Lack of staff sees work grind to a halt

First published in Postbag

A particularly dangerous malady appears to have taken hold at county hall. Whenever, as local councillor, I contact a Wiltshire Council department on behalf of my residents I now seem to get the same response.

It goes on these lines: “I am sorry, councillor, we would like to be able to assist you, but unfortunately in the department we are currently experiencing a capacity issue.”

To explain to your readers; “capacity issue” is management-speak for a lack of staff.

Or to put it another way, the department concerned lacks sufficient staff to adequately fulfil its functions.

This, of course, relates back to the waves of redundancies that have swept over county hall.

Redundancies dictated by 30% cuts in central government funding for local government.

When staff go those who remain have to do more - their old job plus at least one other. At first nothing much seems to change. The work goes on as before, but gradually things get left, or ignored and a backlog builds up.

Then when councillors, and members of the public, ring in and ask why something has not been done - for example, parking or planning enforcement - we are now regularly told there is a capacity issue.

Don’t be fooled. Behind all the management-speak the reality is that the normal routine, day to day, functioning of a vital county-wide organisation with considerable responsibilities - many of them statutory - is gradually but inevitably slowing down in all manner of little, yet significant, ways.

Jeff Osborn

Independent Wiltshire Councillor

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