Milton Friedman wrote a book entitled The Tyranny of the Status Quo. The Audit Commission has imposed on on local government The Tyranny of Sameness. The problem with all the box ticking wasn't just the cost of all the box tickers (although it was a staggering sum.) The problem was also that it stifled innovation. Wandsworth has done its best to maintain independence – they call it the "Wandsworth Way"
In Hammersmith and Fulham we have also sought to adopt a distinctive approach. In a presentation a Local Government Information Unit conference, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, the leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, outlined the approach he characterised as "Local Government orthodoxy" and the alternative philosophy he applies.
First of all the "local government orthodoxy" and what the words used really mean:
"Partnership" = Partnership-TALKING rather than partnership-working & partnerSHAFT or GIVE & TAKE i.e. the council gives and the supplier takes.
"Investment" = Spending MORE money with no prospect of any return.
"Strategy & performance" = MORE bureaucracy and measuring things that do not matter.
"Shared" = SHARED services and economies of scale i.e. moving back office further away from the customer rather than sharing and merging services with other councils. We believe in sharing services (front and back office) and merging services rather than shared services.
Secondly the alternative criteria being applied in my borough:
Asset management: “Prioritise services not bricks & mortar!”
Budgetary control: “Control costs rather than allocate budgets!”
Cost reduction – cost structure: Identify full overhead to reduce unit cost.
Commercialisation: Municipal entrepreneurship – Take enterprising approach to cut costs/maximise revenues.
Competition: Procurement & competitive tendering.