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Borough of Swindon Sucked Over Event Horizon of Bluh’s Black Hole Budget

A few weeks back I said:

“Politically speaking, February 2010 was the month Swindon’s Conservative councillors once again lined up loyally behind their leader and his cabinet and voted for a budget which, as several Tory councillors commented at the time, was reckless and almost certain to fail and fail badly.

Recent events, and the reaction of Bluhs micro-cabinet to them, do seem to indicate that Cllr Edwards budget has already gone badly awry, less than two months since he proudly said…..”

Well, it’s official in my opinion, Roderick Bluh, the Visionary, Vibrant and Velocitised Leader of Swindon Borough Council is now the very model of a ‘Casino Councillor’. A political gambler who happily risks other peoples money, livelihoods and even health to get to where he wants to go politically. Depending what side of the fence you’re on, Bluh is either a well intentioned public servant or public enemy.

We’ve become used to Bluh’s regular sanctimonious lectures but it seems he hasn’t yet realised that his Swindon Pravdatiser sponsored whines do as much damage to his public persona as his profligate spending habits will eventually do to him in the political arena. Bluh steadfastly refuses to take responsibility for his own decisions when they go wrong and the 2010 budget is fast shaping up to be his biggest and most expensive failure to date, costing us millions of pounds, hundreds of jobs and possibly several lives as various Council provided public services are tinkered with to save money.

Yes, it’s all gone horribly wrong but I doubt Bluh will lose any sleep over it because, as he said in one of his recent lectures:

“BEING in politics is sometimes about taking risks….Politicians who always look to ‘play it safe’ are often masking a lack of ambition and low horizons. As far as I’m concerned we must take calculated risks if we’re to get things moving and get things changed for the better”

“No more pressing problem exists than breaking the economic chains that threaten our shops and retailers.”

“It’s why next week’s Cabinet meeting will be considering cuts to car parking charges to encourage more people to spend their money both in the town centre and in Old Town”

Unbelievably, instead of getting to grips with the fatally flawed budget ‘delivered’ by himself and Cllr Edwards, (both loyally assisted by100% of the Tory herd animals), Rod and his chums decided to fart around with car parking charges instead. Some local ‘loud mouths’, (Bluh’s term for those of us who dare criticise him – the cap fits and I’m proud to wear it), have been shouting “Excuse us Councillor, but there’s a £4,000,000 hole in your budget”, ever since Councillor Mark Edwards, Tory lead member for finance said in February 2010:

“It is a budget that protects vital public services for the elderly and the vulnerable. It is a budget that protects local residents. It is a budget that protects staff; with fewer redundancies than many other councils are proposing.”

These reckless idiots knew that it was a budget born with a hole in the heart, specifically a £4,000,000 sized hole which they knew they had no realistic hope of filling, but that was of no concern to Bluh because, in December 2009, he had already spelled out his politically myopic priorities for the New Year:

“By the time the Budget is put to bed we will have delivered the best Budget to-date with the lowest council tax to-date with the least frontline impact to-date. I have always said that I wanted this to be so pre-elections, particularly the General.

We have both the local and general elections only a number of weeks away now and it is essential that we all work a one team to ensure the best possible outcome. Our focus should be electoral success to deliver 2 Conservative MPs for Swindon, a Conservative Government and maintain a strong Conservative council.

Our first priority for 2010 has to be to secure the election of Justin and Robert as our new MPs.

Bluh & Co’s 2010 budget was engineered to be electorally popular and once he ‘got what he wished for’ I’m sure he thought Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland would pull his reckless and arse out of the fire. But they haven’t saved him, and nor are they able or likely to, in fact things are looking worse for Bluh and, because of his arrogant contempt towards Swindons residents and voters, worse by the hour for us but, before I deliver the latest dour news from Euclid street, why not take five minutes to re-read the 2010 budget speech given by Councillor Mark Edwards, (Swindon Borough Councils Lead member for finance), so you can properly discern the hard facts from the political fantasy?

Read Councillor Mark Edwards’ 2010 budget speech by clicking here.

And now, once you’ve digested Edwards’ bitter entrée, prepare to become more than a little disconcerted as the £190,000 (‘ish) a year Chief Executive of Swindon Borough Council, Gavin Jones, brings us back to earth with matters as they stand today:

Mid-year budget review – Cabinet Meeting

You are all aware of the unprecedented budget challenges we are facing and we understand that this is unsettling for everyone. As promised, we want to make sure that we keep our staff informed at every stage of our response to the financial challenge.

Next week Cabinet will review the impact of the budget position and agree the next steps which will form the basis of the autumn mid-year budget. Below we have set out the key points that they will be considering.

There is little doubt that our response to budget challenges, and the opportunity this gives us for change, will dramatically alter the shape of the Council forever.

We need to …

…take control of the situation
We will receive £1.5million less this year in Government grants than we had planned for, but the total saving we believe we need to find this year is £4million. This is because pressure on next year’s budget will be even greater, and we have to take measures now to leave us better able to meet those challenges.

…be smaller in size and do less


In the past five years £40million in efficiency savings have been made, and there is little scope for more under the current structure.

…explore all opportunities


We need to be relentless in our focus on efficiency and value for money in all that we do but this won’t be enough. In order to secure the right outcomes for the people of Swindon we will need to fundamentally review how we do things. This is not about minor changes to traditional service delivery; it may mean wholesale changes to the way we currently deliver services. This means some of these services will have to be provided in partnership – or entirely – by other groups, such as charities or volunteers and as a result there are likely to be redundancies in all areas of the Council.

…act quickly


We will do our best to consult over the changes, but we are being asked to move with unprecedented speed. The necessary measures will be painful and potentially unpopular, but we are clear what our priorities should be and we have to take the lead in gaining the best possible outcomes for the people of Swindon, given the realities we are facing. You can see more about the priorities in the Cabinet papers which you can see online this week at http://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=285&MId=4276&J=1

What’s next


Difficult decisions are going to have to be made quickly and we will consult with you where possible. We will have a better idea about the specific impact towards the end of the summer.

You will hear more about the Council’s priorities for the future and have the opportunity to air your views at the All Staff Briefings later this month – ensure you book your place at the briefings by emailing oneswindon@swindon.gov.uk. There will also be further opportunities for you to get involved in shaping the future vision of the organisation.

Throughout the changes, we will continue to be open and honest with you. Please speak to your manager or email us on oneswindon@swindon.gov.uk with your questions or comments.

For further support you can also contact our Employee Assistance Programme provider, Care first, for advice, information and counselling support.

Thank you for your support during this time.

Kind regards,
Gavin Jones
Swindon Borough Council Chief Executive

——————————————————————————————–

Translation:

Unprecedented budget challenges = Edwards & Bluh have really fucked up.

Unsettling for everyone = Be afraid

Our response to the financial challenge = Any day now the public is going to realise we’ve been blagging it.

Cabinet will review the impact of the budget position = cabinet members will wear their underpants on their heads and dribble

The autumn mid-year budget = This is an emergency budget, Edwards and Bluh have really screwed the pooch on this.

Opportunity this gives us for change = This is like saying: “The Americans kindly provided the residents of Hiroshima an ‘opportunity’ to redecorate”

Dramatically alter the shape of the Council forever = The number of highly paid directors and councillors will remain the same but there will be less common folk cluttering the place up.

Total saving we believe we need to find this year is £4million = Alright, it’s a fair cop Guv, Geoff Reid and the other loud-mouths were right about this.

Pressure on next year’s budget will be even greater = Probably £8,000,000 at but possibly even higher

Take measures now to leave us better able to meet those challenges = You see this axe?

£40million in efficiency savings have been made, and there is little scope for more under the current structure = nothing left to cut but services and you, my £190,000 salary isn’t up for discussion so piss off!

Be relentless in our focus on efficiency and value for money in all that we do but this won’t be enough = We could sack all of you and it still wouldn’t get us out of this mess.

Secure the right outcomes for the people of Swindon = If we really meant this all SBC Directors would resign, ha ha ha.

Fundamentally review how we do things = For Gods sake tell us – how the fuck do we stop Bluh wasting taxpayers money?

This is not about minor changes to traditional service delivery; it may mean wholesale changes to the way we currently deliver services, some of these services will have to be provided in partnership – or entirely – by other groups, such as charities or volunteers and as a result there are likely to be redundancies in all areas of the Council = We’re thinking about handing over some aspects of service delivery to a new public/private partnership called Digital Council (UK) Ltd, and we’re lending the company £20,000,000 to get off the ground

Roderick Bluh, one-time accountant, property speculator, Quango sitter and profligate leader of a Tory council, has steered the entire Borough of Swindon over the event horizon of a budget black-hole of his making.

Only X-rays escape the gravity well of a Black-Hole. There is no miraculous escape for any of us, (apart from the directors of SBC apparently, most of whom live way-the-hell out of the Borough), and we are going into this Black Hole whether we want to or not and are going to see a lot of things we currently take for granted being terribly squeezed or completely crushed as the inescapable consequences of Bluh’s fuckwittage pile up on us.

Don’t let Bluh & his merry band of followers off the hook when they try passing the buck and the blame onto someone else. The crisis in Swindon is 99% of their own making. responsibility for this this Ocean going & fur-lined fuck-up is theirs and theirs alone….

….yet we, SBC staff and the users and recipients of vital public service will pay the price for their ineptitude, arrogance and irresponsibility.

Some will pay with their livelihoods, some will lose their houses and some will probably lose their lives. Some all three.

*Additional:
I just noticed that Komadori has surfaced after a noticeable absence and published his first Blog post in a little while:

“If that accounting genius, Mr Bluh, can claim that ‘the value is not related to money’ we really shouldn’t be surprised that Swindon Borough Council’s budget is in such a mess”


Posted on
Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
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4 Comments to “Borough of Swindon Sucked Over Event Horizon of Bluh’s Black Hole Budget”

[...] up to the fact that he and his cronies have run the town onto the rocks. It wasn’t long ago that I said this: “Unbelievably, instead of getting to grips with the fatally flawed budget ‘delivered’ by [...]

August 2nd, 2010

[...] SBC’s 2010 risk-riddled budget sucks the town even deeper into a disastrous financial situation, the ruling Tory party this [...]

July 20th, 2010

[...] will, (if it hasn’t already), be hoovered up with quite a few other pots of cash to go into  Bluh’s £4,000,000 budget black hole which, if not plugged quickly, looks likely to expand into a much larger problem for us, the tax [...]

July 15th, 2010

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Talkswindon, lamplighter, Albert Swearengen, Dave 'Ersatz' Runard, Geoff Reid and others. Geoff Reid said: Blogged: Borough of #Swindon Sucked Over Event Horizon of Bluh's Black Hole Budget http://bit.ly/bKmLnA [...]

July 15th, 2010