To Review or not to Review Council Services

In light of the controversy over the service review of our libraries; and the public perception that this is designed to facilitate the closure of the Goodwood library I find it pertinent that I explain what I understand why we should continually review council services.

 

Councils exist only as a result of and under the auspices of State Government legislation. The specific legislation governing local government (councils) is the Local Government Act 1999. This legislation governs not only the composition of a council and define the roles of the members, it sets out the whole platform on which they can operate. That brings us to the heart of this blog post.

We could take the attitude that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That is what many of us do privately and indeed in our businesses. Is that appropriate where public money is being spent. I believe you would agree that it is not.

That is why legislation requires us to review council services.

Under 59 (1) (iii) a member of Council (the Mayor, myself and the 11 other elected members) has a responsibility on your behalf to

to keep the council’s resource allocation, expenditure and activities, and the efficiency and effectiveness of its service delivery, under review;

The only practical way we can effectively do this is to conduct regular reviews of our services. We have so many services we provide the chances are we will always be reviewing one or more services.

For a review to have credibility and warrant having been carried out, it should be far reaching. It should examine how the service is performing, both where it is working well and where evidence would suggest not working as well as it could.

Back to the statement that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Many would suggest think this way as I remember my father in law telling me. When I helped in his air conditioning business constructing metal ducts he said that we have been doing it this way for ages and there is no need to change. It was only months later that metal ducts were replaced with tubes and I was no longer needed.

As I see it we should when reviewing ask ourselves questions such as these, noting that we now have knowledge we did not have when the service was set up or last reviewed.

Knowing what we now know would we have

1   Started this service in the first place

2   Started it in a different form

3   Provided an alternative service

It is entirely appropriate therefore to include terminating a service when considering options.

Does that mean we want to terminate a service? Unequivocally not!

Does it mean we might? Maybe! But only after we have seen all the options and understand the consequences of such action. And only after we take it out to public consultation.

And on a final note, any such action will go out to public consultation when we have clearly understood and feasible options, not before the work is undertaken to examine the options.

 

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