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Messages - Old Goat

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1
Yes, there were some pretty snide comments made by our local political 'worthies'.  Still, it's  fairly effective way of delivering the Council's real Vision for the District; to be a Dormitory / Retirement suburb.  It's not now a matter of if key firms move, more when.

2
Got something to say? / Re: Something odd about this
« on: January 07, 2018, 08:24:21 am »
Yes, really, really odd.  Theale Parish Council has a leading West Berkshire Councillor sitting on it!  This is an expensive and embarrassing mess. In any other organisation heads would roll.  Planning and design work, particularly to this level of detail, doesn't come cheap.  For me, it again shows up the desperate need for total reform. Yes, we need a total clear out.

3
Ironic really; we've had the usual flock of relatives with us over Christmas and the title of this thread was the response from one of them after a morning walking round the town. That started a general tirade from even the locals about the slow collapse of the market, Kennet Centre and the like.  Took the shine off what up 'till then had been a happy visit!

4
Unbelievable.  So, we keep the business rate, give up an equivalent in grants and any credit extra kept from this sleight of hand is given to a quango.  WBC; stiched up like a kipper!

5
Got something to say? / Re: Time for a radical change in local leadership
« on: December 12, 2017, 08:11:00 am »
Yes, there are more choices than Reading - that any other option would be better is indictment enough on what we have locally.

I also know there are serious whinges about local government in almost all areas of the UK which suggests the whole thing is ripe for radical reform.  The system that has served us since 1880 is now totally out of line and time expired. 

With today's expectations, you can't combine the operational management of schools, refuse collection, planning, etc. under one head, simply because they service people living in the same geographic location.

Similarly, with modern communications and needs, organising the whole as a big  number of self managed authorities makes little sense.  What other industry is organised in that way?  In service delivery terms at least, the population wants equality; wherever the service is provided. Thus, it's not just 'Men of Kent' wanting Grammar Schools. 

As service delivery in a good many authorities has been devolved to contractors, would it not be far more effective and efficient to do that at a national level, by 'service' stream?  No more arguing about people from Burghfield using Reading's tip. 

Set up properly, this could leave a small local 'council' simply to act as a channel of communication for complaints and guidance and with no other powers or revenue raising authority.  All the money needed would then need to come from national taxation, eliminating at a stroke, the problems associated with 'the rates'.

6
Got something to say? / Re: Time for a radical change in local leadership
« on: December 08, 2017, 05:14:13 pm »
Ironic that, because it's actually happening now.  The last demographics I saw, showed that Newbury's age profile dips for age around 20 plus, then grows again about 30 plus before the inevitable drop beyond. I suppose it's obvious, because we've no University level establishment in the vicinity, so Newbury youth inevitably moves away for their degrees.  As we now have few firms in the area offering graduate entry career opportunities, they stay away.  Even Vodafone HO us back in London. A few come back, once they are in established profession and want a family home. Invetiably commuters, or working elsewhere.  Thus fitting the implication of the Vision - commuter dormatory / retirement suburb.  So, do we really need WBC which essentially does little more than manage outsourced service contracts?  It would be much more efficient and so economic to run it all from Reading. 

7
Got something to say? / Re: Time for a radical change in local leadership
« on: December 07, 2017, 08:20:34 am »
Yes, Newbury's future is out of its hands; it will become simply a commuter dormitory / retirement suburb for Thames Valley.  Nothing wrong with that and it could be quite pleasant. 

In some respects, the collapse (for such as it is) of WBC is an unintended but good consequence of its creation.  Too small a management unit to be economically effective or to attract top flight staff it was necessarily obliged to contract out all of its services. This should make absorbtion into a bigger better 'authority' like Reading so much cheaper and easier. It's almost as if that is deliberate policy!

This would leave the District with its parish level councils.  In reality, these are no more than up market residents associations.  Again, their present bizzare antics mean that leaving them with jobs too small for a properly effective authority to do; swabbing down the WCs, mowing the village green etc.  will have been done - without any imposed external change.

Will it come to that?  Well, it's implicit even in our MPs thinking.  Newbury soon won't even feature as a Magistrates Court. This, one of the bedrock foundations of local governance will be centred on Reading. It was sold as a cost and efficiency change?    In reality, the cost of a physical presence is minimal.  In spite of his huffing and puffing - it's still going!

All we need do, is simply sit back and wait.

8
This fits the vision our elected representatives have agreed for Newbury.  Being the end point of the newly electrified railway together with the residential re development of the Town Centre will support us as a commuter dormatory/retirement suburb for the Thames Valley.  So there is no real need to attract or retain business.  All we actually need is effectively a semi skilled maintenance workforce; well within the training capability of our local FE College.  Could be quite nice really.

9
Got something to say? / Re: Time for a radical change in local leadership
« on: December 06, 2017, 05:39:02 pm »

This is what the people in West Berkshire voted for and it's exactly what they've got. No one is really complaining and experience says they'll vote the same way next time they get the opportunity.

A few crocodile tears here and there, but that's all.  As for the opposition, it's them behind the vanity projects. 

Why worry; nothing is going to change?

10
Got something to say? / Re: Micro Focus
« on: October 24, 2017, 08:00:19 am »
The trouble is, given the severe austerity measures WBC have had to introduce, there isn't a cent left to spare on even considering such ventures.  Unfortunate, yes, but when you gave no money even to run a public lavatory, it's understandable.

11
Trying to be very polite about it, this must rank as one of the most spectacularly stupid ideas they've ever come up with. Have they really not understood that the economic crisis the Council faces is actually a direct result of this type of sophisticated financial gaming?

However, if one takes a step back and gives this a bit more thought, one doesn't even need to be a cynic to feel that this suggests 'austerity' is actually a myth used to cover the implementation of Conservative convictions. 

What makes the WBC senior executives and Councillors think they can buck Wall Street?  That they have clearly used time to spend even thinking about this 'magic bean' scheme, if there was any truth in the need for severe austerity, it's quite obvious that we could extract an expensive level of senior management without noticing the loss.

12
Got something to say? / Re: Conflict of Interests ?
« on: August 13, 2017, 09:55:19 pm »
Conflict of interest is inevitable as Unitary and Parish level Councillors scrabble amongst themselves for what little real work and responsibility is left to local government.  It's made even worse round here by political gaming. I would say that local government is now a joke; trouble is, that's not funny.

13
Got something to say? / Re: School deficits
« on: August 02, 2017, 11:47:13 am »
I suspect under the present political regime this is an insoluble problem.  It's been made far, far worse because our schools have become an arm of Social Services.  The politicisation of teaching unions has significantly excaserbated the issue.  Examples?  Huge sums spent unnecessarily upgrading kitchens to provide free meals for primary school kids, most of which ends up in the bin.  Although the supporters of the scheme promised a dramatic and immediate improvement in standards; it's been all quiet on that front!  Then there is the 'pupil premium'; not many realise just what is being doshed out for this!  Two interesting examples of 'education' cash simply wasted.  Yet again, demonstrating that local government is quite defunct.

14
Got something to say? / Re: School deficits
« on: July 18, 2017, 07:28:07 pm »
Err, probably not.

West Berks employs a 'Schools Finance Manager. Would it be churlish to suggest, that as schools don't employ accountants or even book keepers, the prime purpose of this role would be to ensure schools made already reasonable fist of managing their financial affairs.  Apparently, some schools haven't managed to do this and have started running a deficit. Hold on a minute, isn't this just what many local authorities (governed by much more senior people than mere teachers.

So then, to me, this is just a report saying that at long last the Schools Finance Officer had woken up and started to do the job.  To be perfectly frank, if I was say overall 'Head of Schools' I might be more than a tad upset; but no, this is the public sector, so it's ar5ses covered and blame apportioned.  As the saying goes, 'triples all round'.

Fake news hits NWN!

15
Got something to say? / Re: School deficits
« on: June 30, 2017, 06:57:59 pm »
Therein lies the rub.  I suspect you may well have seen some of the Council's financial and management output.  I certainly have via a colleague who is a resigned governor. 

However, what manager in any other sector would just sit back and let it happen?  In any event, for the basics, you don't actually need software.

And we expect these silly s*** to turn out a highly educated and motivated future generation.  Some hope!

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