More for less

The quality of leadership is an interesting thing and a couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to meet and talk with a couple of leading figures one from national and the other from local politics who were guests speakers at the Next Generation Alumni event I blogged about recently.

First up representing local government was Stephen Greenhalgh whose slot was called ‘Reflections on Leadership’. Following on from him was Lord Heseltine and I shall blog on another day about his thoughts and what I took away from them.

Stephen is the former Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council and now working for Boris Johnson as his right-hand man running the Police service as Deputy major for Policing in London.

Stephen spoke about London policing and I was surprised to learn, when I consider how small the Suffolk Police force is (£120million budget and 3,000 or so staff), of the sheer scale of the metropolitan police with its some £3.5 billion budget! But it was not a surprise to hear of his approach, given that he made his name in local government by cutting his council’s back office and lower Council tax, as his is championing a 20% budget cut over 5 years in the Mets budget yet at the same time demanding a 20% improvement is the detection and conviction of things like assault, robbery, theft all to be alongside a 20% increase in public confidence, looks like he is rightly carrying his ‘more for less’ approach across the different sectors.

Stephen made his name for himself with his no nonsense, can do attitude that enabled his council to continually lower the council tax yet deliver quality services and this mind-set continues today as they have recently announced another cut for next year. His interesting thoughts sort of re-affirmed my beliefs that a Council can learn to live within its means and deliver quality services to the vulnerable in our communities at the same time. The physical manifestation of this is that as I go around the county discussing Suffolk’s Big Budget Conversation, people tell me that our services are well respected and valued, just as is our conservative promise of no Council tax increases for the next 4 years.

I am still jealous that we have not be able to actually cut the rate further to help the hard pressed Council tax payers of Suffolk as Stephen did in his time as Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham but of course the service delivery model for a London Council and its far higher Council tax collection based on property bands alone, makes it a very different place and shape of council. Having said that, in Suffolk with what will be a 7 year Council Tax freeze, if you put inflation at say 3% per annum that actually makes a cut of over 20% over the period which is not bad, not bad at all.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal anything I write is promoted by Lance Stanbury on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Unit 8, Swan Lane Business Park, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7FN

2 Responses to More for less

  1. alasdairross says:

    It would be OK to be proud of a 20% cut in Council tax if services had improved or even stayed at the same level they were at – but yesterday again Suffolk was attacked for failing schools – but at the same time you have cut funding to the School Improvement team

    We may have lower council tax but we also are 11th from the bottom of 150 authorities who look after schools – an example of poor leadership by SCC

    • As I am sure you are aware Suffolk has put £2.4million into the Raising the Bar Strategy as our response to the RSA report we commissioned about how to raise school standards. This is a very real strategy with significant funding behind it and at the two conferences with Teachers and Governors who are working with us to improve the standards in our schools, their passion and commitment to raising standards was plain to see. But equally these standards are the responsibility of us all, the County Council, Free schools, the Academies, Governors, Head Teachers, Parents and yes even our Teachers. Yesterday’s report was not ‘attacked’ again but the same report we welcomed a few weeks ago, quoted as a part of the overall report about schools in England, but I think you know that already. The standards in our schools are the no.1 priory of Suffolk County Council and everyone is working to deliver the best education and improve standards in Suffolk Schools.

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