Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Subway madness!


A guest post by Dan Haycocks

Firstly, I'd like to thank Daz for allowing me to make a guest post on the Bracknell Blog.  I don't run a blog myself, and I admire the effort and commitment it takes to keep a blog current as Daz and many others do, so having the opportunity to reach a wider audience through his hard work is very much appreciated.

Right, on to the story at hand.  Regular readers might remember me – I'm the amateur film maker/thorn in the side of the elected, who stood in the general election against MP's abusing their expenses, and in particular, our ex local MP who helped himself in royal style.  I've been concentrating on work since then, but something recently caught my eye, so I had to investigate.

Visitors to Bracknell town centre might be delighted to note the new mural that has been painted on the subway between the town centre and Bracknell and Wokingham College.  Much like a visit to Sea World in Florida but without leaving Blighty, residents can enjoy an 'undersea tunnel' of fish, turtles, sharks and rays as they make their way through to the shopping area, and I'm sure the children in our community enjoy it greatly.  What follows calls into question the wisdom of this work, but I want to be clear from the start – I have no objection at all with making our environment a nice place to be – if we have the funds of course.

One thing puzzled me, though – when cuts are being made to social care for the elderly, teaching places for local schools, social support for the vulnerable and many other services that I think most compassionate residents would consider 'essential', is it right that we're spending big money painting subways with such elaborate paint schemes?  So, inevitably, a Freedom of Information request was submitted, to understand what the cost to the taxpayer was.  Here's the initial response: FoI1 LINK

From my observations, it took the company performing the painting about 4 weeks to complete the job, and there were between two and four decorators working at any one time.  I calculated that if it took four people four weeks, and they were paid £500/week each, it would come to around £6,000 in wages, and then some more for the materials and paint – still a silly amount of money to spend, but I thought I must be overestimating.  You can imagine my surprise, then, when the final figure came through - £16,635.  Or, in real terms, a teaching assistant for a year, a community nurse, or perhaps two part time carers for the elderly or vulnerable.  And all for one subway?!

Now, I could do a Victor Meldrew as I did with the Andrew 'Fingers' Mackay episode and have a good rant about the stupidity of this and try and shame the council, but I don't think that would make any difference.  In the cold light of day, it's pretty clear that this funding was allocated to the responsible department, and they were spending their budget, as they're told to, in isolation from other departments.  So I thought to myself, do something positive – get a meeting with the head of the department responsible, explain in simple terms how I understand things to be working with regards to departmental budgets, ask him or her to acknowledge that spending this much decorating a subway while we're reducing the 'essential' public services seems a bit loopy (a polite way of acknowledging the madness), and then ask him or her to join me in making an effort to change the way council funding is controlled.  Clearly, if departmental budgets are the reason that spending this much renovating a subway is OK during times of austerity, then the process has to be changed.  I can't, as a compassionate human, believe anyone would think that having our elderly die alone through lack of resources, children not getting the education they need, or social workers being too busy to save the abused child, is acceptable when £16,635 is spent painting a subway.

I did pass the FoI response to a few friends and asked them to comment.  My good friend Dom suggested alternative ways of achieving a revamped subway, such as allowing the art department in the college to take ownership of it and allow the students to use it as a gallery for their work.  I loved this idea, and it reeks of 'Big Society' so I contacted Lorraine Zutshi, the head of the Arts team at the college.  She informed me that they used to be invited to decorate the subways, but this time round they weren't consulted at all.  She also noted that she'd be delighted to be given the opportunity again, as they have a Community Art element to their syllabus – perfect!

Or perhaps having the long term unemployed engaged to paint them, allowing them to gain work skills, a bit of confidence, the feeling of doing something worthy with their time, and something to add to their CV's.  I also had many people comment that a coat of paint would have sufficed, if indeed the subway painting is that important.  Some also suggested using Community Service to get the job done and get them giving something back to the community.

For me, however, this issue runs deeper.  I do appreciate that this is one small spend the council have made that seems to defy logic – I'm sure there are plenty more, and to be frank, I don't have the time or patience to uncover them all.  But that doesn't matter – the important thing here, in my opinion, is to have the council think about how they organise their budgets, and make sure that this type of spend occurs after those services we all need (rather than those we would like) are funded.  I think most other taxpayers would feel the same – at least my straw poll seems to suggest that's the case.

I therefore made an appointment to meet with Steve Loudoun, the Head of Environment and Public Protection, on Monday 6th June at 3pm.  I took my camera along, and a copy of the memo sent by Bob Neill MP, the Under Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government, a link to which is here.  In his memo, Bob makes clear that for open, transparent politics, it's perfectly acceptable for local bloggers and citizen journalists to film meetings with council staff, and to publish the film online.  I genuinely had no intention of putting Steve on the spot, so I asked him for permission to film the meeting, which he declined.  I then brought up the memo and he dismissed that straight away too.  When I then asked if we could plan a subsequent meeting where he would be happy to talk to camera, he also refused.  Hmmmm – so much for transparency and open government!  Perhaps I broke the rules by filming him refusing to be filmed, but I did do the right thing and switched it off once it was clear he was not going to agree to be filmed that day.  I wanted to be sure I'd given him every opportunity to decline and meet at a later date if that was his preference, with evidence of the same. 

One other oddity with the brief meeting I had with Steve – he presented me with a response to question 4 of my FoI (FoI2 LINK), after the compliance officer had declared that the data wasn't held by the council and couldn't be provided – why is it one has to insist and be pushy to get answers to FoI requests?  Or are they just routinely dismissing requests as a matter of course, showing more contempt to the residents of the borough?  I think he probably thought he could hand over that answer to question 4, and that was his final word on the matter.  Why are questions so difficult to deal with for public servants?  You can see for yourself that there's nothing in his response to suggest he's thinking of anything outside his own remit.  Oddly enough, he also mentions that 'there is no specific budget to repaint any other underpasses in the current fiscal year', yet the same company are painting the one outside Easthampstead House as I type!  Has he got a grip on his own department?  Who knows….

I don't want to get on the bad side of Steve.  I'm convinced that as a compassionate man, he can, in his heart, see that spending £16,635 on subway decorating is madness when we're cutting essential services, but he's doing what he needs to do to be an effective Head of Environment and Public Protection.   He might have a family, children to feed, the pressures we all have in our daily lives, so maybe he doesn't feel he can make that much difference without risking his position.

However, what he's not doing, along with other departmental heads at his level, is arguing that if the system allows this to happen, then the system must be broken and needs to be fixed.  I wanted to suggest to him that this wasn't a witch hunt, or an embarrassing episode online to shame him into acting, but he refused me that opportunity.  I honestly wanted to find an ally in the management hierarchy at BFBC who I could work alongside to try and change the systems and processes that can allow this to happen, and simply out of what I think is a reasonable, responsible, mature and compassionate need to see the right thing being done with the limited resources the council has, but Steve had decided before I'd even been given the chance to explain that he wasn't going to play ball.

I should know by now – video cameras and those spending tax payers money aren't happy bedfellows, and I can appreciate that he might not want to be 'on the record' with this somewhat controversial FoI response, but then what about open government?  What about accountability?  If Steve is comfortable spending this much money in times of austerity, why isn't he happy to talk about it on camera?  I'm assuming he has nothing to hide?  And lets not forget who actually pays for this – you and me, and Steve if he lives in Bracknell!!

I'm going to send Steve an email, asking him for another meeting, this time on camera.  I'll also send him the memo from Bob Neill in the hope that he'll have a change of heart, and join me in a campaign to redress the processes that can allow this to happen.

I'm also not daft – if Steve isn't happy about talking on camera, then obviously he feels uncomfortable with being accountable and transparent which, as a public servant, is his responsibility, so I'm also planning to write to Bob Neill, and ask him to remind Steve of his obligations.  Anything less than complete openness would be an insult to those who have lost essential services, contempt for the council taxpayer, and ignorance of central government policy.  And I can't believe Steve is naïve to all that!

If you'd like to join me in an effort to turn the big BFBC ship round to serving the community, rather than it's own processes and methods, then please pipe up and drop me an email – the more of us shout about this, the more BFBC can't ignore, dismiss and refuse to engage.  After all, do you feel happy losing your important public services so that you can have fancy subways?  Me neither….


28 comments:

  1. Perhaps you can help by identifying what is an essential service and what services are not?
    Taking on a council official is not perhaps not the way to go.
    The direction of the council is set by the Elected Members - They are the one to hold responsible, including me.
    I and other are making sure that we do not jepordise out front line services. We want to see our residents put first.

    Crime is certainly something that need tackling, and the prevention and removal of graffiti is part of the deal.
    It has been shown by studies that a good envrionment resluts in less crime e.g. see Graffiti and litter lead to more street crime>
    I will look into the costs of the anti-grafitti type stuff, and what is involved in creating a surface that is write proof or whatever.
    Graffiti costs everyone money - just put "cost graffiti councils" into Google and see what you get.

    I blogged some time back about what it is that Councils "Have" to do.
    Here(Local services - What is needed?) and Here
    What it is that a council must do? What a good council should do, and what could be left out, if residents don't want it?
    Councils are legally obliged to fulfil their "Statutory Duties". (there are at least 1,294)

    The questions I asked before were:
    What sort of things should your council be obliged to do?
    How much do you want to pay for those things?

    What other questions should we be asking?
    Please do engage with BFC.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I assumed £2k per underpass. The point that the 'big society' could of been involved is a good one. Surely if they could be supervised by someOne from the arts centre or college then this would of been a much better use of resources.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dan - a brilliant post. You state your case so well.
    The arrogance of the unelected BFC officials who randomly spend our money is breathtaking. You are right to bring them to account.
    Electors just do not believe that elected Councillors have any control over the BFC whatever. It is apparent in the way BFC ignore consultations and reject local campaign aims.
    The repost by Alvin is so parochial, it is beyond credibility, and his arrogant statements indirectly support your case against the spend-thrift unrepresentative and out-of-control bureaucrats and councillors running Bracknell.
    In fact I enjoy the current 'paintings' on the subways as I walk or cycle through to the degenerate Bracknell towncenter. I do like public art, and would sponsor reasonable projects from my own over-taxed pocket.
    However that may not be necessary because talented local artists would do work to enhance our environment for the price of materials, a pint of beer/glass of wine and a good write-up in the News/Times.
    Why does art cost so much when local government gets involved? Quarter of a million pounds subsidy from BFC to SHP -do me a favour! SHP has all the assets to be a commercial enterprise in their own; but that is more challenging than just taking the subsidy isn’t it?
    We must stop BFC spending just coz there is a pile of cash from tax-payers for them to disperse.
    Keep up the good work Dan.
    Regards Realaler
    (Realaler has stood for election to BFC three times, so it’s not just a random blog reply)
    (MacKay expenses meeting 2010 – Kerith centre-Sky TV-I was there -right behind you on the balcony)

    ReplyDelete
  4. "parochial, it is beyond credibility, and his arrogant statements"
    Explain please?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Alvin

    I do see where you're coming from on the reducing crime bit, but what would reduce crime more - a subway paint job, or a police constable for 6 months? I'd imagine at a time when the police are having to make savings of £12m, and only yesterday it was reported that 82 front line officers are being lost, they'd also find your justification for this a little hard to swallow.

    As for what I think are essential services, my broad definition would be this; if a reduction in spending will directly cause suffering in the community, then it's probably an essential service. You might be able to argue that reducing crime reduces suffering, but then my point above applies. You might also ask if education falls into this definition, and maybe it doesn't, but I think most people recognise that education is a vital service.

    Finally, if you are indeed playing some part in the budget decision process, really, you should be ashamed of the statement 'we put residents first' when clearly, given this story, that's not the case. Please, take this opportunity, drop your ego and defensiveness - call all your councillor colleagues, and ask them to read this, then act, and do it now.

    Oh, and every time I do try and engage with BFC, I'm either ignored or dismissed. Look at the Mackay thing - 21 registered letters and not one reply - in fact, threatened by the police for harassment of the local conservatives, just for asking awkward questions. It simply goes to show how BFC and those who are elected will pretend to be open and transparent, when really it's a closed shop, and woe betide anyone who might criticise,

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dan - a belated "well done" for trying to shame our expenses-fiddling ex-MP Andrew Mackay and his cronies. I still don't understand why he wasn't prosecuted given the clear-cut nature of the fiddling (claiming the 2nd home allowance for both family homes) and the amount involved (£140,000). I'm deeply suspicious of the motives of politicians and that includes our local councillors. Mackay's fiddling was blatant and on an industrial scale but I didn't hear a word of criticism or remorse from the local Conservative party, I can only conclude that they didn't see anything wrong in what he did! Not sure that I trust people who can't tell right from wrong with large amounts of public money.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think the problem here is simply the madness in which council appear to operate against how the public would run a business. there must be a better way of spending budgets and getting out elected officials to reallocate the spend in a more sensible way. Same all the way up to national government.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Whoever Anonymous is, please do give me a call, and we can discuss things.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Alvin, I think the point of commentating on a Blog is to have a conversation in a public forum. I, as I'm sure others, would very much like to her your responses to some of the concerns raised on here.

    Please may I ask, for the sake of coherent and reasonable debate, that you address some of the very reasonable, concise and well articulated points that have been made in this Blog - rather than debating adjacent or umbrella policies which evade the points at hand.

    Come on Alvin, please engage with this debate in an open circle with us, not dismissive and evasive on the outside.

    Kind Regards,

    Sheep

    ReplyDelete
  10. Trying to comment. But unable

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sheep? Or is it "Anonymous"
    I am trying to give a response to the issues here, but, there are a lot of interrelated items.

    The council does not control the Police. The TVP issue a precept to the council which then appears as a separate item on the council tax bill. There is a proposal that Thames Valley police merge with Hampshire, and as far as I am aware this might at the most mean 82 posts going over a number of years, but the forces working together means that efficiencies of scale could be obtained.
    What the council does do, is to participate in the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP). There has been a reduction in crime year on year in Bracknell. This is in part to due to proactive measures such as removing graffiti as soon a possible
    The council passes money on to schools, who set their own budgets and manage their own situations. Currently schools can buy into services provided by the council. The schools budget is basically set by the government, and the council contributes educational services. I am not sure what will happen in the future. If all schools decide decide to take the academy route then the council would be out of the loop entirely. A problem might be that as each school stops taking up services by the council that the remaining schools become very expensive to support.

    It was asked if was possible to allow the art department in the college to take ownership of subways and allow the students to use it as a gallery for their work. Yes. This probably is possible, but would need someone to coordinate it. As I said above, I will look into what is needed to make paint graffiti proof. Someone would have to own this, cost it and implement it. Thing do not get done by wishes. Again having the long term unemployed do the above would require someone to coordinate that, buy the right materials etc.
    South Hill Park: The council provides them with a grant. SHP is not controlled by the council, but manages itself. The arts council is to withdraw all funding from SHP. Should BFC do likewise? Is it something that we can do without? Can we do without the grass cutting? Are libraries essential? How else could they be run? Have you considered how much time and resource is taken up with FOI requests?
    Please take a look at the "Transparency" section of the BFC website - You can see there what the council pays for.

    Cont...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Cont...

    I am hoping that with the passing of the Localism Bill that BFC will be able to do its job even better.
    "Local authorities' powers and responsibilities are defined by legislation. In simple terms, they can only do what the law says they can. Sometimes councils are wary of doing something new - even if they think it might be a good idea - because they are not sure whether they are allowed to in law, and are concerned about the possibility of being challenged in the courts."
    "The new general power will give councils more freedom to work with others in new ways to drive down costs. It will give them increased confidence to do creative, innovative things to meet local people's needs. "


    SO
    "Sheep" said:

    "Please may I ask, for the sake of coherent and reasonable debate, that you address some of the very reasonable, concise and well articulated points that have been made in this Blog."
    If I am not addressing the points that you would like addressing please state them one by one, so that I can then reply to each.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm sorry Alvin but you've merely explained some adjacent processes. There are, or should be, competent, capable and qualified human beings involved in these processes - I believe that's necessary so that we don't make basic common sense mistakes. I appreciate your explanation as to how this situation may have evolved but non of this belies the very simple question right at the heart of it......and it is a very simple question.

    Is £16,000 a reasonable amount of money to spend on painting a subway ?

    The next simple question is:

    Have the people managing the spend processes failed in their duty of care to spend our money wisely ?

    And the final, less simple, more debate topic is:

    Is it appropriate, for responsible, well paid, public officials or those managing our spends to simply hide behind process or procedure and not use common sense to execute their duties ? I'm afraid most of the excuses from the expense council seemed to be swept under the carpet under the banner of "Well I never broke any of the rules we invented"

    I rather imagine you will engage better with the 3rd point here as it's a more ambiguous debate than the other simple questions which so far have evade an answer ?

    Sheep

    ReplyDelete
  14. Q. Is £16,000 a reasonable amount of money to spend on painting a subway?
    A. I don’t know until I can get a breakdown of what had to be done.

    Q. Have the people managing the spend processes failed in their duty of care to spend our money wisely?
    A. I don’t know until I can get a breakdown of what had to be done.

    Q. Is it appropriate, for responsible, well paid, public officials or those managing our spends to simply hide behind process or procedure and not use common sense to execute their duties?
    A. If that is the case. No.

    Q. I'm afraid most of the excuses from the expense council seemed to be swept under the carpet under the banner of "Well I never broke any of the rules we invented".
    A. As I said we need to get rid of a lot of the rules and duties imposed over the last few years by the previous government, when councils were given ring fenced money to spend as they were told.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I cant believe that much was spent on a subway when as was pointed out there are many talented local artists who would no doubt lend their talents for such a worthy enterprise.

    Re Light Fingered Larry or rather Andrew Mckay - well he has got off relatively scott free but at least he is no more.

    What is troubling is that many of his acolytes remain - and on the council.

    One such person is Mary Ballin whose main job appeared to be keeping the diary for Mr Mckay and keeping constituents from ever getting anywhere near him.

    What is the situation with the new man Dr Lee?
    Does he hold surgeries as his predecessor never did is Mrs Ballin still holding the fort or rather pulling up the drawbridge if a constituent should show any interest in trying to talk to their Mp face to face?
    Rather on the lines of the a doctors receptionist who wishes to know all your symptoms before she allows you access to a Doctor?

    I hope and trust that the new broom has or will sweep out these old battleaxes and let some new thinking and manners onto BFC.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I see on Dr Lees home page that there is no mention of surgeries you have to write phone or email him.

    Why is it that Bracknell always gets MPs that a) dont live in Bracknell or
    B) have an aversion to actually meeting their constituents face to face?

    I note too that there is not one member of BFC that actually lives in Bracknell.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Alvin

    Its afair and understandable mistake to make, but you have again answered a different question. I have not referred to the Bracknell subway in question - so getting a breakdown of what had to be done is largely irrelevant.

    I'm trying to establish whether you are aligned to the thoughts of most the people here - I want to understand if you are in touch.

    I'll try again. Is £16k a reasonable amount to spend on PAINTING a subway ?

    I'm not asking whether the £16k spent on the Bracknell project was fair. As you say, we're not sure of the details.......yet. But that will come, so while this debate is happening I'd simply like your thoughts on that, as yet, unanswered a very simple question.

    So, let's test ones moral compass and ability to judge appropriate spend:

    Is £16k a reasonable amount to spend PAINTING a subway ? Not, all sorts of other work, let's asumme it was just painting.

    and

    If you find that it was just painting in the Bracknell subway and no structural work, will you join in the condemnation and lead a charge for reform to the best of your abilities ?

    Regards,

    Sheep

    ReplyDelete
  18. Reform is exactly what I am looking for.
    The way things work needs a complete overhaul.
    That is what I was asking in my blog post on the 9th March.
    http://alvin-finch.blogspot.com/2011/03/local-services-what-is-needed.html
    Local government bureaucrats have had to follow 74,000 pages of new rules and instructions handed down by Whitehall over the past decade.
    The council needs to do be doing what the people of Bracknell Forest want it to do.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Alvin

    Seriously, why won't you answer ?

    One last time. Please answer, it's really not difficult. I think I've been clear, polite and respectful - and I certainly don't think it's an unreasonable question to ask.

    "Is £16k a reasonable a reasonable amount to spend on PAINTING a subway"

    I was marginally impressed when you engaged with this blog but you are now being blatantly evasive around this very simple request and, dare I say, resorting to type. You even managed on the earlier posts to copy and repost my other questions whilst providing a response to them, so please, just answer the question.

    All it needs is a binary response "yes" or "no"

    "Is £16k a reasonable a reasonable amount to spend on PAINTING a subway"

    And forgive me Alvin, but do I think, given your position, that posting a blog asking what services should be provided is "leading a charge for reform" ?

    Erm...........no

    Maybe you could start the reform by answering the question.......

    Regards,

    Sheep

    ReplyDelete
  20. If it was PAINTING - No.
    A major subway in the town centre cannot be just PAINTED.
    Once I have the details of what had to be done in addition to PAINTING, I can decide whether the work was done for a reasonable cost.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I've got to pitch in here again. I agree, and I'm very grateful that Alvin is willing to engage in a public forum - my experience in pretty much every other interaction with the council has been the opposite, so I think Alvin should be thanked for at least giving his thoughts, and the frank, albeit qualified, No.

    However, I still feel the essential element to this is being missed - it doesn't matter what other work might have been needed, and might have contributed to the £16.635. It doesn't even matter if £16,635 was a reasonable cost for the work performed.

    The issue is simply - is it right we're paying that much money to decorate a subway, when we're laying off social workers, teaching assistants etc? Surely we should be thinking about either doing it at a fraction of that cost using the community, or not doing it at all, perhaps postponing the work until essential services are restored?

    Is subway decoration one of the statutory duties imposed by central government?

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  22. e are trying to market Bracknell to various investors in the Town centre,
    thus keeping the town in good order is critical at a time when we are trying to attract this investment.
    This subway is part of the gateway to a multi- million pound new building.
    As I said above there is also the "Broken Window" theory.

    "The Council seeks to keep the Borough clear of graffiti in the best interests of the economic vitality of the area and to help reduce the fear of crime."
    It may not be a statutory duty, but it is a very desirable aim.

    I understand that the council did send an e-mail to the college to get help from students with the mural.
    Apparently the college said they would get back.
    Someone also spoke with a person from the art dept about students designing the mural but nothing materialised.
    A previous time that students were used to paint walls took the entire summer holidays to complete,
    but the council still had to make the surface ready, and complete the graffiti covering.
    It seems that monitoring the health and safety of students came at no small cost.
    There are also public safety issues in a busy thoroughfare that the council HAS to consider.

    We have lost no essential services.
    The issue is not simple.
    It has been shown that a good place to live keep people in good health.
    We have to spend money on prevention as well as cures.
    Spending money on preventing stuff happening is so much cheaper than spending money on the mess that would ensue.

    I have not yet got the costs for the thing, but I suspect that it was probably far cheaper to use professionals totally,
    rather than employ people to supervise whoever might be involved, and implement the Health and Safety stuff that we have so come to love.(not)

    ReplyDelete
  23. How does painting a subwway bring investors to Bracknell?
    The whole town centre is a disaster still awaiting it regeneration neither fish nor fowl.
    When is this suposed to get off the ground?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Dan, Fantastic Blog and a point well made. Bracknell Conservative Councillors are returned every election and are safe seats and are fairly conplacement in their attitudes. We need to constantly challenge their decision making to achieve good value for money for our rates payable. I had until recently a conservative councillor as a neighbour until they moved. Whilst they lived in our street we had the most manicured common gardens and regularly cleaned streets. Since they moved its all stopped? When you asked the question of the council when will they clean our road, they say soon! and no one turns up

    Keep up the good work Dan

    ReplyDelete
  25. Someone was asking about our new MP Dr. Philip Lee. The latest edition of Private Eye has a article about him. Oh dear, it doesn't make pleasant reading. Apparently he is still earning a packet as a doctor as well as picking up his generous MP's salary and allowances. The ghost of Andrew Mackay still hangs over Bracknell...

    Perhaps Dr. Lee would like to comment on the private Eye article, or perhaps he'd like to voice an opinion on the NHS changes, or comment on anything at all...

    ReplyDelete
  26. Richard, Sandhurst25 June 2011 12:13

    I've seen the Private Eye piece (page 8 of the June 24th edition). I'm not impressed. Earning an extra £40,000 as a freelance doctor working in Wokingham and Farnham surgeries seems to go against his pre-election promise to do the best for his Bracknell constituents.

    Perhaps his website banner should be changed from:
    "Caring for Bracknell Constituency"
    to
    "Caring for Wokingham Constituency"
    or
    "Caring for (myself at the expense of) Bracknell Constituency"

    If you want to be a doctor, be a doctor. If you want to be an MP, be an MP. Or is the Private Eye article all lies?

    ReplyDelete
  27. 16K for painting an subway? What should councillors be obliged to do? You could start by building some stocks and then locking yourselves into said stocks so taxpayers can hurl rotten vegetables at you for wasting our money. The same goes for the huge sums that are wasted "polishing a turd" which is the way I think of all of the plastic flower boxes that adorn the town every year. I've been here almost 10 years and every year, more empty offices spring up and the council spends more money on temporary tat when for the amount it takes in tax revenue, it could be making slow incremental improvements of a more permanent nature.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi Alvin

    Any updates on your findings? I'm keen to understand if your colleagues have any reasoning behind the £16k?

    Thanks!

    Dan

    ReplyDelete