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Bonkers Blog May 2011

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3 May (Part 1) - Playing a-round with our money - click image for photo gallery (2 images)

A Belvedere playgroundThere’s a children’s playground three minutes walk from my home. I’d never been in it until the Easter holiday weekend and it looked pretty good to me. It must have cost quite a lot. Anyone have an idea how much? Well in March alone £631,940.45 went to two of the big playground equipment manufacturers. That’s an awful lot of money. How much did Bexley council prune from the getting disabled children to school budget? £1·6 million wasn’t it? Speaking of playgrounds, I wonder why Bexley council found it necessary to pay the Thamesview (Thamesmead) Golf Centre £1,800.

Another big payout close to my home was ‘an event’ in Belvedere on Easter Sunday (with another planned for this month). “London Borough of Bexley want to raise awareness and celebrate the work they have done on the Belvedere Green Links Programme. They plan to run a series of events with the assistance of Seventeen Events: Events will include a business networking event and official launch event in May; attendees will include local businesses and official dignitaries.” And how much of your money did Bexley council spend partying and celebrating? A mere £20,021.40 on the glorification of councillors with only “official dignitaries” invited. A bit of a difference from the effort put in by leader Teresa O’Neill when she invited the public to her ‘have your say’ sessions in libraries and then dodged them upon hearing a few residents had taken her seriously and turned up.

What are Green Links anyway? Cycle paths according to ‘Seventeen Events’ the company that profited from Bexley council’s need to drag dignitaries from their homes on Easter Sunday. Maybe they were tempted by a souvenir bag from the company ‘Rocket Bags’ who were paid £2,940 to produce them but a celebration of cycle paths by councillors and invited dignitaries doesn’t benefit residents, it just costs them the price of a dozen houses’ council tax.

I clearly remember councillor Campbell (St. Mary’s. £22.650) saying at the meeting which approved refurbishing of the old Woolwich building for council offices that savings would in part come from not having to maintain or upgrade the existing council buildings, he specifically mentioned air conditioning and I felt so sorry for council staff having to go without that I mentioned it in my report. Now I see it isn’t strictly true. More than £8,000 was spent on “air conditioning construction costs” in March. The cynic sitting next to me at that meeting muttered “illusory” when Campbell came out with his savings theory and I wondered myself if neglecting old buildings would affect the resale value of those not scheduled for demolition. The cynic is probably right.

D’you remember councillor Craske telling us there was no £4m. contract with the transport consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff? It may not have been exactly £4m. but Craske is paying them nevertheless. Another £34,463.95 in March. Not that it compares with what UBS Global Asset Management (UK) Ltd. took us for in March, a cool £95,533.78. Why are we paying a Chief Executive around £240,000 a year; “good value for money” according to council leader Teresa O’Neill, and paying consultants to do the job of managing our assets for him? Exactly what use is Will Tuckley?


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