For many years, as the Taxpayers Alliance has been actively campaigning to push back the wasteful tides of spending at countless government departments, councils and quangos that exist in the UK, one relatively peaceful, rugby loving nation has stood idly by, watching the funds of the public pocket cascade into the abyss as if were Angel Falls itself. Yes it’s Wales.
Now the Coalition government has announced its intentions with the devolved nations, the Welsh Assembly has to finally use some of its budgetary clout. Instead of resorting to the culture of wasteful spending, it can now reclaim the initiative and put the past ten or so years behind it.
This in itself is an absolute shame. On paper, the Welsh Assembly could be a method of securing less Whitehall bureaucracy, saving millions through redevelopment. Yet in 2008, nine years after the Assembly was created, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil had some of the largest percentages of workless households in the UK, both at 24.0%, closely followed by Swansea with 23%.
To be a little more exclusive, let’s focus on Cardiff, the home of the Welsh Assembly and the Millennium Stadium. It was once home to one of the world’s largest ports and the vehicle of the British Empire. It is now home to some of the gravest examples of waste.
Cardiff City Council has failed and is still failing on numerous initiatives, and with this has squandered millions. In a campaign being launched this week, one of the simplest and most trivial examples of waste is to be scrutinised; that of public liability. Organisations nationwide are having claims filed against them daily, but in the past four financial years, Cardiff Council has settled 199 cases of liability relating to trips and falls on pavements, but has spent £1,291.029.83 in doing so. In total, there have been 1083 cases brought to the attention of the council, and within the same period, the council has spent £5,149,452 on pavement and walkway repairs. It has also pledged a further £1,135,520 for maintenance this year.
When a council spends more on pay-outs for neglect over four years than it does correcting paving defects within a year, something is wrong. This raises some serious questions about the safety of residents within the communities, the management of finances within the authority and the £1,291.029.83 that could have been invested to cut incidents or reduce the tax bill.
Lee Canning, Cardiff TPA co-ordinator