special needs budget - Council Tax hike - chief executive appointed

Cheshire East could slash travel expense costs, save time and reduce its carbon footprint if fewer officers and visiting councillors attended meetings in person, the deputy leader said.

Cllr Craig Browne questioned why some of the council’s officers could not attend meetings remotely.

He also wondered whether members of the public wishing to speak could be given remote access instead of physically attending.

The suggestions were made at a meeting of the corporate policy committee, during a debate on the workings of the committee system.

Members had been told the budget for democratic services needed to be reduced by £135,000.

Cllr Browne said: “At last week’s meeting of the highways and transport committee, we had 12 officers physically in attendance.

“Whilst, post Covid, there has been a legal requirement for members of a committee to be physically present, there isn’t the same requirement for officers, visiting members or members of the public to be present.

“We’ve got 11 officers sat in this meeting. Some of those officers should be able to attend virtually to present their reports through the screen.

“We’ve got the technology in this room to do that, we’ve got the technology at Macclesfield to do that.”

Cllr Browne said he recognised it was essential for some officers to attend meetings in person.

And he acknowledged remote access would not save the required £135,000.

“But it is going to save time, it is going to save costs and it is going to reduce our carbon footprint,” he added.

Interim chief executive David Parr said officers would look into the legalities of meeting attendance.

One cost-cutting proposal – to reduce the number of planning committees from three to two – was deferred by full council last time it was discussed and is due to come before full council again in a couple of weeks.

Another proposal to make savings by incorporating the finance sub-committee into corporate policy
was refused by a vote of 11 to two.

But the committee will be recommending full council gives the go-ahead to incorporate the scrutiny committee into audit and governance to save costs.

Wilmslow councillor Mark Goldsmith (Ind) asked whether it was necessary to have 13 councillors on each committee and whether this number could be reduced, as long as the political proportionality was maintained.

Cllr Janet Clowes (Wybunbury, Con) asked whether it was right that committee deputy chairs were paid a special responsibility allowance.

The council’s director of finance Alex Thompson said all these suggestions would be looked at.

3 Comments

  1. I am sure Ian. the CEC can reach out if they want support. Also agree with your analysis / comments

  2. Sadly the culture in the Public Sector needs to change. For example the additional opening times for Nantwich Library. Tell me what analysis was completed to support the business case. Daily use of the Library, weekly, monthly. They have simply transferred the cost to householders within the boundaries of Nantwich Town Council and moved the cost of the extra opening from Cheshire East.
    The purchase of 3,000 mobile phones. There are employees who should have a work phone provided. For Health and Safety, Confidentiality, Good
    Governance and to meet General Data Protection.
    What you have got to ask what business criteria was established to support the magnitude of this major cost.
    I am convinced that a detailed analysis of expenditure, management structures, staffing levels, and application of best practice could save the tax payers of Cheshire East millions of pounds.
    Expenditure needs to be controlled.
    Was the Project on promoting Solar Panels the most effective use of tax payers money cost effective. What did it cost, in salaries and establishment costs. Access to suitable installation companies on the website would be useful. How many household took up the offer.
    At a time where household budgets have been squeezed, where every pound spent has to be budgeted it appears Cheshire East continues to spend tax payers money like chucking confetti at a wedding.
    It is time to stop the egos of those individuals with pet projects that deliver either very little , nothing and fail to benefit the residents who Cheshire East are suppose to represent.
    Some years ago I asked Samantha Roberts at Public Meeting what return she anticipated on the Cherry Picker the Town Council had purchased. The phrase ROCA fell on stony ground. I explained I meant the Return On the Capital Advanced. In other words was the asset going to create a surplus and save the tax payer money.
    I need to write under the Freedom of Information Act and ask.
    She did respond my saying they were confident about hiring out to other Parish Councils.
    I wonder what the results are?
    As a tax payer like the rest of us, we want to see tax payers money spent prudently, delivering value.
    I hope the new Chief Executive wakes up to smell the coffee. Stop the waste!!!!!
    I agree totally with the words written by JCD.
    Focus on value for money, core services.

  3. This will require a cultural reset otherwise CEC will be no further forward than they are right now. It is highly unlikely that CEC will be able to do this themselves, Too political, too many egos involved, they need help if they are serious. Have worked with highly complex global businesses and government who have struggled with this change hence why CEC have no chance in making this happen without help.

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