Saturday, 16 May 2009

SQUANDERING TAX PAYERS MONEY IN A RECESSION?

If you thought this item was going to be about Labour MPs squandering tax-payers money, you were wrong. This item is all about Conservatives at KCC and TDC squandering £millions already and continuing to waste tax-payers money in gay abandon as we sit in the worst recession since the 1930s.
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As we see Chipperfield's new Turner Gallery start to arise on a wave swept promenade this week, utilising a £1,000,000 'road improvement' to Fort Hill as its building site, it is perhaps timely to remember that it is not only Westminster's MPs who squander tax payers money in a criminal manner.
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The aborted TC in the sea cost us over £6 million and KCC continues to waste our money in a sad attempt to pursue a claim against Snohetta that has cost us already over £600,000 in legal fees. We have had a Director of a non-existent gallery on the payroll since 2001 and we are now in the second year with a curator of a non-existent collection in a non-existent gallery. We have had £millions squandered on an M&S building that has fewer visitors than our closed museums had and a current wage bill for a gallery that has yet to be built of £427,000 per annum.
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If you missed a snippet from our esteeemed IOTG of 21 April 2009, let me enlighten you. It is expected that staff costs for our Chipperfield TC will need to rise to £750,000 per year or more. Why?
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Apparently TC needs a marketing manager, a finance officer, a formal learning officer, an informal learning officer and a press and marketing assistant. With re-possessions in Thanet rising and our un-employment figures going past 4,000, it is comforting to realise that KCC and TDC are happy to tap into Arts Council (Tax payer funded) grant funding but cannot find any money for our museums.
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The assumption that the TC will carry on receiving its unending tax-payer funding stream when David Cameron and the Conservative Party will have some harsh decisions to make in the near future about the waste in present Government expenditure and try and put the finances of the Nation back in some order, is optimistic. (Don't our troops in Afghanistan need more helicopters?)
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The problem that will face us as TDC Council tax-payers in the very near future is that we will most likely have to pay for this ghastly scheme ourselves. With a projected visitor level of 130,000 and a wage bill in excess of £750,000 you do not need the brains of a fiddling MP to realise that the whole project is economically unsound.
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Let me leave you , not with an excellent quote from IOTG's Plain Jane this week, but with a comment from our new TDC Cabinet Member, Dr Simon Moores from Thanet Life in 2004:
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"Why the fiscally challenged planners at Kent County Council in conjunction with Thanet Council, believe that opening a gallery in a famous artist’s name, with none of his paintings on display, will suddenly transform Margate into a cultural Mecca and attract hordes of cultural day-trippers is anyone’s guess. It’s all rather like the fiasco of positioning the Royal Armouries in Leeds and not London with the net result that it’s losing money hand over fist because nobody wishes to visit Leeds when it’s cheaper and easier to visit sites such as the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.
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£20 million pounds for the Turner Centre means higher poll tax bills for the local population, already double that I paid in London last year and £20 million wasted, when it could have been put to much better use on other schemes, such as revitalising the crumbling fa├žade of Margate seafront or knocking down the clock tower traffic lights; another one of the council's universally despised "bright ideas". What comes next I wonder, the "Hanging Gardens of Cliftonville"?
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A prophetic, sharp, analytical mind being addressed to a problem 5 years ago, that is shortly to become a reality?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

ZZZZZZZZZZ boring - get another story - stop bring up the same old winge.

How many times does it have to be said - The Money for the TC would not have gone to anything else apart from the arts.

If you want other developments or re-develpments to happen and be successful, why dont you start a "positive" online campaign?

Or is it that change is only good when it suits you?

Howard said...

Whilst I agree that both the local and county councils have wasted a lot of money on this project, and that the project has had a difficult inception period, building work is now underway and negativity about the project serves no purpose, but to further deprecate an already down-trodden town and it's society. I am under no illusion that the Turner Centre is going to transform Margate into a cultural 'Mecca' as you put it, but is just one part of a jigsaw of measures needed to regenerate this potentially beautiful and vibrant town.

I, too as a teax payer living in Margate have seen my tax bills increase, as I am sure they have across the country, but they are comparible with those in other local towns. But perhaps more focus should be paid to those that are meant to work for this funding.

Many of the Arts based projects that I have seen in Margate over the last few years have enlivened and brightened the town, putting smiles or questioning looks on the faces of many of it's residents and visitors. At the same time, my refuse collectors that are also paid by the moeny seem to be doing a worse job, refusing to collect the rubbish if there is enough of an excuse not to.

The Turner Centre may well have cost a lot of money and has continued to have problems throughout its conception, but, as an Architect, I know that most large scale building projects rarely run smoothly. However, my final point is that whether you agreed with the project or not intially, it serves no point, now that the building work is underway, to denigrate the project and it's use to Margate. The residents of Margate should welcome the project and the visitors and live arts projects it will generate.

Matt B said...

It is rare that I agree with Simon but when he is right... the Turner centre is not going to float "as is".

Anonymous said...

A splendid resume of the Turner fiasco. I am sick of the arts mafia trying to have us belief that money spent on such projects is somehow "different" to money available to tackle real needs, as if it is handed out by some culturally-savvy Santa Claus. Whether via county council, Arts Council, Europe or whatever, it is still raised through our taxes and it is time we stood up and said this is not how we want it spent.

Bertie Biggles said...

Howard, I wish I could be more supportive of this project and I accept the points you put so well about needing to get behind it.

09:03, sorry about inducing Zs. How much do you think the wages bill for this Gallery should be in 2010/11 in its first year?

I have read some very good commentary by Simon Moores on Thanet Life over the years about the proliferation of 'Guardian style non-jobs ' and the gravy train of tax-payers money supporting an ever expanding public sector and here on our door-step we have an extra £327,000 being considered for formal learning and informal learning officers among other posts!
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Is it realistic to expect the general tax-payer to continue coughing up for this nonsense? If you think so, you are clearly out of step with David Cameron and the daunting task that lies ahead of him.

What I find so amazing is the difference between David Cameron's message nationally and the Conservatives actions at KCC and TDC about tax-payers money and schemes it can be wasted on.

Anonymous said...

I agree with (17 May 2009 09:03) You have to PUT up with it and shut up - just because its your tax money you think you have a right to bore us ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

We are the masters!

Anonymous said...

Yes Bertie i think you could say KCC and TDC are new labour spending mentality but go under the name of "Conservatives"!
All i know is that they have to feel in control of everything and don't do anything to help local entrepreneurs unless they are one of their chosen few!

Anonymous said...

Warning, extreme parochial content... your going to hate this my friend but guess what, when you look at the arts council/kcc budgets TC is costing peanuts! Safe to say you wont be at the opening then.

Bertie Biggles said...

10.09, sorry to read that you think £6 million of tax-payer's money squandered on TC Mk1 and £600,000 by KCC pusuing a forlorn legal claim is peanuts. You epitomise the arrogance we have seen recently in attitudes to tax-payers money. No, I will not be at the opening.

Anonymous said...

So the millions wasted doesn't matter, because there are lots more millions being wasted elsewhere.
Following such perverse logic, perhaps bertie and I could have a posh dinner, at the taxpayers' expense, instead of going to the opening. We could use 10.09's argument that the bill would be very small peanuts compared to etc etc etc.

Anonymous said...

I won't be at the opening either, but I hope to still be around for the closing a few years later...