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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Rules and how to bend them

 I've just suggested to Norwich City Council that they put the rule book to one side and respond to an emergency. There are 300 of their former workers who transferred  out under TUPE and found themselves out of work when Connaught (to whom they had TUPE transferred again) went bust.

The press reported that the Council had the work and the budget but rules forbade them from hiring the workers directly. They hoped that the new contractors they hired through an open tender process would take on some of the now redundant workers.

My suggestion, that the workers form a cooperative and contract with the Council was met with some enthusiasm. But the rules say it can't be done like that I was told. It reminds me of the case recently where a child drowned because the first emergency worker on the scene did not have the right training to wade into a pond to save the child.

Sure breaking rules always carries risk, but at what point to you lay the rule book to one side to deal compassionately and quickly with an emergency. Many of the 300 workers were employed for decades by the Council before all this contracting nonsense took them into the private sector. They are vulnerable people, being pushed around and now punished by a system over which they have no control.

To me, 'Big Society' is all about putting people first. Here's a great opportunity for a city to work together to do what's right for the people. The people who now find themselves out of work; the people whose Council owned homes need repairs and the people who together make Norwich one of the world's nicest cities.

I've even found a man with the perfect combination of skills and experience to make it happen. I've made the introduction and now need to sit back and see what happens. I hope everyone rises to the challenge!

1 comment:

  1. The point about big society being about people has never been more relevant.The drive for cost reduction in Local Government has led to a crisis in Norwich where people are losing their jobs.

    I do not expect the Public sector to get preferential treatment over the Private Sector where there have been drastic cuts but something is not right.

    The main point is that the so called economic recovery will be fuelled by supporting local and small businesses, through banks and government helping businesses to develop.

    I used to run businesses in Germany and the collaboration between banks and local councils was profound.In Japan in 1994 a Professor told me to look around the restaurant where we were in Kobi and said "this is full because we create wealth for people to spend"

    The Connaught story is where collaboration between Government and the private sector means that we will now be taking money from a pot with diminishing revenue , to pay people to stay at home. Where is the economic model that makes that work?