Councillors should not be concerning themselves with Asset Management, says officer

“Donna Best, Principal Estates Surveyor explained the reason behind the Asset Management Forum (AMF) and that most Local Asset Management Forums only consisted of officers and had little if any Councillor representation”

Click to access 030915-amf.pdf


Has it taken her six years to come up with this and an explanation of what she thinks the Asset Management Forum is FOR? And why now, one wonders? Too much of a spotlight on it and a wish to go back to the shadows perhaps – no councillors means no agendas or minutes ..,

EDDC forced to publish formerly secret Asset Management Group agendas and minutes

Re-posted from

“After a lot of pressure from opposition Councillors and from Freedom of Information requests, EDDC has now published all the Agendas and Minutes of their Asset Management Forum. There are some redactions.

The documents can be found here:

Just to remind you that it was at these meetings that the development of Exmouth seafront was discussed and also the proposals for beach huts were developed.”

The risks of outsourcing risks

Internal auditors urge public sector boards to get assurance on risks of outsourcing

Public sector boards should not approve strategically important outsourcing projects “without first getting full assurance from their internal audit teams that the potential risks have been properly considered and effective controls are in place”, the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors has said.

In a report the Institute warned that failure to foresee and manage outsourcing risks could result in service failures, delays in the implementation of new projects, significant additional costs and reputational damage.

Such outcomes could undermine the cost savings and other benefits that outsourcing is intended to deliver, it added.
The Institute also argued that getting outsourcing right was increasingly important as it becomes more widespread among organisations seeking to cut costs and increase efficiency by buying-in specialist services.

It predicted that the increase in outsourcing by the public sector between 2010 and 2014 would continue with the pressure on public spending.

Dr Ian Peters, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors, said: “Outsourcing the service does not outsource the risk. Organisations may think they have thrown the risk ‘over the fence’ but this is absolutely not the case.

“Internal audit can support boards in relation to outsourced services. There should be an appetite at board and senior management level for assurance that the risks of outsourcing are being managed so that the organisation’s achievement of its strategic objectives is not compromised.”

Cabinet agenda papers for 7 October 2015 highlights

Cabinet papers for 7 October 2015 are here:

Warning: they took a long time to load. This snippet from the papers, on the new joint IT company might explain why, though it must be stressed that the majority of this presentation is gung-ho positive:

Page 22 of Cabinet papers:
Nasty such surprises so far… [regarding the IT amalgamation]:

“- Civic Centre datacentre powersupply not available

– Oakwood data centre noise, power, floor strength…

– Resignation of Teignbridge Street name and numbering person

– Virgin Networks delays inconnecting sites

– Microsoft licence complexity results in extra costs

– Effort required to keep existing systems going

– Changes to accounting rules “

and one slightly worrying point, given the recent publicity about massive fraud at Exeter City Council:

Services signing off IT invoices without discussion – missed opportunities for negotiation”

and a rather worrying minute from the Scrutiny Committee which appears to suggest that the costs of running last year’s (somewhat bungled) elections are to be kept out of the public domain, where they belong:

Election funding financial statement

The Committee had previously received a financial statement as requested, following a report by the Chief Executive to the July meeting on the local elections in May.

Councillor Ranger re-iterated her point that when election scenarios are rare, in this case with all three elections, it was important to fully review the process, which included the costs.

The Democratic Services Officer advised the committee of the continued work on the preparation of the detailed accounts. She recommended that, once complete, the accounts could be viewed by any Member and, if there was still concern, explore further through the scrutiny channels if the Committee agree to pursue this.

Councillor Ranger asked if the prepared accounts could show the cost of reprinting the postal ballot issue and report this figure back to the Committee.”

and an interesting statistic on page 67:

The ” annual” canvassing of electors produced a 52.06% return of printed forms, 6.01% return for telephone canvassing, 8.4% online and 3.24% by text.

That seems to knock the ide of only telephone canvassing on the head.

And finally the last page (68) of 9 “happy clappy” bullet points contains no less than 5 of them extol the virtues of the constantly loss-making Thelma Hulbert Gallery, including a donation of £2,500 from Councillor Diviani’s Locality Budget to improve its gardens well, you will need to have somewhere to eat your sandwiches when you are at the new EDDC HQ on the industrial estate!

Only 4% of lobbyists covered by government rules

Corporate lobbyists who peddle the interests of big business remain shrouded from public scrutiny as lax lobbying regulation increases the risk of corruption in Britain, a scathing new report warns.

Following detailed analysis of figures from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Transparency International UK (TI UK) found the UK’s lobbying register is “entirely unfit for purpose.”

The think tank, which seeks to fight corruption in all its forms, says the British public is “left in the dark” as unaccountable architects of public-policy mold Britain’s political landscape.”

More Cranbrook teething troubles

Again, from the council Facebook page:

“Hi. Please could you advise me of whom I would need to speak with, to discuss the possibility of getting a suitable disabled parking space allocated in the car park beside St Martin’s School? As a disabled person with very poor mobility and a high risk of falls, I am at my wits end trying to do the school run with my toddler in tow and failing to find a safe, suitable place to park where I can easily access the school. Also, please can you advise who I need to speak with about the fact that I regularly fail to be able to park in the allocated disabled spaces in the main Younghayes Centre car park when shopping due to contractors vans (without a displayed Blue Badge) being parked in them?! Thank you.”

“Can Cranbrook please have some rubbish bins? Since the shop opened… there has been an increase in litter, especially around the parks. Some of us hope that if there were more places to responsibly dispose of litter there would be less of it left lying around. The entrances to the parks and dotted along the main local route would seem like good places.”

“Apologies if this has been suggested before but are there any plans …for any bus shelters in Cranbrook? It’s not much fun sitting on the bus and getting to work soaked through, especially as winter is fast approaching some shelter would certainly be welcomed.”

Cranbrook Town Council has its hands full

From its Facebook page – good luck dealing with the developers on these issues:

Town Council representatives from the Amenities Committee held the latest of their now regular meetings with representatives of the Growth Point Team, The Consortium / Developers and other key partners on 27th September.

The purpose of the meeting was to work through all the outstanding issues on phase one and to apply the lessons from Phase 1 to Phase 2 and ongoing development of the town.
Getting all of the partners together in one regular meeting has become very effective in moving issues forward and these meetings will continue as a regular feature as part of the process of ensuring that everything possible is being done to make Cranbrook a success.

The meeting is chaired by Cllr Kim Bloxham, who, with Darren Summerfield of the Growth Point Team, has put together a detailed list of all known outstanding issues. Those attending work through the list, item by item, identifying solutions and those responsible for delivery.

Some of the subjects discussed include:

• Realignment of some roads, parking, garage sizes, street lamp locations, street signage and street furniture;
• Utility issues including broadband, mobile phone signal and automatic meter reading;
• Streetscene issues including adoption, litter, and weeding;
• Landscaping issues including trees, hedgerow management, verges and fly tipping.
• Play areas;
• The Country Park;
• Allotments;
• Younghayes Centre;
• Train Station;
• MLR Upgrade;
• Working with Housing Associations;
• Public Transport
The work of this meeting is reported back to the full Town Council at its regular monthly meeting.

The members of the Amenities Committee make regular inspections of the Town’s facilities but also welcome members of the community being their eyes and ears. Please report any concerns on the Town Council Facebook page.

The cloning of Exmouth seafront begins

Many would say that the Carriage Cafe is the sort of thing many re-invented seafronts would compete for. and indeed Lappa Valley in Cornwall, to which it will locate, agrees.

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw on south-west politics

” ..Ben Bradshaw, one the Labour Party’s few MPs in the south of England, is convinced the only route back to power is to win back people who are “not die hard Tories”.

Many Jeremy Corbyn backers believe rather than appealing to “soft” Conservatives, the party can regain office by winning back disillusioned Labour supporters, Green Party voters and millions of people who don’t vote.

But Mr Bradshaw, Culture Secretary under Gordon Brown, argues “miraculously persuading persistent non-voters to vote is not based on any political or psephological evidence”.

The Exeter, Devon MP will tomorrow host a fringe event at the Labour party conference in Brighton called Southern Discomfort, underlining how the party cannot ignore the south of England.

He will say Labour is “suffering from worse Southern Discomfort” than at “any time in our recent history”, and only “fantastic organisation” in places like Oxford East and Exeter have helped avoid a deficit as heavy as 1983.

But he will continue:

“In most of those constituencies where we needed to beat the Tories we went backwards and the challenge is now greater than it was after 1983. We should also not assume things can’t get worse.

“As Lewis Baston has pointed out in his recent analysis for Progress, the South is moving north – in that employment and demographic patterns that are common in the south are becoming more common across the country and if the Tories push through their boundary changes, relatively more seats will be created in southern England outside London.

“It is vital we have a clear headed understanding of why we lost the election based on the evidence, rather than emotion or conjecture.”

He will point out the Fabian Society, ex-Labour policy chief John Cruddas and the TUC have all done “in depth analysis” and “their conclusions are clear and the same”.

“We lost because we suffered from massive deficits on economic trust and leadership. This is what the new leadership must address.

“Four of the five voters Labour must win back in England and Wales to have any chance of forming the next Government voted Conservative on May 7th.

“These are not die hard Tories, but people who have voted Labour in recent history. Our Party and our new leadership must appeal to them.”

He adds the claim that Labour can win “by picking up a few more voters from the Greens on the left and miraculously persuading persistent non voters to vote is not based on any political or psephological evidence. Nor is it supported by our experience”.

He goes on:

“Anyone who has done any campaigning knows that the problem with non voters is – they don’t vote. Great ground campaigning can motivate a small number to on the margins, but most non voters have never voted and never will.

“To base an electoral strategy in them is wishful thinking. Far more productive and the only way for Labour to win is to persuade people who do vote to vote for us. That’s the challenge facing the new leadership. It’s not rocket science. We’ve shown in places like Exeter and Hove how it’s done. Let’s get on and do it.”

Source: Huffington Post UK