Purdah … just a little reminder

“Purdah” is a period of time when major political decisions cannot be made before an election.

For a general election it starts as soon as Parliament has been dissolved.

It doesn’t stop candidates talking about national political decisions but it does stop the government from making announcements on them – unless it is a statutory duty or a court orders it to do so.

Here’s what the Consultation Institute has to say:

“Remember – at this time of the year, there are no local elections. Only if national policy issues are likely to impact the decision under consideration, will you be running the risk of contaminating the debate. It is not like a local housing development or a merger of schools where Councillors standing for re-election are competing for the public’s favours at the ballot box.

In the case of the NHS, it is not governed by locally elected Councillors anyway – but, of course, they DO have an influence through Overview & Scrutiny Committees. Where it is wise to defer or delay a consultation is where proposals attract challenge from Members of Parliament and where the election campaign may provoke candidates into a Dutch auction whereby they seek to outbid each other in the vehemence of their opposition. We know of one imminent consultation on the potential closure of a cherished community hospital where deferment is clearly sensible.

In general, if it is likely to become a political football, it is best not to proceed. If your consultation is technical and unlikely to be the subject of p9olitical argument, the case for deferment is weak. …”

Will purdah affect your consultation?

Tell Devon County Council what you think (nicely, now!)

Devon Community Insight Survey

Devon residents are being asked what matters most in a survey run by Devon County Council.

The Community Insight Survey asks about experiences of a range of services and the County Council’s strategic aims.

It also asks questions about Council Tax increases, community resources, if people have good access to green spaces, and if the council’s decision make sense.

A council spokesman said: “We are committed to building a Devon where everyone can live their lives well, and to do this we need to understand what matters most to you and where you experience difficulties. The results will be shared across services and used to inform budget decisions and how services are provided in future.”

The survey can be filled in online at

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=gzehjWjLP0S7S5l_d_1b-3k2zoamfoJKgcKfgFq7GXBUQ0lXOFI1MVlPQkQ3N1Q0NUZPWFM1R1VENy4u

“£14 Billion ‘wasted’ by the government on ‘botched’ outsourcing”

“The government has wasted at least £14 billion between 2016 and 2019 on poorly managed outsourcing contracts finds a report from the Reform Think Tank.

The report is based on an analysis of investigations by the National Audit Office NAO), Parliamentary Select Committees and other statutory bodies. The total value of the contracts investigated was £71.1 billion.

The Ministry of Defence accounts for 27 per cent of this waste. This includes a 17 year delay in the full decommissioning of nuclear submarines and a poorly planned army recruitment programme. This saw soldiers forced into backoffice jobs to clear an IT backlog created by an untested IT system created in partnership between the army and Capita.

Other examples include the vastly expensive liquidation of Carrillion, which cost the government at least £148 million as well as involving the time and resources of 14 government departments and public bodies.

Also the Department for Education continued to give Learndirect £105 million after the programme was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted. This should have led to the funding being withdrawn.

A third of the government’s annual budget is spent on outsourced services, at a total of ££292 Billion.

Reform is now calling for an independent regulator of the outsourcing sector which – unlike the NAO or Select Committees would have the power to enforce change and impose sanctions on failing providers.

Senior Researcher and Reform procurement lead, Dr Joshua Pritchard said “Our public services cannot function without outsourcing. But when it goes wrong, it’s taxpayers who end up footing the bill

“The £14.3 billion wasted as a result of poorly drawn up and managed government contracts is inexcusable.

“We need a new regulator with the power to prevent public money being squandered because of totally avoidable mistakes.”

£14 Billion ‘wasted’ by the government on ‘botched’ outsourcing

Survey on local health services

Please do fill in this survey – it has a lot of open-ended questions about what you think – but remember this survey is about cuts so it needs to be emphasised that cuts are not the answer – increased funding IS.

From the blog of Claire Wright, Independent Parliamentary candidate for East Devon:

“The local NHS says there’s a funding shortfall so is asking people their views…

The local NHS – Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) – is asking Devon residents their views on health services, after outlining in a presentation sent to councillors, information about a funding shortfall, workforce shortages, a population increase and lengthening waiting times.

They say:

One in 10 nurse jobs and 1 in 12 social worker posts in Devon remain vacant as demand for services increase.
There have been increases in NHS funding, but peoples’ needs for services are growing faster
Devon is struggling to provide timely access to services. In addition, a rise of conditions like cancer, heart disease and dementia will put the health and social care system under more pressure unless more flexible, joined up approaches are taken
The county’s population will rise by about 33,000 people equivalent to the population of Exmouth over the next five years
The number of people aged over 85 in Devon will double in the next 20 years. W e need to be able to offer all the services they need as an even greater priority
The CCG says it does not have all the funding it needs to deliver the ‘current models of service provision.’

Here’s the link to the questionnaire. It closes on 5 September.

I urge you to complete the survey.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BetterDevon

For a full copy of the briefing contact Ross.Jago@nhs.net”

The local NHS says there’s a funding shortfall so is asking people their views…

A new way of planning: are no-overall-control councillors up for it?

” Participation not Consultation:

At Civic Voice we are aware of the growth agenda and the need for more homes to be built. Our members understand this too, yet all over England many of these members, who are knowledgeable and positive people, have had to engage in fighting Local Plans and planning proposals that they feel passionately are not right for their places.

It is time to change the way things are done and to bring communities genuinely to the heart of planning and place-making. ‘Participation not Consultation’ is about bringing people in at an early stage to develop the proposals through collaborative planning processes, also known as Charrettes.

The Charrette approach involves community members working alongside local authorities and developers to co-create design-led, visual plans and strategies. It is an inspirational and energising activity where the results of collaboration are seen immediately, with the knowledge that an individual’s input actually matters. It also has the potential to greatly increase the speed of the formal planning and design process.

Civic Voice has launched a campaign to bring these collaborative processes into mainstream planning so that, through shared working from an early stage, communities can help shape and support growth and development that is right for their place.”

http://www.civicvoice.org.uk/uploads/files/Collaborative_planning_1.pdf

Have your say on Axminster’s future

“Community group Light Up Axminster is inviting people to have their say about the town’s future development during a programme of ‘Community Conversations’.

Funded by an Awards for All grant from the National Lottery the group is exploring the things that matter to those that live, work and visit the town.

The aim is to highlight the highs and lows of community life and how the town can shape its future together.

The ‘Community Conversations’ will take place at a range of venues and times throughout March and early April and will be led by Light Up Axminster’s Cindy Furse with film-maker Rich Tomlinson and Actiontrack’s Nick Brace.

Anyone attending is asked to take a photograph, picture, poem, drawing or description of their favourite thing about living in Axminster and the thing that they would most like to change.

These will be used to create a picture of what is important in the community. For anyone who can’t attend the themed sessions there will be a number of drop-in sessions, too.

Contact Cindy Furse on 07930 800225 or email cindy@lightupaxminster.co.uk for more information, or join the conversation on Facebook/LightUpAxminster

Sessions are:

Thursday March 14: The Light House (formerly Marle Gallery):

9am to 10am: drop in; 10am to 12pm – regeneration, development and growth; 1pm to 3pm – education and employment; 3pm to 4pm: drop in.

Friday, March 15, Axminster Guildhall: 9am to 10am: drop in;

10am to 12pm – sport and leisure; 1pm to 3pm – arts, culture and heritage; 4pm to 5pm – drop in.

Tuesday March 19: The Light House: 12pm to 2pm – spaces, places and facilities; 2pm to 3pm – drop in; 6pm to 7pm – drop in; 7pm to 9pm – health and wellbeing.

Wednesday March 20: Millwey Community Hall: 12pm to 1pm – drop in; 1pm to 3pm – education and employment.

Wednesday March 20: The Light House: 5pm to 7pm – drop in; 7pm to 9pm – sport and leisure.

Friday March 29: The Light House: 9am to 10am: Drop in; 10am to 12pm – health and wellbeing; 1pm to 3pm – spaces, places and facilities; 4pm to 5pm – drop in.

Tuesday April 2: The Light House: 7pm to 9pm – arts, culture and heritage.

Thursday April 4: Millwey Community Hall: 6pm to 7pm – drop in; 7pm to 9pm – regeneration, development and growth.”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/community-conversations-planned-to-help-shape-the-future-1-5934595

“Spending watchdog consults on new Code of Audit Practice for local auditors”

“The National Audit Office has launched a consultation on the development of a new Code of Audit Practice, which sets out what local auditors of relevant local public bodies are required to do to fulfil their statutory responsibilities under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

The 2014 Act requires that the Code be reviewed, and revisions considered at least every five years. The NAO said the current Code came into force on 1 April 2015, and its maximum five-year lifespan means it now needs to be reviewed and a new Code laid in Parliament in time for it to come in to force no later than 1 April 2020. …

The consultation document which can be viewed here:

https://www.nao.org.uk/code-audit-practice/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2019/03/Local-audit-in-England-Code-of-Audit-Practice-Consultation.pdf

supports Stage 1 of the process. …”

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/governance/396-governance-news/40054-spending-watchdog-consults-on-new-code-of-audit-practice-for-local-auditors