Monmouthshire council’s new centre ‘not a cuts factory’
A COUNCIL boss has denied a new £600,000 department looking to bridge a £14m savings gap is a factory for cuts.
The Centre For Innovation will run for three years to find ways of helping the council meet a £14 million gap in its finances.
But Monmouthshire Council chief executive Paul Matthews said the body, which will employ three officers and two interns, will not simply look for cuts but will look at changing how to provide services.
It hopes it can deal with the economic squeeze by being innovative.
It is hoped staff will test proposals generated by a council training scheme for officers known as the Intrapreneurship School.
“In many ways it’s a screening activity,” Mr Matthews said.
“We know the challenge for the organisation over the next four years is £14m. I’mexpecting a significant proportion of that to come from these five people who make up the staff of the centre for innovation.
“This is not a cuts factory. It’s about thinking about the service models that we have and actually understanding how they need to adapt to be better.”
He said it was about a combination of income generation, cost reduction and developing better service models.
He said it would be fair to say the centre had failed if hadn’t at least recovered the cost its incurring on the programme.
But Labour councillor Dimitri Batrouni, of St Christopher’s ward in Chepstow, said the ruling administration has become ‘so obsessed with blue sky thinking that they spend much of their time in the clouds’.
He said they had forgotten about the services that people rely on and care about.
The centre will cost the council £210,000 per year for three years.
Scheme is seeking solutions
AT THE heart of the council’s plans to find innovative new ways to provide its services is a training scheme for officers described as ‘wacky’ by one councillor.
At the Intrapreneurship School participants spend 15 days on a problem they bring to class.
An e-mail to staff asking officers to take part and audition, claims it will make officers challenge their fundamental assumptions about themselves and ‘genetically re-engineer the cultural DNA of our system’.
But Labour councillor Armand Watts said the council was struggling to maintain the services that it has. “They are not doing that and they are spending too much time on things that are, frankly, wacky,” he said.