Category Archives: local government

Review

Sometimes office politics is so blatant it makes you feel a little bit ill. Our team is being reviewed except for the team that runs the Mayor’s events, because that’s how he gets re-voted in. Quel surprise.

Anyway, they will be getting rid of people – how many, we don’t know – and will be combining jobs and probably regrading jobs. The public sector is screwed for communications, y’all.

All change

Apparently we are going to learn about the fate of the Comms Team today at my council – although I won’t work here for much longer as my last day is Friday.  People are noticeably nervous about their roles, and who can blame them with all these stories about council redundancies.

While I think that yes, we need to streamline some of the bloated mess that a lot of councils have grown to, I really think that the government is naive in thinking that they will automatically reduce the management. Most places are looking at closing libraries and other frontline services and reducing free services (such as free swims) for kids and the elderly. This means frontline redundancies – you know the people who collect the litter and look after your parents in a care home. Gone. They weren’t paid very much to begin with and management (including our management) have decided they like being senior managers with a fat salary too much to give it up.

This is really a management fail. And this kind of thing happens in most places, except I do think that the private sector tends to axe management more readily as they have shareholders to answer to. Councils don’t tend to answer to anyone – if you can’t afford it, you have to accept council services rather than go elsewhere.

The government fail is really a system fail – and damn, I hate saying that as blaming the Tories is my new favourite hobby.  Those who get more funding will be adversely affected when the funding goes. Those not needing funding can’t have any money taken away from them as that’s what they earn from Council Tax and paid-for services. So while it’s vastly unfair that Richmond is cutting 4% of their budget and my council is cutting 8.9%, the only way for us to even it up is to make them stop charging for services or for us to start. Guess which will happen.

Anyway, we learn what will happen at 2pm. I’m sure I’ll do an update as I have a feeling most Comms Teams will be facing similar issues if they work in the public sector.

Tales from local government

So the recruitment freeze is leading to an upsurge in agency jobs, eh? How did no one see that coming? More to the point, why did no one think ‘hey, agency staff are relatively expensive, we should probably think about having some form of exemption from the recruitment freeze for those in a critical service’. I mean, even the local council I work in has figured that out – in fact, they’ve moved all their agency street cleaners to permanent staff to save on money. And we have a ban on hiring of agency staff and consultants – something that is saving us far more money than a simple recruitment freeze.

Just another example of how this Tory government is in it together with you.

There have been more fun and games at Barnet council this week as someone in their comms department does something monumentally stupid and adds an apostrophe.

I rely on my Penguin book of grammar to help me through any sticky linguistic issues, but I also rely on the fact that I was taught grammar, I read a lot, and I get two people to proof anything before it goes to the stakeholder, never mind the printers. I know it happens, I’ve seen it happen in our comms department in our twice-monthly magazine, but never on a poster with so few words on it. That’s just special. Although props to them for essentially shrugging and saying ‘fuck it’ as it would cost £2,000 to reprint.

Finally, it’s been a highly excitable time in my place of work, what with one of my stakeholders deciding he doesn’t like the triple-signed-off intranet design and asking me to get our designer to redo it. I’m trying to get the fact that it will cost us about another £5-10k and be another two months before going live into his head, but I fear this may be a losing battle. This, my friends, is why god invented the gin and tonic in a can.

I’m a loser, baby

It’s been a shitty week here in Lake Working Girl (props for people getting that reference). I’ve managed to make what should have been a small mistake that got turned into a huge one by senior managers scared for their jobs. It doesn’t help that this week we began to talk about our plans of how to deal with the CSR in terms of residents and staff.

I’m afraid that staff are going to lose.

Which is, really, as it should be in a local council. Except that nearly half of our staff are residents and we are the second biggest employer in the borough. So while we talk about getting residents into jobs, we’ll be cutting jobs, continuing with a recruitment freeze and changing terms and conditions so no one will want to work here anyway.

Diamond.

Of course, I don’t know why our senior managers are worrying. A whispered idea of a pay cut of 5% for those top 150 has been conspicuous in its absence. Instead, staff will be losing holiday days and working hours will go up. It seems that the Tory way of doing things is the ‘natural’ way in any organisation that has a few people in power over many.