After years of profligacy Sandwell Council cut jobs

November 11, 2010 11:57 AM

The BBC reports this morning that Sandwell Council will be axing 700 jobs as it seeks to claw back £67m, and though part of that gesture includes axing 13 top tier management jobs, it looks likely that the cuts will hit frontline services.


It’s hard not to feel sorry for the residents of Sandwell who’ll ultimately feel the impact of these measures; after all, they’ve endured years of almost unrivalled profligacy from their local authority.West-Mids-TPA-logo 


When the WMTPA launched back in July 2007 we immediately sought to draw attention to the terrific amount of money that had been wasted on The Public gallery in West Bromwich, a project Sandwell had already poured millions into over many years in spite of endless disasters and local opposition. Even now the £72m failure could well be mothballed (again!) and bosses are currently approaching the Arts Council with a begging bowl. It’s difficult to know the full extent of the council’s ‘investment’ in this white elephant  –  which has quite clearly been destined to fail from the outset –  but it’s fair to say it’d make a decent dent in the £67m they want save. As it stands the council are still setting aside £1.5m per year in running costs. It’s a just shame it’s taken so long for them to consider pulling the shutters down on this financial blackhole.


Though The Public stands (and will presumably will continue to stand empty) as a monument to Sandwell Council’s mismanagement and total lack of judgement, it’s by no means a lonely example of their out-and-out wastefulness.


Over the years, the WMTPA has catalogued their, quite frankly, insulting use of public funds, including (amongst many others!):


- Their scheme to give free golf tuition to course vandals, much to the chagrin of respectable local golfers
- A gimmicky project that sent characters such as the ‘Rapping Robot’ and ‘Eco Girl’ into schools to teach them about recycling and the environment
- The unbelievable decision to send their then Chief Executive, Allison Fraser, on a Scientology-inspired ‘self-awareness course’ at a luxury resort in Florida
- The bizarre, misguided and badly executed ‘Sandwell Faith Trail’
- The now notorious ‘Gipsy & Traveller History Month’ for local schools
A Simpson’s-style cartoon called ‘The Savewells’ intended to patronise/give advice to local residents on how to save money (the irony is not lost)
- No less than £14k spent on a two-day course led by a ‘motivational speaker’ specialising in ‘whole braining training’


And these are just a few examples amongst many that have been dug out by the local press, angry residents and the WMTPA. How many other similarly wacky/costly extravagances passed below the radar is really anyone’s guess...


It seems obvious that for quite some time there’s been a pretty reckless attitude toward the public purse, and these few examples are surely indicative greater problems in terms of spending.  So when they talk about making savings and cutting back on provisions, you could forgive local residents for emitting steam from their ears.


Let’s not forget, this is one of the poorest Boroughs in the country. I hope the friendly and good-humoured Black Country residents would forgive me for saying that large parts of the place are rundown, verging on derelict.  When, back in 2007, we asked them what improvements they’d like to see they cited very simple things – a swimming pool, a cinema, some recognisable stores on their high street. The things most towns take for granted.


Instead they have a cavernous £72m black and pink blob with no recognisable function, and are facing the prospect of a reduction in the services they pay handsomely for.


The BBC reports this morning that Sandwell Council will be axing 700 jobs as it seeks to claw back £67m, and though part of that gesture includes axing 13 top tier management jobs, it looks likely that the cuts will hit frontline services.


It’s hard not to feel sorry for the residents of Sandwell who’ll ultimately feel the impact of these measures; after all, they’ve endured years of almost unrivalled profligacy from their local authority.West-Mids-TPA-logo 


When the WMTPA launched back in July 2007 we immediately sought to draw attention to the terrific amount of money that had been wasted on The Public gallery in West Bromwich, a project Sandwell had already poured millions into over many years in spite of endless disasters and local opposition. Even now the £72m failure could well be mothballed (again!) and bosses are currently approaching the Arts Council with a begging bowl. It’s difficult to know the full extent of the council’s ‘investment’ in this white elephant  –  which has quite clearly been destined to fail from the outset –  but it’s fair to say it’d make a decent dent in the £67m they want save. As it stands the council are still setting aside £1.5m per year in running costs. It’s a just shame it’s taken so long for them to consider pulling the shutters down on this financial blackhole.


Though The Public stands (and will presumably will continue to stand empty) as a monument to Sandwell Council’s mismanagement and total lack of judgement, it’s by no means a lonely example of their out-and-out wastefulness.


Over the years, the WMTPA has catalogued their, quite frankly, insulting use of public funds, including (amongst many others!):


- Their scheme to give free golf tuition to course vandals, much to the chagrin of respectable local golfers
- A gimmicky project that sent characters such as the ‘Rapping Robot’ and ‘Eco Girl’ into schools to teach them about recycling and the environment
- The unbelievable decision to send their then Chief Executive, Allison Fraser, on a Scientology-inspired ‘self-awareness course’ at a luxury resort in Florida
- The bizarre, misguided and badly executed ‘Sandwell Faith Trail’
- The now notorious ‘Gipsy & Traveller History Month’ for local schools
A Simpson’s-style cartoon called ‘The Savewells’ intended to patronise/give advice to local residents on how to save money (the irony is not lost)
- No less than £14k spent on a two-day course led by a ‘motivational speaker’ specialising in ‘whole braining training’


And these are just a few examples amongst many that have been dug out by the local press, angry residents and the WMTPA. How many other similarly wacky/costly extravagances passed below the radar is really anyone’s guess...


It seems obvious that for quite some time there’s been a pretty reckless attitude toward the public purse, and these few examples are surely indicative greater problems in terms of spending.  So when they talk about making savings and cutting back on provisions, you could forgive local residents for emitting steam from their ears.


Let’s not forget, this is one of the poorest Boroughs in the country. I hope the friendly and good-humoured Black Country residents would forgive me for saying that large parts of the place are rundown, verging on derelict.  When, back in 2007, we asked them what improvements they’d like to see they cited very simple things – a swimming pool, a cinema, some recognisable stores on their high street. The things most towns take for granted.


Instead they have a cavernous £72m black and pink blob with no recognisable function, and are facing the prospect of a reduction in the services they pay handsomely for.


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