Saturday, September 05, 2009

What a Waste of Money

Sometimes, no, quite often, I despair of my local council in Tunbridge Wells. This morning is one of those days. I received in the post an envelope containing no fewer than four documents, all about health and safety. The letter is from the Food & Commercial Team Manager. There is a letter, and HSE leaflet showing a man falling off a ladder and urging me not to do the same, a Business Link flyer telling me that businesses who take their advice are twice as profitable as those that don't, a flyer for courses on health and safety at West Ken College, and finally, a 92 page booklet called Signposting Health & Safety. Cost of postage 59p.

What an incredible waste of money. Most of the information in the booklet comes under the category of stating the bleedin' obvious, although to their credit the council has secured a few adverts which will have covered some of the costs.

And since when was health & safety a primary responsibility of local authorities?

I don't know how many businesses there are in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council area (10,000?), but I doubt whether 5% of them will have found this booklet or the other leaflets useful. If you take the manhours into account this little exercise will have probably cost the council tax payer somewhere between £5-10,000.

Perhaps there is some central government edict ordering councils to send out this literature, or maybe it's being paid for by the HSE. But whatever the truth, it's yet another example of money that can be saved - and ought to be.

28 comments:

Dick the Prick said...

Nope, not statutory at all and 10k seems a bit low, more like 30k. We've got a bit of a Lib Dem problem in that as their lad has got sweet FA to do except piss me right off, he bombards stuff like this rubbish so that people think we're profligate, when in actual fact, to have a standup fight now, in minority control, would be a bloody irritation. Anywho - it's weekend and well done Postman Pat getting to you before lunch.

Anonymous said...

How dare you criticise the wonderful council.

After all, they have your interests at heart even if it costs you your money.

Your name is now on their little list as a trouble maker.

Expect a visit from the inspectors.

Oh dear, Iain.

Dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Anonymous said...

is it lib dem or socialist controlled. A tory council would never do such a terrible thing - such as point out Health and safety issues.

Pelagius said...

Totally agree with what you say. It is the councillors fault for (a) setting up and funding this department and (b) not managing their work.

And another part of the British disease which is making the UK a failing state.

JuliaM said...

Then let's hear Cameron start to outline exactly what he plans to cut when he gets in - i.e. stuff like this.

Because we can't go on paying for it forever...

Clameur de Haro said...

I suppose it's a tiny consolation that the four leaflets actually came in the same envelope, and not in four separate, postage-quadrupling ones...

....which would have been the case in Clameur de Haro's neck of the woods - I got one yesterday urging me to put a sticker on my oil tank reminding me not to order any oil if the tank is full. Gosh! I'd never have thought of that.

Food and Commercial Team Manager? Defies belief, doesn't it - sounds like a typical jobsworth post straight out of the public sector vacancy pagers in the Grauniad. One for the upcoming cull, one hopes.

peterbotting said...

I agree with the £30k estimate. Cost benefit analysis obviously unknown jargon describing a weird and unknown phenomena!

Tax payer value for money ditto!!

Paddy Briggs said...

They are "cover your arse" communications - nothing more. So if you do fall off a ladder the council can say at the inquest "Dale was sent leaflet ABC123 which strongly advised him not to fall off ladders in Paragraph 4 sub Para 3. He was warned. The council is not responsible."

Most HSE is commonsense. So when I saw a load of pricks running across the road at a busy junction near Vauxhall station yesterday instead of walking 20 yards to a crossing it was unlikely that any of the nurds would not have done this if they had received a leaflet that morning telling them not to! One was hit by a car incidentally and there was blood on the road... Dimwittedness costs lives!

Neil A said...

I expect you will find that a regulation somewhere requires local authorities to demonstrate "positive steps" and "active engagement" with the Health and Safety "agenda". The council will have done this in order to tick a box to show how "positive" and "active" they have been. Now they can forget about Health and Safety and move on down the checklist..

Gallimaufry said...

Iain, although 'elf'n'safety is bleedin' obvious to you and the vast majority of people, avoidable accidents happen every day. If one idiot is prompted to think of the consequences before doing and either stops or modifies his or her actions, that is one fewer person ahead of us in the triage queue at casualty if we sustain unavoidable injuries. Seemples.

Anonymous said...

Do remind us who runs the council Iain?
When will the penny drop?

cornyborny said...

Yes, it's a waste of money. You, I, and all sensible people can see that.

But it's not about money (there is a magic money tree, after all). It's about reinforcing the idea that every little aspect of life is The State's business; that The State has a right and a duty to issue proclamations about anything and everything. The happy corollary of this is the lessening of individual initiative and the gradual acceptance that everything must be sanctioned by The State or else.

Or it could just be another example of a council trying desperately to look like they're Doing Something. Not at all overstaffed, noooo no. All hands to the pumps, here.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Careful how you open that envelope old chap, you can get a nasty paper cut.

Of course, if you do, you can sue the ass off your local council, for failing to provide a proper warning on the envelope.

What an extraordinarily fucked up world we live in.

cornyborny said...

Incidentally, do they still empty the bins once a week down there or are they so low on resources they can only stretch to once a fortnight?

(I know it's an EU thing, really, but the net result is the same).

People in the 22nd century are going to laugh very hard at us.

Bryan Dunleavy said...

One of the great evils of our time is the centralization of government that seriously started under Margaret Thatcher and has continued since to encroach on our lives. If local democracy was restored and local authorities had more important things to do than decide upon which day to collect rubbish bins, then they might be less inclined to invent redundant activities such as the mail-out you described.
Idle hands......

Chris Rose said...

This is a solid Conservative Council:

"After the election on 1 May 2008, the political composition of the Council is:
* Conservatives 44
* Liberal Democrats 4

"Key members of the Council are:
* Chairman of the Council (The Mayor) - Cllr L Price (len.price@tunbridgewells.gov.uk)
* Vice-Chairman of the Council (The Deputy Mayor) - Cllr D Jukes (david.jukes@tunbridgewells.gov.uk)
* Leader of the Council and the Conservative Group - Cllr R J Bullock MBE (roy.bullock@tunbridgewells.gov.uk)"

Perhaps they would like to receive some correspondence themselves.

Chris Paul said...

Idle speculation plus Unwarranted fury. How many businesses? How much did it actually cost when income is factored in? Who paid for that? And perhaps the 5,000 or whatever pound question is:

Will accidents at work and indeed at home increase, reduce or stay the same after this initiative?

If it cost £5,000 and one life was saved would that be worth it?

No? How about two lives? Or five broken legs?

This is a bizarre post Iain. Speculative and showing need for anger management programme. Even if the Council are Tories ...

Matthew said...

It is all official bodies who do this. Hundreds of thousands of directors of Ltd companies will have received a leaflet trying to detail the changes in company law.
It was A3 folded down to A6, had an expensively added card cover, contained Fisher Price early learning type illustrations, and said very little. The leaflet with it had been reduced from A4 to A5 and was barely legible.
Yet no-one will be asked what idiots signed this off, and how much money it cost.
Donkeys.

John East said...

Look at it this way and it's not so annoying, as a form of quantitative easing, with the government pumping money into the economy.

It's still a bit pointless, I suppose, but at least this time the dosh is going to printers, postmen and rubbish collectors rather than to fat greedy bankers.

Anonymous said...

The last time I was in a hospital reception there was a tottering pile of fat pamphlets advising immigrants of their rights - in Vietnamese. This was in Ipswich....

Johnny Norfolk said...

Every council could save a fortune without affecting basic services, by cutting out this kind of waste. Mine sends out a magazine that the bin men deliver the put under the lid and i drop it in. all the info is on line and every libery in norfolk has free internet acces if you do not have it.
I would link their pay to how much they save.

Plato said...

As someone who doesn't open their post very often, today I decided to embark on a voyage of discovery through a pile 10" deep.

There were at least 4 leaflets and a magazine from the council, something from BusinessLink and Swine Flu guide on how to use a hanky.

I really don't want the money extracted from my wallet to be spent on such rubbish either.

Anonymous said...

As a neighbour - in Shepway (the unnatural name for New Romney and Folkstone) may I say yours is not the only such profligate council. Mine sent two leaflets in the same envelope , each had pictures of all the councillors (predominantly Tory I'm afraid)- and one the phone numbers of all their services from 'hanging baskets' to 'wasp removal'. Not hard to decide on some services to cut!
TimC

Anonymous said...

I think you should look at who printed the leaflets.

Probably a nice little earner for someone who has negotiated a sweet deal in return for a few party donations and other sweeteners.

Quietzapple said...

Don't you have someone like Red Ken to organise a 10 times a year cheapo paper with this sort of info in?

Sadly those who run councils usually do think they can help when they cannot, and aggrandising publicity is too common.

If you don't have a monthly paper, tell them a 6 times a year one to replace the leaflets is called for, and offer to edit it after your shower have lost the next election.

Thatsnews said...

Iain, health and safety has been a 'primary responsibility' of local authorities for many years.

And if health and safety was quite so obvious, why are there so many accidents in the workplace every day?

Pete Chown said...

I think we've found out who 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' is, anyway. :-)

Anonymous said...

I bet it cost next to nothing and was sponsored by some of the advertising material. Be interested to find out when you make an enquiry!!