1. “The production of an effective Cultural Strategy that includes a business plan for the delivery of the Council’s Culture and Leisure Services beyond December 2010. A study and options appraisal of the Council’s Cultural and Leisure Stock” … £24,240 … 220 council taxes. And for what? What is the Strategic Director of Resources for? He gets £92,747 a year. Is he not competent to produce an effective cultural strategy which includes a business plan for the delivery of the council’s culture and leisure services? Clearly not.
2. “Strategy providing a forward business plan for Torridge District Council’s Culture and Leisure services, incorporating an option appraisal of how the Authority could run its Leisure and Cultural Provisions in the future” … wait for it …. having just spent £24,240 on the production of an effective cultural strategy and business plan, we now have a forward business plan costing £40,000. And again – for what? For an appraisal of how the authority could run its Leisure and Cultural Provisions in the future. I’m sorry but this is 364 people’s hard-earned money and this simply is not funny any more. This is an abject waste of money which someone in the Chief Executive’s office must surely be competent enough to do for themselves.
3. “Study to prepare an effective strategy for the delivery of accessible, high quality greenspaces, civic spaces and sport and recreation facilities to meet the needs of local residents, workers and visitors to the district” ACCESSIBLE. HIGH. QUALITY. GREEN. SPACES??? Where do we live? The second largest county in the country with one of the lowest population densities. £4,000 – 36 council taxes.
4. “Assessment of Local Needs and Opportunities for Open Space, Sport and Recreational Facilities” I’m sorry, but if the council employed local people instead of career bureaucrats from towns and cities all over the country, maybe they’d have a better idea of the sheer lack of need for additional Open Spaces in the middle of the country where the nearest shop is 3 miles away, and wouldn’t have to spend £40,975 to get a management consultant to tell the chief exec and her little band of overpaid parasites what is actually needed. 372 council taxes.
5. Production of a development brief for proposed improvements to the hard landscaping at Westward Ho! £20,000 181 taxes … is there anything else we can add to this?
6. To develop a Site Development Brief for the redevelopment and restoration of the Winkleigh Airfield site £50,000 … 454 taxes.
7. Options and Issues Appraisal, Property and Financial advice … £10,000 … 91 taxes …. I’m sorry, but what do you need this advice for if you employ people who are competent to do the job in the first place?
8a. Mechanical Engineering Services in connection with the Expansion of Appledore Fishdock £50,000 – but that’s fine. That’s for actual work and is a necessary part of the project which will, hopefully, benefit the area.
8b. Provision of Architectural Services in connection with the Expansion of Appledore Fishdock £40,000
8c. Quantity Surveying Services – Appledore Fishdock £30,000
8d. Civil Engineering Services in connection with the Expansion of Appledore Fishdock £60,000
£180,000 on the planning. Now I do have to sit on the fence on this one a bit because, while my initial reaction was good, it does seem to be an awful lot of money for not a great deal of work. The jury’s out on this one.
9. Parkwood Leisure Contract is for 13 years with £4,101,409 of public money going to this company, while Torridge then spends further money on surveys for how to better arrange their sports and leisure facitilites. That £315,493 a year … 2868 council taxes – that’s less than the population of Holsworthy.
10. Physical and social survey of 1,000 private sector dwellings between 2008 and 2010 to provide data to inform housing strategies and policies. £53,680 … Why can’t staff employed by Torridge do this for themselves? If they knew what they wanted, they’d know what to look for and which questions to ask. 488 taxes.
11. Planning portal showing local development documents £30,000 (looking at this it looks like an IT “local development framework.” so I’m not sure if it should be included in this batch.)
12. Torridge pool changing room refurbishment £20,000 – that’s ok – that’s actual work done on a local facility, but why pay £315,493 to Parkwood leisure when we still have to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the sports facilities?
13. Also compare 12 with £30,000 on the refurbishment of the Burton Art Gallery foyer – just the foyer. That’s on top of:-
Architectural services for the refurbishment of the main display and storage area for the RJ Lloyd Collection … £10,000
Interactive access and external/remote access element of newly designed and refurbished display of the RJ Lloyd Collection at the Burton Art Gallery, Bideford £28,000
The supply and installation of display cases, structural alterations and additions and alterations to the existing electrical and ventilation systems. Works due to be undertaken during January 2010 at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum. £45,000
£103,000 spent on the Burton Art Gallery on top of the money cited in an earlier blog. That’s 936 taxes.
So, all in all, not counting the couple of dodgy examples and the ones we agree with, we have 5601 council taxes being frittered away. That’s over 1/6 of the taxes. Over £661,000. Even if we take out the Burton Art Gallery (the amount of money spent on that place in these economic times suggests something very smelly going on there – I mean, let’s be honest here, Torridge isn’t exactly the leading contender in supporting the Arts. It’s not something you automatically think of when you think of Torridge. Torridge District Council – Oh yes! Great stalwart of the arts and cultural development. Culture … Torridge …. no – they don’t really sit neatly together, do they?) we’re still left with half a million spent because Torridge doesn’t employ the right people to do their jobs properly.
Oh yes, and we also add to that £92,747 for the Strategic Director who is a complete and utter waste of the council tax of 843 households. So that’s 6443 taxes.