A little bit of family history

I currently have a dispute with Torridge lodged with the Ombudsman.  Oh yes … just a note about that (I’m not going to say anything about the complaint until the matter is resolved – it’s not fair to the Ombudsman to do otherwise) … At the top of the letter from Torridge I was informed that disagreement was no grounds for complaint.  Now, I read that as meaning that disagreement with their findings was no grounds for complaint.  I am certain that’s exactly what they intend you to think which is why so few complaints were taken to the Ombudsman (although their annual report had to be changed because they’d said there were only 4 when actually there were 12.  I just happened to mention the figure to the Ombudsman who got them to alter their report).  What this phrase actually refers to is that disagreement with council policy is no grounds for complaint.  But that’s not what they infer in these letters.  … Nasty little people!

Anyway … here’s a bit of family history back in the days of Poll Tax, but Torridge really hasn’t changed.  My brother was diabetic.  He was registered blind.  The ankle bones in one foot were crumbling away such that his foot would eventually fuse to his leg.  He got a gangrene infection in the other leg which had to be amputated.  The Local Authority couldn’t even get their act together to put in a stair-lift for him.

They messed up how much he owed in Poll Tax.  He kept telling them what he should be paying and they kept sending him threatening letters.  They hounded him for 2 years.  He told them he didn’t think they realised how ill he was. They threatened him with prision (something they stopped doing when they realised people were more than prepared to do that and they’d end up without their money, while the state would have to pay for the stay in prison).  Eventually he got to speak to a supervisor who tutted at him “Look, Mr Brookhouse, you owe … blahde blah.” which was the exact figure he’d been telling them all along he owed.  He said “Well if you know that and I know that, why don’t your minions know that?”  He was told to pay it in one go.  He told them he would pay in instalments since they had messed him around so much.  He told my mum it would serve them right if he died before he paid up.  He died with one payment to make aged 31.

That’s Torridge for you.

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Staff costs and ratios

270 staff serving 65,000 people, gives 1 member of staff for every 240 people.  Now, the staff have an average wage of £30K (clearly all the staff don’t get that and that figure is on the basis of taking out the wages of the top 8 staff, who take the average down by £1,000 a year for the rest).  240 people constitutes around 114 council taxes (on the basis of 65,000 living in 30,000 homes at a ratio of 2.1 people per home).  The average portion of council tax going to Torridge is around £110.  That’s £110 x 114 = £12540 so we’re short of the average wage by £17460 … that’s 158 council taxes … we need another 158 council taxes for each member of staff, just to pay their wages.  We need another 42,660 homes just to pay the wages of Torridge District Council.

Torridge give “Other Operational Running Costs” at £10,138,000.  I had taken things out of this which would have to be paid for with or without Torridge, such as cemeteries and waste management depots, which is why I was left quoting closer to £7 million for the running costs of Torridge District Council itself.  So according to my conservative estimates (based on Torridge’s own figures) each member of staff costs us a further £24,611 per year for their office space and equipment.  Each employee costs us £55,611 per year (including the top 8, increasing the average wage to £31K).  That’s 505 council taxes each.

The simple fact is that Torridge costs over 4x as much to run as it can justify for a ratio of 1 staff member to every 114 homes.

There’s been something listed as the “Corporate and Democratic Core” I haven’t been able to define.  I’ve just found out what this actually is … “the spending relating to the need to co-ordinate and account for the many services we provide to the public including the cost of member representation and activities associated with public accountability. ”  In other words, what it costs for the local authority to justify its own existence.  Torridge budgets that it will cost £1,309,000 in 2011/12 to justify its own existence.  Compare that with a budget of £1,014,000 for central services to the public.

This is all getting a bit repetitious.  There is no need for Torridge. Full stop.

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police

We are having to see a reduction in police of 700 officers and 500 support staff through cuts of £47 million over the next four years.  The amount they get from Council Tax will not be increased.  Excuse me, but do we not have a say in this?  Do we not have a say in whether Devon wastes money on planning strategy reports while our homes and lives go unprotected?

Torridge spends £14 million a year on 270 staff, while we have to lose 1/5 of the police. Also, our military heroes are being treated like plastic milk bottles tossed in the recycling boxes.  It’s a disgrace.  These people risk life and limb to safeguard our precious democracy.  What does the chief executive do?  What do the staff of the council tax collections department do?  What do they risk in order to have their jobs?  In order to tell us how we should be living our lives?  And to impose their will, right or wrong, on us?

I used to be a police officer.  I talk with some experience.  That experience with Devon and Cornwall Constabulary was not the finest and D&C are not my favourite group of people, but my attitude towards them has been transformed by the police and support staff in my local area who have been utterly brilliant, and get my unquestioned support, spreading into the Constabulary as a whole, such that my instinct is now to support their good work rather than, not so long ago, to have a very negative attitude.  The police in this area do an excellent job and it is due to their efforts that it is relatively crime free.  But statisticians will look, see the lack of crime and see the need to cut staff here.  Errrr … no-oh! The REASON there is so little crime is BECAUSE the police are here and do such a good job.

In Holsworthy in February there was a massive 21 “crimes” including 10 anti-social behaviour orders. 1 burglary, 3 violent crimes and 7 “others” … a veritable crime wave! I wonder if the ASB’s push it up from a low crime area (2%) to a below average crime area (because the figures are 2.9%).  But not so long ago, we did have a growing drugs problem and its associated crimes.  Crime was on the increase. The police have done a magnificent job here.  And it is down to the police, not to the criminals who have suddenly decided to behave themselves or to move away of their own volition.

Get rid of Torridge and pay for the policing (they want to cut)  of the whole of Devon and Cornwall – that’s an area which contains the second largest county in the country, and is as far from west to east as it is from the eastern end of Devon to London (and have £9 million to spare over the four years).  The money we waste on Torridge, serving just 65,000 people, could cover all of that – that’s approximately 1.5 million people – 1.5 million benefiting from the sacrifice 65,000 would have to make in saying goodbye to Torridge.  Can we bring ourselves to do that?  That’s 700 officers and 500 support staff having vital jobs by sacrificing 270 at Torridge.  Which would you rather have?  1 staff member for every 240 people in Torridge, or 1 police officer for every 428 people, cut to 1 for every 535 people?

Get rid of another authority and pay for solid economic regeneration in areas which provide real jobs not admin. All you need is the right people being employed in the right positions.  You don’t need local authorities if you have proper management in a more central position. The type of government is not at issue.  Any form of government is open to corruption and mismanagement.  But employ the right people and any form of government can be made to work to the benefit of those it is supposed to serve (… oh, and that’d be us, not our servants).

Conclusion

Of course, the police are doing everything wrong, aren’t they?  They should be taking a leaf out of the banker’s handbook.  If they let crime spiral out of control, the chief constable will get a multi-million pound bonus and we will have to have more police, not less because everyone is so frightened.  And then, of course, we’d have to bring in the army to assist, which would solve that problem as well.  There ya go, you see … Simples!

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In the grand scheme of things

It has annoyed me for some time that scientists, particularly physicists, teach stuff as fact when it is nothing but a belief system.  Dark Matter is the current example.  It used to be aether.  It used to be that time and space were flat.  It used to be that the world was flat.

When we go back that far, we get into the authority of The Church and The Church is blamed for all the ills of war and internal conflicts.  But The Church was not responsible for this.  The Church was not responsible for the witch trials, or the Inquisition or the torture of any who spoke out against Earth as the centre of the universe.  It was the people who wanted to impose their values on others who did all this.  When these value systems were overtly religious, then, of course, they would enter The Church and use it as a power base.  These days they become scientists, politicians, teachers and local government administrators.

They might not get out the thumb screws these days, but they have plenty of other ways of making sure we don’t speak out.  Worst comes to the worst, they hit you with an ASBO.  They are the same people.  They have not advanced because they advocate peaceful means of silencing their opponents.  Do not doubt that if thumb screws were available they would use them.  Because they are those people.  They are the cardinals and the bishops who sanctioned death and torture and who imposed their value system on the rest of us.

It doesn’t matter how good a belief system may be, if it is imposed on people, that is the telling feature which unifies all those who have imposed their belief on the rest of us throughout history.  They are all as bad as the worst of them.  So when the local authority tells us they will not tolerate … or they have a policy of … (some good and noble thing) they immediately corrupt that good and noble thing into a poisonous act of the imposition of values.  When the council says “We believe in …” they are citing their creed and announcing to us all that this is the belief system they will be imposing on us all.

We can laugh at them and leave them to their psychotic little worlds, detached from reality and believing themselves to be important people, when, in truth, history will forget every single one of them as it fails to record the activity of every ant, every flea, every bacterium and virus.  Unfortunately, they constitute over a quarter of the working population and place themselves in the positions of influence; the law makers, the teachers, the tax collectors and those who decided where we can and cannot go in our daily lives.  We cannot so readily laugh at them as they intrinsically deserve because their psychosis defines the reality in which the rest of us have to live and if we do not want to live like that then it is we who are dubbed psychotic sociopaths.

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Human Resources

The head of Human Resources has a budget of £220,000 and a salary of £69,555 … that’s a salary 31.6% of budget.

The head of Human Resources has a budget £49,000 greater than the budget for economic regeneration.  Now that says a lot, doesn’t it?

Torridge District Council pays 8 people nearly 3 times the budget for economic regeneration.

Accountancy and Performance has a budget 4.5 x greater than the budget for economic regeneration.

Concessionary fares had a budget over twice the budget for economic regeneration.

The budget for Corporate Support is only £3,000 less than the budget for economic regeneration.

This really does clearly demonstrate where Torridge’s loyalties lie.  Torridge is out for Torridge District Council, not for the people of Torridge and certainly not for its economic regeneration.

 

 

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Special Projects Manager

The special projects manager is responsible for economic regeneration projects.  She has a salary of £63,345 and a budget of £171,000.  She has a salary of over a third of her budget.  If this was a business, how could a company possibly justify paying one of its staff wages equivalent to 37% of the budget?

I’ve got nothing against the special projects manager personally.  Don’t know the woman, never heard anything about her.  But this is an absolute disgrace.  You just do not pay someone the equivalent of 37% of the budget.  If you’re going to pay the woman that amount, then you increase the budget and make her salary worth the responsibility.

I mean, the chief exec has a budget of £39 million, if she had a salary 37% of her budget, she’d be on £14,443,000 a year!  That’s how astounding is this salary of the special projects manager.  Even if you just take the amount wasted on Torridge itself, without housing benefit, we’re looking at a budget of £18 million and a 37% salary of £6,660,000 and that’s in the Johnathon Woss domain.

 

 

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Putting things in perspective

It popped into my head last night, when I went to bed, that although the wages bill for Torridge is £8 million and something, the cost of employing those people goes up to £15 million.  Apparently there are 270 staff costing £15 million.  It’s a very expensive way to manipulate the unemployment figures.  That’s an average of £55,555 each.  And then this morning, I thought “Hang on. The chief exec gets double that.”  And THAT’S the average INCLUDING running costs.  The average wage is just under £31K.  The Chief is heading towards 4x the average wage.  And what we can actually do is take out £500K for the top 8 staff, leaving £7,855,000 divided by 262 which still leaves an average income of a fraction short of £30K.  And what that means is that these 8 people take £1,000 from each of those 262 staff to boost their own incomes.  The Chief exec alone takes £1,000 from 84 staff to boost her income from the average – and that’s for a part time job.  She and the Strategic director take £1,000 from over 150 staff to supplement their income.

And these people were, basically, saying to me, “You have to starve in order to pay our wages.” but that’s another story ….

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