At 7:34pm on 23 Nov 2009, Bandages_For_Konjic wrote:

    #34: Neil_Small147 -

    "What can be centralised[?]"

    [interrogative my own]

    Just off the top of my head -

    IT
    HR
    Procurement
    Legal
    Communications

    None of which would take a single bin man off the streets, as Kaybraes suggests in his/her #41. Personally, I don't think too many people would be all that bothered if eight West of Scotland councils ended up with 7 fewer Directors of Communications between them.

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  • 43. At 7:47pm on 23 Nov 2009, Astonished wrote:

    Brian - I still don't know where Bain of Glasgow lived or how he got to work. I pay your wages - could you find out, pronto ?

    Your reticience reinforces my suspicion that he is actually Bain of London.Was this another labour lie ?



    In light of labour MPs possibly being prosecuted, labour's disasterous poll results, the 97% drop in the Socialist labour vote in the by election(that no one wants to discuss),Mr Murphy and freedom of speech, and finally Mr Brown's cosy relationship with Mrs Thatcher. What will your next blog be about ?



    With all these topics to choose from I predict your next blog will be on the price of butter or possibily cooking with mince.



    It may even prove helpful for future blogs if you start now to get Catriona Renton to start putting cats up trees.In light of her undeniable glencampbliness it would appears unlikely that the BBC will be able to use her for political interviews!

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  • 44. At 8:03pm on 23 Nov 2009, InfrequentAllele2 wrote:

    7. Reluctant-Expat

    What part of - supporting independence isn't the same as supporting everything the SNP says or does - do you not understand?

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  • 45. At 8:33pm on 23 Nov 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Alex Salmond's Scottish Nationalists are sinking

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  • 46. At 9:09pm on 23 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Re comment #45:

    This sentence from the piece:
    "In the aftermath of his bad defeat by Labour in the Glasgow North East by-election, the survey shows that Alex Salmond's bubble, if not burst, is seriously deflated."

    ... demonstrates that some journalists are deliberately ignoring evidence in order to push an agenda and paint Labour as being in robust good health.

    To see very real analysis of Glasgow North East then visit Newsnet Scotland here.

    I've long since learned to disregard what the press says with regard to support for independence. Let the Unionists shout from the rooftops that they know how Scots will vote come the day.

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  • 47. At 9:42pm on 23 Nov 2009, enneffess wrote:

    42. At 7:34pm on 23 Nov 2009, Bandages_For_Konjic wrote:

    Good list.

    IT
    Keep support at a local level, with main back office systems in one place. It also means councils are all using the same system, proceured by the same procurement department.

    HR
    Again, keep local function and training for day to day running, with payroll and senior HR/Training management in one place. Also means a standard policy across the board.

    Procurement
    Not exactly my area, but I would imagine the whole department could be centralised.

    Legal
    Definitely centralised.

    Communications
    Central marketing and comms, with some local duties for each region.

    The advantage of centralising head of service level management is that you can attract some exceptional individuals, on a good salary but still cheaper than several equivalents.

    Question is - where will the centralised functions be? It is quite logical to have them dotted around Scotland, to stop any notion of Edinburgh-centric control.

    Other services would be difficult to centralise, although policy would be determined at central level.

    Another question just popped into my mind - who controls it all from a political point of view?

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  • 48. At 9:53pm on 23 Nov 2009, the voice of reason wrote:

    The answer lies in local councils reducing their staff which have in the past become overladen with staff and only now has the financial mess begun to bite and cause the concern among local authorities and the Scottish Government reviewing its freeze on council tax for the 3rd year, however as we approach elections whose going to blink first ?

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  • 49. At 10:06pm on 23 Nov 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Scotland Unspun

    "Now is the time for the SNP to show some character. They've shown that they are responsible, now they must show that they have vision and political substance. There is a huge opportunity to outmanouvre unionism. If Salmond and company can think outside of the box of debt driven consumer economics and see that we're heading straight over a cliff, they could position themselves well for that referendum and carry a lot of Scotland with them."

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  • 50. At 10:21pm on 23 Nov 2009, A_Scottish_Voice wrote:

    "Alex Salmond's Scottish Nationalists are sinking" - Don't you realise thats a Telegraph article.

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  • 51. At 10:42pm on 23 Nov 2009, Wee-Scamp wrote:

    More treachery from Brown.....

    "Over a very, very short period of time, more than 400 companies have come to Britain from China," Brown told CBI delegates.

    "In our new growth strategy, I want not hundreds but thousands of of Chinese companies in Britain, but also British companies in China."

    There is something seriously worrying about this.

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  • 52. At 10:43pm on 23 Nov 2009, oldnat wrote:

    49. cynicalHighlander

    Thanks for the link. It's a reasonable point. It's understandable that the SNP is concentrated on the day to day matters of Government. However, it might be that a team of sharp researchers should be concentrating on the politics of attaining independence - whether sooner or later.

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  • 53. At 10:49pm on 23 Nov 2009, oldnat wrote:

    50. A_Scottish_Voice

    It's a Telegraph article - giving a spin on their latest YouGov Scottish poll. The lack of detail about the poll means that I want to see whether the actual data supports any of the story.

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  • 54. At 11:54pm on 23 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    Speaking about local Authority cost cuttings, one of the reasons why it is more of a financial benefit to get rid of the workers at the bottom of the pile than a few people at the top is due to the ridiculous taxation system we have in the UK where we tax employers for employing people. This system that we have where employers have to pay a National Insurance contribution for every employer is a tax on employment.
    Maybe if we didn't get into illegal wars then we might be able to scrap this stupid system which makes it financially easier to get rid of the workers to balance the books than the management side where the employers contribution is smaller because of the numbers employed. Will this type of idea be taken on by a Scottish government. No, because we have no say in the way that the UK government has concerning those aspect of taxation.
    Of course, the other reason why the management are usually the last to go is their ability to use their contacts, in the establishment, to ensure that they keep their jobs. Same as usual, those at the bottom get stuffed first.

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  • 55. At 11:56pm on 23 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 43 astonishedII

    I live in London and I went to the Town Hall of Hammersmith & Fulham and looked up the voters register and his name is on that list.

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  • 56. At 03:12am on 24 Nov 2009, FatherMacKenzie wrote:

    I'm surprised that there isn't already some form of COSLA-wide procurement body and legal team. There are a lot of services that councils provide that certainly should be centralised, for example libraries and leisure centres, but as the Scottish Government have agreed not to meddle during this parliament, I'm not sure what can be done.

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  • 57. At 07:06am on 24 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Online Ed Here

    Well, quite a morning for stories.

    We have the BBC once again conflating the release of Megrahi on health grounds with the PTA negotiated by Labour - a blatant trick that has lonf since been exposed.

    We have GARL being used again by what now appear to be usual suspects headed by CBI Scotland. Amazinly the spokesman for this group of six is reported to have said:
    "The Garl project is not only desirable, but affordable. It has been cancelled only as a result of the Scottish Government's priorities lying elsewhere."

    Affordable? what are these people on, priorities lying elsewhere I actually accept but only a fool or someone with an agenda wouls describe as "affordable" right now.

    The other item surfacing is Trump - two in fact.

    This sort of stuff usually only appears in the lead up to an election or in the midst of one - either that or there is about to be some very bad news for Labour about something.

    I wonder which politicians are being considered for prosecution?

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  • 58. At 07:08am on 24 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Online Ed Here

    55. At 11:56pm on 23 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:
    # 43 astonishedII

    I live in London and I went to the Town Hall of Hammersmith & Fulham and looked up the voters register and his name is on that list.


    A name is on the list - however, do we know for certain that it is 'Oor Wullie' for sure?

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  • 59. At 07:37am on 24 Nov 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 60. At 07:54am on 24 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 58 U14094468

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 61. At 08:09am on 24 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 58 U14094468

    It looks like I'm not allowed to give out quirky links to BwB.

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  • 62. At 08:22am on 24 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Online Ed Here

    The BBC have overstepped the mark again with Tim Reid's broadcast on Good Morning Scotland (approx 07:30). The subject was Al Megrahi, however I'll ignore the latest piece of conflation from our state broadcaster.

    The broadcast contained a blatant lie when Reid stated clearly that the Scottish Government's advisors "gave Megrahi 3 months to live".

    This is simply untrue and will form the basis of a complaint from me – and I hope from others.

    Here is what the official advice was:
    The clinical assessment, therefore, is that a 3 month prognosis is now a reasonable estimate for this patient.

    Reid goes on to suggest that every day beyond 3 months that Megrhai lives will fuel beliefs that the release was the result of a conspiracy. Quite how Megrahi responding to treatment is evidence of collusion escapes me. The only conclusion that I can draw is that Reid is suggesting the prognosis itself was 'tainted'.

    This latest piece of nonsense follows the recent broadcast by former Labour politician now BBC reporter Catriona Renton. A broadcast that resulted in the BBC issuing a personal apology to the SNP's Alex Neil.

    The BBC must not be allowed to get away with fabricating news in this manner.

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  • 63. At 08:26am on 24 Nov 2009, Astonished wrote:

    Gedguy and online ed : Yes, like the rest of the world, I expect the "local candidate" does live in london.However a journalist should find this out.

    I no longer buy a newspaper or the scotsman/herald/record however I am forced to pay towards brian's wages. The BBC have a charter which says the must be politically fair in their reporting.

    The glencampbliness of failing to find out where bain lived or how he commuted the 500 miles to work remains astonishing and blatant propaganda. bain claimed to be the local candidate when he was no such thing and everyone knew it. This localness was the main thrust of a labour campaign, labour had achieved very little for the constituency and thus had nothing to boast about. He should have been asked where he lived.


    These questions should not be allowed to be forgotten, they must be answered for the answer will reveal the utter glencampliness of BBC Scotland.I believe a campaign of non-payment of the licence fee is just around the corner - I think glen's jaiket is on a shoogly nail.

    Murphy won't like this as he knows the truth will destroy new labour completely.

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  • 64. At 08:29am on 24 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 58 U14094468

    I'm having difficulty putting a comment on newsnet; any suggestions?

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  • 65. At 08:33am on 24 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 63 astonishedII

    I think that the only way that we can do this is for me to find the time to go to his address in London and ask the neighbours.

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  • 66. At 08:34am on 24 Nov 2009, Caledonian54 wrote:

    While I normally read the Scotsman's take on affairs with sorrow rather than anger, I have to say that it has redeemed itself with the photo of Mr Murphy on page 22 this morning

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  • 67. At 09:16am on 24 Nov 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    By your logic, are we to understand that Scotland itself is to blame because of the poor financial leadership propogated by the Anglo-Saxon banking philosophies?

    It's the nationalists' own fault that UK regulated banks failed where as all those "independent" Scottish banks' are still afloat?

    You don't half talk a load of irreverend nonesense, Expat.

    Do yourself a favour and remain in exile, if you even are originally from Scotland. Your "what if" arguments are as stale, boring and irrelevant to Scotland as you are.

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  • 68. At 10:12am on 24 Nov 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    morning , #57 online ed - CBI Scotland- when is someone going to ask them what they would dump to get their preferred (waste of space) option?

    we know that Mr Purcell says that dumping free school meals to ensure that every school child gets at least 1 decent meal a day is well worth dumping ,despite the return of malnutrition to the west of Scotland
    says it all really

    Glasgow district council- big business matters more than starving wains

    #62 online ed - If I am able to understand the FACT that clinical assessment is BUT the advisers reasonable estimate in THEIR opinion as that is all that they can say! I wonder why the BBC cannot? where is the health correspondent when you need her!

    one must start asking, with the list of UN-ASKED questions growing by the hour on numerous different subjects what the hell are our esteemed journalists actually doing of a day??

    Answers on a postcard to the usual places!

    please do it quietly we wouldn't want to wake up any journalist from their slumber!!!!

    Sid

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  • 69. At 10:29am on 24 Nov 2009, RandomScot wrote:

    Hey

    Am I the only one that heard GMS yesterday.

    Big Splash on Mr Murphy getting permission to maybe ask for the control of airguns to move Scotland. Except of course not in THIS Parliamentary Session.

    Then slightly later a piece on Calman expressing how unanimous it all was, with no mentionos the SNP until the second last sentence and no mention of the SNPnot being in that Commission or why.

    I think the election campaign for 2010 continues

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  • 70. At 10:55am on 24 Nov 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    morning -#69 random, in my case it was on but i wasn't really listening . in other peoples case they have just stopped putting it on in the first place. the latest listening figures prove the point.

    the fact that they have started the campaign already simply shows just how much they are s hiting themselves!!

    be prepared for all the Salmond ate my budgie story's , the sturgeon is really an alien story's , don't vote SNP or the sky will fall in , etc etc etc
    Sid

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  • 71. At 11:45am on 24 Nov 2009, Jane Ann Liston wrote:

    If you ask them, many people will agree that there should be fewer councils but, paradoxically, they want to go back to when they had 'their own council' i.e. pre-1975, when there were 37 county councils and hundreds of burgh councils (perhaps someone has the exact number?). Proposing a return to the regions as a basis for a unitary system would not find favour in, e.g. Dundee and Perth or Stirling and Falkirk, whose citizens would fear their towns losing their individual identities. Even smaller towns would object to the seat of power being physically further removed. I really don't think further centralisation would have much support.

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  • 72. At 12:30pm on 24 Nov 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    45. Superb! That's consecutive polls in recent months to put pro-independence support down in the 20's...and that's without a third 'more powers' option that would probably take it down to the teens!

    Salmond and the SNP have been relentless in promoting independence over the past many years and this has been going on without anything like a comparable opposition campaign.

    And support for independence has plummeted! It was 46%-39% in favour in 2006 and it's 29%-57% against in 2009.

    Labour are now more popular in England than the concept of independence is in Scotland. That's Labour, possibly the worst and least popular government in UK history, who the SNP still get trounced by in the polls.

    It seems the only people around who don't realise Salmond's independence campaign has been an abject disaster are the nationalists who blitz this and other boards 24/7 with all the pro-SNP/anti-UK propaganda they can manufacture.

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  • 73. At 12:33pm on 24 Nov 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    #71 ArranBrownButterfly, Afternoon, and there is the problem, to make the savings everyone is talking about it is not about lumping great swathes of Scotland together.
    the councils we have at the moment (IMHO we have to many)would remain .
    what would change ? we do not need;
    32 chief executives,
    32 education directors,
    32 roads directors,
    32 social work directors
    and the list goes on and on and on .
    none of these positions command the minimum wage by the way
    and of course they can all get bonuses at the end of the year.

    an example of the other things to look at -
    having recently TRIED to get some pot holes in the roads around my home fixed. this is what I came across.

    phoned the "help line"and lady took note of my complaint.
    a fortnight later someone came out to look at the holes'
    then someone else came out and marked 2 pot holes and ignored the other 20
    after waiting a further 2 weeks I contacted the council and was put thru to the persons manager who then passed me on to his manager ,who surprise, surprise ,passed me on to his manager each and every "manager" blaming the next one. not one of them would take or make a decision . eventually 3 guys came out did the 2 pot holes that were marked , ignored the other 20 , it rained the next day and washed away their very poor effort.
    who knows how many thousands of times does the above happens in councils all over the country every day in life??
    Sid

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  • 74. At 12:53pm on 24 Nov 2009, Jane Ann Liston wrote:

    Dear Sid

    If your local council is being silly, contact one of your MSPs - they'll chase them up!

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  • 75. At 3:05pm on 24 Nov 2009, albamac wrote:

    72. Reluctant-Expat

    It's very difficult to know what to make of poll results, especially in Scotland where all Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MSPs misrepresent themselves to the electorate. There are 334 political parties registered in the UK and only five of them are listed as Scottish:

    Scottish Green Party
    Scottish National Party
    Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party
    Scottish Socialist Party
    Scottish Voice

    No sign of Scottish Labour, Scottish Conservative and Unionist or Scottish Liberal Democrats.

    There is a Conservative and Unionist Party on the Northern Ireland Register and, unsurprisingly, it fields candidates in NI.

    I've just been to the Scottish Parliament website where I lodged a complaint and contacted the webmaster, to urge removal of all such misrepresentations.

    Most of the big lies manage to hit the headlines, sooner or later, but this kind of insidious dishonesty has gone unchallenged for years. I'd like to see it removed from all of their websites and literature, so I've used the Scottish Parliament as a starting point. The next tier, I suppose, would be Local Councils then on to official blogs. Most complaint procedures present us with an obstacle course, so I'm wondering if I should just skip all that and take it straight to the Electoral Commission.

    Update:

    I drafted the earlier part of this post a while ago and wandered off to do something else.

    I had a proper reply from the SP's eServices team within the hour, advising me that they and Public Information will issue a joint response after considering my complaints.

    That sounds fair enough.

    I decided to go ahead and contact the Electoral Commission but no reply, yet.

    I'll keep you posted!

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  • 76. At 11:55pm on 24 Nov 2009, Sheneval wrote:

    Brian,

    Seems like excellent news but it might have been even better if they had released the 1911 Census as our English cousins did. Seems the English have a better Freedom of Information Act than we have.

    I did email to the Minister in charge but he was happy to let the General Register's Office in Edinburgh make the decision to hold it back till 2011 and didn't want to comment.

    So here we are with 1911 released for England, Wales and even Ireland, who have put it on-line for free, but Scots and the descendants of Scots living abroad have to wait and wait and wait.

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  • 77. At 00:07am on 25 Nov 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #76 Sheneval
    So the English break their promises to people, well I never! *shock* If you promise to keep something secret for 100 years and don't, who is going to tell the truth in the 2011 census? If I live till then, I only speak Gaelic, was born in Outer Mongolia 101 years ago and live here with 11 grandchildren, a toilet and a cold water tap.
    Governments should keep their promises.

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