Wednesday 28 October 2009

Stuck in a lift with Brian Coleman ? Colemanomics at it's worst

As reported in this blog a couple of days ago, the Mayor of Barnet Brian Coleman is Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. Now there are many things Brian Coleman does in this job, eat lots of expensive dinners and run up huge taxi bills being among his favourite. One thing he seems totally incapable of doing is formulating sensible cost saving policies. Whilst he kicks brave firemen where it hurts, by planning to remove beds from stations, where they can keep fresh and relax after stressfull rescues, he treats his mates in the business and property world totally different.

The Evening Standard reports today that there 14,000 calls a year to the fire service to rescue people from lifts. On average, each of these calls costs the taxpayer (you and I) £300. 122 Properties were visited 10 or more times - that is £366,000 of public money being spent to bale out dodgy landlords and shoddy businesses that can't be bothered to keep their lifts in good order.

Never fear, Brian Coleman has a plan. He clearly formulated it after a rather good lunch, (probably at the expense of a shoddy Landlord ????) given the complete stupidty of what he's saying. What is Mayor Coleman's masterplan to save London from all this waste - I quote here from the Standard :-

Mr Coleman said: "Each call takes up the time of a fire engine and crew, and the knock on effect is a reduction in capacity to attend emergency incidents, carry out community safety work and provide essential training for firefighters." He said a charge of £260 would now be made on the 10th lift release at the same building within a 12 month period and for all subsequent non-emergency lift releases.
So lets get this right, he waits until the 10th time a building has had someone trapped and then charges £40 less than the cost of the callout? This is total madness. Why should the public subsidise these shoddy Landlords and businesses? If, as Coleman says, it diverts the Firemen from essential work, then the charge should be punitive. I'd say that it should be "Three strikes and you're out". Basically let them off the first time. The second time charge £600 for the two visits and the third time charge them £600 and condemn the lift until an independent engineers report is produced, confirming that the lift is in full working order.

That will save a fortune for Londoners. With all the savings, Coleman could retain a few beds in stations. It is interesting to note that Barnet Council plans to go down the EasyCouncil route, with services being charged for. If Barnet apply Colemanomics to the project where you make a loss of 17.5% on all transactions, then the Council's finances will be in even worse shape than they are now.

My advice to Brian Coleman, knock the free dinners on the head, buy economics for dummies and if you are going to indulge in charging people for services they get for free, charge those who deserve to be charged and can afford it - such as shoddy Landlords who can't be bothered to service their lifts properly. As to why Boris employs a man who hasn't the financial acumen to run a Whelk stall in this most important of London posts, heaven only knows.

********* Update ***********
Many thanks to Sharko, the business analyst for pointing out the following things which I missed in my all to hasty summary.

1. The move won't save the £366,000 I mention above, because this is the sum spent on the first 10 callouts.
2. A new computer system will be required to administer this system of charges. Sharko estimates that this would cost a minimum of £50,000 assuming they already have a billing system.
3. The system will require administration so you'd need a couple of extra staff to chase up payments etc - he esimates £50,000 per annum.
4. There is no incentive for Landords to improve. If the cost of getting someone out is £300 then by doing it for £250, Coleman is undercutting the private sector (especially if the first 9 visits are free). Coleman may actually get up a higher take up once Landlords do the maths.
5. Sharko being Sharko asked the question - How much would it cost of the service was outsourced to a private supplier. If Brian Coleman wishes to Email me (yes he does know my email address !) I can put him in touch with Sharko.

If I were Boris Johnson, I'd sack Coleman and employ Sharko today. Real savings and better service ! You know it makes sense !

***** Update - Thanks to Don't call me Dave for the clip


Anonymous said...

This does sound a bit potty. Anyone who has read the first chapter of Freakonomics will know the danger of playing with fines and incentives. The best seller book points the experiment with a infant's nursery when they went from giving parents who were late in picking up their 'darlings' a stern telling off to a fine.

When the fine was instituted the parents began to see late pickups as a service they were paying for and so uptake of it increased and MORE were late.

In this scenario if I were a landlord I'd not think that it was ok to have the Fire Brigade called out NINE times before I got the lift fixed but if this is brought in calls will go up as they will think that 9 call outs are a service.

What is going on here?

Is the Mayor also suggesting, after his diatribe, that it would have ok for Lynne Featherstone to call them out 9 times in a row too!

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

That video has upset me terribly, the man has jowls and fangs.

Is he a vampire?