Public Service Area Focus

Focus on the delivery of public services within areas of our cities on an aligned basis.

Our cities are focal points for activity; your strategy notes that 50% of Scotland’s population lives within our cities and 86% live within a one-hour travel time.  The activity within our cities involves a myriad of public agencies with differing geographic coverage, differing focus (local, regional, national).  This situation is further complicated by the cross-boundary nature of the way in which we live and work.  While a utopian solution might seek alignment of boundaries and responsibilities, this is a potentially costly and risky means of achieving better alignment.

Thinking about our cities and their constituents parts on a hub basis would allow us to better align the delivery and efficiency of public services; creating savings in both capital and operational expenditure.

This also give better opportunity to safeguard the provision of local services – for example, a library in a city suburb may not be economically viable, but provided as part of a new community facility that shares health centre, fire station, primary school, and library functions (say) under one roof could be viable.

Ironically, in more rural areas the alignment of facilities has been better, e.g. Callander Fire and Ambulance station, or Fort William Police/Ambulance station.  It is strange that in our cities where land is at a premium, there are very few examples of integrated facilities.

There is a wider issue around operational expenditure.  Maintenance contracts let on an organisational basis fail to leverage the savings potential of bringing numerous facilities together.  Similarly, by focussing on geographies rather than organisations, there is more potential for small and medium sized businesses to compete for work; stimulating and supporting local areas.

Why the contribution is important

Scottish Futures Trust has made some inroads in this area, but it appears to be more focussed on the provision of funding once projects have been formulated.

In their Property & Asset Management strategy, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde reported that during FY2015/16 they would undertake a revised property strategy for the acute sector.  This involves major hospitals in Glasgow, and potentially has significant implications for the city and its services.  But how is such a process aligned with other agencies and departments?  In short, it isn’t, because working across organisational boundaries is too difficult.  With each individual public sector organisation managing its own estate, there are few opportunities being realised to genuinely join-up provision.  This represents a significant missed opportunity to avoid sunk costs, make savings in fixed assets, provide more modern facilities that are fit for purpose, embed year-on-year opex savings, and contribute more effectively to the making of ‘place’ and the support of strong community neighbourhoods within cities.

by GraemeD on November 27, 2015 at 10:47AM

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