21/12/2013

HOW NOT TO MEASURE SUCCESS...

According to Tameside Council’s Deputy Executive Leader, Cllr John Taylor, (Santa's naughty elf) who, the newspapers tell us, is responsible for markets, has, this week, been waxing lyrical about the success of Ashton’s first Christmas Market., (well, when I say John Taylor’s been waxing lyrical, I mean the person who writes the Press Releases on his behalf)

Anyway, apparently he was reported as saying, “Let’s make this spectacular Tameside event a success for now and for years to come!”

Now don’t get me wrong, I too would like to wish Ashton’s retailers every success; it’s just what the town needs, but looking closer at the councillor’s statement, it just depends on how one measures success!

When one visits the Christmas Market, there is no doubt that many hours of hard work have gone in to make it the spectacle that is conjured up by ‘a traditional Christmas Market'. However, as usual whenever Tameside councillors attempt anything vaguely commercial, they fail! 


The popular Christmas Market, 3.30 Wednesday  
So, when John Taylor tell's us it's been a great success, financially, nothing could be further from the truth!

The council put up £69,500 (Sixty Nine Thousand, Five Hundred Pounds) to buy the materials to build 30 log cabins.

They then charged those retailers who booked them, £200.00. (Two Hundred Pounds) for two weeks rental. That brought in £6000 (Six Thousand Pounds)

Leaving a loss to the council of £63.500 (Sixty Three Thousand, Five Hundred Pounds!)

On top of this massive loss, there is the fee to the events company to run it; the Artists fee's and the on-going annual costs of dismantling, maintaining and storing the cabins.
The same market 5.30 Friday

Don't worry another tram-load will arrive soon!
If the council had hired the log cabins and charged the going market price for cabin rental, this experimental Christmas Market could have produced a £16,000 income to pay for the entertainment package!

Looking to the future, if the council intend to run this Christmas Market in the same financial way, they will not break even for another 11 years!


To throw an initial £69,500 at building chalets and an additional unknown amount hiring a PR company, who producing a web site that when launched was so full of mistakes it looked like a child of 6 had put it together, was shear folly and is typical of a council who, despite an under-spend of several millions, still continue to waste taxpayers money whilst claiming poverty, increasing taxes, skimping on repairs  and initiating draconian cuts to Libraries and elderly care centres!

Next week, when the local papers resume publication, I'll confidently predict that John Taylor, the Poster-Boy for Tameside Markets, will tell us (through his interpreter) that the council's foray into Christmas Marketing, was a total success, with 'thousands' of visitors!

However, you must take that with a huge pinch of salt, because as there was nobody actually counting visitors to the market, so any quoting of figures can only be pure optimistic guesswork! And, as the pictures clearly show, there were several times/days when the market was open, that prove it was almost deserted!

Another sorry aspect of this debacle lays with the councillors inability to admit failure. Therefore to save their embarrassment, the losses from this Christmas Market millstone, will now be hung around the taxpayers neck for years to come!

It's high time these money wasters either signed up to a crash course on understanding commercialism or were removed from office! 

20/12/2013

COUNCILLOR STILL LOST FOR WORDS

It would seem that the vast majority of Tameside councillors have now embraced technology in order to both maintain their habit of not answering residents questions, whilst at the same time saving their Press Office the trouble of deciphering their banal council speak by recording a section of script onto a looped audio file
.
An example of which I pointed out in ‘BEWARE OF STEREOTYPICAL COUNCIL SPEAK’ was once again superbly illustrated in this week’s local Reporter.




Now the last time I came across this method of repetitiveness it was in an article penned by an eminent professor of philosophy you was expounding the theory that institutional conversations are asymmetrical, because they are taking place between a powerful representative of the institution and a non-powerful person from outside; which in this case would be the reader.

However, believing that the majority of Tameside Councillors only acquaintance with philosophy at this time of year, is the legend that falls from a cheap Chinese Christmas Cracker, I think it’s reasonable to deduce that this repetitiveness is born out of pure laziness!


I don’t expect an answer! 

14/12/2013

BEWARE OF STEREOTYPICAL COUNCIL SPEAK

"I'm not in the habit of repeating myself!" "I said. I'm not in the habit of ..."!
On flicking through the chronological list of council press releases the other day, I came across a curious pattern of events.

The first press released I noticed was released on the 13th December 2013 and recalled the story of an Ashton man who’d claimed benefits to which he was not entitled, to which Cllr Jim Fitzpatrick, Tameside Council's first deputy (revenue and finance) was quoted as saying: "Although cases like this one are rare, and we will always explore every avenue possible, we will not hesitate to take people to court if that is what is required."

Looking back on a similar case which has been released a day earlier, again Cllr Jim Fitzpatrick, Tameside Council's first deputy (revenue and finance) said: "Although cases like this one are rare, and we will always explore every avenue possible, we will not hesitate to take people to court if that is what is required - and we always take steps to reclaim overpaid money."

Going further back, I found it had happened again on the 29th November, this time it appeared in a report about a Hyde woman who had received an 18-month conditional discharge for falsely claiming housing and council tax benefit.

Once again councillor was reported as saying: "Although such fraud cases are rare and we will always explore every avenue possible, we will not hesitate to take people to court if that is what is required, and we always take steps to reclaim overpaid money."

On the 9th October yet another story issued from the Town Hall told of a woman from Audenshaw who’d fraudulently claimed housing and council tax benefit. Once again gibbering Jim, Tameside Council’s first deputy (revenue and finance) had said: “Although fraud cases such as this one are rare, and we will always explore every avenue possible, we will not hesitate to take people to court if that is what is required."

And on going back to the 6th September, reporting on the conditional discharge of another benefits cheat from Denton, the press office once again reported that the council’s first deputy (revenue and finance) had maintained his continuous rhythmic mumbling of "Although such fraud cases are rare and we will always explore every avenue possible, we will not hesitate to take people to court if that is what is required, and we always take steps to reclaim overpaid money."

Now I don’t know about you, but if I was related to this gentleman and constantly witnessed this persistent verbigeration, I would feel extremely concerned for his health.

Alternatively, could it be that the personnel in Tameside's beleaguered press office; struggling to keep up with the habitual craving for publicity from an extremely unpopular bunch of civic chancers, simply prefer to ‘cut and paste’ their bosses mumbling's, in the belief that their press releases are only being read by egotistical councillors and the odd couple of members of an apathetic audience!


Sometimes; especially when one delves into the inner-workings of Tameside council, it is very difficult to distinguish between ‘deliberate and incompetent’ when so many of the positions of influence these days seem to have been deliberately populated by incompetents.

06/12/2013

PASS THE ABACUS

On reading the latest letter from councillor John Taylor, (Tameside Reporter 05 December 2013) it would seem that the poster-boy for everything that is wrong with politics, has once again demonstrated how he only sees a given situation as his bias permits. That is, he consciously or unwittingly excludes from sight those factors which he does not wish brought to his attention.

In his latest rant regarding the ‘Royal Mail’ sell off, which, given his vast experience of fiscal studies, presumably gained from the time when he had a proper job, flogging plastic widgets from a long lamented Stalybridge market stall, he pointed out that the Royal Mail selling price was so attractive, that Bankers, Multi-National Insurance companies and Investment companies, swooped to buy the shares in order to make big profits for their investors.

He finished his rant by claiming the rich are getting richer and those who had the temerity to invest in Royal Mail shares are merely looking for a return on their investment! - No shit, Sherlock!

He underscored his point by pointing out the many of the Royal Mail employees who were offered a stake in the sale, benefitted by the demand and many doubled their money overnight!

Now let’s just take this observation to its conclusion.

If an Investment Bank, Insurance Group or Venture Capital Company makes profits by shrewd stock market dealing, the profits are distributed to the shareholders of that Bank, Insurance group or Investment Company.

Now if that system is so bad, perhaps councillor Taylor could explain why, as a Member of Greater Manchester Pension Fund, he has allowed his advisers to place hundreds of millions of the huge pension funds resources in companies like: AVIVA (£28m) Bank of America (£17million) Bank of Scotland (£6 million) Barclay’s (£26 million) CENTRICA (£32 million) CITIGROUP (£20 million) GE Capital (£25 million) Goldman Sachs (£20 million) HBOS (£120 million) & LLOYDS (£183 million)

Could it be that only through investment comes profit; without profits, councillor Taylor, his fellow councillors and hundreds of council workers, who pay into the system; retiring at the end of their working lives, would not gain those extra benefits?

Put simply, if any of the GMPF money was used to secure a shareholding in the Royal Mail, and profits were gained from their subsequent sale, then Tameside council workers amongst others will also reap some of the benefits of that sale. 

Presumably, the councillor now claiming this practice to be wrong, will surely make it public that he will be refusing his accrued pension pot and will be giving it all to charity? - No, I think not!

But of course, the councillor having a nasty streak of anti-intellectualism in him, that he frequently uses with cunning dexterity, would probably dismiss such arguments as mere 'BS' in his ‘ex-market trader’ sense of the term.

Puzzling, isn’t it?

28/11/2013

SHE WRITES BETTER THAN SHE KNOWS!

A snippet caught my eye whilst reading last week’s Reporter. (21 Nov’ 2013)

It carried a letter from a prolific, yet totally unoffending correspondent, whose innocent account of her travelling jaunts, has once again high-lighted the obvious chink in the council’s argument that the Metro will boost trade in Ashton.


Ashton Market currently has 140 stalls. 

Bury, on the other hand boasts 370 stalls, that’s over 2.5 times more to offer, which could explain why Bury welcomes over 250,000 shoppers every week!


In order to remedy this, our councillors are planning to spend £4.5 million destroying redesigning Ashton’s historic market ground.


Unfortunately, the plan so far includes reducing the number of traditional free standing outside stalls to 50, supported by 6 pop-up stalls and 7 Kiosks.





 – A shopaholic’s dream, if ever I saw one!  

27/11/2013

WHO WANTS PUDDING?

'Twas 4 weeks before Christmas and all through Santa's workshop, deep within the bowels of Tameside's Town Hall were busy little civic elves. Among them was the long-term Deputy Leader of the elves and workshop convener of the Labour controlled ‘Easily Led Vacuous Electorate’ trade union, (E.L.V.E.) - Tea-total-Taylor, an ornery elf who habitually reaches for his massive tea urn to cope with each difficult day.

Repeat after me. "Have a cuppa tea and vote for me." "Have a cuppa tea and vote for me"

…Can anyone think of a more frightening prospect for what should be a Happy Christmas season for the poor Senior Citizens of Dukinfield, than the eerie shadow of a huge metal tea-pot falling across them, in the grip of a heavily tattooed fist, being brandished by a leering councillour called Jonny the elf? It's enough to make the poor old dears choke on their figgy
pudding! 

Typical of Tameside, the very site of a career councillour venturing into the human world with his council mates once a year to offer the elderly tea and a ‘free’ game of Bingo; is tantamount to bringing Christmas into disrepute! And as soon as Christmas is over, they’ll be creating holy hell by issuing fines to people who've put their wrapping paper, ribbons and bows in the wrong bin and be nonchalant in dragging shivering residents to the magistrates court for choosing to heat & eat, rather pay their inflated council tax.

If the holiday season has already begun to grate on your nerves - the round-the-clock Christmas music, the crowded markets (they wish!) filled with crying children, the obnoxiously cheery sales clerks, wearing silly hats and reindeer ‘onesies’; the very last thing we need when we open our ‘newspapers’ is the site of career councillours, dressed in silly garb in a sad bid for cheap publicity.

People would have more respect for their councillours and their ‘charitable works’ if they did it without the ubiquitous - ‘vote for me, I’m a good guy’ - photo-call.

11/11/2013

MORE CONCRETE HEADING FOR HATTERSLEY?



Last December, I regaled of an angry rant at the Longdendale and Hattersley’s District Assembly, when someone touched a raw nerve and Councillor Fitzpatrick responded by ‘going on the offensive’ and apparently slammed people who he accused of warning residents of the possible consequences should the council amend the delivery hours at the Hattersley TESCO, as those people who ‘put Hattersley down’.
 
Last week, overheard in a conversation toward the end of the Speakers’ Panel meeting, Councillor Peter Robinson was heard to proclaim that the Hattersley Green Belt and playing field is “already an industrial area”.

“No it is not”, said, Conservative Councillor Dickinson, correcting him.
“Oh yes it is”, he replied.

Councillor Dickinson was then heard to lament to Councillor Reynolds, “Is that right; that in 6 months that area will be an industrial estate?” To which, Councillor Reynolds nodded her head.