Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Pantling has reacted scathingly to plans to waste time at a Full Council meeting changing the names of departments and the titles of department heads, while Council services are failing badly in what they deliver to residents.
A report going to Luton Council on 22nd January aims to tidy up the Council’s management structure in the light of various reviews of how services are organised. But Councillor Martin Pantling, who chairs a scrutiny committee that looks at the performance of one of the departments affected, is critical of the Council’s lack of focus.
Councillor Pantling says reports to Council for public debate should be about improving services to residents, not fiddling around with minor changes to the names of departments.
He is particularly critical of proposals being put before the Labour-run Council that:
the Department for Corporate and Customer Services should be renamed the Department for Customer and Corporate Services
the post of Corporate Director Resources (formerly Corporate Director of Corporate and Customer Services) is renamed the Corporate Director of Customer and Corporate Services.
It also seems likely that extra cost and effort will be involved in switching the 2 words around on stationery, business cards, websites, re-branding and the like. Councillor Pantling believes any extra money or staff capacity should go towards improving frontline services.
Councillor Martin Pantling says:
“There’s something quite surreal about this. So far, Labour have failed to process benefit claims on time, failed to finish road schemes, dithered over decisions on bus lanes, and done nothing to progress the promised Swimming Pool.”
“Yet here we are, 48 councillors, being asked to change the name of the Department of Corporate and Customer Services to the Department of Customer and Corporate Services – which will make no difference to anybody, but no doubt cost money.”
“Any resident worried about graffiti, or the state of the road, or whether their housing benefit will arrive before they are evicted, who walks into a Council meeting and hears us discussing this, will think we’re on a different planet. Labour are re-arranging the words on the back of the deckchairs while the Council sinks. If this is what they think is important while they can’t get services right, no wonder things are in a state.”