Friday, September 12, 2008

£49,000 - the cost of local Tory incompetence

Regular blog readers will recall that I got into an exchange of words recently with Tory Councillors Mike and Gill Cartwright over the Arriva bus changes.

I suggested that pressure should be applied to Arriva to reverse the decision. They should meet the cost of restoring services and not Council Taxpayers. I was then excoriated by the Cartwrights, who demanded that their Harrowgate Hill residents couldn't wait, and the Council should "dig deep" into its pockets now. Gill Cartwright even accused me of naievety in believing that Arriva would make any changes without heftry Council subsidies.

Our online spat even made the Echo.

Of course, we now know that the pressure applied to Arriva, including by our local MP Alan Milburn, forced Arriva into a partial rethink. Service has been restored of the 6a and 6b on a Friday and Saturday night, and on a Sunday. There are also better links into the Harrowgate Farm development as well.

So had the Council followed the Tories' demands, it would have been local residents who would have paid for the changes, and not Arriva. I've now had this costed by the officers, who believe that had the Council tendered for the changes, it would have had to shell out about £49,000!

Increasingly, the Tories will say anything to grab a few headlines - Darlington residents should be aware that these glib demands and promises come with price tags attached.


miketually said...

It's Word of the Day time again!


1. To tear or wear off the skin of; abrade. See synonyms at chafe.

2. To censure strongly; denounce: an editorial that excoriated the administration for its inaction.

The latter I hope!

Anonymous said...

A mere drop in the ocean when it comes to the cost of incompetence by labour ............. pedestrian Heart, ETC ..........

Darlington Councillor said...

So that's all right then!

In fact, neither the Pedestrian Heart nor ETC overspends were the result of "Labour incompetence" - remember there were thorough cross-party investigations into both issues by the relevant Scrutiny Committee.

The opposition seem to think that they simply have to resurrect these 2 issues and any madcap spending schemes they might have will somehow be justified.

I think the people of Darlington are a bit cannier than that, and reckless pledges by the Tories will hurt the party in the long run.

And thanks, Mike. I have tio confess that I was only half certain of the meaning of the word when I used it.....

miketually said...

Thats ohkay, I lern too speak and rite gud buy luking up wurdz from ur blog.

Mark Scott said...

In fact, neither the Pedestrian Heart nor ETC overspends were the result of "Labour incompetence"

So who was to blame? The ETC went way over budget and months over schedule, Why?

Anonymous said...

Another councillor blamed for road overspend
5:16pm Friday 25th April 2008

By Neil Macfarlane »

A SECOND cabinet member at Darlington Borough Council has been targeted for criticism over a £1.9m overspend on a new road project.

An inquiry report published this week revealed that the authority mismanaged the Eastern Transport Corridor scheme from the beginning by failing to include crucial costs in the original estimate, and bungling the contract with the construction firm.

The current Labour portfolio holder for transport, Coun David Lyonette, has been lambasted by opposition councillors for his role in managing the scheme.

Liberal Democrat members now have their sights set on his predecessor - Coun Nick Wallis, who was in charge of transport until he was moved to health and leisure in August last year.

Coun Martin Swainston, the leader of the Lib Dem group, said Coun Wallis had outlined his vision for the scheme on his personal website.

"It's very clear that Coun Wallis was responsible for this project - he says as much on his own blog," said Coun Swainston.

"I am wondering if these problems were already known and if that was why he was moved from this brief. It was a position he had held for several years.

"Maybe the cabinet knew about the overspend early on and that is why there was this re-jigging."

In a diary entry on Coun Wallis's webpage he is pictured in the cab of a JCB when work began on the site in February last year.

He writes: "Pictures of councillors in diggers at the start of building projects are the cliched staples of the local press.

"Still, I have to confess I felt a real buzz when I got behind the wheel of this monster.

"Give me a chequered shirt and a utility belt and I am Bob the Builder."

On his re-appointment as the cabinet member for transport in May, he wrote: "I have to say I'm delighted - the coming 12 months will see several key projects come to fruition, notably the Eastern Transport Corridor.

"Overseeing the completion date and budget will be a key task.

"All in all it should be an exciting year."

He was moved from the post three months later, but Coun Wallis said last night that the switch was not related to the overspend.

"The idea that I was moved on from the post because of the problems with the Eastern Transport Corridor is baloney," he said.

Councillor Gill Cartwright said...

Other areas of the town have subsidised routes, remind the readers what the cost is for the rest of the town to have bus services at taxpayers expense?
What i cant understand is why you think that our ward does not deserve to have bus services, yet the council subsidises services to other wards?
And, readers might be interested to know that the cabinet has just agreed £140,000 TO REMOVE speed humps from Skerne Park, how much did these humps cost to install and how many other areas of the town will need funding to remove speed humps at the request of Arriva. So Arriva get at least 140k of taxpayers money to allow them use there new low level buses.Resulting in one area of town getting new buses and money spent on highways but Harrowgate Hill does not even deserve a bus service.
Does not make sense.

Ian White said...

Ironically we were told at Tueday's Parish meeting we in Hurworth cannot have speed bumps or traffic calming as there have been no deaths, does anyone out there know how many deaths are needed to warrant a speed bump?

I wonder in light of your post if there might be some going cheap at DBC's depot we in Hurworth could have?

Chris Close said...

I wonder at the neck of Councillor Wallis claiming Tories waste money when the Council is having to cut millions from the Social Care budget due to unnecessary and silly overspending on management costs and now having to charge the most vulnerable people in our society to pay for their care.

What about giving back a third of each Councillor's 'allowances' - this would enable the Council not to levy the disabled and the elderly?

Councillor Gill Cartwright said...

Perhaps it is worth asking if there any going spare at the depot but then again, with the lack of ability to future plan they may want to keep them to put them back again!!
It does seem a slight bit ironic, a Labour councillor blaming the Tories for wasting money, given there recent track record. I wonder if any readers can go back even further to highlight previous shining example of money wastage?
What puzzles me also that how can we waste money when do not control the budget. Think Nick must be suffering with a bit of amnesia, unless they are considering going into coalition???

miketually said...

"It does seem a slight bit ironic, a Labour councillor blaming the Tories for wasting money, given there recent track record."

As ironic as the Tories campaigning for buses?

Councillor Gill Cartwright said...

Why is it ironic us campaigning for the needs of the residents who elected us?
Is that not our job?

miketually said...

It is admirable that you're representing the people who elected you.

However, it is ironic because it was the Conservative government, under Margaret Thatcher, who deregulated bus services on 26 October 1986, as part of the Transport Act 1985.

Without deregulation, the bus companies wouldn't be in the position to withdraw services like they have.

Chris Close said...

Mike this is not an argument you will win.

Labour are the new Tories so anything they do now mirrors Thatcherism which is not where the Tory party appear to be now.

They have woken up and smelt the coffee.

My view is watch out for the Lib dems who are now catching the mood in the country along with the Greens.

Bye bye labour....and bye bye sad never mind.

Councillor Gill Cartwright said...

That was 1985, it is now 2008 with a Labour Darlington council and a Labour Government. If they did not like the policy they would have changed it. That simple.

miketually said...

Unfortunately, the Labour government also believe that market forces are the best way to handle services, so we're stuck with the deregulated service and having to believe Arriva when they say "that route's not commercially viable but we're not showing you any numbers, can we have some cash please?"

It's a shame that the market's solution would be for the people to either move house or buy a car.

Given that "the market" is having trouble handling itself at the moment, I'm not sure it's the best way to deal with school and public transport. (Unless you're a shareholder, of course; it's the best way then.)

Councillor Gill Cartwright said...

Yes agree.
It is a shame that the Labour Group will not work with us to provide a solution that will benefit local people. This is not a political issue it is a people issue.
You are strangely silent. You have not answered my questions?
That can only mean one thing....

Anonymous said...

why dont you all just go and try out the buses for a month and come back on the blog to make some comments on the facts of darlington transport from your own practical experiences.

You waste your time bantering, not representing your constituents nor having the FACTS to hand. Your arrogance that you all know better than the other parties just infuriates people. This fury then actually spills over the top and becomes apathy. Then you blame us for not joining into consultations etc. DONT YOU ALL SEE WHAT YOU ARE DOING? It certainly doesnt win you votes. If you have ever thought you were doing a grand job then you are deluded. Announcing that you have sent for street scene to pick up an amount of litter or fly tipping only takes street scene away from their routine maintenance to HELP a counillor. Residents requests go to the back of the pile. CHANGE IT AND CHANGE IT NOW. OPEN YOUR EYES EVERYONE OF YOU COUNCILLORS BUT EVEN MORE SO THE ONES WITH THE POWER TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM.