Northampton Conservatives – What Value for Money?
One of the things I and everyone else who served in the Royal Navy learned very early on in our careers was that in order to maintain the metalwork both internally and externally it had to prepared and protected correctly.
In other words, and especially with external paint work it has to be rubbed down, cleaned, primed and then painted with enough coats to make it last rather than cosmetic which would not last.
In effect, as everyone knows, a shoddy cosmetic job that has to be repeated is a waste of time and resources and certainly not Value for Money.
This brings me to the subject of this blog.
Over the past months and as is well documented from an incident last week, the Northampton Conservatives have been quick to lecture everyone and anyone on how they are focused on delivering ‘Value for Money’.
They are also keen, and especially Cllr Mackintosh to say ‘Let the taxpayer decide’.
So let them decide if his latest use of staff and resources is ‘Value for Money’.
On Monday this week Neighbourhood Wardens having been instructed to do so because the work needed to be done as a ‘matter of urgency’ gathered in Abington Street to paint the lamp posts.
You did read that right.
To paint the lamp posts
I have no problem with having the street furniture maintained in fact it makes sense to protect and maintain what the taxpayer pays for.
But here’s the rub,
Is it really good ‘Value for Money’ and resources to use Neighbourhood Wardens who are paid £23,000 a year to paint lamp posts in the town centre and taking them away from the areas where they usually work?
In investigating what work was actually carried out the job takes on farcical proportions that are not only difficult to understand but is almost unbelievable,
1. Did they rub down, clean and prime the lamp-post before painting started?
Answer. NO. They wiped them down and painted over the existing paint work. ‘Value for Money’
2. Did they paint every lamp-post in Abington Street?
Answer. NO. They only had time to paint the posts on the Marks and Spencer side of Abington Street. ‘Value for Money’
3. Of the lamp posts they did paint did they paint the whole of the post?
Answer. NO. They were told only to paint up to a height of 8 feet, (good old Health and Safety) and for the shorter members of the work party three-step domestic step ladders were provided. ‘Value for Money’
4. So what about the parts over the height of 8 feet?
Answer. It is going to be done by someone else who can work at height. ‘Value for ‘Money’
5. What about the lamp posts the other side of Abington Street?
Answer. Not sure but the Neighbourhood Wardens would have done them during the week except it has rained? ‘Value for Money’
6. What was the ‘Matter of Urgency’ that caused the Conservatives to take Neighbourhood Wardens away from their jobs to be lamp-post painters in the Town Centre?
Answer. No idea but apparently it is top-secret but very, very urgent.
This of course begs a number of questions,
Why is it so urgent that areas of the town that are already suffering neglect in spite of the excellent work being carried out by the Neighbourhood Wardens have to have their Wardens taken away?
and, if it is so ‘URGENT’ and if the Conservatives felt it would have the support of the people of Northampton why wasn’t it resourced so that all of the lamp posts could be painted in a single day?
To digress slightly,
If the urgency is for example a ‘Special Visitor’ and with only half of Abington Street having been done, and in fact only half of half of those started will they screen off the unacceptable side to prevent people from seeing the difference?
and, will they prevent people from looking above a height of 8 feet?
It is farcical that if the Conservative administration were going to organise a paint party to work above 8 feet why an earth didn’t they just let the same people do the whole job?
and anyway wouldn’t it have made sense to maintain and paint street furniture in the summer rather than in the winter?
Who on earth thought it was a good idea to paint externally in the wet and cold weather where the paint cracks and comes off before it is even dry?
If it wasn’t the taxpayers money paying for all of this it would be funny.
What it demonstrates once again is that the Northampton Conservatives whilst strong on rhetoric are weak and completely out of touch when it comes to even something as simple as planning to have lamp posts painted.
What is worse is that I have been told that once Abington Street has been done the intention is to use Neighbourhood Wardens to move to other streets.
Now here’s a thought,
If the Conservatives are so keen to carry out a cosmetic bit by bit lamp-post/street furniture painting policy then why not use the ‘Community Pay Back’ team?
It would be good use of those who have been given community service sentences. After all they will also be able to work to a height of 8 feet.
It would demonstrate to the public that community sentences can be positive and benefit everyone and especially in such a high-profile area as the Town Centre.
It would allow the Northampton Neighbourhood Wardens to carry out their duties in working with residents to sort out the local issues of rubbish, fly tipping and anti-social behaviour that continues to blight people’s lives.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Northampton Conservatives justify how this farcical and ridiculous policy and use of Neighbourhood Wardens is excellent use of the people’s taxes and is excellent ‘VALUE for MONEY’
Standby for their squirm-out spin machine to go into overdrive