\u201cIt\u2019s a funny old place,\u201d concedes David Wilde, gazing out of the window of his office overlooking the Regent\u2019s Canal near Lisson Grove in the Paddington area, and surrounded by densely planted columns of flats.\nHe points to a map, noting the concentrations of retail properties in the West End, financial services boutiques and assorted gazillionaire mansions in Mayfair, and the crammed patches of residential areas. It\u2019s an area that includes internationally known sights such as the Houses of Parliament, 10 Downing Street, Covent Garden, Knightsbridge and Soho and the only relief from teeming humanity comes from the lovely open spaces of Regent\u2019s, Hyde and St James\u2019s parks, before meeting its southern boundary at the Thames.\nThe \u201cfunny old place\u201d he\u2019s talking about is the City of Westminster, the ancient heart of London that is technically distinct from, and yet still central to, England\u2019s capital. It\u2019s a monster of a place that\u2019s physically not that large but flexes its mighty chest to accommodate locals\u2019 and visitors\u2019 demands to shop, conduct business, sightsee, walk its paths and breathe in the vast history and heritage of the area. Its population is fewer than 250,000 but this swells to about a million in the daytime, doesn\u2019t contract until late and begins to re-inflate in the small hours.\nWilde is the CIO of Westminster City Council which has a staff of 2,800 compared to an average of 5,000 in London\u2019s other 32 boroughs.With budgets being slashed across the public sector as almost the first act of the coalition government, the elephant on the table is, of course, funding. So I ask Wilde how he is bearing up under the strain.\n\nGetting ahead of the game\nNot too badly, might be the short answer as Wilde, like many, anticipated that whatever the outcome of the general election, cuts would have to be made to patch up an economy ravaged by the banking collapse. He says he got \u201cahead of the game\u201d by planning for change a year or more previous to our meeting. \u201cThe economy was the economy and whoever got voted in was going to do some fundamental things,\u201d he says with a characteristic calm and ready smile.\nOf course, the Tory line was that a huge amount of saving could be made just by reducing wastage and removing red tape, so just how deep is the slashing?\u201cThese are fundamental cuts,\u201d he insists. \u201cOur capital expenditure is now 50 per cent of what it was two years ago when I arrived. In terms of operating expenditure, headcount is down and we\u2019re reshaping IT service provision. We\u2019ve taken \u00a32m out of our [annual IT] budget and there will be a further \u00a31m this year.\u201dOK, so name the kind of project that has gone. Wilde points to collaboration and reformed plans to extend intranet and extranet usage as a key example of a programme that has had to be halved in scope because of the hard facts of the economy and hard numbers required.\nAlso, plans for a dedicated EDRM document and records management system had to be changed as \u201cwe don\u2019t have the luxury of buying off the shelf\u201d. Sharepoint is being used instead.\nMore generally, \u201cthere\u2019s less of trying things out and it\u2019s much more about rigour\u201d to get things right at the first time of asking. But Wilde doesn\u2019t appear to be a glass-half-empty character and even if he doesn\u2019t buy the line that CIOs love a budget challenge, he agrees that creativity can be unleashed when sharp changes of approach are required.\nFor more of CIO's interview with David Wilde, click on the links below:\nCity of Westminster CIODavid Wilde on shared services and cloud\nCity of Westminster CIODavid Wilde on staff resourcing and CIO bloat\nDavid Wildeis speaking at the CIO Summit on Wednesday 29 September. Click here for Tweets of the event.