wokingham council - careful driver
i noticed this exchange between the deputy leader of the council and his council tax payers on www.wokingham.gov.uk

what does everyone else think ?

Wokingham District Council On-line Live
Tuesday December 11th, 5.30pm - 6.30 pm
Thank you to everyone who took part in our online discussion session with Cllr Coling Lawley, Wokingham District Council?s deputy leader.

The topics discussed are shown below. If you would like to follow up on any of the areas of discussion, please e-mail us on wokinghamdc@wokingham.gov.uk and mark the subject of your e-mail 'Online Live'.

Question 1
WDC always seems obliged to take the lowest price contracts, and also reduce the number of in house staff.

So how does the Council monitor the performance of its contractors so that we know that they are doing what is expected of them. What regime is in place to inspect work carried out by contractors so that the work expected of them is actually carried out.

Cllr Lawley's response
Thanks for your question. As you are aware WDC is poorly funded by central government so there is always a desire to get the best value for money. If I understand correctly what lies behind your question, I agree that the lowest price does not always achieve that aim. I am relaxed about choosing the contract that provides the Council with the best option for that service requirement even if it is not the lowest tender. The monitoring of the Contracts varies from contract to contract. In the future I am sure that improvements can be made by more effective monitoring, Whether that is entirely by an in house team is something that I remain to be convinced about. Our primary aim is always to get the best value for our Council Tax payers.

Question 2
Would you please explain as to why the benefit service provided by Atkins on behalf of the Council has hit rock bottom. It takes weeks to get a result and every time i phone or visit I am told that there is a very large backlog of work, and I will be notified sometime. It never was like this when the Council run it.

It does appear that council services that are farmed out to contract do not work; what a waste of money!!!!.

Cllr Lawley's response
Thanks for your question. I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing problems with this service. I used to have WS Atkins as a responsibility when I was Chairman of Resources Sub. Committee before the new Cabinet system As such I know that we have some improvements to make, although I understand that the service is now improving. If you let me have the details of your problem, I will expedite matters for you. My home telephone number is 0118 961 8536

Question 3
i) what happened to the survey that was sent out asking for feedback on three options on costs for various services ? What was the result ? Is the council acting on this ?

ii) Why is so much being wasted on speed bumps/road thinning/and other politically correct anti-motorist measures ? when was the last time your engineers sat down with some highly qualified drivers and assesed which roads should have the speed limits raised ?

iii) why are you pandering to the chattering classes in the road safety debate, in the way the roads are being designed around here, so badly and so dangerously, its hardly fair blaming the drivers, why don't you look at some of the ideas of the association of British drivers, or even some ordinary traffic police (instead of their political senior officers) ?

Cllr Lawley's response
i)This came back to the last Cabinet meeting last week. As last year there was a variety of responses, the majority wished to see services maintained. We are certainly acting on this. Bearing in mind the poor government funding that we receive, I expect to see a Council tax rise that takes on board the consultation results.

ii)I would not agree that we are wasting money on this. Great care is taken only to fund those schemes that have safety as a priority. Our consultants (Parkmans) are recognised as having expertise in this area.

iii)I most certainly am not blaming the drivers - I am one myself. I will ask to have a look at some papers from the assoc of British drivers

Response from original sender
www.abd.org.uk Association of British drivers.

Cllr Lawley's response
Many thanks for this, I will look at it later. I am just getting used to this "On line" business and yours was the first question I answered - I should have thanked you for your question.

Question 4
Do you feel the Council has a responsibility to ensure premises are available for new businesses to set up in this district at sensible rents, and how do you equate this with the Council getting best value from its own property assets.

Cllr Lawley's response
Thanks for your question. I believe that the Council has a part to play here. This part of the country has enjoyed prosperity mainly on the back of the IT boom. By providing premises for new businesses the Council helps to create a wider business base. Your reference to "Best Value" from our property assets is well made and I support the use of some of our assets in this manner. A "property" asset should not simply be thought of as to what it would raise should it be sold on the open market. However with competing demands there are limits as to what we can do in this area.

Question 5
If I may be permitted another question: What level of contract monitoring does your group believe is necessary to get best value from contracts - or can contractors be left to 'honor their obligations' with little supervision. How do you decide what is necessary.

Cllr Lawley's response
Thanks, a very interesting question. I believe that we should be aiming for a situation where there is a mutual benefit to both client and contractor to play a role in monitoring the contract to ensure that the contract delivers the best possible outcome. In other words , both are seen to be on the "same side". I'm trying to answer your question directly and I do not agree that the Contractor can be simply left to monitor its own contract. On the other hand I do not believe that the Client side just has a role to play in monitoring the contract for performance. The Council and the Contractor are in this together.

Experience is always a good indicator of the best type of monitoring.

Question 6
Is the web site still being developed? What are the Council's priorities for its improvement?

Cllr Lawley's response
Thanks for your question. The web site is very important to the Council and we have just set up a "Web Board" to look at all issues surrounding its use. The Cabinet regard this as a priority - being in the "Silicon valley" we are determined to keep our site one of the best. Last year we were short listed for a major national award. Our Cabinet member for E-Govt. (Cllr. Prue Bray) is working with our officers to meet government targets for providing services on line With 500,000 hits last month we are making real progress.

Question 7
when are you planning to paint the various speed/traffic light cameras bright colours as per the home secretary's recent advice ? or do you agree with their continued use as a stealth tax ? why isn't more done about the real DANGEROUS drivers rather than minor speed infringement, which is often being done safely ?

what is your timetable for painting the cameras ?

Cllr Lawley's response
Coming later this week.
Re: wokingham council - Mark (Brazil)
Well, unless I'm missing something, I'd vote for him.

Seems like one of the few good ones. Of course, it'd be neccessary to se ehow he acted, but he seems to say reasonable things.
Re: wokingham council - careful driver
if you look at the web site you can find a previous similar discussion with a lady who is firmly in the anti-car brigade who seems to be in charge of road "improvement" spend...

Value my car