First Significant Signs of Council Cuts

I’m not going to go on at the sort of length I could about these, to be discussed on Thursday evening – Darryl at 853 has done a much better job than I could ever do, but I know that if I don’t even mention them, I’ll just get loads of post. 

Of course the council’s in a bind. It has to lose £65m and this first tranche is only going to lose about a third of that, but try telling that to the people who will be directly affected by it. The park-keepers (who I’m suspecting aren’t on a massive wage to start with), the voluntary groups and the (gulp) food safety officer (’cause of course all our takeaways and restaurants are in tip-top shape. No mice/cockroaches/filth in any of them. Personally, I’d up the fine for filthy eateries to subsidise that particular chap/ess…)

Of course we’re none of us immune – whether we pay extra to park our cars outside our houses, lose petting the Maryon Wilson animals or fork out an extra 30p if we get caught short around Cutty Sark (has anyone ever used that loo? There’s a brilliant one in Discover Greenwich and good old fashioned pubs when that’s closed. Besides I have a possibly irrational fear of automated bogs. The only time I ever used one was when they were first invented. I walked into a teeny cabin, dripping with disinfectant from the spray-round after the last user, the door closed ominously behind me and Michael Jackson started singing Thriller. Maybe they’ve improved now, but I’m scarred for life.) But some people and services are going to get it worse than others and some seemingly innocuous savings are worrying indeed.

Take the one about cutting down on planning meetings by increasing the number of objections an applications needs. This worries me a lot – as does a related issue (but clearly not in the mind of the council) the loss of the World Heritage Site Manager. Now, to be honest I didn’t know we had one of those, but if the sort of nasty stuff that happens to our World Heritage Site is happening on his/her watch, then, given the close proximity of the Olympics and unscrupulous ‘hotel’ developers, what monsters from hell would let loose if they went – especially if the council are relaxing their grip on planning?

At first sight, the loss of an ad-rep on that useless waste of trees Greenwich Time seems like a no-brainer. But hang on – isn’t the whole justification that the council gives for keeping it that it “pays for itself” through advertising? If there are fewer people persuading businesses to part with their cash, then guess who’s going to ultimately foot the bill? And while we’re on the subject, does this ‘pays for itself’ thing apply to distribution costs too? During the snow, my post failed, Special Delivery failed but my copy of Greenwich Time turned up on the doormat like the proverbial bad penny. If I were Royal Mail I’d be looking closely at poaching those guys…

And this is just the frivolous stuff. I’m not even going to start on the serious cuts that will affect the lives of really vulnerable people. I do find myself wondering though, how the council can justify holding a box at the O2 (unless they’re making a profit on it, which I doubt) and keeping flash mayoral dinners when more than doubling day-care charges. Just who are they trying to impress here? 

Thing is, it’s easy to take pot-shots at a list like the one you’ll find at 853 – and that’s just his favourites – I confess the actual documents were such hard going I allowed Darryl to do the hard graft. I don’t envy the council having to make these choices. But even though he’s losing one assistant does Chris Roberts really need three more?


7 Comments to “First Significant Signs of Council Cuts”

  1. darryl says:

    Thanks for the link – I suspect there’s lots of hard work to come!

    The one thing that struck me is that with a couple of exceptions, the cuts are hard to cut down geographically – the World Heritage Site one and Maryon Wilson Park zoo are exceptions. The WHS site one seemed odd to me – although the counter argument is, I guess… could anyone name the WHS site manager?

    The council’s always maintained the O2 box turns a profit, btw – Greenwich card holders can buy tickets in it via an obscure page on the council website: http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/Greenwich/LeisureCulture/GreenwichCard/VIP-tickets-O2-arena.htm

  2. Re: Our Glorious Leader and his office assistants. I used to be one of them (and a very unpleasant experience it was too). Regardless or not of what we actually think of Mr. Roberts, his office staff do actually get through a considerable amount of work. Remember that The Leader’s Office is the final port of call for anyone making a complaint and who is getting nowhere with the individual departments. It wasnt uncommon to be getting something in the region of 10 – 15 complaints a day by post and by telephone, all of which takes a horrendous amount of investigating, following up, chasing and resolving on behalf of borough residents.

    Of course, if Greenwich Council was rather more efficient, and didnt engender quite so many complaints because of its general idiocy and uselessness, then there wouldnt be the need for so many people in the Leader’s Office.

    Of course, then we have the matter of what to do about all the complaints about Chris Roberts……

  3. Thank you for your comments on our distribution service of GT during this months bleak weather.

    We work for a great many businesses within the Greenwich Borough of which Greenwich Times is one of them. The main advantage all businesses and residents have with a publication like this, is that its circulation covers the whole Borough and does not cherry pick the addresses it wants based on income and class. Many of the glossy lifestyle magazines and local free papers select the areas and a great many falsify the quantity they are actually printing and distributing.

    I still believe that if businesses and advertisers get behind GT it will benefit everyone within the Borough – especially if residents decide to put their Christmas spend through local companies rather than through an online, low employing company that might not even be British based!!

  4. Paul says:

    Nice one, Simon.

    Fair point on the demographics of GT – but are you really, on the record, accusing other local publications of falsifying their print and distribution figures? Is this how GT will gain a reputation for probity and fairness? Because to me, it sounds like more propaganda that can only damage the cause it sets out to support.

  5. darryl says:

    Haha – my blog got a comment from Simon too. Up with Greenwich Time! Up with Letterbox Distribution! Erm…

  6. scared of chives says:

    Greenwich Time – cat crap blotting paper…ooh – I saw Chris Roberts in Victoria today – I think he was sans assistant X 4…3

  7. [...] cuts and declares that this is only £21.43m of the total £65m. There’s also a blog post by the Greenwich Phantom who does more of an analytical [...]