Croissants with the DPM
I went to have Croissants with the DPM today. This was a "breakfast" meeting with John Prescott in Admiralty House which is part of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
Actually I didn't eat a croissant nor did I see John Prescott eating a croissant, but clearly the government don't seem to know what a breakfast is or they have been taken over by the "Continental Breakfast Promotion Partnership (Croissants and Coffee Division)"
The meeting was the 10 Local Strategic Partnerships (Local Authority Areas) that spend about 40% of the NRF (Neighbourhood Renewal Fund) that is spent by 88 Local Authorities.
It was useful to be about to raise issues with the people responsible for setting the rules. Clearly there are some areas which I will differ from them on a political basis. For example many of the systems they are introducing undermine the checks and balances in our current system of government and frequently result in mild or greater corruption.
However, we can all agree on many issues such as aiming to reduce crime, get more people into jobs, improve life expectancy and improve educational standards. The problems often are the procedures that are used to make things happen.
A particular request I made was for the government to have one person identified who tells us what hoops we need to jump through (in writing) and then things stay the same for a while. Normally not only do we have to jump through hoops, but also they keep moving the hoops around and sometimes we jump thorough hoops that they say were unnecessary.
One interesting discussion with a civil servant was on the 4th option. I expressed concern as to why were were spending 1.6m on an options appraisal when we can do the 4th option. She said this was silly and would check out the situation.
Crossed fingers on that one. That could save us a lot of money.