Thursday, 24 April 2008

Echo blames the Council. Lyonette under threat.

The headline in the Echo says it all: "£1.9m road overspend blamed on Council." After listing the appalling details of the independent report into the overspend on the Eastern Transport Corridor, the Echo reports that the Council has shrugged aside criticism, saying that recent structural changes have been designed to ensure that these mistakes don't happen again.

"There were no surprises in the report," says the Chief Executive. "The report has not identified any particular fault on the part of individuals. This project evolved over many years and many of the officers are no longer with the Council, so there is nothing to be achieved by a disciplinary investigation."

I won't bother to quote what Cllr Lyonette says: the one word he doesn't use is "sorry". He says it's not his fault and that it's a "quality job". It's a road, David: just a strip of tarmac on top of a mound of earth: were you expecting anything other than a quality job? Maybe you were, given the quality of some of the work in the Pedestrian Heart.

What is important is that - despite the Chief Executive saying a few months ago that this would not cost Darlington Council Tax payers any extra money - the Department for Transport has not yet agreed to grant more funding.

The report says that errors occured partly because of changes in personnel in the Council, and long-term sick leave, so that continuity was lost. Well, that wouldn't be acceptable in private industry. The people at the top would damn well make sure that the project progressed smoothly. Of course, in local government, it's not their money that's been wasted, it's yours and mine. The buck stops at the top, David. You are the weakest link!

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