Sunday, August 10, 2008

Updates From BOM Correspondents

Poor to uncertain in Lincolnshire

Latest news and links from correspondents:

1. Boston - nul points

The Audit Commission (AC) has been sampling culture in Boston Lincs, and it doesn't like what it found.

More specifically, it's just rated Boston Council's "cultural services" as "poor", with "uncertain" prospects for improvement. And they've published the extremely helpful chart above so we can all understand just what that means: it means the service is "poor" with "uncertain" prospects for improvement. It also means nul points in terms of stars.

AC describes Boston's spend on cultural services as "high", although it conveniently fails to provide the actual numbers.

Question one is WTF the Council spends taxpayers money on such services in the first place? It's not because local residents have asked them to. Indeed, the Commission reports that the Council has virtually no idea what the locals want. Moreover, locals have virtually no idea what's on offer. And even when they do, they aren't interested in it: "participation in sport and recreation are amongst the lowest in the country".

Question two is WTF is it a Whitehall quango passing judgement on Boston's local affairs instead of local Council Tax payers? Especially, when the AC's key criteria comprise the very commissariat catastrophes that are responsible for much of the mess in local councils in the first place: targets, outcome measures, external accreditation, and equality and diversity policy, etc etc. This is dysfunction piled on dysfunction.

One more time: the way to get local services that local people actually want is to make local people pay for them. Fiscal decentralisation so that local councils raise most of their money from local taxes not Whitehall grants, and local taxpayers only paying for the services they actually want, and want enough to keep the council up to the mark.

(HTP Raw Carrot)

2. Husky killers: now there are two

Regular BOM readers will recall the Great Husky Killer, Richard Granger. He was paid a wad of our money to head up the doomed multi-billion NHS Supercomputer project (the NPfIT) - the biggest civilian IT project ever. Dick really loved to swing his dick around, memorably threatening underperforming IT subcontractors with being chopped up like failing huskies, their bits fed to the strong ones.

Unfortunately, Dick turned out to be much better at issuing threats than actually delivering, and he left abruptly last year.

Since then, the £12-20bn project has been leaderless and clueless. So clueless in fact, that the Department of Health has decided it can no longer manage with just one top husky killer but needs two:

"The Department of Health has announced Christine Connelly as the first chief information officer for health and named Martin Bellamy as director of programme and systems delivery, leading NHS Connecting for Health.

The new appointments follow the departure of Richard Granger as director general of NHS IT in January and a review of NHS IT leadership as part of the Health Informatics Review. The DH advertised the new posts on salaries of up to £200,000."

Two new bosses at £200K a pop. As so often with the public sector, even the most catastrophic delivery failure does nothing to the stop the expansion of well paid honcho jobs. And we can only imagine the matrix reporting hell entailed in having two Supercomputer supremos.

(HTP Peter T)

3. £4 grand British Council grant for Pink Yoof Radio

David Blackie highlights this story in Pink News:

"FYI Radio, a LGBT youth user-generated radio station, has been awarded £4,000 from the European Youth in Action programme.The European Youth in Action programme is run in the UK by the British Council as part of its Youth Initiative scheme.

"FYI is a great platform for new artists and we're looking forward to finding out the views and thoughts of young queer Londoners." said FYI radio director Ryan Haynes."

Look, we have absolutely nothing against radio stations for young queer Londoners - good luck to them. Only, WTF should we have to pay? Where's the British Council radio funding for grumpy old straights in the Home Counties? No, forget that - no tax funding for any radio stations.

(HTP David Blackie)

4. Twilight of the Pol

You've almost certainly done so already, but Giles Coran's hilarious savaging of Pol and David Walker really is well worth reading.

As we blogged here, despite all our best intentions, we're actually starting to feel rather sorry for Pol. Yes, she and her pampered chums among the "progressive" elite have caused untold damage to Britain - especially to the poor and disadvantaged she constantly bangs on about. And yes, her corrosive outdated ideas must be exposed as the arrogant patronising nonsense they always were. And yes, she backed Gordo, the destroyer of worlds.

But it's still a bit sad. Her Marianne Faithful tribute act has shrivelled up. No longer will she get our blood pumping round in fury. She looks old and broken. Her day is done.

What a tragic end.

(htp Desperate Housewife)

5. And finally...

Many thanks to readers over at Witanagemot Club for voting BOM one of the top three campaigning blogs (along with CEP and the Taxpayers Alliance), and one of the top three economics blogs (along with Tim Worstall and Capitalists at Work). There's only one way to go from here.

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