A scheme by Birmingham City Council was exposed in today’s Birmingham Post by former Minister for the West Midlands MP Liam Byrne as a complete waste of money.
The 22-week clean streets campaign cost the council £20,000 to organise despite only issuing a few penalties, each at a cost of £300 to the taxpayer. What is more, half of the 68 people issued with £60 penalty tickets have refused to pay them according to the newspaper.
The MP issued a Freedom of Information request directly to Stephen Hughes, the Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, as a means of following-up on this expensive project. He also discovered that there are five different departments within the council with responsibility for cleaning: regulatory services, environmental services, highways, leisure services, and the housing department.
We can see from this just how massively and expensively counterproductive many of these local authority-run schemes can be, and yet, if interested individuals didn’t file Freedom of Information requests, Birmingham City Council could easily bury their costly mistakes away.
It certainly doesn’t seem as though the £20,000 of our money that BCC invested resulted in cleaner streets, nor did this 'blitz' even raise revenue through fines (usually an underhand way of topping up the coffers). This £20,000 just fell into a black-hole.
Most people would consider £20,000 a large amount of money, and even though those people (clearly) don’t hold the purse strings at Birmingham City Council those who do are going to have to become increasingly stringent and increasingly sensitive to this fact if they want to avoid offending local residents with this cavalier attitude towards public finances.