David Phillips column: From a tanker to a speedboat
ACCORDING to the cheesy old adage, changing things in a large and complex organisation is as quick and easy as turning a supertanker. And having been a customs officer I do know how enormous those ships are.
Swansea Council is a large multi-service organisation that is facing significant financial reductions over the coming years.
We've already looked at where we can save money and do things more efficiently. However, savings and efficiencies will only take us so far.
So now we're moving to the next phase by asking the public and our partners for their views on the kind of changes we need to make.
In an earlier column I mentioned our public budget consultation called Sustainable Swansea — fit for the future. This starts next week and is one of the biggest public consultations the council has ever done.
The principal question we will ask is whether the services we provide are sustainable when you look at both the scale of the cuts and the ever-increasing demand, especially in adult social services?
So, what do we do? As a council we will continue to stand up for Swansea, providing vital services every day. We want to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and tackle poverty.
But the cuts in funding and the pressure on services means we will not be able to afford to do everything we do currently. This requires us not only to do things differently, but do different things. And, of course, all this affects you.
However, as communities, groups and individuals you will have your own ideas on what kind of council you want to see in the years ahead. We want to hear what you have to say. You might want to be involved in delivering or developing local services, for example. If you do, we'd like to talk to you.
To strain my earlier analogy, if Swansea Council is a supertanker now, to survive in the future it will have to become more of a high-powered speedboat. Faster and quicker in the turns, focussed on value for money and better outcomes.
So please join the debate and help shape your council. We cannot do it alone.
A famous beer once claimed it could "refresh the parts other beers cannot reach".
Well, it seems the Swans are having the same kind of effect locally. I was at Swansea Sound's Cash for Kids fund-raising event in Gower, which clashed with the Swans' game in Valencia. Guests wouldn't leave the bar until the end of the historic 3-0 win. Beer did of course continue to flow and by the time we reached the charity auction people were bidding silly money for items of football memorabilia. Perhaps the timing of the event wasn't entirely an accident!
Which was all good news for a charity that helps local children.
On another charitable front, our council meeting this week was used to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Councillor Jan Curtice who is the council's 'Cake & Pasty' champion (inside joke), cooked dozens of cakes and pasties for sale and raised over £150! Well done, Jan!
But try as they might councillors couldn't eat them all.
Councillors clearly aren't what they used to be!
But nothing was wasted as they were eaten by the children of Hafod and Blaenymaes schools as a reward for their fantastic presentation to Council on the UN Rights of the Child. They made the meeting one of the best — and most moving — I have ever been to. We gave them a standing ovation.