11:20am Thursday 26th April 2012
By Adam Smith
Sandwell Council have admitted they do not know how much it is costing for an external troubleshooter to tell management they could do better.
The revelation a highly paid expert had been called in came after one of Sandwell Council chief executive Jan Britton’s blogs, which he has prevented the public reading, was leaked to the News.
He said: “We brought in an independent management expert and since February he has met all the directors, cabinet members, a cross-section of employees in focus group meetings, some of the council's external partners and some of the other councils we work with - and drawn up a series of findings and recommendations.”
When asked how much the troubleshooter is costing the council Councillor Mahboob Hussain, deputy leader said: "This is an on-going review and we do not know the final details of the cost of the work at the present time."
However, the troubleshooter’s presence is already being felt throughout the council after they compiled a report details problems with the management structure.
These include improving Childrens Services provision, working better with partners, directors working closer, making middle management more efficient, addressing weaknesses in forward planning, extending commissioning services and scrapping the use of ‘people’ and ‘place’ as management themes.
The report also recommended the current corporate director for people Barbara Peacock to entirely focus on Childrens Services, reorganising the Adult Social Care department, integrate public health into the council from next year and remove “directors alley” and making the offices open plan to encourage better teamwork.
Mr Britton said: “Some parts of the council's middle management structure are not as effective as they need to be, although progress has been made and the new development programme for fourth tier and middle managers, which starts in April, is the right investment at the right time.”
However, Mr Britton told employees there was a positive aspect to the review.
He said: ”The most important conclusion is the first one in the report: that Sandwell Council is a healthy organisation, leaner than a year ago, with a committed, united and experienced Cabinet, clear about what it wants to be, financially sound, open to new ideas and ahead of the agenda for the changes that are coming over the next couple of years.”
He added: “These are the findings and recommendations from an external review and I agree with them and support them but there will be another round of consultation and discussion before we decide what changes should be put before Cabinet in July.”
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