Monday, 15 September 2008

Running Total - Efficiency Savings

So far the running total...

North Yorkshire Police Authority £21,972,000
Hambleton District Council £1,261,286
North Yorkshire County Council £31,573,000
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service TBA

Total so far is a staggering....£54,806,286 for the period 2004 - 2008!

For the period 2007/2008 this figure is £15,050,640 alone!

When I have made enquiries they have gone to great lengths to state that these savings are both 'cashable' and 'non-cashable'. I assume that a 'cashable' saving is simply a hard cash saving whereas a 'non-cashable' is a saving that can be identified and evidenced but would show a saving kind of thing! Confused...? Anyway I have formally asked for an explanation of 'non-cashable'. As soon as I receive the answer I will publish my findings!

Efficiency Savings - NYCC

In response to my request for information, regarding 'efficiency savings' from 2004 to 2008 within NYCC I received an enormous amount of data from NYCC. So that I publish only accurate information I had to double check the information. Under a 'supplementary question' I asked the
Assistant Director - Projects from NYCC the following enquiry:

Could you confirm that the following savings have been made in NYCC from 04/05 to 07/08?

2004/05 - £5.9m

2005/06 - £6.71m
2006/07 - £8.5m
2007/08 - £9.7m

The reply I received from the Assistant Director was:

The figures you quote are those we returned at the time of the various Gershon returns to Government, and include both cashable and non cashable savings
In practice the Government has "repriced" previous years returns using it's GDP deflator for it's own statistical purposes.
The 2007/08 return I included in the original response shows the official repriced "running total" for the whole period.
This gives an overall figure of £31.573m to the end of 2007/08, of which £16.945m is cashable

So over the period 2004-2008, NYCC has 'saved' on our behalf a total of £31.573m!

That is a lot of money!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Further 'Efficiency Savings' within North Yorkshire...that have been made on our behalf!

Once you start digging it seems everyone is at it! I just cannot believe the scale of these so-called 'efficiency savings' that are being made within North Yorkshire. There seems to be an also evangelical zeal to make these efficiency savings at our expense!

So far we have established that the Police have 'saved' through 'efficiency savings a total of £21.972m between 2004 and 2008. As stated previously all this information has been obtained under the Freedom Of Information Act 2000.

I have just received an answer from Hambleton District Council regarding 'efficiency savings' over this same period. Bearing in mind that HDC is one of seven District Councils within North Yorkshire and they have made the following savings:

2004/2005 - £159,938
2005/2006 - £359,396
2006/2007 - £411,320
2007/2008 - £330,640

Total Savings £1,261,286

So far the tally is as follows 2004 - 2008

North Yorkshire Police Authority £21,972,000
Hambleton District Council £1,261,286

North Yorkshire County Council TBA
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service TBA

Please bear in mind this is money that could have been spent on us as taxpayers!

I have requested similar information from North Yorkshire County Council. In all fairness NYCC replied with so much information I had to ask Supplementary Questions to clarify the exact figures...I certainly don't want to be accused of giving incorrect information! So I will publish that information once I get it.
As for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service they never reply until the statutory 20 working days has allowed under the Freedom Of Information Act 2000...I don't think it is personal.

Anyway we are talking about a lot of taxpayers money NOT being used for public services and amenities within North Yorkshire.

So what have our local politicians been doing whilst they have voted through these 'savings'? The trouble is that no-one is saying 'NO'! Please let me know if anybody is saying...'No'! You never know there may be others out there who will come forward and who will stand up and be counted.

Just wait until we start exploring the need and rationale of introducing car parking charges within the HDC area!

The mind boggles!

Police Authority 'Efficiency Savings' in North Yorkshire

Following the debate concerning the funding of the police speed gun I submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request under the Freedom Of Information Act 2000 with the North Yorkshire Police.

My reasons for this FOI request was to find out how much the Police Authority had 'saved' over the past 5 years in North Yorkshire.

The request was simply to ask for details of any financial efficiency savings North Yorkshire Police has delivered since 2003?

If the Police Authority were making 'efficiency savings' then why should any other Authority or Council provide funding for police equipment and resources?

The response from North Yorkshire Police was as follows:

If the North Yorkshire Police are making savings of £5.02 million why are we paying so much in Council Tax? Why aren't these 'savings' being passed onto the ratepayer?

So what would £5.02m buy?

It would finance166 extra Police Officers on £30,000pa for the taxpayer of North Yorkshire.

It would buy 1255 speed laser guns at £4000 each for the taxpayer of North Yorkshire.

It would purchase 4183 portable speed matrix signs at £1200 each for the taxpayers of North Yorkshire.

This debate is definitely set to continue!

Funding for the Police Speed Laser Gun in Bedale

I fully support any initiative that increases road safety in and around Bedale but how this particular initiative is funded is, in my opinion, a matter for the North Yorkshire Police Authority and not Bedale Town Council.

The recent proposal to contribute funding from the Town Council's budget towards the purchase of a police speed laser gun for the local police to use in and around Bedale has certainly aroused controversy and debate at the Town Council.

I also empathize with the emotional debate that was presented by a police officer and a local Town Councillor regarding the urgent need for a police speed laser gun which would, in their opinions, increase road safety within Bedale.

Has this emotional debate been presented to the County Councillors who sit on North Yorkshire Police Authority?

If local Police Officers need a speed laser gun to combat speeding motorists in and around Bedale the question must be asked...why hasn't the North Yorkshire Police Authority supplied funding for one? I would certainly consider this equipment to be 'front-line police' equipment and yet the Town Council is expected to assist or match fund equipment that is primarily the responsibility of North Yorkshire Police Authority.

Would North Yorkshire Police Authority assist Bedale Town Council in its funding of...grass-cutting, Christmas lights, flower displays, children's play area?

If the Town Council agree to pay towards a police laser gun then the local ratepayer will be forking out twice and the money allocated for the speed gun will not be able to be used for local services and amenities.

Our Council Tax includes provision for the cost of running the following Councils and Authorities:

Police Authority
Fire Authority
North Yorkshire County Council
Hambleton District Council
Town/Parish Council

Saturday, 13 September 2008

An Elected Mayor for North Yorkshire...smothered at birth?

Let's get straight down to business.

Under the banner of Saving Our Public Services in North Yorkshire...this topic is crucial.

Strong, accountable and democratic Leadership is essential to save and preserve local public services and amenities. These are services that we pay for. By public services I mean local Education services, Police, Fire, Bin Collections, Street Cleaning...all services we pay our local rates and taxes for. So where better to start, than with who leads those that run and administer them?

The post of an elected Mayor is up for consultation and discussion in North Yorkshire. Let's talk about it and fully explore these interesting is very obvious that the local political establishment doesn't want to engage in any meaningful debate and discussion over this important subject.

Hidden away in a locally distributed council magazine was a small and discrete article about a change in the legislation regarding the Leadership of North Yorkshire County Council. There seem to be two proposals on the table:

  1. The 72 County Councillors elect their Leader and he/she will then appoint his/her Cabinet Executive. Or..
  2. A Mayor is elected by the people...and the elected Mayor will then appoint his/her Cabinet Executive.

I read the article and decided to find out more about these 'consultations'. I went on the NYCC website and found this information...please follow this link for more information:

Things can only get worse! Is this more of the same...but worse?

I knew that the current Leader is elected by the 72 County Councillors and the executive cabinet is also elected by the elected 72 County Councillors .

The NYCC literature and website kept stating that the...'The County Council considers that the leader and cabinet executive model is best suited to the circumstances of North Yorkshire.'

Why and how have they come to this conclusion?

Why do they think it would be best suited?

There was no explanation as to why the former model was 'best suited'. It always concerns me when the consultation process kicks off with phrases like this.

This issue was placed on the Agenda for the Bedale Town Council Meeting which was held on Monday 8th September. These are a few of the issues that were raised at the meeting:

  • The proposals being put forward seem to dilute the democratic process even further as the appointees on the Cabinet will no longer be elected but appointed.
  • This change seems to be coming whether we like it or not and I felt that we should fully engage in the consultation process
  • If we don’t engage in the consultation process then we will have lost the opportunity to have a say in these new proposals!
  • At least with an elected Mayor he/she will be directly elected by the people, for the people and with the knowledge that the elected Mayor will appoint his/her Cabinet.
  • The elected Mayor would be elected with a known manifesto regarding his/her plans once in Office.

Could I draw your attention to an article in the Darlington and Stockton Times written by Andy Walker who attended the Town Council Meeting?

A couple of questions that should be put to the current Leader of the County Council:

  • Please show me the evidence to back up your claims?
  • Why shouldn't an elected Mayor "be a suitable alternative for very large, widespread rural areas"?
  • If they have "proved useful in fairly tight, urban areas"...why not in North Yorkshire?
  • The Leader of the County Council states "It would be very difficult, in an area as large as North Yorkshire, to elect a mayor." Why?

There are many unanswered questions!

My main concern is that this whole issue will probably be smothered at birth by blatant self interest and fear of change regardless of the will of the people of North Yorkshire.

Is this simply empire building at the expense of the ratepayer?