Thursday, 15 September 2011

Slow moving target

Unlike my Uncle Eric heading his trolley towards the confectionery aisle in Asda, I have so far steered away from temptation of commenting upon the recent riots that blighted our beautiful city. Lots of folk have put forward their views on why it happened and how it can be prevented from occurring again. Some of the views put forward suggest a breakdown in the moral order which can only be restored by a reintroduction National Service. What I think would help would be a reintroduction of the National Indicator Set. I know in my day we had a firm but fair set of Best Value Performance Indicators that were thoroughly collected from all local government organisations and respected far and wide. These were replaced with a more diverse set of National Indicators that were in their infancy before being snuffed out by evil Eric. Each local authority had explicit targets to meet and anyone was able to hold them to account when they failed to meet their targets or perform worse than their peers. The indicators were not perfect but they gave a clear idea on how councils, fire service and police forces were performing annually.

Well when Uncle Eric came to power he decided to get rid of the National Indicator Set. There had been many critics of specific indicators but few could argue that it was necessary to have a set of performance data that allowed comparison between councils and over time. Further, Uncle Eric has gone down a populous (and ignorant) course where he has decried targets in general as being useless - perhaps they are with respect to his diet plan. He argues that he wishes to free councils to pursue their objectives unhindered from centrally controlled diktats from Whitehall but now has destroyed the one objective tool that could be used to challenge the performance of councils.

I remember the day that Uncle Eric arrived in Eland House and I weep. We all gathered to hear the great man speak. His first words were 'Localism, localism, localism' - or that is what I thought he said - it is with hindsight that I realise that he actually said 'Tokenism, tokenism, tokensim'. Uncle Eric is not keen to free councils to make their own choices he is simply keen to destroy any evidence base so that effect of his crass actions can not be monitored and for him to be help to account.

Uncle Eric says he is against targets though ironically he makes a big and slow moving one himself. Uncle Eric has called for an Army of Armchair Auditors but has dismantled their weaponry. This army of armchair auditors is about as effective the Libyan rebel troops without Nato air strikes. If Uncle Eric is serious about armchair auditing he needs to arm these shock troops - but I fear he knows this army would soon turn their guns on him and expose his ideological dismantling of local government services and inequitable funding across the country. He claims he likes a war but he doesn't like it up 'im.

Here is my latest FoI request:

Dear Chums

Given Uncle Eric Pickles aversion to targets. Can you please confirm that DCLG staff will no longer have to submit annual performance targets or objectives and that staff will no longer be monitored against any existing targets and be awarded pay increase in future just because they are lovely.

You're in my crosshairs


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