The Plastic Hippo

March 24, 2010

Do you want any cash back?

Filed under: Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 1:10 am

The hippo must offer a humble apology to the unfortunate people held up in the checkout queue at Morrisons today. It is hard enough to manoeuvre a disability scooter or shopping trolley occupied by a wailing child through the groves of “value” lager and oven chips and the last thing consumers need is a two tonne semi-aquatic quadruped lumbering down the cake and pastries aisle and then holding up the checkout queue.

However, the BOGOF offer on the Soreen malt loaf was not correctly processed and the final bill had to be questioned. Maureen, operating her till was, as ever, charming and good natured and summoned her supervisor. The receipt was checked, the mistake corrected, the 99p reimbursed and the line moved on. A large X was placed on the incorrect receipt along with the word “Void” in black felt tipped pen and it was placed in a special bag and taken away for scrutiny. That`s how accountancy works.

Walsall Council could learn a lot from supermarket chains, not just in reducing the price of merchandise past its sell-by date and the exploitation of third world farmers, but by adopting something called credible accounting. You might think that dishing out over 3 million quid in European grants to deserving causes, without any palpable financial risk to council tax payers, would be fairly straightforward. Sadly, an ape trained to stack shelves with boxes of shredded wheat would have made a better job of it than Walsall Council.

All the council had to do, was allocate the money and then keep a record of where it went. The failure to account for the cash has resulted in the council having to “de-commit” – that means pay back in council speak – two and a half million pounds to the European Union. An independent report, allegedly costing £80,000, praises the council for limiting the damage and avoiding having to “de-commit” the full £3.2 million. By chance, the £650,000 compensation paid out to Peter Francis almost matches the total. Peter Francis was the guy brought in to manage the funding. After two weeks in the job he saw that something was wrong and set off the alarms. For his trouble, he was suspended, harassed, bullied and then dismissed. He made the mistake of mentioning the mouse droppings in the chicken nugget freezer.

As this bunch of half-wits close care homes, increase council tax and admit to incompetence by selling off vital services to any shyster with a winning grin, the good people of Walsall are paying good money for rubbish management. As a police and CPS inquiry was starting to investigate the fiasco, the then Chief Executive made her excuses and left with an undisclosed wedge of money safely in her handbag. The current bone-head, it seems, is the highest paid Chief Executive in the region, taking home more wonga than the Prime Minister. The constant claim that high achievers deserve high salaries has some logic and we need only to look at the banking industry to see that losing billions deserves a massive bonus. If we pay for achievement, why are we paying the highest rate of council tax in the Black Country with the lowest standard of service provision?

This council is failing; failing its young people, the old, the vulnerable, the people in need of care and failing the people who pay these idiots their inflated salaries. Maureen at the checkout could teach these morons a thing or two about customer care and service.

Just enter your pin number and press the green button.


1 Comment »

  1. Add to that tonight’s E+S story about how they used an online auction (where the prices get pushed down, not up) to decide on care service providers.

    I worked for local government organisations for some years, and there was always a problem when buying goods and services were concerned: Lowest price wins, always. Never mind the quality.

    Now I’m all for cost effective purchasing in local government: but that should mean best value, with accountability, not false economy. Still, I’m sure the chief exec is worth it, and all the private companies lining their shareholder’s pockets with my council tax will, of course, deliver exemplary service. Like the pothole repairs.

    Comment by stymaster — March 25, 2010 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

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