25 June 2009

Incredible Shrinking Council

On the third of June 2009, the following revelations about High Peak Borough Council's big property sell-off were published here on High Peak Transparency.

It took the Glossop Chronicle over two weeks to catch up, and even then they printed a question mark next to their headline. The Buxton Advertiser was so late it had us wondering if they've heard about the Beatles breaking up yet.

Here is the original article, as published on High Peak Transparency at 19:48 on 3 June 2009:

A little bird - an extremely reliable little bird - has told High Peak Transparency that the Borough's headquarters are to be disposed of to the highest bidder.

The news is unlikely to do anything for the morale of staff already trying to work under the conditions of sometimes not knowing who - or even where - their boss is on a day-to-day basis.

The Property and Estate Management function has already been earmarked to be carried out by another council, not within High Peak.

For many years High Peak Borough Council has operated mainly from its self-contained office complex just outside Chapel-en-le-Frith. One feature of the bizarro-world arrangements that are currently emerging, which involve getting into bed with Staffordshire Moorlands Council, is that the bosses think one of the two councils' headquarters isn't necessary.

Indeed, rationalisation of assets is one of the prime purposes of Staffpeak, or Highfordshire Moorlands, or whatever name the new administrative thing is going to end up with.
The purpose - efficiency - is well-intentioned. But many unintended consequences are inevitable when this kind of experimentation is attempted. Accountability is already becoming one obvious casualty.

Before this merger goes past the point of no return - which clearly is fast approaching if major properties are being disposed of - is there sufficient foresight and thinking-power available to those who've only recently climbed into the driving seat at the council?
There will be dancing in the cubicles of local government tonight.

For earlier dispatches on this 'innovative' way of running councils, please see:

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