Saturday, 3 July 2010

And how is this improvement and efficiency?


Saturday morning post. The usual mix of bills invitations to take out credit cards and council stuff. And as usual the council stuff outnumbers the rest – agendas, pleading letters from organisations that mustn’t lose their funding or else the skies will darken and the demons will walk the earth again.

Looking through this pile my eyes lighted on a glossy brochure with a nice photo of the Sheffield Winter Gardens on the front. What’s that, I wondered?

Turns out it’s the “Annual Report Executive Summary, Highlights of Year Two” for an organisation calling itself (rather ridiculously), YoHr Space – sounds a bit like some kind of trendy architects or designers but you’d be wrong. It’s a publicly-funded body that’s really called ‘Yorkshire and Humber Improvement and Efficiency Partnership’.

The summary starts out well with talk of ‘cashable savings’ (note to non-local government reader: this doesn’t actually mean any real cash has been saved) and co-operative programmes. There’s reference to ‘Total Place’ – a programme where loads of meetings are held to plan doing the obvious, namely joining up the delivery of services in a given place. And then comes the rubbish – community cohesion, climate change and “innovation”. I was especially taken with the introductory line for “Innovation”:

Implementation of a range of innovative and community based projects designed to
build capacity and support the region’s priorities

Like what, I hear you ask? Oh yes – the ‘Muslim Women’s Leadership Network’ is the case study we’re given and I guess that rather sums up local government’s idea of innovation. We really shouldn’t be wasting money on this rubbish – whatever gender or faith you are, you’re a leader because you choose to lead not because you’ve been on a course or joined a network.

YoHr Space is, I humbly submit, a prime candidate for closure. It achieves nothing that couldn’t be done in the organisation’s absence, it costs several millions and provides little more than a series of talking shops, a few grants to favoured group and a place for a few of us pompous self-important councillors to sit on a board.

And any organisation supposed intended to promote efficiency that thinks spending thousands on a flash full colour brochure to send round to every councillor is either efficient or improving definitely needs the chop.


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