Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fuckwit: 100 ways to cut council tax by Harry Phibbs

Right, here is the first "Friday Fuckwit" post . Suggestions please for next week.

Hammersmith and Fulham Councillor Phibbs has written in the Mail 100 ways to cut council tax without apparently cutting services.
Hmm, quite a few look like cuts to me, or if not a poorer service for often the most vulnerable .

A few choice ones :

- The old fashioned Public Lavatories represent pretty poor value for money in terms of maintenance. Often the buildings could be valuable capital assets. A better arrangement is to pay pubs a small fee for agreeing to allow non drinkers to use their loos. Also have more of those pay toilet cubicles on street corners.

- Cease funding Law Centres. (A double saving as they often sue the local council so the Council Taxpayers end us paying for the lawyers on both sides.)

- Employing full time Disabled Access Officers in the Planning Department is poor value for money. Planning applications have to meet statutory requirements for disabled access but it should not be for Councils to engage in 'gold plating.'

-Use sprinklers in care homes allowing a potential reduction in night staff and safer elderly residents.

-Reduce staff training to the statutory minimum.

- Cease to employ staff to be trade union officials.

- Charge for use of the staff car park.

- Reduce the energy bill for street lighting. At present most Councils have excessive street lighting. As with much else this is due to a culture of being unduly risk averse over health and safety. Aside from the cost, we cause light pollution and increase our carbon footprint. For instance if the lights presently go on 30 minutes after sunset to come off at 30 minutes before sunrise, how much could be saved by having the lights going on an hour after sunset and switching them off an hour before sunrise?

- Have periods where only half the lights are switched on (eg between 3am and 5am when scarcely anyone is using the streets.)

-Take a tough line in dismissing staff for persistent absenteeism. Monitor those who particularly claim to be sick on Fridays and Mondays. This will be easier having ceased funding full time union posts as the unions string out hearings for as long as possible. More positively, look at ways to improve the health of Council staff. Flu jabs represent good value for money in reducing genuine sickness.

- Ensure that the numbers of staff engaged in health and safety enforcement is kept to the statutory minimum.

-Speed up the planning process. Charging high fees is reasonable if there is a quick, efficient service. Give clear guidelines about the basics such as good design in the initial stages but reduce the gold plating demands on matters such as health and safety and disabled access. A lot of officers spend their time on such matters but the statutory requirements are quite onerous enough.

There is a few ok ones, such as

Ban mineral water at meetings. Use tap water instead. This has saved us £36,000 a year in Hammersmith and Fulham.

But generally if he had his way it would be poorly trained workers and understaffed services, streets that were unlit and thus more dangerous , limited access to toilets (a basic in terms of public health and not having streets smelling of urine), less attention to planning to ensure access for all, reduced rights and safeguards for workers and scrimping on health and safety. Roll on the election of Cameron...not.

I must though add a 'dishonourable' runner up for this weeks Friday Fuckwit. A newcomer to this blog , and we have our fair share of fuckwits who comment (yes you Paddy:-) )...welcome Steve Harrison. Yep, he endeared himself to the Stroppybloggers with the comment on the Derek Simpson post:

Coming from a working class background i'm not that sickened and outraged by his actions. I'm guessing you were privately educated or have small breasts.

And then called us fundamental feminists.

Ahh the cliches, yeah all feminists are ugly, jealous of women who have big breasts and wear dungarees and hate men. Takes me back to the 80s.

I look forward to more gems and Steve, keep em coming...