Sunday, December 24, 2006

Recent Bonfires- 45

Merry Winterval Yule Log to wastewatchers everywhere

In the news this week:

£645 for Prezza's new name plate- "Deputy prime minister John Prescott has spent £645 on a new door sign, it has emerged. Mr Prescott changed the sign at his Whitehall office from Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) to Deputy Prime Minister's Office. The ODPM was dissolved in a Cabinet re-organisation in May 2006. Its responsibilities were passed to the Department for Communities and Local Government." ( 20.12.06)

£746 for Prezza's new "business" cards- "Mr Prescott's office still has a staff of 18, who spent £746 on business cards for the new department... Mr Prescott's spokesman responded: "It cost us £140 to answer this question." ( 20.12.06)

£6.5m pa wasted on Scotland Office- "THE role of the Scotland Office has been brought into question by new figures which show how little work is apparently being done by its staff. The 22 staff who work in the lavish surroundings of Dover House in London send out less than one letter per working day and the premises' luxury rooms were used for just 37 days this year for hosting functions for visiting Scottish ministers and dignitaries. There is no need for postbag either, with the office receiving fewer than seven letters a day... the press officer seems surprisingly unbusy, with just 47 press releases in one year - not much return, critics argue, for the £122,000 the PR operation cost to run last year.... Staff spent £260,000 on travel. This is despite the fact that staff in Edinburgh and London have video conferencing facilities. Of that, £124,000 was spent on flying, £37,000 was on rail, £10,600 was on the Heathrow Express getting staff to the airport and back, nearly £10,000 was on taxis while just £1,200 was on Tube fares. The 48 Edinburgh and London-based staff between them also spent £75,000 on hotels in that time." (Scotsman 23.12.06; htp HJ)

£75,000 for Two Sues' gardening leave- "Five months after [job-share CEOs] Sue Osborn and Susan Williams were suspended from the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) over their managerial record, they are still on leave at public expense. In the intervening period the joint chief executives have earned £75,000 between them, enough to have paid for at least three infection control nurses for a year. A further £65,000 of public funds has been spent on the salary of the acting chief executive, Bill Murray, who took over when the two Sues were sent home. The agency was lambasted as "dysfunctional" in the summer by the Commons public accounts committee after it emerged that despite running for five years at an annual cost of £34 million, it could provide no figures for exactly how many patients had died as a result of medical blunders." (Sunday Telegraph 24.12.06, and see this blog for background)

£1.3m on incomprehensible opera tour- "MORE THAN £1m of taxpayers’ money is to be spent sending a Gaelic opera on a tour of European countries where nobody speaks the language. St Kilda: An Evocation tells the story of how the last inhabitants of the remote Outer Hebridean island were evacuated from their homes in 1930 amid chronic food shortages. It will be performed in several European countries including France, Belgium, Germany and Austria. Organisers, including Scottish Opera and Tosg, a Gaelic theatre company, will give live performances next June involving 17 Gaelic actors and satellite link-ups from St Kilda showing dancers suspended from the island’s cliffs. “I find this criticism extremely perplexing,” said Malcolm Maclean, director of the Gaelic Arts Agency and co-producer of the project. “All arts projects in the UK and across Europe use public funds. That’s the nature of the arts. " Er... quite. (Sunday Times 24.12.06, and see this blog for more special pleading from the Arts establishment)

Total for week: £7,876,391


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