Since the summer, an external consultant (Carl Edwards) has worked with the Head of Customer Access and Knowledge Information management at Leicester City Council (Sue Welford) to produce a vicious report that is currently being used as ready ammunition to help destroy children services in Leicester.
Speaking at the latest full Council meeting on Thursday night, the chair of the Leicester Labour Group, Patrick Kitterick, observed that the consultant had been paid one-and-a-half times the amount of money that an assistant mayor earns each year. This means we are talking around £100,000 for writing misinformation pure and simple. Albeit highly partisan misinformation that is highly useful for the Labour Council to justify their slashing of children’s services. [CORRECTION: £40,000 FOR FIVE MONTHS TIME-WASTING]
After a public request from Councillor Kitterick last night, this mis-report was placed on the Council’s web site late Friday afternoon in preparation for the ‘discussion’ at the scrutiny commission meeting on Tuesday 26th November; which will also ‘discuss’ the disembowelling of Surestart centres across Leicester.
The consultants report begins by stating that supervised safe play is provided at ten locations across the city at a current cost of £910,000 for core provision in term time. Then comes the bullshit, with the author writing: “The historical contracts offer poor value for money and it is critical that future commissioning secures services which are focused on the needs of children and communities whilst providing best value.”
That the adventure playgrounds provide “poor value for money” to the residents of Leicester is a complete joke. No doubt the very same consultant could equally have turned his hand to writing (for a large sum of money) the ridiculous dribble of a report that argued that teaching assistants have no value in our schools. Although in the latter case, big-business-minded consultants have already produced such a report, which was recently used as a weapon against local teaching assistants at Uplands Junior School in Highfields (see “The end of teaching assistants?”).
Leicester PlayFair’s submission to the Council has already explained that when the consultant came to drop the bombshell notification of the cuts to the playground management committees (only last Thursday) he had given them “a verbal presentation, full of deliberate disinformation, half truths and innuendos.” PlayFair added: “The consultant has ignored the history of the playgrounds and the previous reviews into Play, to make the ‘facts’ fits his cuts agenda.”
The consultants report proposed that existing Council funding for the playgrounds should continue until 30th June 2014, but after then it recommends that the cuts will need to be enforced (for the children’s benefit no doubt). A move which the playground staff acknowledge will literally drive the already cash-starved centres into oblivion.
Such incomprehensible attacks on children’s services are growing by the day, with reports today observing that the Council plans to lay-off around a third of the staff manning the city’s 23 excellent Surestart centres; while just a couple of days ago, another group of protesters revealed how the Council was moving to reduce care for older people in sheltered accommodation in Leicester. And this of course is just the tip of the iceberg.
This is all totally outrageous, yet sadly totally understandable coming from a Council who believes they must do the Tories bidding. Indeed what is the point of have elections, or a Labour-controlled Council for that matter, if when elected opposition politicians pretend to be at the complete mercy of a Government they pretend to disagree with?
No wonder more and more people are following Russell Brand and choosing not to vote in elections; or alternatively are getting wind of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and are themselves standing in elections as candidates completely opposed to not just some, but all public-sector cuts.