Friday, 16 September 2011

Zero Based Budgeting - that's an idea!

It has been a running theme of mine that the problem Southend’s Independent Party faces is that having no common philosophical base they cannot offer the electorate a cogent alternative and must instead rely on scaremongering (eg the fight to prevent the closure of Westcliff Library which they knew had never been proposed!) or claiming the benefit for the achievements of others (eg the picture of Cllrs Chalk & Assenheim in the Echo appearing to claim credit for the Shoebury Heritage Centre). This is not surprising in a group that includes ex Labour candidates like Ann Chalk and Martin Terry but also the likes of Senor Delaney who had a reputation of being to the right of the Conservative party before he was dumped as a candidate. In these circumstances isn’t it just typical that when they do find a significant cross Borough policy which they appear to agree on they should choose a stinker like Zero Based Budgeting. In the words of the Council’s Head of Finance and Resources, who is a genuine expert in public finance : “Effectively ZBB is an old text book theory with relatively little practical implementation or empirical evidence of success in the UK public sector since its formation in the 1960’s and 1970’s when it was used within the United States of America.....undertaking detailed, resource hungry reviews across the Council will distract the organisation from delivering the required corporate savings target for minimal net benefit. It is therefore recommended that the Council do not proceed with utilising the technique of Zero-based budgeting as part of the Council’s budget process.” Oh dear – what “financial expert” dreamt that one up - well better luck next time!

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