Diary - The first cut is the deepest

3rd April 2009 at 01:00

Gregory, our chief executive, is exposed. The Three Bland Mice have gone. The Ruling Group are looking for more blood. Gregory is out of his depth.

The concordat is to blame, say the politicians. There is talk of restructuring, merging of services and a "review of our fundamental purposes". I just want to to be left to run a service.

Freddy Krueger walks the corridors of power at council HQ. No service is safe. School closures anyone? Senior staff are falling on to their swords as we speak. Today's high earner is tomorrow's consultant. Outwards and upwards?

I have spent hours trimming services, cutting costs, merging departments - but they want more. The elected members all want to be re-elected, so I've been told to avoid "controversial" cuts, such as class teacher redundancies and school closures. Goodbye to the visiting specialist service, quality development officers, "cosmetic" repairs and professional development. I am tempted to suggest some easier targets, but my faith has told me to be kind to the bewildered.

I had a coffee with Gregory in the ground-floor cafe. The wee soul is lost. He said he didn't deserve this for only Pounds 125,000 a year. He had left Croydon and his colour supplement lifestyle for Scotland, and this place was so cold and inhospitable. Pardon? I saw an immediate saving flash before my eyes.

As chance would have it, I visited St Andrew's Special School with our glorious political leader. Is there life on Lars? We went for a coffee in the staffroom, and I suggested we were in desperate times and needed desperate measures. Had Lars and the Rainbow Coalition ever considered collegiate management? They could be the first in local government to lead the field.

Lars was a sucker for flattery. Innovation, innovation, innovation. How did that sound? Lars could see the Cosla award on its way. To be helpful, I told him, in the strictest of confidence, that Gregory wasn't happy and, as he was still within the probationary period, we could make quite a saving if we looked at a system of rotating chief officers. Lars was putty in my hands and I had soon persuaded him that "his" idea was revolutionary, visionary and inspirational. If all went well, I told Lars that I could see a possible gong coming his way, or at least a Cosla committee chair. The Leader of the Council of Equalities.

Before you could say "removal expenses", Gregory had gone. He is now working as a consultant in London, maybe even a government adviser for all I know. His Pounds 125,000 salary was marked down as a saving to my budget. As Lars said - a kind of finder's fee. Or should that be a loser's fee?

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