Thursday, 2 July 2009

We Pays Our Money...Or Rather JoCo Does

Days after reports of Nottingham City Council overspending by £3.4m (it was actually formally announced at the last Executive Board meeting), we hear that NCC has decided to hand over £30k to PricewaterhouseCoopers (as we're legally obliged to write it, fuck knows why) for

"a report identifying the financial costs and savings of providing a range of services through a trust or Non Profit Distributing Organisation."

This is just the first phase of the investigation, if it concludes positively then a 'detailed business assessment' will be undertaken. How much that will cost isn't mentioned.

I touched on this briefly before as the intention to look into these alternative management arrangements was mentioned in the Budget. The whole idea baffles me as I can't for the life of me see any real prospect of saving any money. I'm also concerned that NCC's first step is to chuck a load of cash at some accountants when surely the expertise in this sort of thing already exists either in other authorities or the LGA. Its not as if it's never been done before, a quick search found two general reports on the issue (here and here if you fancy some background reading), the second of which certainly has an ideological rather then pragmatic flavour to it.

So why haven't you heard of this elsewhere? Well it's one of those 'portfolio' decisions where one of the portfolio holders on the Executive Board gets to decide things without discussing it with anybody. I'm not sure of what exactly makes a decision a 'portfolio' decision* as opposed to one that's got to be discussed with other people but I presume the process is for minor decisions of relatively low expenditure, although clearly £30k is quite a bit.

The last one of these 'portfolio' decisions that I wrote about was the one to pay Carl Froch £1000 an hour to have a pic of Robin Hood on his dressing gown and open a few supermarkets. So I'm pleased to see that he will be earning some of that money next Monday.

Mr Froch will be in the Market Square for £3,000 worth of his time promoting the 'Proud of You' awards, another chance to vote for your favourite bin man or whatever.

Actually we could have some fun with these as it includes a 'Champion of the Environment' award. Anybody know the name of the person behind the abortive Ratcliffe power station protest?

*Actually I've now found the definition of a portfolio decision (or Executive Portfolio to give its full title), it's on page 23 of this document.

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