Luton will soon have has its own team of adventurers known as the Secret Seven only this time they will be having fun consulting at the Town Hall.
The team is being set up to oversee the so-called “Luton Excellence” strategy – a revamped efficiency effort being heavily publicised by Labour leaders, but containing little that is particularly new or ground-breaking.
The aim is to bridge a Budget gap through “efficiency”. But Labour’s first action has been to allocate £1 million for a programme of consultancy and advice. This is despite the fact that the levels of return and savings are totally unclear, and council officers are making no promises. It seems the £1 million is largely to fund the people resources necessary to implement the programme.
The first place this money is going is on what Liberal Democrats are calling the Secret Seven – seven consultants to be employed by the Council, but about whom Labour are keeping very quiet in their glossy publicity. As well as planning to pull 2 existing staff into an “Excellence team”, Labour have agreed FIVE NEW Council posts for at least 3 years :
A Programme Manager and a Change Manager
Two Project Managers
A Business Process Re-engineering Specialist
Liberal Democrat councillors say that without clear and defined improvements being laid out, the focus on residents could be lost in a minefield of fancy IT projects and management waffle.
Cllr Martin Pantling, Chair of the Resources Scrutiny committee that will look at the plan, says: “Labour’s supposed dislike of consultants seems to have vanished. Not content with a Famous Five, they are commandeering two other members of staff to join them. Labour have kept to quiet about this that we can only call them the Secret Seven.”
“Labour Councillors seem to think that if they employ people directly, they can’t be consultants. This is nonsense, it’s obvious what the posts are. I’m more concerned about the lack of clear service improvements or budget savings that will come from the extra million pounds It’s a lot of taxpayers money to throw at this new project when no guarantees are being given on how much the Council or residents will get back. We will be watching this one very closely.”