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Swindon Council Leader Dreams On As Redundancy Estimates Soar From 1,000 to 2,000 In Just 4 Days….

Four days ago, on Thursday the 29th of July 2010 the Swindon Advertiser reported:

“SWINDON council has delivered a blow to its staff by announcing that up to 1,000 of them could potentially lose their jobs.”

Today the Advertiser reported Labour’s David Milliband as saying:

“The largest cuts plans in living memory will lead to the loss of an additional 2,000 jobs in Swindon”

The first figure of 1,000 redundancies is bad enough and Millibands raise to 2,000 is positively frightening and yet I think Milliband [i]and[/i] the Adver are likely to be proved wrong having both under-estimated the true extent of job losses in Swindon because [i]neither[/i] has properly taken the fiscal incompetence of SBC’s leadership into account…. or it’s record of avoiding telling politically embarrassing truths. Without a fiscal miracle happening in Swindon the number of job losses are likely to be much higher than are being openly admitted to at present.

Bluh claims to have some magic beans at his disposal though, one of which is his ‘One Swindon’ initiative.  “One Swindon”, he told the small number of Borough Councillors that bothered to tear themselves away from East Enders last Tuesday evening to listen to another private briefing in the council chamber, “will make this Borough a leader in delivering the Coalition Government’s vision of more integrated service delivery”

That’s an interesting promise but, based on the two estimates of job losses reported by the Advertiser, our Council seems likely to lose between 40,000 and 80,000 working hours per week. Hours which would have been worked by the soon-to-be  redundant Council/Swindon Commercial Services workers.

Recently, (and to be honest I can’t remember exactly where I read this), a document was published by SBC which expressed the expectation or belief that ‘More capacity would be leveraged from the voluntary sector‘, which I presume means SBC intends to ‘encourage’ more volunteers to do more unpaid work to fill the inevitable gaps in services left by the newly sacked Council bods.   A novel idea, but one which is making councillors and community leaders shake their heads in dismay and disbelief because, (as several of them have pointed out to me this weekend), Bluh’s estimates and expectations are, as usual, unrealistic and almost certainly unachievable.

Why are they unrealistic?

Because I’m told the average voluntary worker cheerfully does about 4hrs unpaid voluntary work each week.  This means a veritable army of 10,000 volunteers would be needed each week to cover the 40,000 hours left void by even 1,000 missing SBC staff.   20,000 volunteers would be needed each week to cover the 80,000 hours unused by 2,000 missing staff and 30,000 volunteers for 3,000 sacked full timers – to get an idea of scale, this is more than three times the number of UK troops currently serving in Afghanistan.   Okay, my figures are a gross simplification but I’m sure you understand the point:  The Council will not fill the hours worked by 1 full time worker with one full time unpaid volunteer, It simply does not work like that and to describe a desire for volunteers to do even  more unpaid volunteering work as ‘leveraging extra capacity’ from them is a fairly typical example of Bluh’s autocratic and demanding attitude towards volunteers and goes some way to explaining why many volunteers believe, with good reason, that Bluh’s crowd have been systematically dumping on them from a great height for several years.

Bluh is a dreamer. He’s dreamed of canals, Universities, regeneration, electrifying the railways, Tabernacle stones, Big Weekends and now he’s dreaming of uniting all of Swindon under his ‘One Swindon’ banner at the very same time as people are waking 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 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:”


” Mr Mayor, fellow councillors, in this budget you will see irrefutable evidence that we have a tight grip around the councils finances and will be delivering on our commitment for all Swindon, not just for today, but for years to come.”


“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. Bluh said:”


“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 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.


So, Bluh can try passing the buck and blaming the upcoming job losses on the last Government, but he cannot escape from the simple fact that the Conservative/Liberal Coalition government has cut ONLY £1.4 million from the annual grant to the Council.  £1.4 million is considerably less than Bluh has squandered on his various vanity projects, (canal studies, wifi, Big Weekend etc), and happens to be less than 25% of the figure which Cllr Edwards boasted as having in ‘reserves’ in March 2010:

“We are maintaining our reserves at £6m instead of £5m to cope with the ongoing impact of the economic downturn”

What we’re really seeing here is the £4,000,000 black hole in the middle of  Bluh & Edward’s 2010 budget starting to expand and warp the fabric of everything around it.  Try as he might, Bluh can’t really expect to bury his black hole under the bad news coming out of Downing Street because, sooner or later, Downing Street will publicly point out that cutting Swindon’s grant by just £1.4 million should not be leading towards 3,000 job losses.

Also, it is telling, (is it not?), that in just 4 months Bluh’s crowd have come from denying there was a hole in their budget to now claiming that they must ‘save’ £11m in this financial year and expects to have to save a further £15m a year in future.

This wasn’t wholly Gordon Browns doing and nor is it all down to the last government. This is mostly down to Bluh and his cabinet doing exactly what most of them have criticised the last government for.

I wonder how many Swindon Borough Council Cabinet Members currently ‘volunteer’ for anything other than paid committee seats on outside bodies?…….

Talkswindon Forum Discussion topic now open here: New members are always welcome to pop along and give an opinion :)

Posted on
Monday, August 2nd, 2010
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2 Comments to “Swindon Council Leader Dreams On As Redundancy Estimates Soar From 1,000 to 2,000 In Just 4 Days….”

[...] recently blogged about Rod Bluh’s plans for dealing with the black hole in his April 2010 budget by reducing [...]

August 9th, 2010

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Geoff Reid, Geoff Reid. Geoff Reid said: Blogged:: Council Leader Dreams On As Redundancy Estimates Soar From 1,000 to 2,000 In Just 4 Days…. http://bit.ly/d6PZV8 [...]

August 2nd, 2010