I’ll have to recalculate this first one because I keep getting different results, but for now over half a million pounds was spent on computers, software and other electronic equipment and licences. First time I looked at this it was well over a million, so I’ll have to do a recheck on that one. But of the figures I have written down, £47,700 was spent on the council tax department, mainly for software. That’s over 4000 council tax payments to Torridge just to pay for the council tax department’s IT. And that’s just the council tax, that’s not including housing benefits. (Edited note … The public statement of accounts gives ICT (information and communication technologies) a spend of £660,000 so I think my initial figure was wrong and the half a million is about right because I did not include items which would have been used anyway, such as the computer link and equipment for the cemeteries and other external services)
I do have to throw in a little miscellaneous account which I have to say I think is rather touching, especially given the figure of the chairman … The account is the chairman’s allowances, it is for a cost of £89.74 and is specified as being for “sweets”. I do have to think of those sad, lonesome charity adverts … This is James. James has to find his own sweets today. His mummy hasn’t given him any and his daddy has stopped his pocket money. He only wants a midget gem, or even a wine gum if he’s lucky. Anything will do. Please help fill James’ tuck box by giving just 3 peppermint creams a month to Torridge District Council Chairman Appeal. Thank you, and because James is too full of tears to say it for himself, I’ll thank you on his behalf, too. Thank you.
And so, we now come to the Burton Art Gallery. Over £110,000 and that’s not including wages or building costs (although it does include repairs and other works). There is a big problem here, though. There are some figures which are commission costs for the sale of works, so, obviously, the gallery has made money from the sale of these works, but only the legal fees and commission costs are accounted for within these documents. But we must, then, ask, why it needs to charge the public purse for its own expenditure, rather than using its profits to fund itself. But £110,000 for a small gallery in a provincial town is verging on criminal when only £171,000 was spent on economic regeneration.
I was brought up in the arts and I am passionate about them, but I am also passionate about the arts contributing to our lives, not just to the pockets of a few.
I’ll come back to that another time. My head isn’t really screwed on straight for that line of thinking just at the moment.
Around £380,000 was spent on leisure services. But of this £31,549 is given each period to a management company. That’s £315,490 per year, in addition to which they also get compensation for a loss of income. That amounted to over £11,000. So, presumably, then, they don’t just get paid to manage the facilities, but they get a share of the revenue. We pay them to take more of our revenue? Is Torridge so incompetent that it is incapable of employing a few staff to run a swimming pool, thus reducing the payment on the facility whilst getting all the revenue and not having to pay compensation for loss of income when we have to undertake the repairs?
Option 1. Employ the right staff. Reduce the expenditure, increase revenue, do not pay compensation for loss of income.
Option 2. Employ management company, pay them all or part of your revenue, pay them compensation when you have to do necessary repairs, help them make enormous profits.
It’s a bit of a no-brainer, really isn’t it? The person with no brain picks option 2, contributing to the £63 million turnover this company has from 27 other local authorities.
And then …. And THEN… Torridge also pays £7,272 to a management consultant! I’m sorry, why employ a management company to run your business and then employ a management consultant? Indeed, why employ a strategic director of resources who is paid £92,747 a year who then needs to employ a management consultant? I’m sorry, but management consultants are for people who admit they do not know how to do their job properly. Torridge also pays £10, 459 for an assessment of local needs spaces – whatever that may be. If the employees of Torridge actually came from Torridge rather than career hopping from one council to another, like fleas and other blood-sucking parasites, they would have sufficient local knowledge to know what they were talking about without such waste of public funds. And if this wasn’t bad enough, they then spend £16,968 for a cultural strategy report. A Cultural Strategy Report???? Does the Strategic Director have ANY qualifications for his £92,747 a year??? Then there was £16,500 for landscape consultancy – they already employ a firm of landscape gardeners for all the external spaces, could they not just be asked what they think – free of charge – ideas in a hat? And finally £700 to the amateur swimming association for a report on Torrington pool. Now why couldn’t they just have asked the people who go there?
I’m sorry but what is the chief executive for? What is her strategy staff for? Should they not have the skills to be able to do these things for themselves? This is wasted money. If Torridge did not have to pay this company a share of, if not all the profits, they would be able to plough this money back into the service, thus reducing the amount we have to pay to them to do this.
Is it any wonder it was £97,000 over budget?
Over £37,000 was spent on training. Including £13,765 on “Diversity” training. Now, I’m writing another blog on getting fit. I had intended to get the Strictly Dance dvd until I found it was all Latin rubbish where you just look as if you want to go to the toilet all the time. So I looked around for another dance dvd and was very interested in Diversity’s effort. So, obviously, when I saw this Diversity training, I had images of Torridge staff body popping in symmetry to the muffled tones of beat box and rap. But I had a chap round the other day to view both myself and my house with regard to me fostering. He had asked my ethnic origin. I told him I was Anglo/Celtic. He said that would mean White British. No. White is completely irrelevant and I refuse to be party to such primitive categorisations. He said something about the powers that be wanting to have their diversity figures.
So that’s what it’s all about. The latest euphemism for their institutionalised racism. They MUST categorise us by colour of skin and by doing so they force it to matter. Not only is this a waste of public money, it is also ethically reprehensible.