“Stark warning Cranbrook is at risk of becoming an ‘austerity town’ bereft of key services and facilities for residents”

“Cranbrook is in danger of becoming an ‘austerity town’ with its residents deprived of key services and facilities, it has been warned.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) experts say authorities are at the ‘point of no return’ when it comes to delivering vital amenities for the fast-growing community.

They have now called for a task force to be formed to rethink how the new town can secure the assets it needs.

Officers have recommended that the authority’s cabinet approves the setting up of a Strategic Delivery Board when it meets next month.

A report to members says: “The original vision for Cranbrook was as a freestanding new community which would be capable of supporting its own assets and services.

“In a constrained financial environment, there is a need to actively reinvent how these will be delivered on a sustainable basis.

“Without this, there is a significant risk that Cranbrook will become an austerity town, bereft of the facilities and services that the population both expect and demand.

“This paper identifies that the delivery of key assets in the town centre is at a critical stage and puts forward a proposal for charting a clear path forward to ensure their successful delivery.

“The proposed Strategic Delivery Board is considered to be the best means to ensuring the necessary coordination and oversight.”

Some 3,500 homes have been granted planning permission at Cranbrook to date – with 8,000 earmarked. The town’s ultimate population will be around 20,000 people.

Town council offices, a library, and a health and wellbeing hub have been in the pipeline since 2015, according to the report.

The latter would cater for children’s and youth centre, primary care and leisure centre provision.

“The delivery of assets and services in Cranbrook is fundamental to the successful achievement of the vision for the town,” adds the officer.

“We are rapidly approaching the point of no return.

“This should not be seen purely as an issue relating to built facilities.

“Rather, it goes to the heart of how public services are delivered in the town to meet the needs of a young, growing population, including those with particular needs, both now and in the future.”

The report details how Cranbrook is key to the district’s housing growth and EDDC’s finances – through both developer contributions and council tax.

The council raked in £8.8million in government New Homes Bonus cash in 2017 and 2018.

Cranbrook is being delivered through a ‘commercially-driven’ model – with no public sector control of land.

A Section106 agreement – developers’ cash contributions for infrastructure – plays a critical role in the delivery of community facilities.

“It has become clear that certain of the facilities that are set out in the agreement are either no longer fit for purpose,” says the officer.

“Ultimately, there has been no resolution as to what form key facilities should take and how they should be delivered. Nonetheless, we are now at a stage where critical trigger points are being reached.”

The aim of the proposed Strategic Delivery Board would be to ‘focus on the delivery of future assets and services for Cranbrook’.

It would ‘provide oversight and ensure that the three tiers of local government can speak with one voice’ and comprise of two members from the town, district and county councils.

EDDC’s cabinet will consider the report on September 4.”

Stark warning Cranbrook is at risk of becoming an ‘austerity town’ bereft of key services and facilities for residents

“Boris Johnson accused of ‘misleading public’ over police numbers”

“Labour has accused Boris Johnson of misleading the public when he promised to recruit 20,000 police officers after it emerged from leaked correspondence that thousands are likely to be recruited away from frontline roles.

The opposition has seized on a letter written by the home secretary, Priti Patel, to the London mayor Sadiq Khan last week, in which she says the new officers will be allocated “between territorial, regional and national policing functions”.

Sources suggest this could mean as many as 7,000 of the 20,000 officers could be allocated to bodies such as the National Crime Agency leaving territorial forces in England and Wales with fewer recruits than expected.

The Met fears that its allocation would be 2,000 officers down – the force had hoped to be recruit 5,000 new officers on the back of Johnson’s promise, one of the first he made after entering No 10 last month.

The meaning of the pledge is certain to raise what is set to be a tense meeting between Patel and Khan, expected to take place on Wednesday, the first formal meeting between the two since the home secretary was appointed.

Louise Haigh, the shadow policing minister, said the letter “clearly shows that Boris Johnson’s grandiose pledge of 20,000 more frontline police officers was absolutely nothing of the sort”. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/27/boris-johnson-accused-of-misleading-public-over-police-numbers?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Vultures swoop on foster care system

“Private equity firms buying up small agencies have “set off alarm bells” within England’s foster care system, the Local Government Association says.
Three groups account for 45% of funds spent on independent fostering by English councils, according to new analysis.

The LGA said councils worry about what could happen if one group failed.

The Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers said its members provided a vital and high quality service.

More than 75,000 children are in care in England, compared with about 60,000 a decade ago. Most of these children are in foster care.

Councils manage foster placements themselves as well as commissioning care from independent fostering agencies.

Many of these providers started as local, small-scale operations but private equity firms – essentially, investment companies – have moved into the sector in recent years.

The National Fostering Agency, Compass Fostering and Foster Care Associates are now the dominant independent groups in the industry.

All three run for profit and are backed by private equity. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-49450405

“Governing as a permanent form of campaigning: why the civil service is in mortal danger”

” … This new permanent campaign style, encouraged by the crisis over Brexit and the ensuing clash between representative and direct democracy, means the structure of the civil service in Britain is being recast by three major shifts. The first is the growth of politically appointed advisers. All governments since the 1990s have sought to pack Whitehall with loyal apparatchiks. Their numbers have now reached over 90. Special advisers adept at handling an often hostile media are a particularly valuable commodity, but government has been contaminated by the rise of the spin machine and permanent campaign. Political aides help to enforce the political will of ministers, overcoming the bureaucratic inertia allegedly imposed by the Whitehall machine. Advisers are free to attack the monopoly over policy-making once coveted by the civil service, to the detriment of due process.

The second shift is the personalisation of civil service appointments with ministers increasingly hand-picking their favourite officials for the top jobs. Secretaries of state use back-channels to veto the appointment of civil servants to key posts who they believe are not ‘one of us’. Mandarins who seek promotion are encouraged to fulfil the immediate wishes of their political masters. The higher turnover of permanent secretaries leads to instability in Whitehall departments. The independence of the civil service has been repeatedly undermined.

The third shift is the emergence of a bureaucracy that is becoming ‘promiscuously partisan’, unwilling to speak truth to power. Civil servants are more likely than ever to be dragged into defending government policy. For an official to dissent from the expressed views of their minister is to commit career suicide. Yet the ability of officials to say no is a vital ingredient in the ‘governing marriage’ between ministers and civil servants. …”

Governing as a permanent form of campaigning: why the civil service is in mortal danger