I am certain I will receive some abuse for this blog and be told by Kate, our lovely marketing manager, “Adrian it’s supposed to be related to learning”. Well I would argue this is about learning lessons from past mistakes and discussing on the job in hand rather than getting distracted by the next new and shiny thing!
If you asked the average person if you thought your local council was qualified to start-up and successfully operate a commercial scale energy supply business to compete with the likes of Eon and British Gas they would like as not laugh.
They would have been completely vindicated in their mirth as I read today how 3 UK councils did just this and have lost millions of pounds. “If it were that easy Adrian, everybody would be doing it …” as I was once told. I hindered that advice and perhaps these council bosses at Nottingham, Bristol and Portsmouth should have done too.
Quite why the leaders of these 3 councils felt that they had the skills and experience to compete (and win!!) against firms with collectively hundreds of years’ experience is beyond me. As to why they possibly thought that their remit extended to taking venture capital style risk and ownership positions in a start-up I have no idea.
At a time when I see far too many homeless on the streets of these very cities, I am forced to question the sheer stupidity that wastes an estimated £66m (including a firm in Scotland) of tax payers money. How many homeless people would that money have offered food shelter and protection and possibly a route back from living rough. Certainly hundreds. It could have built an accommodation centre, provided mental health support, food, it is a huge sum of money.
What hope have we got of providing a safety net for the genuine poor and homeless if councils waste tax payer money on this scale.
The role of the council should be about delivering services to the community as cost effectively as possible, not trying for a place in next year’s Entrepreneur of the year awards!