Sunday, 12 February 2012
Worst Acheiving Council 2012.
I would like to nominate Plymouth City Council for worst achieving council of 2012 and am still amazed at the 2010 title of 'Best Achieving Council" (note that the Best Achieving council title is still splashed over council stationary, at great cost to the taxpayer, despite the fact that the MJ award was given in 2010).
You may wonder who decides on which councils win the awards well, surprise, surprise the awards are given by other council leaders and highly paid chief executives all giving each other a big pat on the back and rejoicing in their extortionate wages at a lavish party at the London Hilton.
But perhaps if we stop focusing on awards the council could actually get down to the business of looking after the city? What woud you rather see - Council leader Vivien Pengelly nominated for council leader of the year or the potholes filled in on our poorly maintained roads? On the subject of Vivien's shortlisting I note that both her and Chief Executive Barry Keel (who has resigned) have both listed in their successes the sale of Citybus and the incinerator, in my opinion neither of these things are considered success stories and no one ever got to the bottom of how it took 1 million pounds of taxpayer money to value Citybus prior to it's sale.
Another accolade cited by Viv and Barry is their contribution to children's services which is kind of ironic as we still are one of the worst areas in the country for child poverty and let's face it if Viv and Barry were really so concerned about the welfare our Plymouth's younger citizens perhaps they could have taken a pay cut so that less frontline service cuts were needed. By cutting the pay on those at the lower end of the scale they have instead contributed directly to child poverty. We are told that senior management is being restructured and 2 of the top 6 jobs have been disposed of which makes me question what those people were doing in the first place to make them that easy to get rid of?
Now let's focus back on the incinerator, the council claim this is a good decision for the people of Plymouth but most people don't seem to agree and the councils waste management record isn't great in fact the council has recently been charged with illegal waste dumping resulting in this comment from the Environment agency "the selling of illegal waste by Plymouth City Council revealed 'serious management failures". Now we hear that plans for a new recycling depot have been put on hold due to a £800,000 budget deficit, does this mean most of our recycling will get burnt at the incinerator instead?
Another 'success' listed by the council is the Life Centre but will this really be a success or another white elephant for the city? The impoverished children of Plymouth certainly won't be able to afford to attend the centre and for those who can afford to get to the centre they must remember to add the costs of new tyres to their bill as the numerous potholes will surely have an impact on anyone driving to the eyesore (see picture below).
Imagine if the 46 million pounds used to build the Life Centre had been spent on the Hoe Foreshore, the bus station, highway repairs and the airport instead. Of course the council are already trying to pass the buck for the crumbling waterfront as they put pressure on local waterfront businesses to back the BID (this is a Business Improvement District option where businesses pay a levy on their business rates to fund foreshore improvements), Barry Keel used the usual council bullying tactics stating that there is no plan B if the BID is rejected. If the council had spent more wisely on Plymouth's jewel in the crown then surely a BID would not be needed.
Please vote carefully in May.