Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Just exactly what is it you do again?

As it happens, despite the fact that we have provisionally made an appointment to the post of vicar of our benefice, I am not looking for a new job. Nevertheless, my eye was caught this morning by an advert in the Times online:
Head of Democratic and Partnership Services, Calderdale Council
What, I wondered, could that possibly entail? Indeed, what are ‘democratic services’? Well, here is the advert in full:
Calderdale has achieved a tremendous amount over the last few years. We have clear priorities and an ambitious change agenda, ‘Vision to Reality’, which aims to make Calderdale a place where we recognise that ‘everyone is different’ and where ‘everyone matters’.
This is a fantastic time to join Calderdale as we strike out in an ambitious, modern direction. Major change programmes are already rolling-out across the Council and our partner organisations and we are expecting all of our senior officers to play a key role in the delivery of our ambitious plans. We are confident that with the right team in place we will achieve our vision, delivering on what matters to local people.
As a member of the Council’s Extended Management Team, our new Head of Democratic and Partnership Services will be at the centre of this change, ensuring that the Council and its partners meet the requirements of the new Comprehensive Area Assessment regime. Specific challenges will include leading on the development of the external strategic partnerships of the Local Strategic Partnership, influencing cross-council partnership working and overseeing the development and support to Members through the modernisation of Member Support, Democratic Services and Scrutiny. As well as managing Democratic and Partnership services, the post-holder will also be the Council’s statutory Monitoring Officer.
The questions mount up. What is it about Calderdale that is in such desperate need of “an ambitious change agenda”? Would nuking it help (it would certainly make a change)? Apparently, until now, it had been assumed that everyone in Calderdale is the same (rather than “different”), and yet, paradoxically, this apparently meant that some people in Calderdale mattered more than others (rather than it being a place where “everyone matters”).
And what exactly is a “modern” direction? How will this deliver “what matters to local people”? Indeed, what does matter to local people? (It occurs to me that it might include knowing how their Council Tax is being spent.)
And in heaven’s name, what does the Comprehensive (as opposed, presumably, to Partial) Area Assessment regime actually require? Presumably someone, somewhere, on Calderdale Council knows.
Still, we may be relieved to see that at last there is recognition of the challenge facing the council in modernising Scrutiny (read the penultimate sentence again).
Yet for all this, the successful applicant will also have to find time to be the statutory Monitoring Officer. It may come as no surprise to readers, therefore, to discover that the salary for such a diverse and demanding post is £82,000 per year.
Bemused? I was, so I followed the handy link at the end of the advert for those who wanted to find out more. And this is what I read (the best phrase is the one I’ve highlighted in bold):
Hello, and thank you for taking the time to visit this website to find out more about this new opportunity for shaping the future of Calderdale.
This is a great time to join Calderdale. You will be a part of a new and fresh management team and will work closely with colleagues and Elected Members to drive forward and meet the ambitions of local people. We have a range of challenges and these include meeting head on the impact of the recession through to ensuring that we provide the best value for money services both within the Council and across our Partners.
You may think that you have heard this kind of rhetoric before but as an indication that this may be more than just another local authority job, have a look at our Council website and visit the section which highlights the budget proposals that Members are currently consulting on at this moment in time.
If you are not fazed by having to grasp nettles and want to grow your career in an environment which will support you and encourage you to make our vision of “Everyone Different, Everyone Matters” a reality, we want to see you.
Please take the time to explore this site further where you will find detailed information about the region and the authority as well as the role.
If you want to join us and make a real difference in Calderdale, then I look forward to hearing from you.
Owen Williams,
Chief Executive
If you’re still not sure what is involved, however, this pdf chart shows you where you and your highly-paid post will fit in. So now you know.
Revd John Richardson
2 February 2010
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  1. The sad thing is that it all made perfect sense to me. I must have spent too long working in local government audit....

  2. Maybe this is a candidate for the 'non job of the week'



    Chris Bishop

  3. No wonder the public are so detached from our 'community leaders' they speak a foreign language invented by bureaucrats.

  4. This is a renamed City Auditor position with a new focus on partners' compliance with service agreements and evaluation of cooperation among related services. For example, you can get synergy between mental health agencies, schools, and employment counselling for certain clients - if everyone talks to each other.

    It's a bit of a shame that the plain English intitiatives have died out.