Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thames Gateway Lost In Heart Of Darkness

The hulk of the Gateway


"The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway. In the offing the sea and the sky were welded together without a joint, and in the luminous space the tanned sails of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished sprits. A haze rested on the low shores that ran out to sea in vanishing flatness. The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back still seemed condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding motionless over the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth."

Dark air, mournful gloom, brooding motionless... Joseph Conrad may have been writing a century ago, but he captured the essence of the Thames Gateway project perfectly. The grandiose pipedream to regenerate 40 miles of Thames estuary has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions. But as night falls , it's sunk deep in the heart of darkness, the stinking slimey mud of Big Government incompetence.

The latest setback took place yesterday, when Judith Armitt, Chief Executive of the Thames Gateway Delivery Unit, was suddenly replaced. She'd only been in this brand new job for a year, and just a couple of weeks ago published her much anticipated Thames Gateway Delivery Plan.

It seems she was axed because she incurred the displeasure of Communities and Local Government Minister Yvette Cooper (aka Mistress Balls- in post since June). And it must have been a major bust-up, because Cooper's spin doctors immediately got to work describing Ms Armitt's work as "crap".

The job has already been given to DCLG 2001 recruit Joe Montgomery, a crony of Cooper's ("as far removed from the Yes, Minister Sir Humphrey stereotype as it is possible to be; he is more Armani than Saville Row, more Groucho Club than Athenaeum" Hmm). Behind him is Dr Tim Williams, long-time Labour insider, and, according to his official biog, "in 2003 named as the leading regeneration personality in the UK by a panel of his peers". Wow!

There's obviously a sea of blood soaking into the DCLG carpet, but much more important to taxpayers is the grotesque incompetence of the whole Gateway project.

Last month, the Public Accounts Committee published their report on it. And here's what the inestimable Chairman Leigh had to say:


The Department for Communities and Local Government is at present manifestly not up to the job of managing the enormously ambitious enterprise of regenerating the Thames Gateway region. Action must be taken now to prevent the enterprise ending in another public spending calamity.

It still amounts to little more than a group of disjointed projects which do not add up to a programme which is purposeful and moving forward. The Department has been incapable of taking the present rather insubstantial vision and galvanizing the multitude of central, regional and local partners in the scheme to work together to turn it into reality.

The Department has not yet established the basic arrangements for controlling the programme including - incredibly - a budget. It has failed so far to set clear and coordinated objectives and measures of progress. Crucial to the success of the enterprise will be a full and coordinated contribution by Whitehall departments but, like a small child clamouring for the attention of its bigger classmates, the Department does not have the influence to make this happen."

It doesn't get any worse than that. DCLG has spent £673m and produced a total shambles.

Just to recap, the Gateway project has been kicking around for most of Labour's time in office, and is currently supposed to regenerate 40 miles of riverside, from Canary Wharf to the mouth of the Thames:


In theory, that will include 160,000 new homes and 180,000 new jobs by 2016, with further development beyond. And in theory, most of the cash is supposed to come from the private sector.

The practice is rather different. As far as anyone can tell (which isn't very far because DCLG hasn't considered it necessary to collect any information), there's been very little private sector investment. Most investment so far has come from other bits of government:


"17. The Department estimates that the total capital spending in the region was £7 billion from 2003 and 2006 but it is unable to collect information on how this was spent and so does not know what proportion was part of the Thames Gateway programme. Much of the programme’s investment comes through other government departments or from the Department via other bodies such as English Partnerships and the Regional Development Agencies. Many projects are funded by a variety of partners that are, in turn, ultimately funded by the Department, making it difficult to monitor which projects are funded as a result of the programme and which are not."

And if that sounds like a large helping of government spaghetti, that's because it is. When the National Audit Office tried to unravel the giant knot of quangos and government departments involved, this is the best they could come up with:



Can you make sense of that? Neither can the 100 plus quangos, departments, local authorities and other assorted flotsam actually involved.

According to the PAC, there's no proper management, no clear objectives, no progress measurement, no coherent delivery chain, no meaningful budget, and no serious private sector involvement (despite the supposed imperative of attracting huge private sector investment).

And in case you lost count, that's a competence score of zero.

Needless to say, the Gateway's grand house building aspirations are failing to materialise. Here's what the PAC projects on present trends- a shortfall of 65,000 homes by 2016:



Two weeks ago, the private sector ripped into DCLG at the Thames Gateway Forum:

"Chelsfield Partners co-founder Sir Stuart Lipton, Lend Lease Europe chief executive Nigel Hugill and Jones Lang LaSalle’s head of professional services Andrew Gould... attacked the government for producing plans instead of acting on the Thames Gateway."

Plans instead of action.

Gathering darkness.

You know, that sounds a teensy bit familiar.

"Marlow ceased, and sat apart, indistinct and silent, in the pose of a meditating Buddha. Nobody moved for a time. "We have lost the first of the ebb," said the Director, suddenly. I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky--seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness."



PS To read the official account of that Thames Gateway Forum you'd never imagine it was the disaster attended by those private sector property moguls. In fact, you'd think it was a brilliant triumph. Above a video of Bottler's keynote address, the opening sentence on the official website reads "The Thames Gateway Forum 2007 was a huge success - the best yet!" God knows what the previous ones were like.

3 comments:

  1. Bị khó ngủ là vấn đề đang xảy ra ngày càng nhiều trong xã hội ngày nay, bị khó ngủ phải làm sao ? Có nhiều cách trị khó ngủ như dùng thuốc , ăn món ăn trị khó ngủ ,.. Giảm cân không phải một sớm một chiều mà phải theo lộ trình dài hạn và khoa học , thực đơn giảm cân cấp tốc trong 1 tuần cũng là một trong số các cách giúp giảm cân hiệu quả. Trên thị trường hiện nay có nhiềuthuốc giải độc gan tốt , giúp giải độc gan hiệu quả và an toàn. Đau mắt đỏ là bệnh rất dể lây lan , vậy cách chữa bệnh đau mắt đỏ nhanh nhất bằng nhiều phương pháp khác nhau . Bỏng bô xe máy là hiệu tượng gặp nhiều nhất hiện , vậy bị bỏng bô xe máy kiêng ăn gì ? Những thực phẩm nên kiêng như hải sản , đồ tanh , trứng và các món gà và nếp ,...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bạn có nhu cầu cần order hàng mỹ. Vậy liệu nếu không có người thân có thể mua được không? Chúng tôi giaonhan247 xin trả lời cho bạn là vẫn được nhé.
    Chỉ cần bạn liên hệ với chúng tôi sản phẩm bạn muốn mua thì chúng tôi sẽ mua giúp bạn. Ngoài ra chúng tôi còn nhận mua hàng xách tay từ úc, ship hàng từ nhật, nhận Order hàng UK,...
    Ngoài ra ở trong nước chúng tôi nhận vận chuyển hàng hóa đi đi lào, gửi hàng đi đài loan, gửi hàng đi mỹ hay chuyển hàng đi campuchia. Hãy nhớ đến chúng tôi khi bạn cần nhé.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Chuyên mua bán các loại thực phẩm chức năng dành cho sức khỏe người dùng như đông trùng hạ thảo tenken, sâm alipas, Sâm angela, sữa rửa mặt neutrogena, thuốc bổ cho bà bầu elevit
    hay những sản phẩm bổ xung calcium+600mg+++d3.
    Ngoài ra chúng tôi còn giải đáp những thắc mắc về thuốc của các bạn thông qua những bài viết như: vigrx plus co tot khong,

    ReplyDelete