LETTER: Tourist Office - The bigger picture

editorial image

Commenting on the letter from Mr Johnson from Hayfield, published in response to my letter of October 6, commenting on the potential closure of the tourist office at the end of the Sett Valley Trail in Hayfield.

Whilst I agree that the current central administration are undoubtedly responsible for the unprecedented levels of inappropriate cuts we see unfolding across the nation, particularly unfitting in light of the government’s apparent inability to collect taxes and allocate expenditure effectively, I absolutely disagree with the point made that this is the entire argument.

I believe that as with most things in life there are a number of contributing factors to situations and this issue is no different.

Obviously the government cuts are an important consideration, however a certain level of responsibility falls to the local administration.

The point highlighted in my initial letter referred to the fact that Derbyshire County Council (DCC) have found the ‘government cuts’ excuse far too easy (and convenient) to publicly declare at every opportune moment over the last few years.

As my letter stated, it is much easier to blame another’s incompetence, rather than sort the matter out yourself. Indeed how often do we see that play out when there is a change of government, all too often.

The landscape for council funding will change over the next few years, rightly or wrongly driven by the central government agenda of the day.

What I hope is that DCC have a sufficiently robust strategy in place to manage these changes instead of behaving in a rather predictable fashion and blaming the incumbent government at every opportunity, which I’m sure is not politically motivated at all.

In terms of testimony, as I indicated in my initial letter, a quick look at the council’s disclosed payment listings, publicly available on the DCC website, makes for interesting reading.

It isn’t appropriate to quote individual examples, mainly as there are far too many of them, but looking down the list there are numerous payments of several thousand pounds of our money (let’s not forget who contributes here) to consultancy companies, external advisors and other irregular organisations.

My point here is to highlight that large public sector organisations are prone to this type of operational management confusion, mainly as they do not have a real commercial focus and essentially are simply allocating set funding against services, whilst attempting to control some costs.

Having worked as an accountant in two of this country’s largest such organisations (the NHS and the BBC) I have witnessed, and attempted to change this type of financial management at first hand.

In addition the programme broadcast on BBC2 at 8pm on Tuesday, October 18 - Who’s Spending Britain’s Billions - serves to highlight my point and certainly raises some questions over local council governance when it comes to spending our money.

But all in all let’s not forget the main point of my initial letter, the irony that the council are publicly announcing cuts to a well-used tourist facility on one page of the Advertiser and on the next page there is the news they will be working with other agencies to help manage the allocation of a recently awarded grant of £1.49 million to promote tourism.

Here’s hoping that on this occasion common sense will prevail and this facility will be saved for future generations to benefit from.

Andrew Wild

By email