With autumn comes the latest batch of performance statistics showing just how well the Tory/Liberal Democrat Regressive Partnership is performing after two long years in power. They don't make good reading for the city.
Back in 2004, the Labour administration on the council met the recycling target as set by the government, beating it by almost three percentage points. A couple of weeks back, we had the recycling figures, which showed that Birmingham is in the bottom ten percent of local authorities in the country when it comes to recycling and missed last year's recycling target. Yup, 358 councils have a better record on recycling than Birmingham and just 38 have fared worse than us on household waste (the figures on municipal waste from commercial and council sources are actually slightly worse). But don't worry, the Cabinet have a plan to get to 40% recycling by 2026. Yup, we'll catch up with Oswestry in the third decade of this century. By the way, Rushcliffe Borough Council is already past the 50% recycling figure and the document itself suggests that the national target could be 40% by 2016.
I had some hope when I read that Martin Mullaney had undergone a conversion to the cause of the wheeled bin, only to see my hopes dashed when a council officer rubbished the idea - Ian Coghill has a blind spot when it comes to wheelie bins and is determined to hold out against the change.
And if that wasn't enought, we've now had an update on the performance of the social services department. Last year, the council house was adorned with stars to celebrate the hard work of the social services team in dragging the department back from the brink (following an action plan largely devised by Labour in 2004 and funded by a thumpingly good increase in the annual grant). This year, Cllr Anderson isn't singing quite such a happy tune as the great leap forward fell rather short and the department was labelled as having an 'uncertain capacity for improvement.' In particular, there was criticism of the process for adapting houses for the elderly or disabled, with the average waiting time increasing to 74 weeks. Yup, that's an AVERAGE time of almost eighteen months - so there are people out there waiting an awful lot longer. Detailed reading of the report suggests that the department is hanging on to that star by the tips of its fingers.
Yet again, I find myself asking the council - where's the drive and vision to get us to that recycling target in something less than two decades? These problems are symptomatic of the complete lack of ambition or desire to lead that has affected the council since Whitless was shoehorned into the leader's office. Why has progress stalled on two more vital issues? Where's the leadership? Answers on a postcard, please.