Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Big Event starts now

The Big Event takes place tomorrow in Edinburgh's Storytelling centre, but we wanted to start the debate today by giving you a sneak preview of the pitches our public service reformers will deliver. Here are the rules.

Our Public Service Reformers each have 3 minutes to convince our sponsors, Deloitte and you, 'the public vote', of their winning (public service reform) act. Having cross-examined our 'acts' you even get to show them the 'red card' if you don't like it! Our Public Service Reformers will argue that:

Stephen Hagan, Leader, Orkney Council - In the islands, we’ve always been good at community planning because partner agencies have always worked closely together through necessity.

But island communities with small populations really don’t need more than one public service provider. So we want to create three Single Public Authorities, one for each of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. This will let us develop the seamless services that our islanders need and want.

Angela Leitch, Chief Executive, Clackmannanshire Council - In December last year, Clackmannanshire and Stirling Councils both agreed to provide jointly their Education and Social Services under a lead authority model.

The underpinning principle of mutual respect has resulted in Clackmannanshire leading on the Social Services agenda, while Stirling is the lead for Education across both local authority areas.

The new arrangement aims to provide better, more efficient services, model best practice and make the most of the skills, expertise and experience across both Councils. At the same time, the governance arrangements remain as they were, with each Council determining the priorities for their local area.

The Heads of joint services report into both Chief Executives and any decisions to change strategy or policy will be taken by the relevant committee in each authority. The scrutiny of these services is also retained by the individual Councils.

Cllr Iain Robertson, West Dunbartonshire Council - The proposition is, "Council Mergers", One Dunbartonshire, One Renfrewshire, One Ayrshire etc etc.

I agree that operationally this is essential if we are to cope with increasing demand, decreasing funding and the need to be more efficient.

Additionally councils are expected to maintain and improve the quality of service!
The difficulty is that re-organisation, boundary changes or mergers are not affordable in these austere times.

Constituents are not receptive to centralisation or loss of local identity! They also value their local identity

The solution, in my view, would be to achieve the 'one' council concept by merging service areas or sharing services whilst maintaining the valued local identity.

Whilst I support the CVCPP Share Services Agenda (Arbuthnott), I think it needs to go much further! For example, can a small authority justify an education department and directorate? Should 2, 3 or more small authorities combine into one shared service!

Benefits would include, reduction of centralised overhead costs, economies of scale in various areas, ability to provide specialist services and support more efficiently etc, etc. I also don't think it would or should be necessary to partner the same council exclusively, each service area should be considered on a best fit criteria.

Iain Lindley, Scotland’s Towns Partnership and Scottish Small Towns Group
- To revise Community Planning and Community Councils in Scotland.

Sponsored by Deloitte, Clackmannanshire Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council & Shetland Council.

Media Sponsor The Herald

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