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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Thoughts on Latest Restructuring at Brent

Details of the latest restructuring in Brent Council have emerged, and I can't say that I am impressed.  The present structure was invented two years ago in a process I thought seriously flawed and abnormally secretive.  This appears to be a process of the same people making the same mistakes in the same way.  There is no sign of any of the questions I asked previously being addressed. 

A few more comments:

The Assistant Chief Executive post, invented by Brent's permanent interim Chief Executive in the last restructuring, is being abolished.  As with the abolition of the Business Transformation Department four or five years ago, I regard this as an admission of a mistake in creating the post in the first place.

It is proposed to abolish a separate Libraries, Arts and Heritage  Head, and have a Head of Culture covering Sports, Parks  & Cemeteries as well.  That sounds like quite a bundle of responsibilities.  The pretext is that more of these services are now commissioned, although I think only Parks has been outsourced since the last restructuring.  The document also suggests that there will be major further cuts in this area, which realistically must mean cuts to the libraries budget.

The Borough Solicitor post is being downgraded to a more junior level.  Making this a more junior post has been criticised as likely to lead to more corruption and misuse of public money.  This is not an area that I believe Brent should be complacent about.

Assuming this process goes ahead as planned, by the end, Cllr Muhammed Butt (or whoever is driving this process) will have removed all the senior management team that were in place when he was elected leader, as well as many other members of staff.  To remove so many senior staff members in less than three years at a time when Brent is facing its toughest ever challenges does not strike me as wise in terms of stability and effectiveness as an organisation.

As with the previous restructuring, this one appears to have been rushed through General Purposes Committee with little opportunity for public Scrutiny.  Indeed I am not sure that even members of the Executive have been kept informed, let alone councillors as a whole.  Calls for better scrutiny of the last restructuring fell on deaf ears, I hope this is better.  The Council nhas got into the habit of publishing proposals and then working out what the problems with them are, which is not an effective way to do business. 

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