Council Chief Exec Doesn’t Like Local People

It seems that Stoke City Council’s esteemed chief executive John Van de Laarschott doesn’t like the people his organisation is there to serve. That is, if recent local press reports are to be believed. Apparently, Mr Van de Laarschott thinks we all complain too much. So presumably, by extension he thinks we should all be grateful for his glorious rule and keep quiet.

I don’t know which planet he lives on, but it certainly isn’t the one where I and lot of my fellow residents live. Pardon me, but I think we have much to complain about. This city still ranks uncomfortably high in the deprivation tables. Look around and you don’t have to travel far to see lots of derelict land, boarded up buildings, empty shops and vacant office blocks. Yet the council persists in its expensive vanity project, the Central Business District. Once they move all their staff into it, what little life remaining in Stoke town will be killed stone dead. Stoke, which already has more than its fair share of empty buildings, will have even more.

And let us not forget Vanguard. It was Mr Van de Laarschott who brought in these expensive consultants (for whom he acts as an advocate in his spare time). Consultants who then wrecked a successful Benefits service and who have since been let loose on other departments. And all this at Council Tax payers expense.

There have also been several thousand job losses on his watch. People have been queuing up to leave. I’ve said it before and will doubtless say it again: if folks are so keen to leave what should be a good employer during a time of high unemployment, that suggests (nay, shouts) that there is something very seriously wrong. I know there is the wider picture of savage government cuts (and Stoke has had particularly bad settlements), but these issues predate that.

Unlike some, I am not anti-Council. I firmly believe in the public sector. I worked at Stoke City Council for over 16 years and was proud to do so. What pained and offended me was how the public service ethos was corrupted by all the worst aspects of private sector managerialism. This is exemplified by Van de Laarschott: an obscenely overpaid import from the private sector who thinks he knows it all. If he really doesn’t like us, that’s mutual. I know I’ve said this before too, but the people of this city deserve better.

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