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Council Lingo - help required

Author Message
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 30 August, 2006 - 05:13 pm:   

I came across a document on the council's website entitled 'Asset Management Best Value Review'.

http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/19BC7A9C-A 566-4D7B-B2A7-EB55159057B7/0/Item6Appendix.pdf

To be honest I'm not what it is about but it doesn't seem to complementary about the council.
In conclusion it states....

"Urgent improvements are needed to the strategy, leadership, and communication approaches that affect the service."

"Changes were made to the service in the pursuit of efficiency gains....These changes have diminished the functionís ability to improve delivery of the service and maintaining the momentum of good asset management."

Is it about the condition of particular council properties or everything owned by the council (swimming pools, schools, housing) and how it is managed?

It talks of urgency and large sums of money, should we be concerened?

Is there anyone out there who can explain this document in an easy to understand format?
Hilltopgeneral
Joined 24-03-2004
Posted on Wednesday, 30 August, 2006 - 05:46 pm:   

Usual consultantese, but - surprise surprise - it basically reports that in terms of looking after its own buildings Lewisham is totally directionless. That much was obvious to everyone from the continuing saga of Louise House and by the way in which the pool roof was allowed to deteriorate. I will review in more detail.
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Thursday, 31 August, 2006 - 09:46 am:   

Thank you. The document seems to be suggesting lack of leadership and focus may be widespread within the council.

About month ago I went to a meeting where the Mayor and officers said efficency gains/cuts in budgets would not affect services. Yet this report indicates otherwise. At that meeting the Mayor said effciency savings will continue to be increased year on year.

A few sentences that may be relevent to Forest Hill...

'We have concerns whether backlog maintenance information accurately reflects all areas, such as structural issues.'

'There appears to be a culture across the organisation that the strategic management of assets is a problem belonging to someone else.'

I thought the new mayoral system was meant to improve council adminstration but this report says since 2002 the situation has declined and is in need of urgent improvement.

The following conjours up images of officers running around camouflaging buildings and talking in secret codes...

'Project & Development is sometimes perceived as an obstacle....which means that projects are sometimes deliberately concealed from the unit.'

Unintentionally this document is a fascinating insight into the running of the council.
Roz
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 31 August, 2006 - 01:08 pm:   

I think we should bear in mind that this report is a comment on asset management, not every aspect of service provision, or a comment on leadership per se. That being said, assuming that the report is a fair assessment and not just a snapshot of a ' bad hair day', it can only be helpful in identifying weaknessess so that they can be strengthened.

Most councils and indeed most large organisations are not that good at managing their property assets, here more likely than not due to prioritising other services in line with government targets.

Property maintenance, especially of old buildings, costs an absolute fortune; some just aren't worth maintaining ; the term 'sinking fund' doesn't exist for nothing.
The Councils that do well in this field seem to be ones that entertain more large scale privatisation, such as Bromley. As I've said elsewhere, they provide wonderful sports facilities, but at a higher price to the users.
Sherwood
Joined 30-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 31 August, 2006 - 02:48 pm:   

Roz,
I think you have indicated what the problem is - finance. I am sure that Lewisham could look after their buildings if they raised council tax.
Brian
Joined 18-04-2005
Posted on Thursday, 31 August, 2006 - 06:16 pm:   

We speak the world most popular language but our great council seems to offer documents in every language of the world. What a great way to encourage intergration.
I wonder in Beijing council offers as many alternatives
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Thursday, 31 August, 2006 - 07:12 pm:   

When I originally uploaded one of the conclusions
I left off the reference to the wider council.

'Urgent improvements are needed to the strategy, leadership, and communication approaches that affect the service. This means improvements within the service and, crucially, in the wider Council.'

The report refers to the £200m town centre regeneration and £200m+ to be spent on schools.

'Despite the pivotal role that asset management and property professionals have to play in the regeneration and cross-service delivery, there is little formal input from the Asset Strategy and Property function to the Councilís strategies in these areas. This is an unsatisfactory situation for an authority and jeopardises the ability to provide an efficient and sustainable property service.'

Re cost of repair of old buildings the document seems to be saying it's the newer buildings that are eating up the money. For example the Civic Suite £893 per metre, compared to £412 per metre for the Broadway Theatre.

The report seems to have been conducted over some time as there were a number of interviews and staff consultation sessions.

A pharse I don't understand is.....
'A piecemeal maintenance approach risks abortive expenditure.'

I'm sure it means something to someone in the council.
Sherwood
Joined 30-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 31 August, 2006 - 07:28 pm:   

It probably means repairing a building one year and demolishing it the next year.
Hilltopgeneral
Joined 24-03-2004
Posted on Saturday, 02 September, 2006 - 11:59 am:   

What the piecemeal sentence means is that without a plan, money spent on maintenance may be wasted.

I am astonished at the figure of £893/sq m for the Civic Suite. A comparable building could be built from scratch for around £2000/sq m.
Sherwood
Joined 30-03-2005
Posted on Saturday, 02 September, 2006 - 06:24 pm:   

Does anyone know what maintenance was carried out on the Civic Suite?
I can't say that I have actually noticed it.


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