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The Council’s priorities. Theirs, not ours.

Here’s the list in handy spreadsheet format, and here’s the much less helpful PDF format file provided by our Council.

Well, here it is at last – the list that was compiled in secret and kept under wraps for as long as possible. It’s curiously instructive to see just how misguided and skewed CCC’s priorities seem to be:

  • The Marlowe Theatre (5) ranks above Coast Protection (23).
  • The Beaney Museum (7) ranks above Herne Bay Regeneration (49). 
  • Marketing and Communications (14) ranks above Homelessness (40).
  • The Roman Museum (21) ranks above running Elections (67) .
  • District Life magazine (34) ranks above Public Health (63).
  • … and so it goes on. 

So, how did we end up with this nonsense? It would appear to be the result of a chain of errors and failings.

The first and most fundamental problem is the Council’s lack of clear purpose. As business jargon and management-speak has infected many aspects of everyday life, it has become fashionable to have a “vision” or “mission statement”. Put simply, this is having a clear and agreed answer to the question – what are we here for?  Our Council doesn’t appear to have a clear understanding of its purpose.

The next problem arises when the Council tries to identify how to achieve its (unstated) purpose. The 10 Pledges that appeared in the 2011-2016 Corporate Plan are a mixture of “nice to have” and political expediency. They are not guided or unified by a clear purpose, nor do they take account of the Council’s statutory obligations… which creates the next layer of problems.

A handful of officers and councillors used the 10 Pledges to assess the value of 70 varied Council functions, and then prioritise them.  Given our Council’s instinct for secrecy, we will probably never know who was involved, or how they arrived at each score. We will never get an explanation as to why the Beaney scores 5/10 for Health and Wellbeing, but Food and Occupational Health only scores 1/10 for Health and Wellbeing. The lack of logic, and transparency, fatally undermines this system of scoring.

This fatal flaw in scoring is literally multiplied by the weighting factors applied to the 10 Pledges. Again, we don’t know, and will never know, how or why these weightings were arrived at.

Finally, we have the folly of mixing statutory and discretionary functions in the priority list. If a function if statutory (i.e. the Council is legally obliged to do it), it is completely irrelevant how it fares in the Council’s quirky scoring system – there’s simply no point in including it.

If you download the spreadsheet of Priorities, you can filter out the statutory functions and see what’s left. These are the (only) things that our Council can cut, and inevitably the big ticket items will be the most tempting.

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