Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Proposed 07/08 Merton Business Plan

Last night, I received the papers for the Cabinet meeting on Thursday night that will discuss the Business Plan, Budget and the Capital programme for the next year.

The papers should have been published last week but unfortunately I did not receive them until Tuesday night. A special courier service was arranged to deliver the papers (more Council waste). Recently, the Conservative administration seem to publish papers late as a matter of course, while inevitably some papers will be put out late for understandable reasons, it seems to happen very often and I've concerns about papers being published late with no reason being given.

In terms of the Business Plan a number of they proposals have implications.

A proposed change has been made to the indicator for the average number of adults in B&B accommodation and average length of stay of families in hostels. The current figure for B&B is three families with a target of no more then 15 families on average. Along with the average hostel stay this is clearly not a priority for the Tories, no doubt under their housing policies the figures will be going up.

The Percentage of sites surveyed with no litter has been deleted as a target. The abolition is justified on good performance which currently is running at 92%, however the litter issue is something that does not to be monitored to ensure cleanliness, and performance standards remain high. They do not seem to be a priority for the Tories given their lax attitude.

They have scrapped any plans to regenerate Morden; this priority only lasted a very short time and had only been inserted after the Tories came to power. Clearly they do not see improving Morden as a priority any longer.

Following up on recent housing policies, they have also scrapped increasing supported housing options and floating support for vulnerable adults, particularly those with disabilities. This has been replaced by a vaguely worded 'increased support for vulnerable people'.

Opening 8 new Children's centres by March 2008 have been scrapped with no target at all given in the revised business plan. Given that they propose shutting Bond Road in Mitcham on the grounds that they'll be opened, we'll be lucky to see any opened by March 2008. Thankfully the Labour Govt has funded them as otherwise we would've have seen none at all.

All targets relating to answering the phone and responding to complaints within timescales have been scrapped. It is not a priority for improvement; the figures are currently good and improved dramatically under the last Labour administration. Clearly keeping up customer service standards is not a priority.

The indicator for our Council tax ranking has also been deleted with no alternative, after the budget we'll no doubt be climbing up the league table of Council taxes in London.

All in all it makes very interesting reading and no doubt in scrutiny many questions will be asked about the revised plans given the implications they have on the Council.


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