Archive for 28 Jan ’12

Dysfunctional East Herts District Council

If Chief Inspector Jon Speed was a school inspector and had said that a school was ‘Dysfunctional, No leadership, No Direction (Mercury Front page, Jan 26th) Ofsted would have quickly moved in, closed the school down and removed the head teacher. So why doesn’t the same standard apply to East Herts District Council? Why isn’t the council under ‘special measures’ with outside experts brought in to run it like a school would be?

As Ofsted knows, poor performance starts from complacency at the top. The Tories won 46 of the 50 of the seats (92%) on East Herts District Council last May but on the back of only 52.9% of the vote – yes only just over half.

Such bias means that the Tories assume they just have to turn up and win as they have done for decades. This breeds complacency and flabby thinking from the elected members down as everyone knows nothing will change. There will be no Opposition to test ideas, to hold senior officers properly to account, to argue for new policies or challenge spending priorities. David Cameron is rightly critical of schools in prosperous areas which just coast and muddle through – why do we have to put up with the same from the district council?

In an ideal world, with a more diverse council which reflected the percentage of votes cast, you can also be sure that there would be more openness with the people of East Herts about the terms of departure of a Chief Executive – we are paying for it after all.

As Chief Inspector Speed says; “The local taxpayers deserve so much better.”