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Posted by: John Brace | 26th November 2013

Cllr Steve Foulkes “I daren’t pick on the libraries because of my past”

Cllr Steve Foulkes “I daren’t pick on the libraries because of my past”

                           

Cllr Steve Foulkes had this to say about the Internal Audit update and its appendix presented to the Audit and Risk Management Committee, which starts at 20:20 in the video above.

He said, “Yeah, well I mean this report is good and it’s followed every month by the updated report on work that’s going on and I’m glad this work’s going on, but I think audit and risk can be a pretty dull committee for its old hands but I think what we should always try to do is put what we’re learning and what we’re investigating back into the real world in many ways.

If you look at the report around the libraries, and I’m not going to go into a debate about that, I’ve got too many scars over that. However, however, I need to be reassured that this isn’t an aspect of the service either because of the changes that have to be made or changes that are coming about or just a general poor management that’s taken place because often things like this are not just a symptom of poor regulatory or financial issues but are lack of morale, lack of motivation, lack of care in the service or a feeling perhaps sometimes of you know well ‘we’re untouchable, nothing else will happen’.

We’ve got twenty-four libraries, I think that the decision has been made that those assets are vital assets and the community have made an opinion about them, but at the same time they have to be run extremely efficiently, like every service that we have to justify what they’re doing and we’re asking them to take on more and more.

There’s no reason why the libraries shouldn’t be part of the front line sort of places where people do business and have trust in. So I’m just sort of saying that this has been investigated. If it’s a general malaise or a general lack of management or misunderstanding then certainly you know we are combining one stop shops with libraries, they are coming more along and if we’ve got twenty-four, there again we’d better make sure we get every single pennies worth of value out of them for the future. So I’m, what I would like to do on this is committee is actually use the audit in a broader way to draw attention to what is happening with the rest of the Council.

Likewise in 2.2, the Invigor8 direct debit, one of the ways the Council needs to become more efficient is encourage more people to do things like that with direct debit, the most you know quickest, cheapest form of transaction. So if 100% of the population did everything by direct debit, there would be considerable savings, so when we have a direct debit system that undermines public confidence in the Council and how it delivers those systems it makes alarms bells ring a little bit more in my head and says, ‘Come on, you know we can’t, we’ve got to be so spot on.’

We are actively, I hope actively tempting people to use and address Council services in the cheapest way for us and therefore protect more services that are not available. So I like to look underneath the headlines of you know, we made a mistake there some people I believe got £400 debit as opposed to a £40 debit. How many people will they have told about that? How many people will they say, ‘Don’t do a direct debit with the Council, they get it wrong!’

So my view is that you know these points can’t just be brushed over and say oh well it’s just you know librarians can’t manage money, well they have to if that want to work for the Council. Anybody has to manage money efficiently and our job of the audit is to see those signals and ask some more searching questions about what’s going on underneath.

You know if I just read that one particular site and I’m not saying this now I’m picking on the libraries, I daren’t pick on the libraries because of my past but as I say we’re asking them to become more front line, more proactive if they need to understand anything else. So I’m asking those questions, maybe Mark on my behalf could ask one of the heads of service who might be able to understand what’s going on on the ground.”

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