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SCC Lib Dems call for urgent action on critical report

October 13, 2009 1:15 PM
County Cllr Hazel Watson outside County Hall

The county council needs an effective Action Plan says Clllr Hazel Watson

The Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council have called for urgent action to resolve the problems identified in the report of the former Interim Chief Executive Mr. Michael Frater. This report described the Council's problems as a 'whole system failure'.

Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Lib Dem group said: "The report is highly critical of the organisation, including its leadership, internal relations, management style, medium term planning and budgeting. The former Interim Chief Executive described Surrey County Council in his report as bureaucratic and inefficient."

She added: "This critical report was published in July and merely noted by the County Council's Tory controlled Cabinet. Since then, they have buried it as an embarrassment hoping that the problems would go away. This behaviour is a continuation of Michael Frater's observation that fundamental problems were either 'swept under the carpet or remain as the elephant in the room'."

She continued: "The challenge is enormous, turning around a Council that is a one star council with a 'whole system failure'. It will need a clear action plan with targets and timescales to make a major improvement. The lack of an effective action plan to cover all the report's recommendations is hindering the Council's improvement."

Cllr Watson said: "One example is the inadequate and unsophisticated budget planning by the Council. Yet again the Council is starting the budget planning too late. This will result in yet another ill conceived budget and inadequate opportunity for scrutiny."

She added: "Michael Frater accurately described the Council as bureaucratic and inefficient. Yet the Tory administration is not cutting bureaucracy, inefficiency and unnecessary costs. Instead it is taking the easy but wrong option to cut services highly valued by Surrey residents, such as the Pegasus school bus service, without consultation. The Conservative administration has not learnt the lesson of the Frater report and is not genuinely listening to Surrey's residents."

Hazel Watson concluded: "There is plenty of spin, too little consultation and too little action by the Conservative administration to improve the Council by tackling the problems."