Cllr Emma Daniel (@huxley06) has made some very constructive comments and valid criticism on twitter in response to something I posted on Tuesday (5th January) “The added value that local, community-based organisations can bring to contracts”. Rather than responding on twitter, I thought I would reproduce her tweets here and then respond. This is what Emma tweeted:
“Good blog. I think there are one or two points though… For instance the fire service relates to public they commission little from the vcs, so conflating the two viewpoints is I think not strong in context of blog.
“Second point is that from a political rather than officer and sector point of view we have had opposite feedback.
“I suppose the third point is around singling out one contract decision as the example, before our time, but I think that the process of dialogue has only just started on rough sleeping – a fresh start I had hoped.
“Final point loving the blogs including the challenge so don’t change and I hope you don’t mind me responding.”
This is my response:
Good point about comparing Fire and Rescue Service and local authorities. A bit of apple and pears. The comparison wasn’t the important point in my post. The issue was the need for the partnership and engagement that has characterised relations between the local authority and the community and voluntary sector seems to have been lost. You mention the positive feedback you have had about political engagement (I wouldn’t disagree with that) but the reality for the CVS is the impact all engagement has on our organisations. Politicians are responsible for how the authority engages be it members or officers. The officers implement the will of their political mistresses and masters!
On a personal note, you are a politician that is always prepared to engage, be challenged and, in return, is challenging. I certainly don’t mind how challenging you are. In fact I welcome and appreciate it a lot. Others could follow your example (and that of a few others in other parties).
I don’t know if you saw my blog on Social Value. I made a direct challenge to politicians about their responsibility for ensuring that social value is valued in the commissioning process. I asked whether politicians actually know how much, even whether, social value considerations influence procurement decisions. Of course politicians should not interfere in an individual procurement exercise, but politicians should be insisting that social value is given proper consideration when commissioning teams make their decisions. I can’t imagine for a moment that you would think that scoring that gives 20% on price and a mere 4% on social value is the right balance! (Offline I am happy to tell you which local authority it is that gives such weight to social value).
And, yes, again you are right to say that singling out one contract as an example is not particularly helpful. I don’t want to go into the ins and outs of who was responsible but your group was party to a decision before it formed the administration that has led, indirectly, to what the concerns I am expressing through various posts. I raised my concerns with representatives of all groups at the time but only councillor acted on it at the time.
The main theme in several posts recently remains the disconnect between members and practice on the ground. The previous administration was heavily criticised for bins not being emptied. The current administration is responsible for what is being done now!
In conclusion, I don’t envy the responsibilities you have which are incomparable to those we faced when I was a councillor back in pre-history. I sometimes feel that councillors have both hands tied behind their backs, ankles tied together, pushed here, there and everywhere by noisy people (including me!) that it is impossible to focus and deal with issues in the way you would like. Because of that, councillors continue to have my respect and gratitude!