Monthly Archives: December 2011

‘Ryan Air’ Policing: Coming to your county soon!

Honda ST1300P Pan-European motorcycle in emerg...

We should all know the name Michael O’Leary, he’s the one behind Ryanair, the forerunner of the ‘budget’ airline business in the UK and Europe. A business concept quickly followed by the likes of EasyJet and latterly Jet2.com. All of these operations are characterised by their no frills, low-cost business model, one that many consider a success.

But what if this type of business model (see below) was being applied to our public services?

Arriving in a hotel in Dublin , he went to the bar and asked for a pint of draught Guinness. The barman nodded and said, “That will be one Euro please, Mr. O’Leary.” Somewhat taken aback, O’Leary replied, “That’s very cheap,” and handed over his money.

“Well, we try to stay ahead of the competition”, said the barman. “And we are serving free pints every Wednesday evening from 6 until 8. We have the cheapest beer in Ireland.”

“That is remarkable value” Michael comments – “I see you don’t seem to have a glass, so you’ll probably need one of ours” the barman continued. “That will be 3 euro please.”

O’Leary scowled, but paid up. He took his drink and walked towards a seat. “Ah, you want to sit down?” said the barman. “That’ll be an extra 2 euro. – You could have pre-book the seat, and it would have only cost you a Euro.”

“I think you may to be too big for the seat sir, can I ask you to sit in this frame please.” Michael attempts to sit down but the frame is too small and when he can’t squeeze in he complains; “Nobody would fit in that little frame”.

“I’m afraid if you can’t fit in the frame you’ll have to pay an extra surcharge of €4.00 for your seat sir” O’Leary swore to himself, but paid up.

“I see that you have brought your laptop with you” added the barman. “And since that wasn’t pre-booked either, that will be another 3 euro.”

O’Leary was so annoyed that he walked back to the bar, slammed his drink on the counter, and yelled, “This is ridiculous, I want to speak to the manager”.

“Ah, I see you want to use the counter,” says the barman, “that will be 2 euro please.” O’Leary’s face was red with rage. “Do you know who I am?”

“Of course I do Mr. O’Leary,”

“I’ve had enough, What sort of Hotel is this? I come in for a quiet drink and you treat me like this. I insist on speaking to a manager!”

“Here is his E mail address, or if you wish, you can contact him between 9am and 9.10am every morning, Monday to Tuesday at this free phone number. Calls are free, until they are answered, then there is a talking charge of only 10 cent per second” “I will never use this bar again”

“OK sir, but remember, we are the only hotel in Ireland selling pints for one Euro”.

The above may be a somewhat humourous slant on O’Leary’s business model however; it’s no joke that this Ryan Air type of service delivery is actually creeping in all over the public sector. In recent years, probably even more so now than previously, due to government induced austerity measures, service delivery is governed by cash.

Proper and effective control of public expenditure has always been important but unfortunately, it’s also an aspect of public sector management which has been sadly lacking in the past. Now our society is suffering all the consequences of that past mismanagement. Continued failure to spend what little remains in the correct manner (see here), will only leed to further decline in the levels of service currently being delivered.

Perhaps we need to decide, once and ofr all, what it is we actually want from our police and public services; a low-cost, no frills substandard service, where we pay additionally for every extra or, proper levels of high quality and effective service available to all?