There is an excellent beer festival going on down at Ludlow Brewery right now. A couple of hours ago, I took a moment out from a sampling session to take a call from the Shropshire Star. Reporters on the newspaper had learnt that Shropshire Council is about to make a decision to close its private company, ip&e. BBC Radio Shropshire has been reporting the same news.

Papers for next week’s cabinet meeting are not yet published. But I am guessing that there will be a paper proposing that ip&e, the brainchild of former council leader Keith Barrow, is going to be abolished. This should not be too difficult, as most staff are seconded from the council rather than transferred under TUPE.

The Shropshire Star quotes me as saying:

Andy Boddington said he was unsurprised about but had “mixed feelings” about the company’s demise.

He said: “ip&e had the worst business model ever, it had no chance of surviving.

“Shropshire Council had a plan to commission out all it is services and everything it didn’t commission out it was going to dump into ip&e and it simply did not make any money.

“I have mixed feelings. We could have set up some social enterprise companies to do things. We could have done a lot of entrepreneurial things that would have helped our county at a very difficult time. Instead we have wasted our time, and the time of some very talented staff, with ip&e.”

And I do have mixed feelings. I think our staid thinking council could benefit from putting some of its operations into social enterprise. It would gain from spinning potential entrepreneurial ideas into startup enterprises.

Shirehall is not a great place to innovate. ip&e could have been an innovation incubator. But it never achieved that because of its flawed business model. It was led by people in an administrative frame of mind not entrepreneurs.

If the media are correct, ip&e is dead. We need to move on. But that doesn’t mean that we should move backwards. Not everything we want to achieve can be done within the decaying walls of Shirehall.

A final thought. I’ve learnt that ip&e emails senior council executives every time I publish a post on this blog. Who will take up this task if ip&e crashes into oblivion? Will my readership statistics dive?

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