As we approach our ‘budget-setting’ season, we look back at some of the worst excesses of frivolous spending, waste, mis-management, poor judgment and pure callousness in the recent history of RBKC.
This post can be on-going, so please send additions and corrections via Comments, and I will add if appropriate.
· Council spent £26m on Exhibition Road paving scheme
· Launch party for Exhibition Road said to cost £30,000 including giant elephant puppet, acrobats, Boris Johnson and other jokers
· Olympic ‘celebration’ in Exhibition Road, two weeks in August, cost cc£1m, very poor attendance said to be of 60,000 including museum visitors, daily commuters, museum staff and students of Imperial College and the RCA; that’s equivalent to £16 spent on each visitor/passer-by
· Failure of Chelsea Care Council sponsored business to provide care workers, losses of cc£310,000-£1m, depending who you believe
· Solar panels imported from China installed on the Town Hall roof, cost £250,000, revenue an optimistic £35,000 - after 25 years
· £80m spent on new Holland Park School; average cost of similar secondary school £24m
· Council tries to tempt buyers/creation of mutual for Opera Holland Park by making temporary tent permanent; Friends of Holland Park outraged
· After failure to sell it off, Council continues to subsidise Opera Holland Park to the tune of £1m/yr – but according to the Cabinet Member for Finance this is ‘chicken feed’
· Meanwhile, according to the Cabinet Member for Family and Children’s Services it is a ‘tough but inevitable decision’ to save £800k/yr by privatising child day care centres
· ’21 Projects for the 21st Century’ become ’13 aspirations and eight no hopers for the 21st Century’ as the following schemes flop: distributing public art around the borough (we hear there is a ‘store’ but no one wants it); Sloane Square paving scheme; purchase of Brompton Cemetery; development at Kensal Gasworks; new school for St Joseph’s; new school for Holy Trinity; £67m spent on Decent Homes (said to be half that); Golborne Road development (not a hope in hell unless they work WITH residents and traders)
· As the Council spent £1m on a two-week Olympic ‘urban culture celebration, £750k was cut from school sports
· Kensal Crossrail: Labour Group still waiting for Tories to agree to ‘no blank cheque’ and cost controls; whatever can be stopping them?
· Refusal to pay London Living Wage to workers where property is the most expensive in the country
· Shame also to LibDems who voted with Tories against LLW
· Announcement of Golborne as joint poorest ward in London, with 51% of children living in poverty; 28% borough-wide. Leader challenges figures saying ‘you should get out more and drive about like I do’
· Shock and self-reflection as former Mayor resigns after sending offensive pictures of young boys on Council email
· Horror and recrimination as second Councillor resigns for not reporting the former Mayor sending him the pictures
· Outrage and repulsion as different Councillor is convicted of child and animal porn charges
· Council refuses to tighten up Standards Committee after child porn case, stating ‘a light touch’ would suffice
· Stunned silence as a former porn star was selected as candidate for Brompton ward (then hastily deselected)
· This story makes it into Private Eye’s Rotten Borough awards
· Council refuses to challenge threatened closure of Accident and Emergency units; LibDems vote with Tories
· ‘The Sultan and Mrs Braithwaite’ story in Bloomberg News tells us the Sultan of Brunei pays just £32/month more Council Tax for his mansion in Ken Palace Gardens than Mrs B in a Council house in North Ken.
As the Prime Mincer assured us that school sports fields were not being sold off any more, the following was being planned in K&C:
· Middle Row Primary – part of playground to be developed with private flats
· Warwick Road Primary – v small playground, to be built next to air pollution hotspot
· Oxford Gardens Primary – part of playground proposed to be developed with private flats
· Holland Park School – part of playground sold to be developed with ‘super-prime’ private flats
· Chelsea Academy – very little outside space for sports, hamster cage on roof, residents complained when students overrun Westfield Park at end of day so they are now 'escorted' out of the area by PCSOs
· Council seeks to procure 500 homes in Manchester as Temporary Accommodation, stating there is nowhere to build social housing in the borough, while working with Westminster on ‘middle-class estates’ plan
· Families in Temporary Accommodation have doubled to 1,600 in 2011-12, with 138 households in B&Bs including four families, and 100 in unsuitable accommodation or no accommodation at all
· The Council makes £1m/year PROFIT from Temporary Accommodation, while pregnant women are sometimes put in B&Bs
· Bedroom Tax to affect 854 households from April 2013; how many of these will be ‘offered’ Manchester as an affordable alternative?
· In 2011 we were told that: no older person would be evicted due to benefit caps and cuts; no vulnerable people would be evicted due to benefit caps and cuts; and no child approaching exams would be evicted due to benefit caps and cuts. Reports suggest otherwise.
· Council Tax Support proposals will mean that within three years the working poor will be hit by huge cuts to financial help, which could make it uneconomic to work – or may force them to move
· The Cabinet calls this ‘a change in population’
· What is the final deadline for the announcement of a possible Kensal Crossrail station? Outside sources are still saying it was ‘a dead duck in May 2010’; who is telling the truth?
· Are we going to get the secondary school/plot for secondary school negotiated at the Earl’s Court Planning meeting – or not?
· Is air pollution really getting worse and what are we doing about it?
· ‘Borough wide free wi-fi’ was promised and widely vaunted in the national press. Borough wide it may have been – Ken High Street and Exhibitionist Road – borough long it is not. O2 are paying us for the pleasure of advertising to visitors, but the revenue is not going into helping poorer residents get access
Responding to concerns about how Triborough arrangements could affect our services, the Cabinet Member for Family and Children’s Services states: ‘We are at the cutting edge of the future of what is happening’.
That's just what we are afraid of love!