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Council to siphon off £50,000 from regeneration funds

09.26.08 | Comment?

Last week I reported on attempts to ‘abolish’ me, by removing my position on the Funding Management Group of the Local Strategic Partnership, despite my knowing a fair bit of relevant stuff and having served on the group for around six years and had my expertise in the area recognised. 

Here’s why they want rid of me.  Members of the Funding Management Group have been asked to approve, by correspondence only, a funding bid for £50,000 from the Council to the Investing in Business programme – the £8 million pot that Labour brought to the area back in 2000.  The bid is to employ a strategic level officer in the Council to co-ordinate the attempts of other agencies like JobCentre Plus,

Skelmersdale

College
, the Learning and Skills Council, to get local people into the jobs created by the development of the new town centre in Skelmersdale. 

All very reasonable, albeit a bit vague, you might think, until you dig a little below the surface.   

The bid suggests close working with partners in the learning and skills thematic group of the Local Strategic Partnership.  When I checked the LSP minutes for this group, there was no mention on this project, and when I asked for more information, I was told that it would actually be discussed at the next meeting on 02 October.  Stable doors and horses spring to mind, given the insistence from the Council officer who administers the FMG that a decision is needed by 30 September at the latest.

 

The real problem – and I suspect the reason it’s being brought to the thematic group as a fait accompli – is that while the project idea may have some validity, surely working with partners is what the Council should be doing anyway! 

Further,  if additional capacity is needed, there must be a case for the post actually being held either by Skelmersdale College or other education establishment, which actually has experience in the area of training and employment placement, or with the voluntary sector, who understand about engagement and stuff.   

It is not legitimate for the Council to simply to ignore other options for delivery, and use its institutional muscle to grab the money. 

And behind this problem lies a deeper problem.  The Council’s Regeneration Division is chronically understaffed.  The way in which senior officers try to address this is, understandably enough if you put yourself in their shoes, is to grab regeneration funding and use it to fund what should be core staff posts.   

The desire to use regeneration funding to pay for an officer of this type is an indictment of the Conservative Council’s ability to run a basic service.  The underhand way the Council is going about getting this regeneration money – keeping its supposedly important partners in the dark until the deal is done – is a further indictment.   

£50,000 of what should be going to regeneration activity in

West Lancashire is to be siphoned off to prop up the Council.   

That’s what I call a scandal.

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