Sunday, December 13, 2009

News From BOM Correspondents - 22

Absolutely fabulous darling

It's been a while since we did a correspondent round-up, so here's a quick selection:

1 Latest from Stoke on Trent

The terminally awful Stoke City Council has featured on BOM several times (eg here). Among its other triumphs was the decision to close its only properly functioning secondary school on ideological grounds (see here).

Now Tom W draws our attention to the following:

"Concerns have been raised over why a firm was awarded a contract to knock down a former Victorian workhouse which was more than three times the price quoted by an award-winning company.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council set a budget of £1.2m for demolishing the building and last month it accepted a price of about £1.1m from a firm to complete the work.

However, documents obtained by the BBC showed the cheapest quote received by the council was actually £309,000. The lowest bid was rejected, despite the contractor being an award-winning firm and one of the biggest demolition companies in the UK.
So for unknown reasons Stoke Council agreed to pay three times what it needed to pay. There's more:

"Concerns were first raised over tenders for the contract by councillor Alan Rigby, who was asked to witness the tenders being opened.
He claimed there were serious irregularities in the process and said he was asked to sign a form which did not contain details of prices. When Mr Rigby asked to see prices, they were written in and ranged from £618,000 to £210m."

So a councillor was asked to sign off the process without being shown the competing bid prices. Hmm... riiigght...

Council leaders have blamed it all on a "computer glitch", and faced with a stewards' enquiry have agreed to re-run the whole process. But if we lived in Stoke, we'd be demanding that enquiry anyway.

2. Pagan Sex, Money Laundering, and Self-Abuse

It's been too long since we linked a story on David Blackie's excellent blog The Language Business, which is dedicated to exposing the moneypit that is the British Council.

On 6th Jan the BC's Knowledge and Learning Centre clocks up its eighth anniversary, and David has recently been investigating some of the outstanding study opportunities it currently markets to foreigners who wish to dodge UK immigration controls to study at a world-class British university. According to its website, it's Exeter for Pagan Sex and Portsmouth for Money Laundering. But as he explains here, if it's self-abuse you're after, the University of Huddersfield is the one for you, with its tempting choice of three specialist courses.

A course on terrorism?

No need to head off to Tora Bora any more. According to the BC, there's now a choice of 146 Terrorism courses offered right here, by no fewer than 41 UK universities. Here's just the first page of results (click on image to enlarge):

And remember - you're paying.

3. Frocks

Nick L sent an FOI to Bliar's new Supreme Court, asking what their new frocks cost (pic above). His letter and the reply are here (and see MoS story here). They said:

"The total cost including VAT of the robes for the 12 Justices of the Supreme Court was £137,956.
...the Justices do not wear robes while they sit in court... However the Justices recognised the need to have a robe for certain ceremonial occasions... They therefore have robes... made from black brocade with gold lace and some gold ornamentation on the sleeves with the Supreme Court emblem embroidered on the back."
Nick L suggests we establish a new unit of account - the Standard British Peasant Year:

"Minumum wage is £5.80. 40 hour week, 52 week year, equals £12,064 pa. Ignoring employer's NI, they have deductions of £1,816.19 a year
So £137,956 for the robes divided by £1816.19 is 76 - ie the Justices have spent 76 Standard British Peasant Years on their new frocks.
Of course, that assumes a Standard British Peasant doesn't consume any public services. 76 of them slave away for an entire year, simply in order to kit the justices out in some bling."

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