Steven Broomhead is chief executive of Warrington Borough Council and writes a regular column for the Warrington Guardian

The size, cost, efficiency and effectiveness of our local public services is a regular topic – rightly so in our local dialogue.

Most of our local public organisations have faced spiralling demand for services in the past 5 years whilst at the same time as having to deal with actual and real financial cost reductions. I have a good vantage point to see and feel the impact of the situation in our town and, hand on heart, I have to say it is a miracle that none of our major public services have collapsed. Of course, there is always room for improvements in service effectiveness, efficiency and delivery and all of us who work in local public services strive for this every day.

I recently asked a major local business owner how he would cope with an increased 30 per cent demand for his product whilst at the same time receiving a 60 per cent reduction in income. After a discussion about productivity, the conclusion was that this would be an impossible situation unless prices were dramatically increased which hard pressed customers would not be able to meet. In short, the conclusion was that the business would more than likely fail.

Surprisingly and annoyingly recent statistics reveal that the size of the national Civil Service has increased in recent years from 418,000 to 520,000 which brings with it an increase in the salary bill from £9.7bn to £15.5bn. It would appear that the policies of efficiency and effectiveness have not had any impact and there has been an explosion of bureaucracy with little increase in productivity.

Civil servants do a great job in supporting the government of the day and there are many talented civil servants, but it is difficult to justify this national growth when local services are being financially punished. Most people judge public service by the local services they expect and receive.

Most people I talk to have very little idea about what civil servants do or more importantly deliver. Policy makers rarely deliver themselves but depend often on local organisations to do the work for them.

Rebalancing the national and local provision of services and their funding should be a priority for the near future.