Advent Farewell 8 – A Christmas Dream Turns Nightmare

Foulkes L of A Message

Today we thought we’d revisit a post from  December 2011 which concerned itself with the then leader of Wirral Council  Cllr Steve Foulkes’ big idea  – ‘ Destination Excellence’ which was parodied in the ‘Destination Effluence’ video which we published earlier this week. This was Foulkesy’s ‘Christmas Message’ to council staff following the damning  ‘Refresh & Renew’  corporate governance report which was published prior to the even more damning Independent Review which was to be published the following month. Foulkesy went all out for a utterly inane and patronising  driving analogy that much like ‘ Destination Excellence’ itself was destined to crash and burn. We think the post serves as a timely reminder of how very little has changed at Wirral Council – replace ‘Destination Excellence’ for Wirral Council’s ’20/20 Vision’ and you have the same BS package ( ‘dream’ ‘journey’ , ‘vision’ , ‘bigger picture’ etc;)  but in glossier,shinier wrapping paper.

Although it must be said that one aspect  of ‘Destination Excellence’ that can be said to have impacted on Wirral Council is Foulkesy’s pledge “to make sure we dynamite any obstacles out of the way” – yes, and usually in the form of  public money to shut people up.

We asked the following question when we first published the leaked message  :

What WBC Council leader sent to staff this Christmas… beyond parody really, and you have to ask the the question , what the hell have they been doing the last ten years ???????

Six years have since passed and under new leader Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies the question is just as pertinent.

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Conversations with Steve Foulkes

Destination Excellence!

Hi everyone! I know it’s getting close to Christmas and we’ve all got our minds on other things, but I did promise that I would be back to talk to you in more detail about changes that are happening in the Council, so this is the latest update.

On Monday night the Council agreed to send the Council’s revised Corporate Plan to Scrutiny Committees for debate. I want all of you to be involved as well because this is about making a real difference together to the place where we live and work but we need to sign up to making it happen, and I need to know you’re all on board with me.

Money is in short supply. There are fewer of us to meet the ever growing demands for services and sometimes it feels as if we’re just running to stand still. It’s important not to feel totally overwhelmed, so we need to have a very clear idea of where we are going, how we are going to get there and why that journey matters. And we need to understand how each one of us fits into the bigger picture. 

The Corporate Plan sets out our destination, in a clear Vision for Wirral. It maps out how we are going to get there. It looks at ways in which we can travel safely (and cost effectively), it lays down the values that we all share, and then it sets out in more detail what that means in practice for all of us. The foreword I’ve written to the Corporate Plan explains this. You can find the Corporate Plan on the Council website. I would very much like you to find time to read it if you can. (It isn’t very long). 

One of the things I really want you to understand, because it took me some time to get my head round this, is this phrase “Corporate Governance” which you’ll keep hearing because Wirral is undergoing a “Corporate Governance Review” at the moment. Frankly, it sounds pretty bureaucratic and boring and “nothing to do with us” as we struggle to meet the daily demands of our job. But it isn’t.  

To me it’s like going back to the basics of learning to drive again.Remember studying the Highway Code? Learning how to change gears?  Remember that moment when you thought you would never get the hang of it and that there were just too many things to think about all at once, and now, when you drive, you don’t think about it all and it all just happens automatically? Well, that’s what we’re aiming for – doing the right thing automatically all the time so we can get to where we want to go without any disasters, without unnecessary stress, and without paying more than we need to because we have made avoidable mistakes.

So here’s what we’ve decided to do to make sure we’re all working together. 

§       We will have a couple of big “Meet the Staff” events where my deputy Phil Davies and I will be sharing with you what the Vision is and what we need to do together to achieve it. 

§       We will be setting up a number of smaller focus groups in different areas where there’s space to discuss where we are going and hear what you have to say about it. 

§       We will be contacting you individually with a short questionnaire to give you the opportunity to tell us what you think about the Council now, and where you think we should be going. 

§       We will be setting up a confidential e-mail line where you can contact us with any fears you may have, or details of anything you think might be getting in the way of achieving our Vision, or behaviour which contradicts the values we are signing up to together.

§       We will be setting up special meetings with Cabinet members, so you can make an individual appointment to talk directly, in confidence, to the appropriate Cabinet member and raise anything that may be bothering you.

Basically, we’re doing two things. The first is to make sure we all know and agree where we are going and understand the way there and how to get there safely. The second is to make sure we dynamite any obstacles out of the way so we have a real, fighting chance of making a difference to Wirral we can all be proud of.

Just think, if we could really create a healthy and prosperous society, where people feel good and where the place you live and the amount you earn no longer effects how long you live, wouldn’t that be something? If we could wipe out the stark possibility that exists now of dying ten years earlier if you’re poor than someone who lives in a wealthy part of the borough?

Now that is something worth working for, something worth changing for.

It doesn’t have to be just a dream.

Happy Christmas.

Steve

Councillor Steve Foulkes

Leader of Wirral Council 

 

 

A Re-Imagining of Wirral Council

Re-imagine

Set out below is a tender recently issued by Wirral Council looking for yet another consultant to ” Reimagine  Leisure, Cultural and other Selected Services”.

We don’t know whether 150000 refers to the contract value. However we have a few observations to make from Leaky Towers and it appears to us that after Anna Klonowski’s monumental failure to “Refresh & Renew” the organisational culture of Wirral Council with her highly renumerated and totally ineffectual reports it seems they’re throwing good money after bad by employing another fly by night and moneygrabbing consultant to “Reimagine” Wirral Council instead.

Needless to say Wirral Plan, 20 Pledges and  2020 vision all get a mandatory mention in the tender blurb. Whilst the paragraph which reads “We have already undertaken significant work to develop our programme; we are implementing a new operating model which sets out the future operating principles of the organisation which includes a strategic hub, business management function and service delivery through a mixed economy of direct provision, shared service and Commissioned outcomes” makes us want to bang our head against the wall or better still bang the head of the person who wrote this BS against the wall – repeatedly and with great force.

No wonder Wirral Council are having to – yet again- pay through the nose for  “external expertise” if this cut and paste  council-speak job is all their own staff can come up with . Although of course we all know that ” Reimagine” is just a manipulative weasel word which really means ” Privatise” and “Outsource” . There’s obviously a good living to be made by some staff selling their colleagues livelihoods and careers down the River Mersey.

We’re left wondering here as to what is the consultant going to ” Reimagine” Williamson Art Gallery as  ? – The Louvre ?. ….and the Floral Pavilion as the Eiffel Tower maybe?.

Meanwhile we’d like to “Reimagine”  Wirral Council as a fully functioning, open and transparent ethical organisation that understood it was a public service employing public servants to serve the public but we understand we’d have to do a shedload of heavy duty mindbending drugs to achieve that particular vision.   

Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three……….

Professional Services to Reimagine Leisure, Cultural and other Selected Services

150000 – Consultancy

The Wirral Plan sets out a vision for Wirral: a set of 20 Pledges which will be achieved over the next five years to improve the lives of Wirral residents. In order to achieve these ambitions, the Council needs to modernise and work in a completely different way, and ensure it has the right culture, abilities, skills and approach to deliver the 2020 vision for Wirral. In order to deliver this plan we committed to delivering a modern public service and are developing a transformation programme to take this forward. It is vital the Council is able to deliver change at pace whilst continuing to deliver positive outcomes to improve the quality of life for Wirral residents. We have already undertaken significant work to develop our programme; we are implementing a new operating model which sets out the future operating principles of the organisation which includes a strategic hub, business management function and service delivery through a mixed economy of direct provision, shared service and Commissioned outcomes. The Council has also set out a Commitment to take a commercial approach to service design, management and decisions, encouraging innovation whilst optimising assets and services to exploit opportunities to generate income surplus for reinvestment and reduce costs. Wirral Council is now looking to make fundamental changes to the way in which it currently provides Selected Services such as Leisure facilities, Parks & Gardens; Arts and Culture (including the Williamson and the Floral Pavilion) and Libraries. We are seeking external expertise to establish how these assets and the businesses within them can be re-imagined to make them more effective and carry a lower cost burden for the council, whilst maintaining their focus on public needs and outcomes.