Success depends on getting the bread and butter right. It isn’t elitist to ensure that things are taken care of as they should be or to ensure systems are in place to learn and take prompt action if they aren’t. Performance from the council’s basic services is a unifier across the city – touching people’s quality of life and providing a source of confidence and pride. Council staff are a huge asset and we would like to support them more by engaging councillors in a comprehensive culture of operational awareness and excellence.
Divorce from operational awareness has led Labour to avoid looking at what isn’t working and let it continue for far too long - and make bad decisions. Council house maintenance has become a scandal with allocated funds going unspent. Public toilets are considered an encumbrance to be closed rather than to be improved. Play equipment is left with no systematic replacement and renewal plan. Litter in parks in fine weather routinely overwhelms capacity to store and collect. Service from planning is sometimes glacial. Neighbourhood recycling centres have been closed. These things affect people’s daily lives. Formal complaints have tripled.
On taking control, Liberal Democrats will:
- Develop an urgent turn-round plan for maintenance services to council homes to secure a rapid reduction in those not meeting decent standards;
- Replace Labour’s closure plan for public toilets with an improvement and refurbishment programme to bring them up to standard;
- Ensure that a register of our play parks and the state of the equipment in each is maintained and updated, with a capital programme planned accordingly;
- Consider how services can adapt better to seasonal litter surges in public places;
- Bring forward a planning service response review to consider necessary improvement;
- Review the strategy for the provision of neighbourhood recycling centres against need.
To improve outcomes for other core services across the city, Liberal Democrats will:
- Ensure all Councillors have access to dashboards of Key Performance Indicators on core services, both within their wards and across the city, so that they can make better decisions and take quicker corrective actions;
- Commission ‘task-and-finish’ groups of councillors to review in depth performance issues;
Support the council’s ‘digital transformation’ to modernise methods for public reporting on service issues - but only after thorough demonstration that no-one is left behind by withdrawal of traditional channels.