Focus on kit helps to cut Swansea costs

City & County of Swansea parks team records savings of £100,000 through more efficient kit use.

A local authority parks team has saved £100,000 by using machinery more effectively and thereby reducing the number of units of kit used by 10-15 per cent.

City & County of Swansea also sold off old machinery to make additional savings, said parks services manager Mark Russ. His team audited the kit list and sold or disposed of machines such as mowers and strimmers to make further savings.

"We lost £1m in four years and had to make £200,000 budget savings in the most recent round," said Russ. "Most of what we've done is not rocket science but good management."

Working with the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), the parks team also implemented other measures including a review of a performance-related pay bonus scheme, which was operating on productivity values established by time and motion studies that took place more than 20 years ago.

The cost-cutting effort was cited by APSE as proof that "entrepreneurship is alive and flourishing in local authorities across the UK".

APSE's report Municipal Entrepreneurship challenged the perception that local government is "bureaucratic and incapable of change", said chief executive, Paul O'Brien. Commercial skills and business acumen are flourishing, he added.

The report, produced with De Montfort University, aimed to highlight lessons, challenges and opportunities for local authorities taking an entrepreneurial approach to delivering services.

Other projects featured in the report include a renewable energy scheme in Wrexham, major savings in building maintenance achieved in Hull and the sharing of services across boundaries in Tayside to deliver big surpluses.

Inside view

"Local authorities have been unfairly characterised as lacking the spirit of innovation. This report challenges such preconceptions by providing clear evidence that municipal entrepreneurship is alive and well in councils across the UK. This is increasingly important in delivering high-quality public services as budget cuts bite."

Paul O'Brien, chief executive, Association for Public Service Excellence.

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