This morning David Cameron announced a new Conservative plan to fund 5,000 "community organisers". Those organisers would be given a rather vague mandate to "identify local community leaders, bring communities together, help people start their own neighbourhood groups, and give communities the help they need to take control and tackle their problems." There is clearly a huge risk that the organisers could use their position to take up political causes and push those that fitted with their own views.We don't know how these community organisers are going to be chosen. But there are some clues in the Conservatives' full report - "Building a Big Society". They say that the organisers will be trained at "National Centres for Community Organising" and the training will be provided by "independent third parties, such as London Citizens / Citizens UK, who have proven track records in training community organisers and activists." That means that the organisers will either be self-selecting - those who turn up to courses run by groups like London Citizens - or they will actually be chosen by that organisation or others created in its image.
Basildon is hoping to inject a touch of Hollywood magic to Essex, with the recent erection of a 5ft tall sign spelling out the name of the town (the US counterpart has letters nine times the height of ours).But lacking Hollywood's hills, the new "BASILDON" sign will welcome visitors from the side of the A127 which links London and glamorous Southend. The sign is part of a £400,000 project commissioned by Basildon District Council to boost the local economy (no that’s not £50,000 per letter, apparently they are using some of the money to buy lights to illuminate the sign, and other bits and bobs).
Great to see your suggestions for non-jobs tumbling in and it’s fair to say that some have been real eye-openers. Perhaps the most ridiculous have come under the touchy-feely ‘community leader’ type category that we often focus in on as being needless and costly.The worst of these must be the advertisement for a ‘Head of Neighbourhoods and Community Engagement’ with a whopping salary of up to £74k at Calderdale Council. The description contains all the usual buzzwords we’ve come to recognise and proclaims, “You will be the lead officer for engagement, cohesion, community safety, equalities and relationships with the third sector”...two biggest holdings are RBS and Lloyds. In the case of RBS, we own 84% of the equity, and in the case of Lloyds, 41%. These holdings cost us a total of £65.8bn - £45.5bn for RBS, and £20.3bn for Lloyds (not forgetting that we have also agreed to pump a further £8bn into RBS should they need it, giving us an overall potential exposure of £74bn - see this blog). Yesterday there was a fascinating roundtable discussion organised by Public Finance magazine. The first issue on the table was how to get the best value for taxpayers from these stakes, and there were some very different views. So what is in taxpayers' best interests? Should we begin a sales programme, hold, or do something else?
Last week, I wrote about the decision made by the cabinet of East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) to approve a discretionary payment of £364, 205 to the pension pot of outgoing Corporate Services Director, Sue Lockwood. This decision was called-in by opposition councillors, and yesterday the Corporate Issues Scrutiny Committee agreed to refer this decision back to the cabinet, and have asked them to think again. The scrutiny committee voted almost unanimously for this decision, with the exception of the chairman, Cllr Felicity Temple.
The car scrappage scheme has come to an end today leaving government to justify its high cost for its supposed benefits. The government claim that the scheme has saved 4,000 jobs - the cost of the scheme was £400 million – equating to £100,000 of public money per job saved.And as Tim Worstall pointed out the cost benefit analysis for these jobs saved is rather bleak.