Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Who do you think you are kidding Mr Whitby?

I didn't smile very much this morning when I saw the front page of the Birmingham Post. I was too busy laughing.

Not just the obvious embarrassment of the Whitby/Tilsley Blunderground cock up. Not just the comments of one of the authors of the annual report of the West Midlands Institute of Civil Engineers telling us that the council have just wasted £300,000 (up from £125,000 originally) of public money.

The ICE West Midlands Report 2005, which is published today, states that without quick political decisions on public transport, the region will continue to decline. Terry Mulroy, a member of the ICE and co-author of the West Midlands report, said: "Any transport professional could have told them these conclusions before they started."
Not only any transport professional, but even a web-monkey and political geek could have told them that.

And did. Hell, there was better value in having Whitless and his crew of gutless wonders standing in Victoria Square tearing up £5 notes.

Even aside from the laugh-a-minute that is World of Whitby - the world where 13 months messing around over the transport strategy (that's 13 months where the rest of the region was waiting for Birmingham to do the decent thing) has
'accelerated the process'

Now, stop for a moment and read that again. 13 months of dithering has apparently speeded things up. If you can make sense of that, answers on a postcard to the usual address, please. Mind you, this is the same man who reckoned that they could get the whole scheme cobbled together for £200 million, rather than the actual price tag of £2 billion (not that there's any funding for any of it).

No, that wasn't everything.

Today has also brought a report by the scrutiny committee on the mad plans for a new split-site library - also covered in the Birmingham Post, which concludes by saying

3.1.2 We took the view that the Cabinet report of 25th July 2005 was deficient and did not provide all the necessary information. Nor was the information which was provided given in a sufficiently rounded form to ensure that comparisons could be made.

3.1.3 We have to say that our review has reinforced our original judgment. Indeed officers have openly acknowledged that the two centre option emerged so late in the day that it was “inevitable” that its supporting information was well short of that available for other options. They did not see this as a problem. We do. The Cabinet should not be taking decisions without the full facts before them.


This is a pretty hard-hitting indictment of Cabinet government under this bunch of clowns. This decision was taken without full information and without reference to the highly-paid consultants' report.

Here's a question or two for Whitless. He's a businessman, so has some experience of executive decisions.

What would be his response if one of his employees ignored advice on one project and then wasted £300,000 of the firm's money on another madcap scheme?

Would he renew that person's contract if it expired in May 2006?

To quote the Post comment page on the library and underground schemes:
'[they] illustrate the stranglehold of inaction that has descended across Birmingham. Both are examples of unnecessary delay and poor decision-making by the city's political leadership.'

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