BUNDRED: GRAMMAR CLASS

OK. Here’s the Reverend’s new Chief Executive, Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski’s long-awaited ‘Response to the Bundred Review’ going to cabinet next week.

The Bundred Review, you may recall, discovered that Bristol City Council was a financial basketcase where senior managers were running amok committing a variety of offences in order to massage our council’s accounts for their own benefit.

Many of us have been hotly anticipating clear and bold action from the Reverend and his well remunerated sidekick, Ms Big Wedge, to clear up this fiasco and nail the culprits once and for all. Alas, it looks like we may be disappointed.

One of Bundred’s many recommendations raised by Ms Big Wedge in her new report is:

“The Council should take steps to build on recent improvements in the quality of reporting and document management. Where necessary guidance should be issued, or training provided, to report authors emphasising the importance of clarity, transparency, analysis and advice (paragraph 121).”

Another is:

“Members should be less tolerant of poor quality reports than they appear to have been in the past (paragraph 120).”

OK then. Who’s gonna tell Ms Big Wedge the standard of English, grammar and syntax in her report is simply not good enough? Here’s a few random examples from the first two pages:

“To ensure that cross directorate saving proposal [sic] or proposals that covered [sic] more than one Directorate are achieved, each savings proposal has been allocated a named Strategic and Service Director lead as accountable officers.”

And:

“Further consultation will be required in respect of some areas of savings proposals and will commence when the General Elections [is there more than one?] have concluded. This has required Officers to consider further mitigations to assure delivery of the budgets in these unusual circumstances.”

And:

“In addition, Directorates will be challenged to explore alternative options for meeting the cost pressures faced within their existing resources or seek supplementary estimate [sic] to increase the directorate spending limit.”

And:

“This has now been put into implementation [sic] and should ensure there is a shared understanding and approach to council processes across the organisation that supports all Members.”

For fucks sake, “Put into implementation”? Isn’t there a word for that – ‘implemented’? Have the Reverend, Big Wedge or the council never heard of proofreading?

Meanwhile moving on to the subject of ‘clarity’. Try some of these for size:

“We have also reviewed, aligned and combined the monthly mechanisms for managers and their Service/Strategic directors to submit a holistic view of savings delivery from a financial and action focussed perspective.”

If anyone has the foggiest idea what Service/Strategic directors will be physically submitting and to who, please get in touch.

Or try this nightmare piece of prose from the depths of hell:

“Member oversight is a new element of this governance process that now includes a Delivery Executive. This involves attendance by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor (Finance, Governance and Performance) who is the chair of the new Delivery Executive. This meeting provides an opportunity to discuss the savings proposals, delivery and implementation and provides an additional challenge, enables further investigation of the detail, reviews any mitigating actions and provides a formal feedback loop to Cabinet with an overview of progress on savings delivery. Relevant Portfolio holders also attend these sessions, providing joint ownership and accountability for savings by both members and officers.”

This seems to be suggesting “member (ie, councillor) oversight” will be a matter for a “Delivery Executive”, which includes only one member out of 70 – the Deputy Mayor – plus possibly “relevant portfolio holders”. This meeting will then provide a “formal feedback loop”  to Cabinet members (although in order to be a “formal feedback loop” wouldn’t it have to return to the Delivery Executive where it came from?)

So Big Wedge’s “member oversight” stretches to around nine cabinet members if we’re generous and include those in her new-style “formal feedback loop”. The other 62 normal councillors who aren’t in the executive can presumably fuck off then?

Now try this bollocks for size:

“A one-off investment fund has been allocated to support savings related change activity across the council, this also includes funding a proportion of the change resource within the council. The resource is limited, making the threshold for allocation of this resource high, therefore promoting local ownership of service change and savings delivery, whilst mitigating against increased savings targets in future years for replenishment once this resource is fully used.”

We’ve no idea either. And what’s “mitigating against” all about? Meaning is so lost in there that it’s hard to tell whether it’s a straightforward error mistaking ‘mitigating’ for ‘militating’ or whether it’s the tautology ‘mitigating against’.

And finally (as we can’t stand any more of this half-arsed meaningless drivel):

“To ensure the achievement of long term improvements in the function, it will be necessary to take an end-to-end approach, combination of top down and bottom up initiatives, take along those involved in the execution of the operations; optimise the finance functions by removing waste and re-focus on core and value add activities.”

Excellent use of cliché, ambiguity and vague platitudes that could mean anything from Ms Big Wedge here.

Wouldn’t it all be so much simpler and provide a helluva lot more ‘clarity’ if she just fired the arseholes who fucked up the accounts in the first place and instead employed some people who can write reports competently in plain English and implement the proposed plans?

Bundred Response Recommendations FINAL-2

6 thoughts on “BUNDRED: GRAMMAR CLASS

  1. Cotham Cider

    I thought the government, bless it, had been on at councils to avoid management speak?

    Clearly Klonowski is getting paid by the word.

    Reply
  2. Cotham Cider

    The response can be boiled down to:-

    -They’ve stopped departments overspending without sign off (cant believe this was not in place)
    -They’ve made savings targets the responsibility of the heads of departments (ditto)
    -They’ve made a new report template (yawn)

    Apart from that it’s just repeating words like ‘robust’ a lot. Because obviously that’s going to fix the problem eh?

    Reply
    1. The Bristol Blogger

      They’ve also got Strategic Directors and Service Directors reporting to the Deputy Mayor for Finance just like 2015 – 16 when Strategic Directors and Service Directors reported to the Deputy Mayor for Finance!

  3. James

    And keeping things in the usual small private cabal and confidential clique ensures no shocks leaks out to the public who fund SS Brizzle Sh*tty Countsil so all looks ship-shape. Just add on 4.99% to council tax bills for inflation and excellent performance so everything must be tickety-boo. It’s a matter of civic pride for the minions to be able to doff their baseball caps as the traffic lights change sequence gives a green light for the mayoral Zil to motor past the serfs. Are we importing new head honchos from Hull again? Or top brass from Birmingham? Seeing as the local monkeys that escaped from Bristol Zoo who have the big chairs clearly aren’t up to the job.

    Reply
  4. Wirralinittogether

    Interesting that Big Wedge called for ‘transparency’ after spending her time as a Wirral investigator repeatedly turning down well-founded requests for her interviews with abusive council officers to be recorded onto a dual tape-recorder, like the police do.

    This action would have given the public a verbatim record of proceedings after heinous crimes committed by senior officers and councillors who had links to (council accredited) gangster care companies who were intimidating, thieving from, creating false bank accounts and evicting learning disabled service users over 9 long years.

    But no, Big Wedge knew better and in the end everybody involved got a free pass out of the shit they’d landed themselves in – all thanks to Big Wedge – and picked up jobs in the charity sector or breezed off, gagged, weighed down by their own ££big wedges. Some were free to carry on working at Wirral, others retired or went wherever their mood took them. The reports remain redacted to this day, with all the villains’ names blacked out and history rewritten.

    The aptly named Big Wedge stopped short of interviewing corrupt councillors and was rewarded with £377,000 of our cash. She could have taken lessons from me or you on how to write with that much dough.

    Reply

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