The Public watch: No.3

Only last month The Public’s auditors, KPMG, urged Sandwell Council to consider “mothballing, decommissioning or demolishing” the West Bromwich eyesore and the future of the project seemed to be very grim indeed. So why on earth are they advertising in the Guardian today for four new managers and a director…?


That’s right, a total of five new positions are being hired for despite the dire situation reported recently, including:


Gravy * Head of Arts Programmes with an annual salary of £46,149 – £49,039


* Business Manager for £37,206 – £41,616 a year


* Marketing and Communications Manager for £31,754 – £36,313


* Exhibitions Manager with a salary of £31,754 – £36,313


* Learning and Community manager for £31,754 – £36,313


An article in the Express & Star quotes an indignant Cllr Bob Badham, the borough’s regeneration chief and probably The Public’s biggest champion, “Whatever I say, it will be a bad news story”, he grumbles. Erm, perhaps that’s because this looks like pretty bad news! The arts centre seems to be in jeopardy, it’s most definitely £49m over-budget (at least), everybody who has looked at the books and assessed the project’s history has gone sheet white and backed out of the room and what’s Sandwell Council’s response? Better quickly invest some more public cash in a Marketing & Communications Manager…


The trouble with The Public is that nothing ceases to amaze us anymore. Every thoughtless decision and spending error just strikes us as typical after so many years of quite simply atrocious management and indecisive political bumbling.


The reputations, and indeed the legacies of politicians like Badham absolutely depend on this leaky ship staying afloat, so if that means plugging the many, many holes with more cash and – even better – encouraging other public bodies to do the same, then all the better in order to avoid this grave error tainting an otherwise impressive career in public office.


So as four new employees jump on The Public gravy train and attempt to co-ordinate a gallery with tumbleweed blowing through it, we must continue to ask the question that’s been raised time and time again – isn’t this just throwing good money after bad, and is now the time to pull the plug?


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