LETTER: Next council faces financial shortage

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On 5th March, you kindly printed a letter from myself, drawing attention that the chairman would not allow me to speak for a second time at the February council meeting and of course the chairman (or the chief executive) will be able to confirm that.

Last week we saw a letter suggesting that since I was Cabinet Member for Finance when the Business Transformation Project (BTP) was started in 2012, I am responsible for the outcome - even though I left the ruling group in March 2013!

Since the group leader took Cabinet responsibility for the BTP, he is in the best position to advise why the objectives were not met. He will also be able to confirm that I have had no responsibility for Financial Services since March 2013.

What I did do in 2012 was to help focus the chief executive’s objectives, including: deliver a leaner and more cost effective organisation through successful Business Transformation.

a. Lead the council’s Business Transformation agenda to achieve by March 2014 the objectives set out in the Medium Term Financial Strategy report approved by council on October 24th 2012.

b. Measure Business Transformation deliverables achieved and percentage savings to achieve a two year target of £1.25m, within a project budget of £500k.

c. Prepare a report by February 2013 showing how the council is to adopt a commissioning model for all council services and proposing an action plan to achieve the implementation of such an approach. The commissioning model will include mechanisms for evaluating the cost/value of each service and the consideration of all reasonable alternative delivery mechanisms, including radical and innovative options.

d. Complete the terms and conditions review for staff by late summer 2013.

Just to recap, BTP implementation costs, including redundancy and pension payments, were well in excess of the £500k budget, while the annual saving to date of £440k (a further £100k is expected) is well short of the expected £1,250,000.

The next council will be left to make up for that shortfall, in the face of much reduced government funding.

If anyone needs further clarification, on the BTP objectives and how they were formulated, then I would be happy to release the associated correspondence.

ROGER ARTHUR

Horsham district councillor for Chanctonbury ward and UKIP parliamentary candidate for Horsham, North Street, Horsham