Author Topic: Playbuilder Grant 'Bluhvered' Up To Fill Budget Black Hole?  (Read 2010 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Geoff Reid

  • Active But Odd
  • Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 6641
  • Gender: Male
  • Bald as a chimps arse
Also Blogged here: http://www.geoffreid.com/?p=419




I notice Toothill & Westlea Councillor Steve Wakefield has recently blogged 'A Crumb Of Comfort' in which he likens Swindon Borough Council to a 'malnourished body' which is forced to hoover up every last crumb of cash to make ends meet.  But surely, hoovering up cash wherever they can find it is normal behaviour for members of Rod Bluh's cabinet, and it often seems to be done to the deliberate detriment of his own back-bench councillors?

Charley Morgan, (Swindon Pravdatiser), this week reported that Swindon play parks scheduled for regeneration with cash from the Governments 'Playbuilder' grant would be, according to Deputy leader of Swindon Council Garry Perkins, 'protected".

Charley's article come hot on the heels of rumours escaping the Civic offices that many, if not all, of the 'playbuilder' team have already been 'Rodicalised'.  In other words, Rod Bluh has decided that, although a large chunk of the original £2,000,000 playbuilder grant remains unspent, the expertise of those workers entrusted with seeing the play park regeneration through to completion is no longer required.  Is Rod intending to turn the play park regeneration into yet another pRodject, just as he did with the Central Library and former Railway museum?: both pRodjects are rumoured to have suffered significant 'problems' after he imposed his own vision on them.   It is not for nothing that Rod Bluh is, in some professional circles, quietly referred to as the 'Eastcott Cuckoo'.

So how likely is it that the 'Twist' play park at Penhill,   Northview play area   in Highworth,   Maunsell Way play area in Wroughton and the Mannington Recreation Ground in Rodbourne  will be successfully regenerated using the remaining grant money?  I suspect the answer is 'not very' and Garry Perkins is already being typically 'flexible' in his response to the same question:

Quote from: Councillor Garry Perkins
“I think it would be totally wrong to go back on those residents who  expected their playparks to be renovated and tell them it will not now  go ahead, but it might be a case of using the money in a slightly different  way.”

...or using the money for a different pRodject entirely?  It would be nice to think that Councillor Garry would hold himself to his word unsupervised,  but his words are already thick with political grease and past events in Stratton  might suggest to many that the parents of Penhill, Highworth, Wroughton and Rodbourne ought to watch Rod Bluh and Garry Perkins very carefully if they want to see their children playing in safe, modern playparks in the near future.


What happened in Stratton?


2008 last the last election year in Swindons cycle of 'thirds'. There had been location elections in 2006 and 2007, so after the 2008 elections were concluded there would be no further elections to the council until this year, 2010.  2008 was therefore seen as an important year in which the Conservative group could consolidate recent gains and dig themselves in ready for the local and general elections in 2010.

In the run up to the 2008 elections Councillor Bluh and his chums didn't want any boat-rocking or bad press,  so a lot of promises were made before the elections, (to keep people sweet and 'on message'), which weren't kept after them.  One such promise concerned the playing fields at the former Headlands School in Stratton -  it would be 'kept free of houses'.  It should also be noted that Councillor Bluh was also standing for re-election in 2008 and I would describe him, at that point, as having a very firm desire to avoid bad news stories.

Stratton Councillors David Sammells and Paul Findlow, (both Conservatives), were assured by Bluh's cabinet that the playing fields were 'safe' and a Conservative newsletter was subsequently distributed to every house in the ward proudly proclaiming that the safety of the playing fields had been 'secured' by the Conservative Councillors. Unfortunately for Councillors Sammells and  Findlow, and worse for the children and parents of Stratton, it would later prove to be untrue.

With the 2008 election safely over for Rod Bluh and the Conservative group it wasn't long before a bad smell wafted out of the civic offices which was soon followed by a bad tempered Councillor Sammells.  He did his very best to hide it, but eventually the story broke and the reason for Councillor Sammells' ire became crystal clear when it the Pravdatiser published the story in mid-September. The headline was: "Tories under fire over playing fields"


Quote
Tories under fire over playing fields

2:20pm Saturday 13th September 2008

POLITICAL rivals have slammed  Conservative politicians who promised to keep  green space at the former  Headlands School free of houses.

Under new plans, the playing fields beside the school, now the  Swindon  Academy, would be covered in 200 homes but a Conservative newsletter published last year claimed the playing  fields  had been secured.

And who took the decision to sell  Strattons Playing fields off to developers?  I'm told it was none other than Councillor Perkins who was, at that point,  the lead member for Childrens services.   I don't know who broke the news to Councillors Sammells and Findlow that the playing fields weren't as secure as promised,  but wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that it was Cllr Perkins again.

I spoke to David Sammells shortly before he stepped down from his council seat and I formed the lasting impression that he felt personally let down, betrayed even, and that he was genuinely aggrieved for his ward residents.  I expect Cllr Dave rues the day he trusted the cabinet and, if he ever finds himself in a similar situation, will be wary where money and land are involved and will place a metaphorical breadboard between his shoulder blades.

What's the moral of this tale?, readers must form their own opinion but mine is;  left unsupervised within easy reach of a pot of available cash Rod Bluh and his chums are likely to siphon it off into something they think is more 'worthwhile' than children's play parks.   A recent example of a government grant being used for something other than its intended purpose in Swindon was when the 2009 government LABGI grant, (Local Authority Business Growth Initiative),  was used to pay off the massive debts incurred by staging Radio Rod's Big Spend Weekend, the Radio One Big Weekend.   Rod Bluh grudgingly admits to  forking out £498,000 of public money to pay for the 2 day knees-up, but clams up petulently when pushed for the real, much higher figure.   Bluh promised me a 'written answer' to that very question when I asked him directly at full council.   His promise has yet to be honoured but I'm a patient man.  I'll wait years if necessary.

Do I think the playparks will be regenerated? the simple answer is no, at least not for a very long time.  The playbuilder workers have been fired whilst the grant money is still available so I don't believe Bluh & Co have any intention whatsoever of doing it soon, if at all,  with the remains of the playbuilder grant.

In summary I think the playbuilder grant 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 payers and service users of the Borough.

Worried of West Swindon.


Offline Tea Boy

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 653
  • Gender: Male
  • Tea's up!, Kettle's on
Re: Playbuilder Grant 'Bluhvered' Up To Fill Budget Black Hole?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2010, 02:05:16 am »
Ask this Question: how many are due to be refurbished from the playbuilder 'pot' and how many are due to be closed to cut costs?

also where are the play areas in swindon , there's loads in new areas like abbeymeads and f*** all elsewhere cos they're closed down in older estates or council housing... to cut costs

It common knowledge SBC have over 100 active play parks, but a budget for half that. So what's been sacrificed, safety, equipment, lack of inspections.
Gardening tips: Always remember its brown side down, green side up.  If its knocking now it'll only go bang later

Offline Muggins

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2860
Re: Playbuilder Grant 'Bluhvered' Up To Fill Budget Black Hole?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2010, 08:20:36 am »
Like I said somehwere lese, I think our Borough is in the 'what can we take away, just so we look good and generous when we give it back' mode.

Ref the TWIST (part of our @Seven Fields) site, it won't just be the kids and parents that would be annoyed.,  The older people in the community all made childrens/youth things a priority in the many many surveys on Penhill over tha last 8/10 years.  The Officers and I will name them if needs be - concerned have been absolute bricks with their partnership with the community on this plan, our other workers and volunteers slogging away on all sorts of stuff to bring the different modules of the plan together.  That to me is time and money already invested.  The whole thing should be a feather in any target cap - if only the heirachy in the Borough could grasp the concept.

Tea boy you are naughty,  you know that all the play area over in the Northern Development were paid for with Planning gain (section 106) money, skillfully negotiated by borough officers (albiet some time ago) so could only go in that development.

BTW,  Gary Perkins may claim that Swindon Council has built 19 new schools in recent years,  Yes, with Labour government money - and that won't be happeening now will it.  Ironic, as the ones in Swindon who shouted the loudest about the 'too small size' of the school in their areas and did not want the difference made up with portacabins, are those that have elected in the new government that will take that new build away.

Blimey Muggins, you just spent five minutes actually praising Borough officers!  So stunned, might even have to go and lie down in a darkened room.
Lifes not always fair. Sometimes you can get a splinter even sliding down a rainbow. - Cherralea Morgen

Offline Tea Boy

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 653
  • Gender: Male
  • Tea's up!, Kettle's on
Re: Playbuilder Grant 'Bluhvered' Up To Fill Budget Black Hole?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2010, 12:15:16 pm »

Tea boy you are naughty,  you know that all the play area over in the Northern Development were paid for with Planning gain (section 106) money, skillfully negotiated by borough officers (albiet some time ago) so could only go in that development.

Still ... its a fact, who ever has paid for them, over provision in one ward, closures in another? how long before Abbey Meads starts to see closures? 5 years? or 1 year?
Gardening tips: Always remember its brown side down, green side up.  If its knocking now it'll only go bang later

Offline Tea Boy

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 653
  • Gender: Male
  • Tea's up!, Kettle's on
Re: Playbuilder Grant 'Bluhvered' Up To Fill Budget Black Hole?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2010, 12:17:24 pm »
The Officers and I will name them if needs be - concerned have been absolute bricks with their partnership with the community on this plan.

Blimey Muggins, you just spent five minutes actually praising Borough officers!  So stunned, might even have to go and lie down in a darkened room.

Why shy away from naming names? surely these Officers need the added the added thanks, it might just save thier jobs, come on Muggins out them for doing what they are paid for, and apparently doing it well.....
Gardening tips: Always remember its brown side down, green side up.  If its knocking now it'll only go bang later

Offline Muggins

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2860
Re: Playbuilder Grant 'Bluhvered' Up To Fill Budget Black Hole?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2010, 07:03:54 pm »
My fear at naming officers, Teaboy, is that it might have the reverse effect on their jobs to what one would expect, i.e.  if we appreciate what they do, it might be taken that they should be the first ones in the redundancy line ups......
Lifes not always fair. Sometimes you can get a splinter even sliding down a rainbow. - Cherralea Morgen

Offline Geoff Reid

  • Active But Odd
  • Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 6641
  • Gender: Male
  • Bald as a chimps arse
Re: Playbuilder Grant 'Bluhvered' Up To Fill Budget Black Hole?
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2010, 11:10:35 pm »

Bump.  :)

Offline Muggins

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2860
Re: Playbuilder Grant 'Bluhvered' Up To Fill Budget Black Hole?
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2010, 10:07:29 am »
Funny you should bring this back Geoff.   

The playbuilder grants were shut down on the change of government, but they have recently heard that they can now go ahead, with a reduction, of course. 

More to come as I find out more.
Lifes not always fair. Sometimes you can get a splinter even sliding down a rainbow. - Cherralea Morgen

Offline Spectre

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 149
  • Hello !
Re: Playbuilder Grant 'Bluhvered' Up To Fill Budget Black Hole?
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2010, 11:31:28 am »
According to a report this morning on Radio Wiltshire, two of the five play areas that were to be upgraded will not be done. One was in Wroughton and I didn't catch where the other was.

Seems they(Council) can't make up their minds whether the funding is there or not, albiet reduced.




 :angel:

Offline Muggins

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2860
Re: Playbuilder Grant 'Bluhvered' Up To Fill Budget Black Hole?
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2010, 11:54:44 am »
I suspect that one to be dropped from Playbuilder might be the TWIST site, because they have gone ahead (in partnership) and found funds from elsewhere in the meantime.  This play area is one module of a much larger community led plan for the Seven Fields 'Penhill' Park. 

This is a quote from 'Greenspace:'
"Good news as Playbuilder funding is saved. It had been feared that the Playbuilder scheme, which has provided funding for improved and new play spaces across the country, was set to be cut altogether. However yesterday it was revealed that over £50m of the original £75m allocation for this final year of the scheme will remain. This will allow local authorities to continue with most of their planned schemes and deliver important play projects that truly involve their local communities and help the fight against childhood obesity, providing adventurous and safe places for play and growth." More on Greenspace web site.

Then Friday/Saturday Adver covered a story about the government agreeing for the Playbuilder fund to go ahead, but less money and that SBC has £403,000 of the £550,000 that had originally been agreed. 

I suppose the Adver must have got this information from the borough.
 


Lifes not always fair. Sometimes you can get a splinter even sliding down a rainbow. - Cherralea Morgen

Offline Geoff Reid

  • Active But Odd
  • Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 6641
  • Gender: Male
  • Bald as a chimps arse

Offline Ringer

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1796
  • Gender: Female
Re: Playbuilder Grant 'Bluhvered' Up To Fill Budget Black Hole?
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2010, 08:52:26 pm »
Maybe a bit of a premature comment, as I thought there was going to be some debate on how that money has done a Phoenix and risen from the ashes of last years budget?

Perhaps that 225 K will have more comebacks than ol blue eyes?
To qualify for inclusion there is only one rule - something described must have been said to have happened. `If the facts don`t fit the legend, print

 

Sorry, the copyright must be in the template.
Please notify this forum's administrator that this site is missing the copyright message for SMF so they can rectify the situation. Display of copyright is a legal requirement. For more information on this please visit the Simple Machines website.