The Public watch: No.5

Sandwell Council bosses and the West Midlands’ most controversial art gallery are once again busy deflecting criticism as they find themselves at the centre of yet another row over public funds.


Office-party Keen to stop the slugs moving in, Sandwell decided to stage an event within the vacant, cavernous The Public gallery in West Bromwich in honour of, well, themselves and their staff – namely in the catchily named “Extended Services Core Offer Partnerships” (who presumably do what it says on the tin…).


As usual, rather than laying on a finger buffet, this local authority decided to blow what many couples would consider to be a wedding budget, spending over £9,000 hosting the 200 attendees. According to the Express & Star one insider – no less than a Core Officer Partnership Co-ordinator themselves – said the celebrations amounted to little more than “an internal pat on the back”.


Wallowing in their own wonderfulness to the tune of thousands of pounds is a pretty serious affront at the moment though, with redundancies and council tax rises indicating that Sandwell Council don’t have the cash to throw about.


The employee rightly questioned the whole ethos of the day: “Why do we have to be rewarded for just doing our job? It doesn’t happen for binmen or firemen so why does it happen at the council?”


Indeed, many too easily forget about that little reward called a salary and presumably feel undervalued without a shindig on the horizon, organised to boost their self-worth under the guise of boosting productivity (the latter being something we generally find little quantifiable evidence of…).


Apparently the feedback for the event was ‘excellent’, and we can only assume that this rating came from those who ate, drank and revelled on the taxpayer because it’s a fair assumption that the average ratepayer in the borough might well exchange this superlative for an expletive given this local authority’s track record.


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