Author Topic: SBC cancels Bluh's 'Corrosive' Lobbying Contract after Pickles Condems Practice  (Read 1291 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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On the 18th August 2010 the Swindon Advertiser reported that Rod Bluh's love affair with Parliamentary lobbyists was finally over. 




Quote from: Charley Morgan
SWINDON Council has cancelled a contract with a firm of private lobbyists, just days after a cabinet minister called the practice corrosive and wasteful.

Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State For Communities And Local Government, said he was determined to end the use of taxpayers' money on political lobbyists. He said the job could be done just as well by local politicians and that he would issue new guidance to guard againstcampaigning with public funds.

In February, the Adverr revealed that Swindon Council signed a £129,400 contract with London lobbying firm Connect PA in July 2009 to secure funding for the town's regeneration. The contract was due to run until January 2011 but yesterday the council said it was ending it early.

Mr Pickles said: "Lobbyists are being used to sidestep transparency laws and shadowy figures are peddling more regulation and special favours. " If local politicians want t o change the way Government operates, their council should send a letter or pick up the phone.  Councillors can campaign for change at a personal or party political level, rather than throwing away council tax on the corrosive and wasteful practice of government lobbying government:"

Coun Derique Montaut, the leader of the Labour group on Swindon Council, said: "What makes this use of council tax payers' money worse is that since this London lobbying firm has been hired central Government cuts have been more severe in Swindon than in other areas."

Coun Dave Wood, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats on Swindon Council, said: "I agree with the coalition that councils should not be throwing council tax money down the drain while lining lobbyists' pockets. Imagine, for example, what this money would mean for our libraries, playparks or for road safety."

A Swindon Council spokeswoman said the firm was hired because the council felt Swindon was not receiving the same level of funding compared to other growth areas." She said the contract was terminated after the change in Government and it was currently serving a one-month notice period, with a further £7,000 expected to be spent.
She said: "This council, like many othe r public bodies, is facing unprecedented financial pressures, and the early termination of the contract will contribute to the in-year savings that we have to make.

"Since the beginning of the contract we have spent £70,000 with Connect Communications."


So, £77,000 spent with Connect PA.  How much extra regeneration money has SBC received as a direct result of Connect PA's lobbying activities?

Offline Richard Symonds

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I wonder how much it actually cost to cancel the contract?

Did it involve - ok we don't want you any more but we are legally obliged to pay you for the balance of the contract irrespective of whether or not you do any work for us and this decision is therefore window dressing but doesn't actually save us any money?

I still cannot get over the fact that after all the protests of underfunding by Labour and the rows with our ex Labour MP's that it was a Conservative Government that actually cut our funding disproportionately more for Swindon than other equivalent authorities.

Maybe Labour were not the ogars they were made out to be?

Offline Geoff Reid

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Q:

I wonder how much it actually cost to cancel the contract?

A: Although this does appear vague....

Quote
She said the contract was terminated after the change in Government and it was currently serving a one-month notice period, with a further £7,000 expected to be spent.

The £7,000 may be unconnected with the termination and, as you suggest, the one month notice may be accompanied by a financial settlement for the remaining term of the contract.  A further £70,000 ?

Offline Mart

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Wonder if they'll lobby for compensation.

Wouldn't mind a lobbying firm working on % terms, that could work. You know, no win, no fee. Very popular in the legal fraternity I understand.
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.

Offline Drone

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Well the £50,000 'Options Appraisal' for culture, parks, libraries, etc. is £50,000 with absolutely no link between cost, outcomes or savings to the council.

derp derp herp herp derp

Offline Geoff Reid

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Good to see that, (despite whatever he protests to the contrary), Rod Bluh actually did something that the opposition suggested.

This very act, ending this particular contract with that particular lobbying firm, was proposed by the Swindon Labour group in their alternative budget which was poo-pooed and mauled by the Conservative front bench in February this year.

Yesterday Bluh said: (words to the effect of - will confirm and edit as neccessary):

Quote
"I'm all for debate, but only when alternatives are proposed"

An alternative was proposed. Bluh more or less wiped his arse on it, (metaphorically/politically speaking), in public before quietly adopting it as his own idea several months later.


Offline moley

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I wonder however if this change would have been made had Pickles not come out so strongly against the practice.... i.e. was it influenced by the local opposition, or central diktat?

Offline Geoff Reid

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Central Diktat most probably, which I reckon would have been hugely annoying for Rodders - Eric Pickles telling him to do something the Labour group had proposed several months earlier.

Either way, Cllr Bluh, (and I think Cllr Perkins), derogated the labour posse for proposing it in their alternative budget proposals - and then did it  ;D

Offline Steve Wakefield

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In February when this was in the Labour Groups Budget ammendments. It was dismissed by the front bench much to Cllr Montaut's chagraine. However as soon as two conservative MPs were elected it was a suggestion rolling around the diners mentioned  at the civic dinner that the contract would be cancelled.

It never made sense and I am very pleased that Pickles has brought a modicom of commonsense to bear on this outrageous waste of Swindon Council Tax Payers money.
All posts on this forum are my own and do not represent the views of any council or any political party.  :banana:

 

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