Double dip and Oatcakes

The news that Britain has slipped back into a recession should not be surprising. The economy experienced a 0.2 % fall following the decline in the figure of 0.3% in previous quarter which now puts the economy technically into a double dip recession- the first time since 1975. I would argue that the local economy has probably never recovered from the recession 4 years ago. As a guess the North Staffs economy has shrunken by about 8-10% since 2008. The signs of a turn down are everywhere most noticeably in the local jobs market. If we take the Sentinel as a guide the Wednesday section has been advertising around 300 jobs over recent weeks.

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Staffordshire Police Authority Agree Budget To Protect Frontline Services

Staffordshire Police Authority met today to approve a 2.8% to the police element of council tax aimed at maintaining frontline services

The 2.8 per cent increase for 2010/11, agreed at a full meeting of Staffordshire Police Authority members, will represent a rise of less than 10p per week for the standard Band D property owner. Their annual contribution towards policing in the next financial year will be £177.61

Staffordshire Police Authority Chairman David Pearsall said, ‘This settlement is the result of much consultation and consideration. It’s a budget to try and protect our front-line services and continue to meet the needs of our communities in this very difficult financial climate. Members of the Police Authority have undertaken an extensive consultation exercise with local authorities and with local chambers of trade. There was clear support and widespread recognition of the improvements that have been seen. Consultation has also taken place with members of the force and Authority’s Citizens Panels which is made up of 3,000 people.’

He went on to say, ‘They provide us with a representative range of views across age, race, gender and occupation.
Of those who responded to the question “ËœI support the Police Authority and Chief Constable in considering seeking in precept in the region of 3 per cent to maintain existing levels of investment and help deliver more visible and accessible local policing services’, 81 per cent either agreed (40 per cent) or strongly agreed (41 per cent).
“It was a source of great pride to us that last year Staffordshire was highlighted as the best police force in the country at managing finances following an independent assessment by the Audit Commission. We were the only force to be graded “Ëœexcellent’ with a top score nationally for managing finances. Together with our partners and the public, we will continue to put the citizen at the heart of what we do, so they feel safe and secure in their homes, at leisure and in their workplaces.’

The Police Authority is a seventeen-strong independent body of elected councillors and independent and magistrate members united in its commitment to make policing work for each citizen and to re-energise communities and build community spirit ““ working closely with partners and local people to do this.

Government middle-managers ‘weak’

High sickness absence in the public sector, below par middle managers and ambition-driven politicians are damaging the case for a larger state, Will Hutton has claimed, writes Dean Carroll.

Proponents of the free market that call for further privatisation of public services are inadvertently being supplied with ammunition because of the deficiencies in certain areas of the public realm, the executive vice-chairman of The Work Foundation has told Public Servant Daily.

"If you look at absenteeism, I just don’t accept that there is more stress in the private sector than the public sector or more illness," said Hutton. "It is actually a problem of morale, engagement and leadership. There are no penalties for taking the p*ss out of your employer for not turning up. I am one of the most passionate advocates of the British public sector and one mustn’t give the enemies any grist to their mill – as happens at the moment."

He added: "In central and local government, there is an extremely weak middle-management cadre. The people at the top – the permanent secretaries and so on – are really able, but the middle level are never in post long enough to see initiatives through. There is no culture of performance management and there never has been, so you consequently have an awful lot of free behaviours and risk aversion. That is a terrible environment."

Turning his fire on ministers, Hutton called for greater stability and long-term vision from political leaders.

"In Britain, it is rare to have a Cabinet minister in post for two or three years and they are often anxious to have a string of initiatives to help further their political career," he said. "The machine provides those rather well, but turning those initiatives into things that happen on the ground – actual implementation – is much tougher and less glamorous. The problem for permanent secretaries is the attrition they face in having to serve up to one’s transient political master an initiative to launch – to show they are in command of the brief.

"If permanent secretaries were genuine chief executives with a leadership role, I think it would be much easier to achieve progress. It’s difficult to get a culture going where people are committed to the purpose of a department because that purpose changes with every bloody secretary of state. We haven’t yet cracked the combination of democracy alongside good management and leadership."

Water Warning as Weather Warms

By Pits n Pots Reporter

As the weather warms up Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding people of the dangers of swimming in open, unsupervised lakes and pools.

The call comes following the tragic death of an 18 year old in a pool in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent last weekend. Firefighters from Burslem, Kidsgrove and Newcastle attended the incident and used their water rescue boat to rescue the teenager.

Head of Risk Reduction, Ian Sloss says, “When the sun is shining it may be tempting to go for a dip ““ whilst outdoor pools and lakes may look appealing though they often have hidden dangers, such as strong undercurrents and undergrowth not visible from the surface.”

“If you see someone get into difficulty ring 999 immediately and ask for the Fire Service. Make use of any buoyancy aids available but never enter the water to rescue them yourself as you too may get into difficulty. If the person goes underwater pinpoint out their exact location to Firefighters on their arrival.”