Home » Uncategorized » I believe that the modern-day local authority must operate on a businesslike basis

I believe that the modern-day local authority must operate on a businesslike basis

Over the years I have attended several ‘Away-Days’. I’ve worked for multinational companies, I’ve served as a Trustee on the Boards of several charities, & since 2009 I’ve been a Surrey County Councillor -our Conservative

Group hold ‘Away-Days’  but so far we’ve not actually stayed overnight. My involvement with charities goes back over many years & one of the things that has concerned me is that some of  ‘the public’ expect charity staff to

work at a lower rate than their counterparts in business. I’ve often pointed out that a Charity is a business that happens to be a Charity. More than 600,000 people are employed by Charities; the work force is fortunately

augmented by many more unpaid volunteers.  Why, I’ve asked, should a person employed by a Charity be treated differently to a person employed by a  Business?  As I’ve become accustomed to involvement in the public

sector  I’ve noticed that some members of  ‘the public’  have a similar attitude when it comes to the treatment of local authority staff.  It seem to me that some people regard them as an inferior type of worker who perhaps

should receive a lower rate of pay than their counterparts in the ‘real world’. My experience is that the Surrey County Council staff are industrious, efficient & helpful. I confess to being just a little envious of their pension

entitlements, & I suspect that until fairly recently most of them did not experience the stress & demands that I experienced whilst running my own business for more than 30 years – the work was interesting & challenging;

however having to chase for payment of my fees for work done in order to be able to pay my bills, & waking up each morning knowing that my family’s home was serving as the security for my business overdraft was not very

pleasant! If I was ill, or on holiday, I did not get paid, & the work was not done. I’ve also come to realise that not everyone appreciates that SCC  employs over 23000 staff, including the schoolteachers, who, together with the

80 elected county councillors, serve the 1.1 million Surrey Residents. When reference is made to ‘The Council’ , strictly speaking  it means the 80 elected councillors -perhaps this is why some members of the public become

concerned when they read of an Awayday at Farnham Castle -possibly memories of the MP’s expenses scandal are stirred.  The SCC  leadership are committed to helping Surrey businesses.  I believe that  the decision to bid

for the Olympic Cycle races to go through Surrey raised more than £600,000,000 for Surrey businesses.  SCC are involved with FSB, Chamber of Commerce etc. in Surrey – & do bear in  mind that Surrey ranks second only to

the City of London in terms of our net contribution to the the National Exchequer.  So -given that SCC  is a large organisation, employing ‘normal’  people, why is it a problem that an overnight  Awayday for a group of senior

staff & councillors  to be held in a reasonably priced facility offering privacy & enabling the participants to be focused? I’ve attended an ‘Awayday’ at County Hall -instead of continuing discussions over lunch there is a great

temptation to nip off & make a few calls or see’how things are going’. It will not take too big a problem to take one’s mind off the purpose of the Awayday. Far better to actually be away from it all.  Out of curiosity I’ve had a

look at how the conference rates at Farnham Castle compare with other venues, & nothing has made me concerned about the cost of the recent  much discussed event. There are venues in Surrey where the cost would be

several times that of Farnham Castle.  One similarly priced venue near Dorking has on its’ website a separate sections for Public Sector & Charity Clients. Farnham Castle boasts Frimley Park  Hospital as one of its’  conference

clients -I’ve not heard of a furore about doctors locking themselves away in a castle  – presumably to discuss how to treat our ailments -yet, like a Local Authority, the NHS is funded by the taxpayer. Perhaps people have

been stirred up by the word ‘Castle’.  Were I ever to be asked to attend an overnight event on behalf of SCC,  away from the comforts of my own home knowing that alcohol would be banned, I’d expect to be accommodated in

a reasonable hotel; Farnham Castle I believe has a 3-Star Rating. Finally, are Surrey Taxpayer really concerned that our SCC  leadership wish to support one of our historic treasures, & help to ensure that it survives for the

benefit of future generations?


1 Comment

  1. Perhaps perception matters more than facts?

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