The Leader of the council and his cabinet love to drone on about how they put residents first, but as we see in so many areas of the council the needs of the residents come way down the list after budget savings, efficiencies and cuts. In true Tory style this conservative controlled council knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing.
This month I would like to focus on the staff of the council, and in particular the staff on the front line, many of whom are also residents and most of which hardly seem to be put first and foremost by the Tory cabinet.
It is not surprising that staff morale at the Civic Centre is at rock bottom, with good dedicated community spirited staff being made to compete with each other for their own jobs and then seeing valued colleagues being shown the door (with a gagging clause so they can’t speak out) and the remaining staff having to take on the extra workload and then carry on as if nothing has happened. They are then encouraged not to be too helpful because customer service doesn’t matter compared to financial savings.
If this isn’t bad enough, the staff then see obscene amounts of money being spent on highly paid consultants whose only job seems to be cutting services and jobs even more. Many of the department managers really know their areas and have some really quite innovative ideas on how things could be done better, but these are seldom listened to because the Tory Cabinet would rather pay huge sums of money to external consultants rather than listen to their own professional staff.
The Hillingdon Labour group believe that the staff deserve better and our commitment to the staff is nothing new, in fact in our manifesto for the local elections in 2010 we made a commitment to establish a personnel overview and scrutiny committee that would have examined staffing issues such as training, recruitment, retention and all other matters affecting staff, as well as inviting comments from staff associations, trade unions and individuals. The Labour group recognises that one of the council’s greatest assets is its staff and in order to truly achieve a council that puts residents first it needs to get the best from its staff and therefore ensure that staff morale is high. The Tory prescription for staff relations is to setup staff “roadshows” where there is a general feeling of not being able to speak your mind in case it has a career limiting effect.
In the Labour Group we value the innovation brought by highly motivated staff and reject the idea of highly paid consultants while the Tories reject ideas from the council’s staff and waste money paying for highly paid consultants to tell them what to do. We value the council’s staff where the Tories see them as a cost. After 14 years of Tory control we think that the residents (and staff) deserve better.
Cllr Peter Curling
Leader of The Labour Group
London Borough of Hillingdon