Somerset CEo defends his staff
Pat Flaherty, Chief Executive of Somerset County Council (SCC) today defended his staff. Mr Flaherty took exception to comments made in the Stronger Somerset proposals published yesterday. These proposals argue for a new system of two unitary councils (as opposed to the one unitary put forward by SCC).
However Mr Flaherty did not take exception to the proposals per se. Instead he laid into what he considered to be “unjustified criticism of our workforce. It saddens me that the district councils’ document singles out social care, and social care workers for specific criticisms.” He goes on to say “One line in the proposal particularly upsets me. “Social care services provided by the county [council] are struggling and this is illustrative of the culture and behaviours that needs to change.” Within our own business case we have been at pains to point out how hard and well our district colleagues’ staff have worked – and particularly during the pandemic. We have not a word of criticism for the district councils’ workforces.”
Whether it is the district councils or the county council making remarks it hardly matters. The various councils will rightly need to debate the merits of each other’s case.
However some ground rules clearly need to be set. To attack the management or strategic intent of an authority might be fair game. To attack the regular staff is surely a different matters. Especially if it is the very ones you’ll have to work with in the future. And as councils come together they will have to. Because they won’t have expertise is some areas as they don’t currently perform those functions.
To attack regular staff doing their best, whoever is doing it, is somewhere between naive and stupid. It would be good to see this as a no go zone in future debate between the councils.