‘Stop talking gobbledegook’ plea to Leeds council officials

Councillor Andrew Carter
Councillor Andrew Carter
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A SENIOR opposition councillor has called on Leeds council officials to stop speaking “gobbledegook” - just months after the authority launched a ‘plain English’ campaign.

Andrew Carter, leader of the Conservative group, was speaking at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s cabinet, where the latest budget cuts were being debated.

He highlighted a paragraph in a public report, which talked of work to “accelerate work on category management to facilitate the delivery of the budgeted procurement savings across all directorates”. Coun Carter said he had been forced to ask for an extra briefing in “Anglo-Saxon language” to “elucidate what this gobbledegook meant”.

He added: “The council must make itself as accessible as possible to the general public and one way it can do that is by writing reports in language that makes sense. The administration has made a commitment to do this and so far the progress has not been great.

“When I, as a councillor with over 40 years experience, see an unintelligible paragraph it always seems that something is being covered up, which is why I insisted that the issue was explained in plain English.

“The general public have a right to expect plain English and at the moment it really isn’t good enough.”

The YEP reported last year that the council had pledged to make its paperwork simpler, with one senior executive admitting that the “corporate language” was “not conducive to getting people interested”.

A council spokesman said: “Leeds City Council remains committed to making reports as understandable and easy to read as possible.

“Many of the issues the council addresses are complex and reports do need to be technically accurate. This ensures that fully informed decisions can be made. We acknowledge on this occasion the wording used could have been simpler.

“The council will continue to look at making improvements in this area.”

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CLEAR AS MUD?

This is the paragraph Andrew Carter described as ‘gobbledegook’.

“An overspend of £0.4m within the procurement unit...reflecting the re-prioritisation of resources within PPU to accelerate work on category management to facilitate the delivery of the budget procurement savings target across all directorates”.

After much head-scratching, the YEP thinks they are saying “we have had to spend some money to save more money”.

What do you think? Email yep.newsdesk@ypn.co.uk.

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