Thursday, 15 October 2009

Council Waste: Easter Road Conference

The Evening News has picked up a question I asked today of the leader of the Council. On Wednesday 30th September a Neighbourhood Partnership conference was held at the Hibs Stadium in Easter Road. The answer to my question about the cost was that the overall cost of runnning the conference was £9,579.

If that was all it would not be an unreasonable cost for a conference which was attended by 186 people (£51.50 per person) and which achieved valuable objectives. However, there are two problems.
  1. First, the number of 186 was made up of 57 council officers and a further 16 councillors. Each of these would be being paid a salary. In addition to that is to be added the opportunity cost of what they could have been doing but were unable to accomplish because they were at the conference. Some of them had spent much time preparing for the conference.
  2. Secondly and most crucially, Neighbourhood Partnerships are simply an inefficient way of delivering services for the people of Edinburgh. There are 12 Neighbourhood Partnerships funded, run and serviced by Edinburgh Council and some of them may well do a reasonable job of community consultation, representation and delivery of services. Some of them occasionally do useful things. But for the most part they are inefficient and ineffective. They suck in council officers to support them and are notoriously poor at making decisions. And so the conference at the Easter Road Stadium, which was moderately successful and reasonably well run of itself, was in pursuit of an objective which was totally wasteful.

The Council needs to bite the bullet and abandon Neighbourhood Partnerships. Some of their functions will need to be undertaken elsewhere but for the most part such action will release a large number of council employees to get on with delivering basic services.

Note: You can find more about the local Neighbourhood Partnership here.

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